Monday, September 24, 2012

Green beans anyone?

Health Tip: Protein is not the cure all when it comes to dieting. In fact, studies show that most of the rapid weight loss from protein only diets is fluid loss, which explains the difficulty of maintaining the weight loss. Most people need about 1gm of protein daily for every kilo (2.2lbs) of their body weight.

The key to remember that, as in all things, dieting requires a balance. Carbohydrates are an essential part of everyone’s diet.  The best way to eat carbs is to eat them in small amounts and regular intervals, throughout the day. The problem is that most of us will sit down to a carb rich meal (pasta, potatoes, bread, dessert), and then we are overloading on carbohydrates. Indirectly, this can lead to diabetes as we overwork our pancreas.

I love to remind myself daily that food was made for the body, but, I will not be mastered by it ( 1 Cor 6:13) The truth is that dieting can often make us feel like we are slaves to the food we are trying to avoid. Ultimately though, as we gain control of our own daily diet, we have a freedom that comes from knowing we are not being mastered by our own cravings!

Ok, so the point of today’s blog is to remind you that dieting is all about balance. For the sake of your metabolism and overall health, try not to cut out any food group from your diet completely. Rather, learn to have a balanced, scheduled daily diet. As difficult as it may be, this is the sure way to maintain our healthiest weight.  Of course, when it comes to vegetables, its highly unlikely that you could ever eat too many;-) Pass me the green beans please;-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Information Therapy

Information is the most important tool your healthcare clinician can offer you.  In fact, I have often heard that our goal as clinicians should be to provide information therapy to our patients. Basically, this means you are given the information on your condition or health from your clinician, and then you make the decision on what you want to do with that information. This may seem like common sense to many, but, the truth is that the vast majority of people go to the doctor to be given directives. Sometimes people look upset  when the doctor gives them the information needed, and then empowers them to make their own decision on which route to take. This is especially true when our culture effects how we perceive our health. When it comes to long term illness, there are often ways to improve quality of life without providing a cure. This is important to understand in each unique situation we face. Our cultural perspective can also hinder or enhance our understanding of our unique health situation.

Its easy to overlook the impact that our culture can have on our perception of disease. As nurses, we are challenged to try to understand and respect a patient’s cultural perspective on the treatment and prevention of disease. Having worked in the Amazon for many years, I came face to face with understanding the importance of cultural influence on a person’s health choices. I think of the little baby boy from a remote indigenous tribe, in a coma, struggling to fight meningitis. He was given a 25% chance to pull through on the IV antibiotics. The parents concern was that we were only giving the baby water (IV fluid) and not rice, fish and bananas. They were convinced this is what led their little boy into a coma. Thankfully, after a few days of IV antibiotics the little guy was able to fight off the meningitis, and recovered completely. His parents ideas of IVs changed after that, and they were more willing to entrust their children to modern healthcare. And yet, my goal the whole time was to make sure they understood the importance of the IV antibiotics, so they could make an informed decision.

When you visit a healthcare clinician, I think it is important to recognize that medicine, like any other area,is a dynamic field. I want to encourage everyone to gather as much information as possible when it comes to your individual health, and in so doing, hopefully make an informed decision about the route you wish to take; even if that does mean deciding contrary to the guidance you may have received.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What the point of a physical?

Whats the point of a physical?

Health Tip: Doctors are for healthy people too!

As a healthcare clinician, I find it very difficult to convince people of the importance of routine physicals. It seems to be the consensus of modern society that doctors are for sick people. The truth is that the whole paradigm has shifted in healthcare, and we have come to realize that most of the chronic conditions we face cannot be effectively treated, but, they can be prevented.

I have tried many different approaches to convince people of the importance of that yearly physical. It seems to be most effective to remind people that most strokes and heart attacks are caused by ‘silent killers’. What does this mean? This means that many conditions like high blood pressure have no symptoms (oftentimes high blood sugar is asymptomatic too, only showing up in a physical exam). Finding these conditions at a physical can be the key in avoiding that stroke or heart attack. For some reason though, that doesn’t seem to be enough to convince people of the value/importance of the physical.

As a missionary nurse, I have spent most of my career working in a developing country, where the epidemics entail infectious diseases (such as malaria, TB, or pneumonia). The contrast exists in developed countries where we have ready access to treat these conditions before they become a threat. Instead, we are plagued with conditions that cannot be readily treated ( heart disease, diabetes, asthma, etc), but, that can be prevented. This is the key. So, that’s the point of the physical.

I imagine a day when people see the doctor as the place to go when they’re healthy. Then, and only then will we start seeing a decline in the chronic conditions that plague modern society.

Our physical health is like our spiritual health. It must be nurtured and cared for daily. I think of how Romans 5 says that perseverance produces character. As we persevere in caring for our health spiritually and physically, we are also developing our character. Pretty inspiring to me to stay the course- one day at a time!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Can I drink a glass of wine?

Can I drink a glass of wine?

Health Tip: A glass of red wine a day (4-6oz) helps promote cardiovascular health.

In this blog, I am approaching the controversial subject of drinking. You will not see this addressed readily by your healthcare provider, as it is difficult to tell people the evidence without being fearful of instigating the abuse of alcohol. That disclaimer aside, the value of a glass of wine on your health is continually being validated. In fact, would you believe recent evidence suggests a glass of wine a day may prevent Alzheimers as well?  Once again, this fact was already established in scripture. 1 Tim 5:23 addresses the value of a glass of wine for stomach upset! I am always amazed at how many scriptural principles are affirmed in evidence based medicine… Should we tell medical researchers that all these new discoveries aren’t so new after all?! hmmmm

The biggest reason this is not promoted is that the benefits of alcohol are only seen in moderate drinking. What is moderate drinking? For women that is one glass of wine daily, and for men that is 2 glass of wine daily. More than this , and the benefits actually turn in to a health risk.  SO, this is probably why this subject is rarely broached. And yet, to me, this just further affirms value of moderation in everything God gives us to enjoy in this life.  1 Corinthians 6:13 is a great motto to live by …” I will not be mastered by anything”

Hopefully, the following information will help you understand the health benefits of that  glass of wine:  

“Moderate drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who are either abstainers or heavy drinkers do. In addition to having fewer heart attacks and strokes, moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or distilled spirits or liquor) are generally less likely to suffer hypertension or high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, Alzheimer's disease and the common cold. Sensible drinking also appears to be beneficial in reducing or preventing diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, bone fractures and osteoporosis, kidney stones, digestive ailments, stress and depression, poor cognition and memory, Parkinson's disease, hepatitis A, pancreatic cancer, macular degeneration (a major cause of blindness), angina pectoris, duodenal ulcer, hearing loss, gallstones, liver disease and poor physical condition in elderly

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer is here!

Summer is here! With the rising heat, we are all looking for a place to cool down. I don’t know about you, but, it seems like when Summer finally arrives I am caught off guard by the smothering heat.
So, the question is.:How can we stay healthy and hydrated in such heat? I would like to emphasize the importance of electrolyte rich fluids when you are sweating. Water is obviously an excellent drink, but, if you are sweating remember to pick up a Gatorade type drink. Think of it this way, if you are sweating you are loosing salt , and your body needs this replishined as quickly as possible. A little squeeze of lemon, salt and sugar will add the necessary ingredients to your water when you are sweating.
Another important aspect of the Summer months is to remember to protect our skin against the sun’s cancer inducing effect. A little sunscreen on our skin will go a long way to protecting against those common skin cancers.
As we enjoy these Summer months, let’s protect our skin with sun block and our bodies with the fluid it needs in those heat waves!