winter-depression

It’s Not You, It’s Nature

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.

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‘Senior Moments’ or Alzheimer’s?

Everyone forgets things from time to time, but with publicity these days so focused on Alzheimer’s, even middle-aged people can worry that forgetting their car keys or their mother’s phone number can signal the onset of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is a subset.

Yet there are many other reasons—usually benign—why people have trouble remembering things. Let’s look at a few.

A top contender is side effects from medications. Sometimes the drugs themselves can include memory impairment as a side effect (statins for cholesterol control and some diabetes drugs, for example); other times it’s the combination of drugs that when taken alone are fine but when taken in combination produce unexpected side effects. The concierge physicians here at MD 2.0 Jupiter are prepared to discuss these concerns with any drug you are taking.

Another possible reason for memory impairment is sleep apnea. Along with many other negative effects, obstructive sleep apnea has been associated with spatial navigational memory, the kind that helps you find objects or addresses. ADHD and minor or “silent” strokes can also cause you to have difficulty remembering things. So can anxiety, depression, an underactive thyroid, and poor nutrition, especially low vitamin B12. As we age, it becomes harder to assimilate B12 from foods, which can lead to fuzzy thinking, confusion, even dementia. Please discuss all these possibilities with us.

Often, though, poor memory is simply attributable to the stress of ordinary, day-to-day life. It even happens to younger people. Look at the parents who leave their children in hot cars. Over 30 infants and children have died that way just this year. How could anybody forget their own child, we wonder. And yet, despite all the warnings, all the tricks to help parents prevent this tragedy, it happens over and over.

The answer is simple: information overload. Think of your brain as a large room. If that room has only five items in it, when asked to locate your keys in there, it’s a simple task. But if that room has 5,000 items, or 50,000 or 500,000, you’ll eventually find them, but it’ll take quite a bit longer. This is what happens to our brains as we age. When we’re children, we may have five items in our brains. But as we grow older, we’re now storing everything from our high school locker combinations to our Aunt Sally’s banana cake recipe, not to mention everything we learned in school, have read in books and newspapers, and seen on TV. And these days we’re probably also on the Internet, with its constant bombardment of information. We need to remember how to do math, the date of our niece’s baby shower, and user names and 10-digit passwords for all kinds of things. Is it any wonder our brains take a little longer to find and retrieve a single piece of information, even if we think it should be a simple thing?

The rule of thumb is, if you can’t find your keys, it’s probably nothing. If you forget what your keys are for, that’s a red flag. Either way, if you’re worried, please call us.

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Staying Healthy During Spring Break

Spring break is a fun and memorable time for most people. Whether you are jet-setting to a foreign tropical island or having your own “staycation” here in South Florida, it’s important for you to take care of your health while on Spring Break. Taking care of your health will ensure that you get the most out of your vacation from work and/or school. Below is a list of tips for staying healthy during your break:

Stay hydrated:
You should keep a water bottle with you at all times. Being out in the sun all day can really increase your risk of getting dehydrated. Additionally, if you are drinking alcohol, then you are at an even greater risk for getting dehydrated even faster. Experts recommend drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day. This is equivalent to a half a gallon of water. Keep in mind that it is possible for you to be dehydrated without even feeling thirsty.

Stay active:
Spring break is a great time to get and stay active. Try to get at least 2.5 hours of exercise in per week – that’s just 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Swimming, volleyball, dancing and walking are some of the ways that you can get exercise in your day while enjoying the beautiful springtime weather outdoors!

Wear sunscreen & a hat:
If you will be out in the sun, then it is important to put on sunscreen and a hat! We discussed how to prevent skin cancer in our previous blog post and it’s so important while on Spring Break! You should apply the sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside and reapply sunscreen every two hours or if you go swimming.

Pack healthy snacks:
Any hotel is going to have a minibar full of indulgent temptations. Resist temptation by packing your own snacks! Nuts and unsweetened dried fruit are portable and nutritious snacks that will help you stay on track during your vacation. Of course we all need to indulge every once in awhile, but seven days in a row will definitely make an impact!

Dry off:
When possible, try to always wear dry clothing. It’s not great for our health to sit around in wet bathing suits. If you’re done with the pool or beach for the day, change into a dry outfit rather than sit around in your wet bathing suit to prevent a possible cold.

