Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

America's Failure in Disease Prevention

Per Karen Weintraub and Adrianna Rodriguez, in USA Today, “America can prevent (and control) Type 2 diabetes. So why aren’t we doing it?”.

“Type 2 diabetes, in which the body can’t properly regulate blood sugar, has become so common it’s almost considered inconsequential. More than 1 in 10 Americans have the disease (though many don’t know it) and another nearly 4 in 10 are at risk for it. In total, half of all adults and a quarter of teenagers have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Its financial costs are astronomical. The country spends more than $300 billion a year to address diabetes, accounting for $1 out of every $4 spent on health care.

America’s failure to address Type 2 diabetes highlights larger problems with our food and medical systems……. A soda costs less than a bottle of water, a double cheeseburger and fries less than a carton of blueberries. Patients wait months for medical appointments only to see the back of a white coat for the short time they’re allotted. Treating disease costs society far more than preventing it but typically provides more profit for insurance companies, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry."

People don’t realize the cost to their health of eating fastfood and unhealthy foods. It is interesting that Singapore has increased it’s life expectancy by promoting healthy food as healthy food is subsidized and junk food is taxed. The fact that in America, unhealthy food is cheaper and affordable fosters unhealthy habits and leads down a road with poor health outcomes.

Benefits of Cleaning and Organization

Photo by Orgalux

When we come home from a long day, it is with a sigh of relief and comfort and to familiar belongings. So keeping your home a sanctuary and not a mess can be a blessing. There are many mental and physical benefits of keeping your home clean and organized.

  • Decreases the stress hormone, cortisol
  • Allows you to feel a sense of control which in turn give you more satisfaction and decreases stress
  • Relieves anxiety
  • Helps you enjoy the space and provides pleasure in everyday activites at home
  • Boosts your mood
  • Helps to increase your focus, especially if you are working from home. Clutter can cause several stimuli in your brain and leads to distraction.
  • Helps with productivity and helps to gain energy to tackle other tasks
  • Physical order is linked to healthier choices. Per a study, those with cleaner rooms chose healthier snacks
  • Saves time-if you are organized, you are not wasting time looking for clothes or important papers

So you may just want to bring that Marie Kondo spark of joy to your life. You can start small, maybe your desk, a kitchen cabinet, a refrigerator shelf, or a portion of your closet and take it from there. You can even put some relaxing music on or ask a family member to help, Think of ways to make your living space clutter free, clean, and bring in that inner peace.

Obesity on an Upward Trend

Per Deidre McPhillips, in CNN health, “Obesity is becoming more common in a growing number of states, CDC data show”.

“Obesity is becoming more common in a growing number of states, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022, 22 states had at least 35% of adults with obesity, up from 19 states in 2021. Ten years ago, CDC said, no state had an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%.

Obesity rates were lowest among young adults, with about 1 in 5 people ages 18 to 24 considered to have obesity. Rates were about twice as high among adults 45 to 54, with a prevalence of about 2 in 5, according to the CDC data. Obesity prevalence also decreased as level of education increased."

As a country, we are headed in the wrong direction. Obesity is linked to chronic diseases such has hypertension, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, etc. It is interesting that obesity prevelance decreased as education level increased which could mean health literacy is something we could work on to bring awareness to more people. It may not be easy to lose that extra fat, but persistence with eating healthy, building in an exercise routine, and self care will make a difference.

What We Can Learn From Blue Zones?

Photo by Daniel Bernard

Blue zones are a term used by author Dan Buettner who has studied areas with long longevity for the past 2 decades. Blue zones are regions of the world where people live longer and healthier lives than average(about a decade longer than the US or Western Europe).

