Your concierge medical doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter, FL, want you to know that nuts are not just for snacking on at parties. Several studies have shown that all types of nuts can help improve your general health. From weight control to heart health, and even lower cancer risk, those little tree fruits can make a real difference in your overall well-being.
When actress Carrie Fisher died in January, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, took it especially hard.
“I just want to be with Carrie,” Todd Fisher said were his mother’s last words. Reynolds, 84, died the day after her daughter’s death, reportedly of a stroke.
Was this just a sad coincidence, or can grief really kill a person? Actually, it can, either quickly, as in Reynolds’ case, or over a relatively brief period of time.
Although New Year’s resolutions are sometimes seen as an exercise in futility, research shows that approximately 45% of those who make them are still sticking with them six months later.
There is nothing wrong with using the start of a brand-new year to turn the page on old health habits and create new ones. But while approximately 40% of adults say they make New Year’s resolutions, fewer focus on helping their children use this practice to initiate new health habits.
You’ve heard the old expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, your concierge physicians at MD 2.0 Jupiter wouldn’t go that far; apples are definitely good for you, and are certainly part of the balanced diet you need to stay healthy. But if you really wish to reap a host of health benefits at low risk and even lower cost, consider taking an aspirin a day.
There’s no getting around it: It’s that time of year. Even here in South Florida, colds peak through the winter months. And of course you’ve heard the old saying: “They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t cure the common cold.” It’s true. We can’t. So the second-best alternative is to avoid them altogether.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that adults average two or three colds per year, with even more in children. It also notes that most people contract their colds during winter and spring, but that colds are a year-round curse. They’re the main reason people miss school and work, according to the CDC.
Feeling kind of blah lately? Not as much energy as you had all summer? Not so willing to drag yourself to parties, or even out of bed? What about swimming? Tennis? Volleyball? Can’t think of even one good reason to chase a little white ball around with a stick when they couldn’t keep you off the course all spring and summer?
Maybe you’re depressed. Or maybe you’re just normal. We here at MD 2.0 Jupiter often begin to notice a subtle change in many of our clients around this time of year, even here in Florida, where we don’t have to face the extreme plunges in temperature. Nothing serious, just a little less enthusiasm, a bit less cheerfulness, a little less energy. Carb cravings and changes in sleep patterns are also a part of the syndrome. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but if you’re feeling something less than your usual perky self, rest assured there’s a scientific reason for it.
It has several names: “winter depression,” “seasonality,” “seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” but the fact is, researchers have determined that the shorter days in winter are the chief cause of winter blues. This likely has an ancient-survival connection, as humans learned to restrict activity when food sources were scarce. Of course, that’s not a problem today, but the tendency may still be hardwired into our biology, and people may experience symptoms on a sliding scale from barely noticeable to full-blown clinical depression.
Your body’s circadian clock, which triggers sleep and wake cycles among other bodily regulatory mechanisms, also decrees the output of serotonin, the so-called “mood” hormone. Studies have revealed that the circadian-related output of serotonin drops markedly with the decrease in light during the winter. This has led to fairly successful attempts to boost the winter mood of sufferers with light-box therapy, which employs specially built full-spectrum lamps to alleviate symptoms.
If you feel the “winter blues” are impacting your life, your concierge practitioners at MD 2.0 Jupiter can help you employ the correct light therapy, prescribe such antidepressants as Paxil and Prozac, or recommend cognitive behavioral therapy. Meanwhile, there are steps you can take to mitigate milder cases.
1. Stay active, preferably outdoors
Exposure to early morning light has been shown to be the most effective at reducing symptoms, as has vigorous exercise. An early morning walk or run might be all you need to boost your spirits.
2. Light up your life
If you can’t get outside, at least let the sunshine in as much as possible. Open blinds and drapes first thing in the morning, and keep them open all day.
3. Eat right
Yes, we’re still singing that same ole song, because it’s important. Simple carbs and sugars wreak havoc with your blood sugar, and hence, your mood. Lean meats, fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates are what your body needs to keep your brain in top shape.
Meanwhile, be sure to let us know if your low mood begins to interfere with your daily functioning. We can help.
When the FluMist spray was introduced in 2003, the medical community rejoiced, hoping the nasal spray which became available in place of the annual flu shot would induce more people to get protected. Parents were happy, too, in being able to dodge the tears from their little ones.
Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control has decided that FluMist cannot be used for this upcoming flu season because it is ineffective. First licensed by the FDA in 2003, FluMist contained a weakened, live flu virus. The injection uses an inactivated virus. Early clinical trials seemed to show that the spray worked as well as or better than the shot, which led an estimated 20 million people to opt for FluMist last year.
In June of this year, however, the CDC released a study which showed that the nasal spray was effective only three percent of the time in children from two to 17 years of age during the 2015-2016 flu season. By contrast, the flu shot last winter was effective 49 percent of the time in adults and 63 percent in children. FluMist’s effectiveness rate seemed to plummet in 2013 when makers of the spray switched from including three strains of live virus (a trivalent) to four (a quadrivalent), although no one seems to be able to say how that impacted efficacy. The bottom line is, it’s not an option for the 2016-2017 flu season.