We hope you all enjoy your Spring Break!

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Easy Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer

Living in South Florida is like living in paradise. However, many Americans are at a high risk for skin cancer, and the sunshine state can be a dangerous place if you aren’t careful. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and there are many different types. From Melanoma to Lymphoma, skin cancer affects thousands of Americans every year. The main cause of skin cancer is over exposure to direct sunlight. This may be hard to accept for those living in South Florida, but it is important to protect your health as best you can. Here are some ways you can alter your lifestyle to avoid developing skin cancer in the future.

Appreciate the shade

The hours between 9 AM and 5 PM are considered the most dangerous. This is when the sun is strongest, which means your chances of overexposure are high. The closer you get to midday, the greater your risk will be. Seek shade whenever spending long hours in the outdoors. At the beach, use an umbrella to shield yourself from the sun’s rays.

Do not use tanning beds 

Many living in South Florida like to have a good tan before they start going to the beach. A slight tan is fine, as long as it is natural. Tanning beds are death traps when it comes to skin cancer. In fact, over tanning naturally is just as dangerous. If you feel you need to tan, keep it light and wear sunscreen. Any medical professional will tell you that a dark tan is not worth the risk.

Sunscreen and clothing are crucial

If you cannot avoid direct sunlight for hours every day, you should be using sunscreen that is about 15 SPF. Also wear long sleeve shirts and long pants. This is not popular advice in South Florida, but a long sleeve shirt is the best way to protect your skin when outdoors. There are even shirts designed with SPF within the fabric. Such shirts can be purchased at most dive or surf shops.

Regular checkups with your doctor are important

If you live in South Florida, you are at a higher risk of skin cancer than most other Americans. You should schedule a routine checkup at least once a year. More if you fear you may be at risk or find any unusual new spots on your body.

Skin cancer is no joke. It is responsible for many lives, but most cases could have been prevented with the proper attention and care. It is never too late to start a healthier life!

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Staying Healthy While Traveling

It always seems to be travel season down in sunny South Florida! Traveling is not only sometimes necessary for business, but a great way to vacation and see the great big world abroad. However, when most people travel, they neglect their health. While traveling we sometimes don’t exercise enough or eat properly, and don’t take proper precautions to avoid infectious diseases that can easily be avoided. Several things can be done to protect the health of travelers. This article is going to cover the top ways to stay healthy while traveling!

Avoid Jet Lag

Jet lag is a disruption of your body’s internal clock that results from quickly traveling into a different time zone. There are several factors that make jet lag worse such as early or late flights. Getting up earlier than normal or getting up late at night to catch a flight can impact your sleep cycle alone. But when it combines with jet lag, the problem becomes worse.

To combat the effects of jet lag, avoid caffeine or alcohol and drink plenty of water. Caffeine and alcohol will further disrupt your sleep cycle, especially since they’re dehydrating. Don’t eat any heavy or salty meals right before a flight, even the night before can impact your trip. Drinking water and staying hydrated will help maintain your energy level. It will also fight the symptoms of jet lag, such as fatigue, headache, and dizziness.

Make Healthy Food Choices

Packing your own snacks and/or making healthy food choices abroad is a great way to stay in your best condition when traveling. Protein bars, nuts, and granola are great to bring on trips – as long as your airline or destination allows them. They will not spoil and they provide vital nutrients for our wellness. Try to avoid fast food restaurants as much as possible, as those meals aren’t filled with the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy!

Protect Against Disease

Airports, airplanes, and hotels are ideal places for germs and infections to spread, and this can present a medical hazard. It is important to take steps to reduce the odds of getting sick while at an airport and on the airplane. Getting a flu shot and taking vitamins is a great way to boost the immune system. A healthy immune system is more likely to fight off infections and reduce the odds of disease. Using hand sanitizer is another great way to stay safe as well as staying hydrated.

Stay Fit

Staying fit while traveling can be a challenge. Many people find it difficult to keep up with their regular workout routine while they’re away from home. However, there are several ways to overcome this. Getting a universal gym membership is one method. Universal gym memberships have locations in most major cities. Travelers can also choose to stay at a hotel that has a gym on the premises. However, it is important that travelers call ahead to find out what equipment the gym has. A walk outdoors is another great option and a great way to see the sights!