Here are some of the things that individuals in these blue zones are doing:

Okinawa, Japan

  • world’s longest lived women
  • diet plant-based with antioxidants and nutrient-rich vegetables and leaves
  • stop eating when they are 80% full and practice mindful eating(average calorie intake is 1900 compared to US average of 3600 calories)
  • they practice “ikigai” -they have a reason for living and life purpose such as gardening, art, friends
  • gardening is a part of life-get activity in, have fresh produce, and move around
  • traditionally sit on the floor to eat and relax-this means the elderly are getting up and down off the floor several times a day which helps with buliding lower body strength and balance

Sardonia, Italy

  • highest male centenarians in the world(in the US, 100 year old women outnumber men by 6:1 but in Sardinia, the ratio is 1:1)
  • steep towns built on the hillside make mobility and exercise a daily part of life by just walking
  • eat primarily plant-based diet and also consume Cannonau wine which has the highest amount of polyphenols in the world

Ikaria, Greece

  • Island with almost no dementia
  • villages are steep so everywhere they go and walk, they get exercise in
  • follow a Mediterranean diet with lots of vegetables and fruit

Nicoya, Costa Rica

  • splitting logs helps elder stay mobile -walk regularly
  • Meso-american diet-corn, beans, squash
  • spend 1/5th amount on healthcare than the US does

Loma Linda, California

  • live an average of 10 years more than average Americans
  • eat healthy whole foods like nuts, vegetables and beans which is a diet per the faith they practice as this community has the highest concentration of Seventh-day Adventists. Adventists also do not smoke or drink alcohol.


  • In addition, Mr. Buettner has proposed Singapore as a new blue zone.
  • now has the longest, healthiest life expectancy in the world
  • promote healthy food-junk food is taxed, healthy food is subsidized
  • promote mobility-driving is taxed, walking is subsidized
  • if your aging parent lives within 500 yards of you, you get a tax break(which helps older people get the care they need in times of need)
  • National Steps Challenge encourages residents to move more and incentivizes by letting them redeem points to use to shop or eat at restaurants.

So, what is the secret to a long, healthy life? It’s not a vigorous exercise routine or supplements. It comes down to eating good food, getting a good night’s sleep, having good friends, and moving around naturally throughout the day.

Here are some of the what stands out in all of the blue zones:

  • Eating good food: Cook yourself! Don’t order out. Focus on a plant-based diet-simple foods containing whole grains, vegetables, greens, beans, and tubers, such as sweet potatoes. Use herbs. Eating a cup of beans a day not only gets you protein and fiber, but associated with living an extra 4 years. Don’t overeat.
  • Don’t shy away from social interactions
  • Move around-you don’t have to necessarily go to the gym, any activity is helpful…gardening, walking
  • Get a good night’s sleep

The Future of Healthcare With AI

Per Hannah Mark & Valentina Simon in Yale News, “Yale researchers investigate the future of AI in healthcare”.

“Picture a world where healthcare is not confined to a clinic. The watch on your wrist ticks steadily throughout the day, collecting and transmitting information about your heart rate, oxygen saturation and the levels of sugar in your blood. Sensors scan your face and body, making inferences about your state of health.

By the time you see a doctor, algorithms have already synthesized this data and organized it in ways that fit a diagnosis, detecting health problems before symptoms arise.

…..Over the past months, Yale researchers have published a variety of papers on machine learning in medicine, from wearable devices that can detect heart defects to algorithms that can triage COVID-19 patients. Though much of this technology is still in development, the rapid surge of AI innovation has prompted experts to consider how it will impact healthcare in the near future. Questions remain about the reliability of AI conclusions, the ethics of using AI to treat patients and how this technology might transform the healthcare landscape."

It is no doubt that healthcare is bound to change with AI, but it should always be used in conjunction with actually seeing a doctor. Time will tell where healthcare goes in the future. For now, we can wear fitness trackers, use health apps on our phone, exercise, eat healthy….all the things we can do to keep us on track to reach our health goals.

Why Eat Superfoods?

Photo by Timo Volz

We know some foods are healthier than others such as a nice leafy salad in comparison to a burger. There are healthy foods that are know as “superfoods” which provide us with a bit of an edge when consumed regularly. A superfood is usually a natural food which is low in calories and nutrient-dense.