Keep in mind that the influenza virus kills thousands of people each year, so the flu shot is strongly recommended. Thus, the concierge physicians here at MD 2.0 Jupiter want to offer a few tips on how to make it a little less ouch-inducing for our clients.
1. Distraction seems to work best, not only for children but for adults, as well. Don’t look at the needle. Check out your smart phone, daydream about your next vacation, replay Sunday’s game in your head. Have your kids blow bubbles, play with a toy, eat a cookie (and don’t make a big thing out of getting a shot—treat it casually in front of them).
2. For fearful or pain-sensitive adults and children, let us know. We can administer a local anesthetic cream to the skin prior to the injection.
3. Hold your breath before and during the injection. This increases blood pressure which helps to decrease pain sensitivity.
4. Relax your muscles as much as possible before receiving the shot. Tensing up causes more pain both during and after the injection.
5. Apply either ice or a warm compress (try both to see which works best for you) to the site after the injection, and be sure to use your arm as much as possible in the ensuing hours to increase circulation.
6. If soreness persists after three days, call us! That’s why we’re here!
So Earth is now a verb? It is if you believe the latest research on the positive health effects of slipping off your shoes and walking barefoot on the ground.
Something we all did as kids—and probably haven’t done much since—has been said to: reduce blood sugar levels by 31%; increase levels of immune-boosting globulins; increase concentrations of the thyroid hormone thyroxin; combat insomnia; speed wound healing and reduce pain.
Other claims for “Earthing” include higher energy levels and a better response to stress. Advocates contend that the exposure to the free electrons available when your feet touch the ground reduces inflammation in the body and thus impacts such varied ailments as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and thyroid disorders, among others.
Not bad for something that’s free and as simple as cloud-watching.
The term “Earthing” was coined by Clinton Ober who, with Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, led the research into the effects of barefoot contact with the earth. It is based on the principle that our bodies’ electrical rhythms connect with the earth’s electrical field when we are in direct contact with the ground. It doesn’t work if you’re wearing shoes, because the soles interrupt the electrical connection.
Scientists have known for decades that the surface of the Earth releases a supply of free and mobile electrons in unlimited quantities. What they’ve discovered in the last few years is that, when your skin comes into contact with the ground, millions of these negatively charged particles are released into your body, according to Sinatra.
While some critics (such as Dr. Andrew Weil) advocate more research to confirm the many claims for the benefits of Earthing, most say it can’t hurt to try it. Which is all its proponents are suggesting.
What does this mean for you? It means that, for the price of slipping off your shoes and standing on the earth, you may be able to improve your well-being in ways you wouldn’t think of.
Here are the basics of Earthing:
- Water is a conductor, so if possible try to walk on wet grass or sand. Salt water conducts better than rain, dew or pool water, so if you can walk on the beach, so much the better.
- The sole of the foot has more nerve endings, inch for inch, than any other part of the body, so while it will be beneficial to place any part of the body on the ground, contacting the earth with the soles of the feet will give the most satisfactory results.
- If you’re worried about stepping on bees, fire ants or other hidden hazards while walking, get a lawn chair and sit in a single spot and read a book or listen to music. The important thing is to make bare-skin contact with the earth.
- Try to “Earth” at least 40 minutes a day, if possible, but any amount of time should produce noticeable results. The more you do it, the faster you’ll see the effects.
You may not have heard of qigong (pronounced “chee-kung”), but you’re almost certainly familiar with tai chi, the ancient form of Chinese exercise. Qi (sometimes spelled “chi”) means breath or energy, and gong means work. So qigong means energy or breath work, and tai chi is the moving or exercise form of qigong. Unlike tai chi, however, qigong is not related to the martial arts.
While self-treatment should never replace competent medical care, the practice of qigong may complement whatever treatment you’re receiving from your doctor.
It entails specific body postures, gentle movement, rhythmic breathing and visualization. The gentle, flowing qigong exercises can help calm the body and mind, as well as replenish energy depleted by day-to-day stress, poor health habits, or illness. It has been reported to benefit such diverse conditions as depression and anxiety, headaches and other chronic pain, addictions, insomnia, and heart ailments, including high blood pressure. It also has been shown to improve circulation, balance and muscle control. Studies done at the University of California, Irvine, have shown that the practice of qigong increases both alpha waves in the brain, which are calming, and beta waves, which help to sharpen focus.
Not bad for a low-impact, equipment-free, low-cost or even free activity!
The postures and breathing techniques are simple enough that anyone, at any age and in any state of health, can learn them, quickly and easily. Unlike tai chi, there are no long forms to memorize. Qigong may be done standing, sitting or even lying down—different exercises have different requirements. It can be done anywhere indoors or outdoors, in any comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You can even do some of the postures, movements, breathing and visualizations while standing in line, and no one will know!
You can take classes in qigong (costs average $10-$20 per class), learn from a book or DVD, or from the numerous online courses available.
Meanwhile, here’s a quick exercise that will introduce you to the immediate benefits of qigong.
Stand with your feet comfortably apart, tailbone tucked under. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose (your mouth stays closed).
Now slowly reach your arms overhead (as if signaling a touchdown) and imagine you’re holding a beach ball filled with positive energy. Still breathing deeply, slowly lower your hands to chest height, then pause, breathe once more, then bring your hands to your tummy, and imagine you’re guiding that positive energy into your body. Smile!