Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Cherries Have Health Benefits

Photo by Quaritsch Photography

February is National Cherry Month as well as Heart Month making it a good time to showcase this rounded slightly heart shaped tiny fruit and the many health benefits it offers.

Nutrient facts of 1 cup or about 20 cherries on an average:

  • Calories-90
  • Protein-1.5 grams
  • Fiber-3 grams
  • Carbohydrates-22 grams
  • Sugar-17 grams
  • Sodium-0 mg
  • Cholesterol-0 mg
  • Vitamin C -9.7 mg
  • Potassium-300 mg
  • Calcium-17.9 mg
  • Magnesium-15.2 mg
  • Copper-0.08 mg

Benefits of cherries:

  • Heart healthy as it contains potassium and polyphenol antioxidants which help reduce blood pressure, protect against cellular damage, reduce inflammation, and reduce risk of heart disease
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps reduce cholesterol
  • Reduces inflammation(which helps in arthritis)
  • Rich in antioxidants(anthocyanins which imparts deep red color of cherries, polyphenols, beta-carotene, vitamin C) so reduces oxidative stress
  • Improves blood sugar as has a low glycemic index
  • Improves quality of sleep due to anti-inflammatory compounds, melatonin which regulates sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin which makes melatonin
  • Reduces exercise-induced muscle soreness due to anti-inflammatory effect and helps in recovery

Cherries are versatile and can be used as an addition to a nutritious diet. You can eat them as a snack, in a smoothie, add them to your salad, yogurt, or oatmeal, or enjoy in a savory dessert.

Prioritizing Work-life Balance

Per Lauren Edmonds in Business Insider “American hustle culture is dying. Millennials are willing to take a 20% pay cut for a better work-life balance.”.

“American millennials are over hustle culture.

Ford’s 2024 trends survey, which conducted 16,086 online interviews in 16 countries, found that millennials in the United States were ready to step back from their desks.

About 60% of surveyed American millennials said they would take a 20% pay cut “to achieve a lifestyle that prioritizes my quality of life,” which is 5% more than the global average.

US millennials were the most willing among their generational cohorts. Just 33% of Baby Boomers were willing to take that salary cut, while 43% of Gen X and 56% of Gen Z agreed."

This survey shows that US millennials have gotten something right. The United States is the most overworked developed nation and we need to start looking at achieving a better work-life balance.

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson

Expressing gratitude for the things we have in our lives be it material things, relationships, careers, family and more, can have a positive impact in our lives in general. It allows us to appreciate and value what we have instead of focusing on what we do not have.

Research has shown that practicing gratitude has physical as well as emotional and mental benefits:

  • decreases stress and depression
  • lowers levels of stress hormone(cortisol)
  • Lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • associated with healthier eating and decreased dietary fat intake
  • helps you sleep better
  • helps make stronger social connections
  • decreases inflammation markers
  • motivates you to exercise
  • strengthens immune system
  • improves pain tolerance
  • helps keep glucose under control
  • improves overall well-being
  • boosts self-confidence
  • makes you more optimistic

How to practice gratitude

  • keep a gratitude journal-gratitude journaling has become popular and is an outlet to physically write down all the things we have to be thankful for. But remember, you don’t necessarily have to write….you can sketch, paint, photograph, whatever works for you
  • write thank you notes or mentally thank someone
  • pray
  • meditate
  • count your blessings
  • perform acts of kindness-volunteer, pick up liter, pay kindness forward

The Health Benefits of Having Soup

Photo by Irina

It’s cold and chilly out there, and what better than enjoying a nice steamy bowl of soup during the winter months. Soup can be used as starter or even as a main meal. It is prepared in a way that preserves nutritional value so you are getting in a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.

Benefits of soups:

  • A good way to get in your veggies-you can just about place any type of vegetable in, fresh or frozen
  • Easy to prepare especially if using the instant pot or a slow cooker
  • Provides good hydration and a feeling of satiety
  • A good way to maintain or even lose weight-a bowl of soup can make you feel full and cut back on eating a bigger meal with it or eating junk food
  • High in protein and fiber-allows you to add in vegetables, legumes, and grains
  • Leftovers can be frozen and enjoyed later
  • Helps your immunity-soups are loaded with nutrients such as garlic, onions, carrots, celery, that have been shown to fight off infections
  • The hot liquid of soup can help soothe a sore throat when sick
  • Helps practice mindful eating as you sip soup slowly, allowing you to savor the contents

What to watch out for:

  • Be careful of things that can increase the calorie and sodium content of your soup such as condiments, thickening agents(such as heavy cream, cheese), and instant or canned soups(have high sodium content)
  • use salt in moderation, add in other flavoring agents such as garlic, basil, oregano, onion powder, etc to get that flavor

January marks National Soup Month so pull out your favorite soup recipes and try out some new ones to savor and add to your cookbook!

