Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lifestyle Change Will Lower High Blood Pressure

One out of three American adults has high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure is known as the "silent killer" because people with this condition can go years without realizing they have it. The only way to tell is to have it checked by a doctor. Taking the necessary steps to control high blood pressure includes a healthy diet, increased physical activity and lifestyle changes.

he key to preventing high blood pressure is moderation and a healthy lifestyle. More adults are overweight now than when their grandparents were young. Modern conveniences seem to add to the problem rather than to prevent it. Sixty-five percent of American adults are overweight or obese. If you are 30 percent above your normal weight, you are a high risk. Take the necessary steps to lower your blood pressure. First, make changes to your diet. Cut salt back to 1.5 grams a day. Add potassium to your diet by eating 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Eat whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts. Avoid canned foods, cold cuts, sugary beverages, and sweets. If you can't leave out dairy from your diet, at least choose lowfat products.

Second, lose the weight. Light aerobic exercise 20 to 45 minutes 4-5 times a week will reduce your body fat. Commit to walking after dinner or first thing in the morning. If it is hot outside, walk inside the mall or go swimming. If you do not have time to commit to a regular schedule, increase your physical activity by parking your car a good distance away and walk to your destination. Take a flight of stairs instead of the elevator, weed your garden, or cut the grass instead of having it done for you.

Did you know that your lifestyle could be killing you? We get so used to living a certain way that change can be difficult. However, your lifestyle can dramatically increase your chance of having high blood pressure so take the time to change your bad habits one by one.
- Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation. A moderate amount is one to two glasses of red wine, something even proven good for your health.
- Avoid Tobacco. Smoking, even second-hand smoke, is not good for anyone but especially those with high blood pressure. Ask your doctor for help. Inquire about nicotine gum or patches. If you smoke, your chance of suffering a heart attack is 2-6 times more likely.
- Avoid Coffee. There is a new report that indicates that some unknown ingredient or ingredients in coffee is what is responsible for high blood pressure and not caffeine. Research shows that even people who drink decaffeinated coffee display these effects. While this might seem like good news, it is best to avoid it if at all possible.
Make the necessary changes in your lifestyle, including a healthy and positive attitude to life, and live a long healthy life!

Monday, February 19, 2007

How to Survive Hospitalization

From Dr. Kildare and Marcus Welby to ER and even House, we have been indoctrinated to believe being admitted to a hospital is the equivalent of a spa vacation. It is a place of miracles and the unwavering attention of an unending staff of doctors, nurses and orderlies who eagerly put their own lives on hold to cater to our every need, medical and personal.

In TV hospitals, every room is a bright, airy private suite. Nurses' stations, hallways, elevators and labs are clean and perfect. The staff never yells in the halls (especially at night) or bang carts or gurneys into walls, beds or doors. And, of course, every nurse and doctor has memorized every patient chart and never make mistakes.

TV patients smile bravely or complain incessantly, treat the staff with friendly respect or rude dismissiveness – it doesn't matter, they have no active role in their own care. Instead, everything is in the hands of a perfect staff, each of whom speaks the native language perfectly.

In the real world, anyone believing this TV fantasy is reality is in for a rude shock; which is not to say there are not excellent hospitals and dedicated, skilled medical professionals working in them, but neither can come close to the Hollywood image. It is the responsibility of every patient to take common sense steps to assist those caregivers, ensure a personal understanding of what is happening and deal with certain situations – at least initially – on their own.

The first step is to create a journal, entering the date, time, individuals involved and details of everything that happens during your stay, from trips to X-ray to the nurse bringing you a pill. Before going to the hospital, if possible, pack a "Sanity Survival Kit":
* A good sleep mask (the lights never really go out)
* A good set of ear plugs (the old days of quiet hospitals are long gone)
* Two sets of pajamas (light robe optional)
* One pair of slippers
* A notebook computer, with DVD drive, loaded with your favorite games, work you will obsess about if it's not done, projects you've been putting off, even some movies you've been planning to watch * A DVD player (if you don't have a computer)
* An MP3 player loaded with your favorite songs (one that doubles as a radio is even better)
* A comfortable headset that will plug into everything, including the hospital TV or bedside controller
* A cell phone with headset
* An ink pen and notebook
* Magazines and paperbacks
* Packets of instant tea or coffee
* A spice bag (salt or salt-free substitute, pepper, sugar or substitute, packets of ketchup/mustard/mayo, Tabasco/soy/pepper sauce)
* Plastic toothpicks, the kind with built-in floss.
The above can, of course, be provided or replenished as needed if you have someone who can bring things to you. If not, take enough to last a full week. Entering a hospital room as a patient is not unlike climbing into an unfamiliar rental car.

