Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

One More Reason to Walk

Photo by Thom Milkovic

The first thing everyone should be doing after having that nice big meal is taking a walk. We all know walking is good for us……but many of us may not know that it also helps to keep our blood sugars in check. Now, we have some evidence to back it up.

A meta analysis of seven studies was published in the Journal of Sports Medicine that looked at the impact of sitting, standing, and walking on insulin levels and blood glucose levels.

It found that individuals that had a short walk after eating(could be as short as 2 to 5 minutes) had gradual rise and fall of blood sugar level and also their insulin levels were more stable than either standing or sitting. Standing was better than going straight to the couch but this did not lower insulin in the blood stream.

The key points as quoted in the study:

-“This meta-analysis of seven acute studies found intermittent short breaks of standing led to a significant reduction in postprandial glucose compared to prolonged sitting.
-Light-intensity walking was found to be a superior intervention compared to standing and prolonged sitting.
-The effects of breaking prolonged sitting were more pronounced in overweight individuals compared to individuals with obesity, suggesting an additional metabolic compromise in individuals with obesity.”

To summarize, taking a quick walk after meals was shown to improve blood sugar levels. This is likely because you are moving your muscles which need glucose to function and therefore helps in lowering blood glucose level. If you can’t take that quick walk, standing helps, but is not as beneficial. Sitting right after a meal is a “No No”.

So, this study is telling us so far what every study has. You should walk every chance you get. There are numerous benefits of walking. If you can’t walk, then stand. And all though it may be tempting, don’t go for that sofa right after a meal.

Be Kind

Photo by Dayne Topkin

Some things to keep in mind on National Thoughtful Day on August 28th and to follow all year round:

  • Be kind to others
  • Be considerate about others around you
  • Help others if you are in a position to help
  • Put yourselves in others shoes before reacting or saying something not so nice. Remember words can hurt.
  • Be on time if you have a meeting/commitment/event. Everyone’s time is just as valuable as yours.
  • Smile
  • Be polite

Being thoughtful has many health benefits and your thoughtfulness will not only brighten up someone else’s day but also yours.

“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” -Mahatma Gandhi.

Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

Photo by Jozsef Hocza

Remember those days in our teens and twenties when you could eat just about anything and not gain a pound, still look and feel good, and fit into your clothes. Well, then we got older and it became a lot harder to maintain that body weight and physique. So, what happened? We may have changed our active lifestyles as the stress of adulthood hit. Also, that thing called “metabolism” slowed down.

Metabolism is the process in which the food and drinks we consume are broken down into energy the body needs to function. Basal metabolic rate refers to the number of calories you burn at rest. The higher your basal metabolic rate, the more calories you burn at rest.

Things that affect metabolism include what we eat, activity status, and body composition, in particulary muscle mass and body fat. Men tend to have higher metabolism women due to having more muscle mass. At a younger age, your muscle mass stores up energy preventing unnecessary weight gain. As we age, that muscle mass decreases and is replaced by more body fat.

Some tips to boost metabolism

  • Exercise more and add high intensity interval training and weights to your work-outs
  • Eat well enough that you are not hungry.
    • Try not to skip meals, especially breakfast (breakfast wakes your body up and also kickstarts your metabolism).
    • You need to eat enough calories for your body to function and not cut into your body stores. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will actually decrease your basal metabolic rate to conserve energy. For example if your body needs are 1200 calories/day, make sure you eat that much.
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Eat fat burning foods
    • Protein-having protein at every meal helps build fat-burning lean muscle and also helps with post-meal calorie burn
    • Spicy peppers have capsaicin that can boost your metabolism
    • Eat high fiber diet with vegetables and fruit
    • Eat iron rich food(beans, fortified cereals, spinach, broccoli, green peas) as they carry oxygen your body needs to burn fat
  • Drink tea or coffee-has antioxidant catechins, caffeine can temporarily boost metabolism
  • Drink more water-it will temporarily increase your metabolism and help you fill full
  • Stand up more and take walks-sitting burns less calories and has negative health result

There is no easy way to get your metabolism kickstarted but eating balanced nutritious meals, following an exercise routine, and getting plenty of sleep and rest can help. Having a higher metabolism/higher basal metabolic rate will help in shedding off the pounds but finding the best plan that will work may take some trial and error. Keep the big picture in mind…..a version of you that you can be proud of.

Keep Up With Your Health Screening

A reminder to keep up with your health screening. If Homer can do it, so can you…

All the Reasons to Eat Avocados

Photo by Gil Ndjouwou

Over the years avocado consumption has increased in the world. July 31st is National Avocado Day and is a good time to reiterate all the health benefits this fruit offers.

  • Source of vitamins B, C, E, K, folate
  • Has Omega 3 fatty acids so can help fight against Alzheimer’s
  • Targets insulin resistance with heart-healthy fats
  • Has high oleic acid content which is a moisturizing fatty acid-helps keep skin soft and hydrated
  • Has potassium to keep blood pressure low
  • Contain the most protein and fiber of any fruit. Fiber is good for gut health.
  • Although high in calorie(about 300 calories in a 7-ounce avocado), they are packed with nutrients and make you feel full to help maintain healthy body weight

There was a recent study released where researchers followed avocado intake of around 110,000 people over a 20-year period that showed promising health benefits of avocados.

  • Those that ate 2 or more servings(1 serving equaled about 1 cup) of avocado each weak had a 16% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who rarely or never ate avocados.

  • Replacing half a serving of daily butter, cheese, eggs, margarine, yogurt, or processed meats with avocado was associated with a 16-22% lower risk of cardiovascular disease

So, lots of reasons to have avocados, put them in burgers, make guac, add them to salads, enjoy avocado toasts, dump them in your tacos and burritos, etc…Get creative, it just may reduce your risk for heart disease.