Benefits of superfoods

  • Promotes a strong immune system
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Prevents chronic disease and progression of chronic disease such as heart disease and high cholesterol
  • Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
  • Some superfoods may also contain fiber, flavonoids(have anit-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties), and healthy fats

Examples of superfoods

  • Grapes-the skin of grapes contains phytonutrients, the skin of red grapes contains Resveratrol which is a polyphenol known to be “heart healthy”
  • Berries-you name it—raspberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, acai berries, etc, they are loaded with flavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamins
  • Avocado-rich in fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium, contains more potassium than a banana
  • Cinnamon-known to reduce blood sugar levels, cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidants
  • Dark, leafy greens-the darker leafy greens are better and rich in vitamins(iceberg lettuce does not pack the nutritional punch that the dark leafy greens do), try to go for arugula, kale, spinach, collard greens, etc
  • Beets-gets the color from betalains, a natural pigment that contains antioxidants, also associated with anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Lentils-low calorie, high protein, contains folate, iron, and potassium
  • Green tea-loaded with antioxidant, catechin
  • Chia seeds-has fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
  • Garlic-helps immunity, anti-inflammatory
  • Ginger-contains magnesium, potassium, vitmain C, helps in blood sugar regulation, also provides nausea relier
  • Salmon-provides omega-3 fatty acids which body can’t make itself
  • Yogurt -has probiotics which are good bacteria that support gut health, also has protein and calcium
  • Brazil nuts-contains healthy fats, antiioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, in particularly is high in selenium which has antioxidant properites. It helps in supportiing brain function, improving thyroid and heart health, and reducing inflammation.

Remember, having nutrients from regular food is far better than taking superfoods as a supplement. Try to make a conscious attempt to incorporate superfoods in your every day meals.

COVID on the Rise

Per Julie Bosman in an article published in The New York Times, “Not Over Yet: Late-Summer Covid Wave Brings Warning of More to Come”.

“A late-summer wave of coronavirus infections has touched schools, workplaces and local government, as experts warn the public to brace for even more Covid-19 spread this fall and winter. Hospitalizations have increased 24 percent in a two-week period ending Aug. 12, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In communities across the United States, outbreaks have occurred in recent weeks at preschools, summer camps and office buildings.

But for Americans who have become accustomed to feeling that the nation has moved beyond Covid, the current wave could be a rude reminder that the emerging New Normal is not a world without the virus.

COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to increase over the past 6 weeks. Although, many thought COVID is gone, this is a reminder that COVID is here to stay and we need to continue to act responsibly. If you are sick and test postive, you should quarantine to prevent spreading to others. As COVID cases continue to rise, it is yet to be seen if it will take a further toll on the healthcare system/healthcare workers, and what, if any, restrictions may come back.

The Power of Kindness

Being kind and thoughtful has several benefits and can improve your well-being and health. National Thoughtful Day is August 28th so a good time to reflect on ourselves and ways to be kind and thoughtful towards others.

July 2023 Hottest Month on Record

Per Ian Livingston in an article published in The Washington Post, “These places baked the most during Earth’s hottest month on record”.

“July 2023 will go down as the hottest month on record across the globe, and perhaps the hottest in at least 120,000 years, according to climate scientists. During this sweltering month for the planet, countless daily, monthly and all-time record high temperatures were reached in multiple regions, often concurrently. A rash of intense heat domes — zones of high pressure sprawled across the northern hemisphere — plagued Asia, southern Europe and northern Africa, North America and much of the tropics including the Caribbean. Extreme heat was even observed on several occasions across the southern hemisphere, where it is the middle of winter.

NASA has clocked July 2023 as the hottest month on record ever since 1880. It is felt that this severe heat is a combination of the natural climate pattern El Nino and human caused climate change. As the heat continues in some parts of the country, be sure to follow healthy summer tips, protect yourself from the sun, and stay hydrated.