Just as the wise driver checks and adjusts the mirrors and locates light switches, the incoming patient should run through a hospital room checklist:
* Find the nurse call button, make certain it works and secure it (most have clips) where you can quickly find and use it in the dark
* Do the same with the bed controller
* Locate all electrical outlets and ask a nurse which you can use and for what
* Make sure your room phone is easy to reach – sitting or reclining – give a friend or relative the hospital phone number and your room number, find out if you have a private line or share it, what you will be charged for calls and how to dial out
* Check TV/radio controls and whether you have a private set or share it; if the latter, come to an agreement first thing on how you are going to share control – and deal with volume issues, whether you share a TV or each have your own
* Check out the bathroom, make sure you can get in and out (especially if you are dragging around an IV pole), locate the light switch, door lock and emergency call chain and check for a second door – in some facilities, two rooms share a single toilet; if there is no shower, have someone show you where to find one
* If your room opens onto a balcony or patio, ask a nurse about access, how to lock it for security, how to open and close any drapes or blinds and what the use regulations are (especially for smokers)
* If you are using any medical equipment (IV, oxygen, etc.), find out if and how you can disconnect or turn them on and off when walking to the restroom
* The hospital should take an inventory of your belongings and offer to lock up valuables; if they do not, ask about it and provide your own list
* Never leave anything of value in plain site (especially computers, cameras, watches, etc.) – neither you nor the staff has any control over other patients or visitors
* Make sure you have a box of tissues close by
* Request fresh water at least twice a day
* Ask to have your tray table disinfected and cleaned in your presence; if you leave your room, have this procedure repeated – you have no way of knowing what, if anything, may have happened to that table while you were gone (visitors and even orderlies have been known to place soiled bed sheets on a tray table, then forget to clean it afterwards)
* Always use the paper toilet seat cover and always wash your hands afterward with sanitizing soap; remember, it isn't just you, but every other patient and visitor
* Check that all tables, drawers, chairs, etc., are in good shape and ask for replacements if not; some hospitals allow furniture that has fallen apart to remain in "service"
* Always check everything you want on your future meals menu, even if it says you will receive some items automatically; also check your selections against you actually get, especially if you have informed the dietary rep (who should have interviewed you on admission) of what you cannot eat or drink; it is not uncommon for foods clearly marked as forbidden due to allergies or medical restrictions to nonetheless be placed on your tray
* Write down the names and shifts of every nurse, orderly and other staff with whom you have contact
* Get the business card of any new doctor you see, then note what he or she said or did and the date and time of the encounter
* If not offered, insist your bedding be changed at least every two days and that you be allowed to take a shower or sponge bath every day (it is not unheard of for patients to spend up to a week in a hospital and never be offered an opportunity to bathe)
* Always tell a nurse or doctor about any unusual bleeding, bruising, itches or pains, both at the time you are admitted as well as any that develop while you are hospitalized
* If a doctor recommends or orders any invasive procedure, ask for a full explanation of why it is needed, what is involved, how long it will take to recover, what restrictions will be imposed during recuperation, what the risks are, if it is fully covered by your insurance – and then request a second opinion from a doctor of your choosing. Your insurance company should both insist on and support you in this (if not, find a new insurer). If a doctor balks or implies you should rely entirely on him or her, you definitely need a second opinion
* Before being released, pack or oversee the packing of your belongings, check everything against the list you made when admitted and immediately report any discrepancies
* Make certain your regular doctors get a full copy of your hospital record
* When the bills come – probably separately from the hospital, each doctor and every lab involved in your care – check them carefully against your journal and the cards you collected; billing errors are common (most of them honest mistakes) and should be reported immediately to your insurance carrier.

This may seem like a lot of work, especially when all you want is to forget everything and have someone take care of you. Unfortunately, the best protection may be what you provide for yourself. But even if the actual need is rare, one or more of these steps may be the difference between a safe and secure hospitalization/recovery and something less. But in all cases, common sense actions, such as locating your call button, are vital to making the best of an otherwise bad situation.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Control Your Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes is a killer disease. It can lead to kidney failure, heart disease, neuropathy, blindness, and much more. If you have diabetes, you must take control of it immediately. Type 1 diabetes is the hardest type to control. It is also called juvenile diabetes, as it is common to get type 1 diabetes when you are a child. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which is needed to take sugar (glucose) from the blood to the cells. This results in very high blood sugar counts and this is the major cause of many of the serious complications that may develop.