Enjoy Those Watermelons

Photo by Sahand Babali

It’s summer and July, and it is National Watermelon Month. Watermelons makes us think about summer get-togethers, picnics, and the sweet, cold, refreshment watermelons allow in the heat of the summer. It originated from Southern Africa but has found it’s way throughout the world.

We are all asked to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and watermelon is considered both a fruit and a vegetable that does have health benefits. Watermelon consists of the pulp which is the juicy center and the watermelon rind which is the tough exterior which keeps the juicy interior safe.

  • It is a fruit(created using the pollination method) and is also a vegetable(part of botanical family of gourds)
  • Provides hydration-consists of 92% water and also has the electrolyte potassium and therefore can help get rid of muscle cramps in those who have been working out
  • Contains vitamins Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and B6
  • Contains lycopene(antioxidant)
  • Has no fat or cholesterol(fat-free)
  • It is high in fiber

Enjoy your watermelon slices, smoothies, ice cubes, cocktails. Also, don’t forget to enjoy watermelon rind-there are a lot of recipes for watermelon rind worth trying out, especially in the instant pot. Than you can definitely say you had the watermelon as a fruit and a vegetable….

Healthy Summer Tips

Photo by Jared Rice

It’s summer and we are all getting some sun…that’s great!!! We do all, however, have to be mindful of taking care of ourselves in the heat and protecting ourselves from the sun.

Some Healthy Summer Tips

1) Drink plenty of water

  • An average of Eight 8 oz glasses a days
  • The benefits of water are mulitude

2) ALWAYS put on sunscreen

  • Apply about 30 minutes before sun exposure and re-apply every 2 hours
  • SPF of 15 or higher with broad spectrum coverage

3) Use sunglasses

  • Will protect eyes agains UV damage and also prevent cataracts

4) Wear protective hats/clothing

  • Cotton or linen, long sleeve, loose clothing
  • Wear light colored clothes-dark colors absorb more UV light than lighter colors such as whites and pastels

5) Stay active

  • Take advantage of the weather, go on walks, hikes, watch those sunsets…

6) Take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables

7) Get plenty of rest and sleep

  • Longer daylight hours in summer cause less melatonin secretion which may account for early rising and less sleep
  • The heat can be exhausting

Electronic Tatoos and Blood Pressure Monitoring

Per Nat Levy, The University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering, and Alleynah Veatch Cofas in UT News, “Blood pressure e-tattoo promises continuous, unobtrusive monitoring”

“Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of heart health, but it’s tough to frequently and reliably measure outside of a clinical setting. For decades, cuff-based devices that constrict around the arm to give a reading have been the gold standard. But now, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have developed an electronic tattoo that can be worn comfortably on the wrist for hours and deliver continuous blood pressure measurements at an accuracy level exceeding nearly all available options on the market today.”

We have had a ton of advancements in recent years with smartwatch monitoring with light based sensors but accuracy has been hard to acertain as watches slide around the wrist.

This development would be of importance in the monitoring of blood pressure in a patient outside of the office to capture blood pressue doing routine activity including times of high stress and sleeping and help in adjusting medications to get better blood pressure control.

Something to watch for in the future….but if you’ve got elevated blood pressure, remember to do your part…monitor your blood pressure with what we know works and is available, keep a blood pressure log, and take this in for your next doctor’s appointment.

Find a Practice to Practice

A summary of the lessons discussed by Emily Saul:

Lesson #5 - Let obstacles become opportunities, challenges are opportunities to learn

Lesson #4 - Not doing something perfectly successful does not mean you are failing, every little step is part of the bigger goal

Lesson #3 - Motivation is directly related to meaning, frame your challenge around something that has purpose in your life

Lesson #2 - If you want to keep doing something, make it regular and give it structure. And if you want to keep enjoying something, make it unusual and give it variety

Lesson #1 - If there is something that inspires you and has has meaning to you, find the version that works for you and then practice being good at it day after day

Find your practice(noun) and practice(verb) it!

Physical Activity and Stroke Risk

Photo by Arek Adeoye

A new study published in JAMA June 3, 2022, suggests that more time spent being physically active, especially at moderate intensities, and less time spent being sedentary, particularly in longer bouts, may help reduce the risk of stroke.

The study involved 7607 adults who were 45 years and older from May 2009 to January 2013 with black adults and those residents of the southeastern states in the stroke belt oversampled. The study was done with the use of an accelerometer.

Findings include:

  • Those that took part in moderate to vigorous physical activity 25 minutes per day or 175 minutes a week had a 43% lower risk of stroke.
  • Those that had a sedentary time of 13 hours or more had a 44% higher risk of stroke. Larger amount of sedentary time of 17 hours or more was associated with a 54% higher risk of stroke.

In conclusion:

  • Those that were sedentary had the highest risk of stroke.
  • The more physically active, the lower the risk.
  • Replacing sedentary time with 4 to 5 hours of light-intensity physical activity or short bouts of moderate to vigorous activity can reduce stroke risk.

The key point from this study is that moving more and sitting less can reduce stroke risk.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent being sedentary and being labeled as having “sitting disease”

  • Stand or walk every chance you get! If you can talk on the phone standing or walking, do it
  • Look into a standing desk, treadmill desk, or bike desk as an addition to your office space if space permits. If you can work on your kitchen island standing for 30 minutes, take the opportunity
  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes or so and stand up and stretch. Set a reminder or alarm if you need to.
  • Listen to an audible book and take a walk instead of sitting down to read a book
  • Get up and walk during TV commercials
  • If you are going to play video games, try to incorporate some active video games