Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

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!

Health Benefits of Pears

Photo by Mateusz Feliksik

The first weekend of December marks World Pear Day which kicks off National Pear Month and gives us all of December to honor those pears!

Nutritional facts of 1 medium-sized pear:

  • Calories- 101 calories
  • Protein-1 gram
  • Cholesterol-0 gram
  • Fat-0.2 gram
  • Fiber-6 grams(about 22% of the fiber you need daily)
  • Carobohydrates-27 grams
  • Sugar-17 grams
  • Vitamin C- 12% of recommended daily value
  • Copper-16% of recommended daily value
  • Potassium-4% of recommended daily value
  • Vitamin K-6% of recommended daily value

So how do these nutritional facts translate to benefits for you?

  • Good source of fiber will promotes digestive health. High fiber levels can also slow down absorption of food so that the rise in blood sugar is controlled. A great amount of the fiber is in the pear skin, so don’t skip the skin!
  • Contains pectin which is an essential water-soluble fiber that helps bind to cholesterol and remove it from the body
  • Contains copper which is useful for maintaining the health of nerve cells
  • Contain flavonoid antioxidants that fight chronic inflammation and improve immunity
  • Contain anthocyanin and cinnamic acid which has anti-cancer properties
  • Contains potassium which supports muscle function and nervous tissue communication
  • Helps maintain heart health as potassium works in lowering blood pressure which improves body blood flow and also has high flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Help to maintain weight as pears are high in fiber and water and low in calories

We often don’t think about the nutrition we are getting when we eat something. Part of intentional eating is putting thought into your meals to get the most nutritional punch while also savoring your meals. When it comes to pears, there are so many ways to incorporate this juicy sweet fruit into your diet… them sliced raw, in salads, baked in pies, in smoothies or cocktails, roasted/grilled with your veggies…..or something else.

What Is Movember?

Photo by Alan Hardman

Movember or No-Shave November was initially started by Australians combining the terms “moustache” and “November” together. Movember is when men around the world grow a moustache in the month of November to bring awareness to men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, etc.

On an average, women live about 6 years longer than men, making it important for men to make their health a priority and for women to support this.

It is a good time to reflect on some aspects of your life that you need to change for the betterment of your health. There are daily steps you can make to lead a healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat healthy-lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grain, home cooked meals, limit the two vices(sugar and salt)
  • Regular exercise-come up with a plan to start incorporating activity/exercise into your day
  • Keep up with your medical appointments and take your medications as prescribed
  • Be aware of your numbers-be it blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, glucose, so you know what you need to work at
  • Maintain a healthy weight-remember being overweight will increase your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke
  • Work on stress management
  • Get enough sleep
  • Stay safe-seatbelts, helmets, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors
  • Self care-make sure you do things to take care of yourself, getting “me” time in, reading, using sunscreen, etc