Sunday, August 14, 2016

Obesity Could Become Public Health Enemy #1

More than 2.1 billion people, or close to 30 percent of the global population, are overweight or obese, and obesity is responsible for about five percent of all deaths each year, worldwide. In the US, nearly one in five deaths is now associated with obesity. That obesity factors into your mortality risk isn't so surprising when you consider just how many chronic and serious disease it's associated with.

In the US, just eight obesity-related diseases account for 75 percent of all healthcare costs! Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), dementia, and cancer are among them, but there are many others as well. When you consider that two hallmarks of obesity are insulin/leptin resistance and chronic inflammation, you can begin to recognize that excess weight is fertile ground for a wide array of other ailments—many of which can cut your life significantly short.

When you’re insulin resistant, your cells have become seriously impaired in their ability to respond to the insulin your body makes. At the heart of this problem is a diet too high in sugar (especially processed fructose). While you can be insulin resistant and lean, obesity places far greater stress on your cells, which makes insulin resistance more probable. Insulin resistance is at the core of nearly every chronic degenerative disease and is typically what needs to be addressed first to turn around any disease.

Research shows that chronic overeating places stress on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)—the membranous network found inside the mitochondria of your cells. And when the ER receives more nutrients than it can process, it signals the cell to dampen the sensitivity of the insulin receptors on the surface of the cell. Thus continuously eating more than your body really needs promotes insulin resistance by the mere fact that your cells are stressed by the work placed on them by the excess nutrients. Once your insulin resistance worsens, the concentration of glucose in your blood begins to rise, and elevated glucose contributes to the development of diabetes.

For decades, smoking was one of the leading causes of cancer, but that's about to change. Obesity will likely claim the lead spot as the principal cause of 10 different types of cancer within the next decade, according to cancer specialists who discussed the trend at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago. “Spiraling rates of obesity meant that cancer – once seen as a disease of old age – was now increasingly being diagnosed up to two decades earlier than in the past. Their figures suggest one in five cancer deaths in Britain is caused by excess weight," The Telegraph reports.

The links between obesity and cancer are quite clear, and excess weight can increase your risk of cancer rather significantly. For example, obese women increase their risk of womb cancer by 600 percent. Risks for breast, prostate, colon, and all the other gynecological cancers is also elevated, primarily due to the hormone imbalances associated with obesity, which tend to fuel tumor growth. Researchers have also found a correlation between obesity and increased risk for cancer relapse. Overweight survivors of prostate cancer treatment were found to have a three percent higher rate of relapse compared to their slimmer counterparts. They also had seven percent higher odds of the cancer spreading.

If you are struggling with weight issues and are concerned about the further ramifications that are outlined in this article, please contact our office so that we can schedule you a complimentary consultation and help increase your chances for a healthy future.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Simple Help For Sinus Congestion

For many people living here in San Antonio (and pretty much any other city I’ve lived in for that matter…), allergies are a common complaint. Whether it consists simply of nasal congestion or includes a battery of additional symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and blowing your nose to the point of looking like Rudolph, it can be an annoying condition that affects quality of life. (Try giving a presentation when you can’t pronounce your words correctly due to congestion!) More than 29 million American adults were diagnosed with sinusitis in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal cavities often caused by a virus, allergy, bacteria, fungus, or possibly an autoimmune reaction. Many times people will turn to home remedies as a first method to help deal with the congestion issues, such as using steam or some type of irrigation device like a neti pot. According to a new study, inhaling steam probably won't open your chronically clogged sinuses, but nasal irrigation may bring some relief.

To evaluate the effectiveness of these two common treatments, researchers at the University of Southampton in England followed 871 patients who had a history of chronic or recurrent sinusitis. Participants were assigned one of four treatments: daily nasal irrigation with saline plus use of an instructional video; daily steam inhalation; a combination of both; or their usual treatment. Usual care was at the discretion of the patient's physician and could include the use of antibiotic medications. Participants in the nasal irrigation group were given a neti pot, and were asked to irrigate their nose daily with about 5 ounces of saline solution in each nostril. The solution was made of 1 teaspoon salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda combined in 1 pint of water. The steam treatment group was asked to inhale steam for five minutes every day. They were directed to place a towel over their head and stand over a bowl of recently boiled water.

Using the Rhinosinusitis Disability Index, researchers evaluated at three and six months and found that patients who used nasal irrigation reported improvement. Those using steam inhalation said headaches had eased, but they appeared to have no congestion relief. The study authors also noted that fewer participants in the nasal irrigation group (compared to no-irrigation patients) took over-the-counter medications, had headaches, or intended to consult a doctor in future episodes. Lead researcher Dr. Little also added that people suffering from sinusitis often get repeated courses of antibiotics, which may not help much and may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.