It’s easy to stay healthy while traveling if you take the necessary precautions! Safe travels, everyone!

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How to Sleep Better at Night

Sleep plays a vital role in your physical health, emotional well-being and overall quality of life. Yet medical reports show that one in three adults experience insomnia. Ongoing sleep deprivation impacts the way that our brains function and can even make us more at risk for certain chronic diseases. However, medical research has shown that there are numerous strategies that can greatly improve our sleep quality!

Exercise:
Daily exercise can help us sleep better. Researchers determined that adults who exercise for 30 minutes at least three to four times per week sleep on average, nearly 45 minutes to an hour longer than adults who do not exercise regularly. In addition to an improvement in sleep quality, people also feel more alert during the day. Although, it’s important not to exercise right before bed because this could actually keep you awake rather than helping you sleep!

Get on a schedule:
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day can reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and improve sleep quality. Erratic sleep schedules can leave you feeling groggy during the day since it impacts your body’s biological clock. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a consistent sleep pattern on workdays, weekends and holidays – no matter how badly you might want to sleep in!

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake:
Caffeine, a common stimulant in coffee, chocolate, sodas and tea, causes hyperactivity and sleeplessness. Try to avoid consuming caffeine after lunchtime. Additionally, health experts also claim that tyrosine-rich foods like fermented cheeses, avocados, some types of beer and red wine can worsen sleep quality. While some studies show that moderate alcohol might help you fall asleep, it actually contributes to sleep disturbances and frequent early awakening.

Manage stress:
Stress often contributes to insomnia by making it difficult fall asleep and stay asleep. The right amount of stress can help keep us alert and energetic during the day. Too much stress can make us anxious and tense, making it difficult to stop our racing minds when trying to fall asleep. It sends our brains into overdrive and can create a vicious cycle of insomnia. If you have a stressful job or find it difficult to turn off your mind at night, it may be beneficial to incorporate a stress management program into your daily routine.

Unplug:
Recent studies show just how much the white light from our smartphones, laptops, and televisions impact our sleep. Try to unplug and read a book instead an hour before you wish to fall asleep. This might take away some of your stress too!

Sleep is vital to our health – physical and mental! Get the rest your body needs by following our tips!

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How to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Sickness can be difficult to avoid during the winter months, even in South Florida. Germs are easily passed from person to person and studies have shown that cold weather can weaken the immune system. The good news is that there are many ways you can protect your health during cold and flu season! Below is a list of tips that will be helpful this season:

Get a Flu Shot

One of the best things you can do in order to protect your health during the winter months is to get a flu shot. A flu shot can cut your risk of developing the flu by up to 70%.

Follow a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet helps support your immune system. If you have a strong immune system, then you are much less likely to develop the cold or flu! Vitamin C is one of the nutrients that helps support a healthy immune system. You can find vitamin C in green peppers, citrus fruits and broccoli.

Vitamin E is another one of the nutrients that supports a healthy immune system. You can find vitamin E in nuts, sunflower seeds and corn oils. Additionally, you should limit the amount of sugar you take in. Sugar has a tendency to suppress the immune system, as well as many other negative effects.

Wash Your Hands

Washing our hands frequently is one of the best practices in reducing the risk of getting sick. In order for you to kill bacteria and viruses on your hands, you will need to wash them in warm water for at least 20 seconds. You can keep hand sanitizer with you at all times just in case you do not have access to soap or water.

Get A Good Night’s Sleep

The importance of a good night’s sleep is often overlooked. However, it is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy during cold and flu season. A lack of sleep can impair your immune system, which can put you at a greater risk for getting sick. Medical experts recommend getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps reduce stress. Stress can impair immune system functioning. There have also been studies done to show that regular exercise can decrease one’s chances of getting the cold or flu.

Reduce your chances of catching a cold or the dreaded flu this season by following our tips! We aim to keep you healthy and in your best shape.

healthy lifestyle

Preventative Health Care IS Possible

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin

Heart disease. Cancer. Diabetes.

These conditions affect millions of lives every year in the United States. The news of such an illness can be a devastating blow to patients and their loved ones. Fortunately, it is often possible to avoid such heartache when physicians and patients partner in a commitment to preventive health care.

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