A person with Type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin shots to lower the blood sugar. Diabetics need to have an insulin called a background insulin, which works throughout the day. Then they need to take extra insulin after eating a meal. An insulin pump gives the constant background insulin. It also allows the diabetic to easily give themselves extra insulin when they eat and cuts down on the need for insulin shots from a needle. However, diabetics must test their blood sugar levels four or five times a day and make whatever adjustments need to be made. The normal testing times are before breakfast, lunch, dinner and bed. The amount of insulin to take with each meal will be determined by a combination of these readings plus the food eaten. Sugar highs and lows wear down the body. The key is to try to control these up and down readings the best you can. The insulin pump helps tremendously but diet is very important.

Follow the glycemic index when eating. This index rates foods according to the way these foods react to your blood sugar. If the carbohydrates the food contains break down quickly, they tend to make your blood sugar levels jump quickly. These foods have a high GI (glycemic index) ranking. For example, a potato has a high GI ranking. The carbohydrates break down very quickly and cause your blood sugar to rise quickly. Beans have a low GI index, so the blood sugar effects are spread out over a longer period of time. You do not get the rapid sugar rise.

Diabetics, in particular, need to learn to balance these foods to avoid those highs and lows. If you are having potatoes, for example, try eating a sweet potato instead or combine some low GI ranked foods with the potatoes to balance this sugar rise. It's well worth it for diabetics to learn as much as they can about this glycemic index. The best diet for a diabetic to follow will be eating more of the foods with a low to medium glycemic index. Other things the diabetic can do is snack on air popped popcorn rather than pretzels. Salt should be limited in the diet as the diabetic is at a greater risk for high blood pressure. Eat broiled or grilled chicken rather than fried chicken. This also helps control blood pressure and cholesterol. If you want to drink wine, drink it with a meal. There is less of an impact on blood sugar. However, do not over indulge. It can and will interfere with your medications.

Diabetes is a very dangerous disease and any diabetic definitely should be visiting a doctor on a regular basis. He or she will help manage your diabetes and will most likely advise a visit with a nutritionist. Diabetes cannot be completely controlled but, with a change in diet and lifestyle, diabetics can help manage it and live a long life.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Five Fat Burning Foods

Each one of the following foods or spices has been clinically proven to promote weight loss. These foods go a step beyond simply adding no fat to your system. They possess special properties that add zip to your system and help your body melt away unhealthy pounds. These wonderful foods can curb your appetite for junk food and keep your body running smoothly with clean fuel and efficient energy.

You should include these foods in any sensible weight-loss plan. They give your body the extra metabolic kick that it needs to shed pounds quickly.


Try the hot, spicy kind you find in Asian import stores, specialty shops and exotic groceries. Dr. Jaya Henry of Oxford Polytechnic Institute in England, found that the amount of hot mustard normally called for in Mexican, Indian and Asian recipes, about one teaspoon, temporarily speeds up the metabolism, just as caffeine and the drug ephedrine do.

"But mustard is natural and totally safe", Henry says. "It can be used every day, and it really works. I was shocked to discover it can speed up the metabolism by as much as 20 to 25 percent for several hours" This can result in the body burning an extra 45 calories for every 700 consumed, Dr. Henry says.


Hot, spicy chili peppers fall into the same category as hot mustard, Henry says. He studied them under the same circumstances as the mustard and they worked just as well. A mere three grams of chili peppers were added to a meal consisting of 766 total calories. The peppers' metabolism-raising property worked like a charm, leading to what Henry calls a diet-induced thermic effect. It doesn't take much to create the condition. Most salsa recipes call for four to eight chilies - that is not a lot.

Peppers are astonishingly rich in vitamins A and C, abundant in calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, high in fiber, free of fat, low in sodium and have just two calories per cup.


The hot peppers in salsa increase metabolism. This means you burn more fat. It also means you have more energy and vitality for your body. If you can stand it, take your salsa very hot and spicy. The reason, the heat from the hot spices increases the fire in your body thus increasing your metabolism and the ability to burn massive amounts of calories and fat.