Does a Soda Tax Work?

Per Steven Ross Johnson in US News “How ‘Soda Taxes’ Could Fuel Better Health”.

“In an analysis published in JAMA Health Forum, researchers examined changes in the prices and purchases of sugary drinks sold in retail stores in Boulder, Colorado; Philadelphia; Oakland, California; San Francisco; and Seattle from 2012 to 2020. Excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages were implemented in Boulder, Oakland and Philadelphia in 2017, according to the study, and in San Francisco and Seattle in 2018, with amounts ranging from 1 cent to 2 cents per ounce.

Researchers calculated that the prices of these drinks rose by an overall average of 33% in those cities in the two years after the taxes went into effect, or by 1.3 cents per ounce. Meanwhile, the volume in ounces of sugary drinks purchased during the same period decreased by 33%."

This study showed that with the soda tax, prices went up by 33% and sales dropped by the same….33%. The ill effects of sugar is well known and it shows tht the tax did have some effect in reducing consumption of these sugary drinks.

Make It Past Quitters Day

Most of our new year resolutions are over-ambitious. And then LIFE happens.

in 2019, Strava, a social network for athletes, discovered that 80% of resolution-makers give up on their new year resolutions on the second Friday of January, a day known as “Quitters day”.

So, how to prevent falling off the wagon?

  • Don’t give up
  • Revisit your goals-sometimes we make too many and over do it. Prioritize what is important.
  • Revise your resolutions-for example, if the plan was a work out for an hour a day, decrease it to 30 minutes a day
  • Work on making small consistent changes instead of a big change
  • Accept support from friends and family to stay focused on your goals
  • Celebrate your small achievements to stay motivated
  • Acknowledge your slip-ups-if you skip a work out or eat an unhealthy meal, acknowledge it and work on doing better in the future

Remember that your new year resolutions are not just for January but for the whole year. Work on making small changes to build better habits for the long run.

Encourage Your Loved Ones to Do Better

With the beginning of the New Year and all those New Year Resolutions that we have been working on…it is important to stay motivated, encourage yourself and your loved ones to keep at it. Small steps can make a big difference over time.

The Importance of Vitamin D

Photo by Ales Krivec

It’s winter and most of us are not getting enough sun! The sun provides us with a very important vitamin….vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is needed so the body can use calcium and phosphorus to build bones and support healthy tissues. Vitamin D is important for immunity and bone health. It has been shown to prevent bone loss, depression, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. About half of the popuation in the world have vitamin D deficiency which highlights the importance of awareness of this condition.

Sources of vitamin D

  • Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D-spend more time outdoors(but remember to use sunscreen)
  • Eat vitamin D rich foods-yogurt, egg yolks, fatty fish, fortified cereals, fortified milk and juice
  • Dietary supplements for those with low levels. There is also prescription medications available for those with severe deficiency which your doctor can order if needed.
    • Vitamin D deficiency is diagnosed by a blood test of 25 hydroxy vitamin D level
      • Levels of 50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL) or above are adequate for most people for bone and overall health.
      • Levels below 30 nmol/L (12 ng/mL) are too low and might weaken your bones and affect your health.
      • Levels above 125 nmol/L (50 ng/mL) are too high and might cause health problems.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

  • fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • bone pain
  • depression
  • hair loss
  • loss of appetite
  • sleeping difficulty

Who is at risk for Vitamin D deficiency?

  • breastfed infants as vitamin D content of human milk is low
  • older adults-age causes a decline in the skin’s ability to make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight
  • people who seldom go outside to get sunlight such as nursing home residents
  • darker skin-the darker your skin, the less vitamin D you make from sunlight
  • Conditions that limit fat absorption-celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colits

No One Is Coming

It is up to you to make your life the way you want it to be. Tough love on yourself!