If you suffer from chronic sinus congestion, adding an irrigation routine daily may prove beneficial in helping keep it under control. Also, keeping foods out of the diet that promote inflammation or sensitivity reactions is another way to help decrease the systemic inflammatory responses in the body so that you can lead a congestion-free, comfortable life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

5 Tips to Beat the Texas Heat

Isn’t this Texas heat something? Did you know over half of the human body is made up of water? With a high heat index, it is so easy to lose fluids. We have yard work to do, errands to run, and workouts to accomplish! Right now, more than ever it is crucial for us to stay hydrated. So many of our systems become disrupted and unable to function optimally when you not become dehydrated. To help you get through the rest of summer, here are a few ideas to help keep track of your water intake and give you ideas on how to overcome the same taste!

· When outside, or doing workouts try weighing yourself before, then after. This helps you get an idea of how much fluid you may have lost, and know to replenish. This will also help you gauge how much to drink during activities where you know you may be losing more fluids than usual.

· Avoid caffeinated drinks. I know, this may be hard for some. Yet, drinking caffeine causes you to urinate more since it is a diuretic. Although there may be water in some of the drinks, most of it is expelled when you use the restroom anyway.

· Always bring water with you. You never know how long that extra errand more take, or how thirsty that long walk to your car may make you. Always keep something with you, that way you don’t have to worry so much on drinking those extra fluids.

· Avoid doing anything outdoors during the peak heat times of the day. Try mowing the lawn earlier in the morning or in the evening.

· Keep bottled water in stock that contain electrolytes like Core or Smart Water.

· When outside, try sticking to cool spots in the shade. This will help keep you from sunburn too!

Tired the Plain Taste of Water?

Here are some things you can try adding to give that extra flavor:

· Lemons

· Strawberries

· Cucumbers

· Limes

· Mint leaves

· Watermelon

· Blueberries

· Raspberries

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Keep Your Discs Healthy For Life

I’m sure everyone has heard someone make mention at some point that they feel like they’ve shrunk as they’ve gotten older. While this is definitely a very real possibility, it can also be one that doesn’t have to come to pass to the extent that some people experience. First and foremost, posture will be the biggest determining factor of this phenomenon. If we frequently spend time each day in hunched over positions (at the computer, reading, looking at phones, etc.), we train the spine to adopt that as more of our normal posture and, as a result, later in life we lose the ability to fully straighten up as the muscles and joints have gone through permanent change. Next on the list would be the health of your intervertebral discs, which is what we will discuss here today. The discs serve many functions in our spine, primary of which is to allow motion in the neck and back so that we can bend, twist, rotate and do all the normal movements of everyday life. They also act as “spacers” between the vertebrae to allow passage of our spinal nerves that come off the spinal cord so that the brain can communicate with all parts of our body.

Our discs are made up of two components: the nucleus pulposus and the annular fibers. Imagine if you took a hardboiled egg in an egg carton and sliced off the top; that is roughly what a disc would look like. The yolk would represent the nucleus, which is a jelly-like material that provides shock absorbency, fluidity and distributes the pressure that we put on our bodies. The white would represent the layers of annular fibers that surround the nucleus. These are similar to other ligaments we have in the body and run horizontally, vertically and diagonally all around the nucleus. They give strength and support to our spine and serve to protect the nucleus and keep it centered in the disc.

One of the two most common injuries we hear of is a bulging disc. When the spine is subjected to more force than it can handle, either quickly as with an accident or over time from repetitive stress, the annular fibers can begin to tear and the nucleus will push outwards, leading to a bulge or rupture. If it causes pressure on the nearby nerves, then we can experience pain, numbness, weakness or loss of function. The other main issue would be degenerative disc disease, which is a “wear and tear” effect on the discs over the course of a lifetime and will be dictated by how much stress we put on our discs and how well we take care of them. Since degeneration is an irreversible process and can lead to chronic pain and neurological issues, we need to make sure we are doing all we can to keep them healthy.

First would be to simply keep moving! Discs get their fluids and stay hydrated by a pumping action that comes from movement and forces being applied to them. While they do need rest when we are normally lying down for the night for healing and repair, avoiding prolonged sitting or static positions for long periods by routinely getting up and moving around has been shown to help maintain fluidity in the discs. Regular exercise and stretching will also make a big difference in long-term maintenance of disc health. At night, it is best to avoid sleeping on your stomach as this puts unnecessary rotational stress on your spine for several hours. Sleeping on your back or side where the spine is allowed to be in its natural, neutral position will put the least amount of stress on the discs. And as always, whether sitting or standing, try to maintain proper posture at all times.

When we are born our discs are about 80% water and this will slowly decrease as we age, so staying properly hydrated is critical to maintaining the health of our discs. The fluid helps regulate the pressures the discs are subjected to and allows nutrients to enter the tissues and waste products to be removed. On average, most people should be aiming for half of their body weight in ounces as the minimum amount of water ingested each day. Smoking should be eliminated because it interferes with nutrition for the spinal discs by preventing the good oxygen flow needed to keep them healthy. Alcohol use should also be minimized as it is known to decrease hydration throughout the body. By adopting these simple lifestyle steps, you can set yourself up for keeping your discs as healthy as possible and holding on to every inch you’ve earned over the course of your lifetime.