Ginger is very similar to salsa. If you grate ginger and sprinkle it on food, you will gain the benefits of this hot spice. Your job will be to find the foods that work with sprinkled ginger. My favorite is freshly squeezed orange juice with grated fresh ginger - it also helps when you have a flu.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Look for organic apple cider vinegar. Take a tablespoon before each meal. Some people have no problem taking a full tablespoon right out of the bottle. If you cannot manage that, put the vinegar in a glass of water and drink it with your meal. This will increase the fat burning furnace in your body and allow you to start burning stored fat.

There you have it. Five foods, easily found and inexpensive, that will help you shed those pounds.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ban Plastic from the Kitchen

The modern kitchen is full of plastic. What would we do without plastic containers, plastic cling wrap, plastic utensils for our parties, plastic dishes, plastic cups, plastic spatulas, and more?

The problem with all this plastic is that it is made with chemicals. Chemicals that can leach into our beverages and our food. Chemicals that end up in our bodies, where it accumulates and causes health problems. Chemicals that end up in our unborn children.

Some of the reported health hazards include reproductive defects, premature delivery (up 23% since 1980), lowered sperm counts (down 40% since 1945), and early onset puberty.

Two of the most common "bad boys" of the plastic industry are PVC (polyvinyl chloride - a hard plastic) and phthalates, a group of substances added to PVC to make it softer and more pliable. In fact, phthalates are among the most common contaminants found in the human body. Another common chemical found in the kitchen is bisphenol-A, which is the main ingredient in hard plastic used in baby bottles, drinking water bottles, and plastic storage containers. Bisphenol-A is in the list of the top 50 chemicals, measured by production volume.

Here are some steps that you can take to decrease your family's exposure to these chemicals.

- never heat foods or beverages in plastic containers; it is so easy to put a "microwaveable" plastic container into the microwave; don't do it
- avoid plastic cling wrap products; most have phthalates in them
- avoid containers with PVC in them; if there is a "3" in the recycling triangle, get rid of it
- use glass or stainless steel drinking containers
- use ceramic or enamel plates
- use metal feeding utensils and metal kitchen tools
- do not store food or beverages in plastic containers, especially if the food item is acidic
- if you must use plastic, do not wash it in a dishwasher or use harsh detergents on it

It is interesting to note that in 2005 the European Union banned some commonly used chemicals of the phthalate family from use in toys. One commissioner was quoted as saying, "Toxic chemicals have no place in children's toys". Yet we continue to allow them in our food and beverage containers.

In North America, San Francisco instituted a ban in December 2006, although implementation has been delayed by a law suit. The ban covers biphenol-A and certain phthalates. This is commendable, but society needs more than city wide bans.

While we wait for our governments to realize the dangers, consider a personal ban. Can you make your kitchen plastic free?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Are You Risking Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is affecting more and more lives all around the globe. The World Health Organization estimates nearly 200 million people are suffering from it. If you are suffering from diabetes it is important for you to know that. Your general practitioner will be able to help you.

If you are free of diabetes try to stay free by living healthy. Eat healthy food and do not over eat. Try a minimum of half an hour of exercise daily.

Diabetes can be a very disabling disease with a chronic nature. Generally speaking diabetes can be very hard on your body.

Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels either form inadequate secretion of the hormone insulin, an inadequate response from target cells to insulin or a combination of these factors. It's a metabolic disease requiring medical diagnosis, treatment and a life long lifestyle change.

People who have an above average risk of getting diabetes are people over 45 years old. Also people with overweight are having an above average risk at developing diabetes.

Does that basically mean that if you are younger than 45 and have a normal weight you are out of the danger zone? Unfortunately this is not the case. Everybody can develop diabetes.

Some potential risk indicators for developing diabetes are:

1. You are above 45
2. Your belly size is over 102 cm (men) and 88 cm (women)
3. You do not exercise more than half an hour daily (walking, cycling, swimming, gardening.)
4. You are using medicine for high blood pressure
5. In the past you have been diagnosed at least once for a high blood sugar level; for instance during a pregnancy or illness.
6. Diabetes type 1 ("juvenile diabetes") or type 2 ("adult onset diabetes") occurs in your family

If you think you are at risk do not hesitate to consult your doctor.

And surely if you are healthy try to stay that way by doing exercises and keeping your weight at a healthy level by thinking carefully before you eat. Obviously it is not possible to elaborate more about the disease in this short article. However there are many useful sources you can easily find on the Internet or in your local library. But most important if you have any questions or any reasonable doubt about your own health situation or the health of your loved ones please consult a doctor. He or she will be ably informed about the diagnoses and treatment options.