Exercise is Medicine by ACSM

February 2024 // Archive

Date based archive
21 Feb

Gout is a form of arthritis that typically affects the big toe area. Warning signs include pain, redness, swelling, and the area feels hot. A gout “attack” can strike swiftly, even waking someone up during the night. The joint becomes extremely tender to even the slightest touch. Although it is most commonly occurring in the big toe joint, gout can take its toll on any joint it decides. Then moving that joint becomes difficult. The first 12 hours are the worst feelings of pain reported by sufferers. The pain can last for a few days or for a few weeks.

This condition occurs when urate crystals start to accumulate in the joint. These crystals come from high levels of uric acid in the body. The body has to break down purines that are found both naturally in the body as well as in foods like steak and seafood and alcoholic beverages. A bi product of this breaking down process is uric acid. Typically, uric acid dissolves in the body, passes through the kidneys, and is excreted through urine. However, if the body is on uric acid overload and the kidneys aren’t passing the biproduct through, this uric acid builds up. Soon, sharp crystals start to form in a joint and pain sets in.

It is important to take note of what can cause uric acid to build up in the body. As mentioned, eating too much meat or seafood can cause accumulation. This is true for alcoholic beverage consumption as well in excess, especially beer. Obesity is also a cause due to this body type producing more uric acid for the kidneys to struggle to push through. High blood pressure and diabetes are also uric acid culprits. Gout is genetically related. Men tend to experience gout more than women. However, after menopause, women’s uric acid levels seem to rise.

There are medications to treat gout, especially if one experiences this condition repeatedly. It is important to treat gout at early onset in order to prevent kidney stones. Drinking plenty of water can help the kidneys do their work. A doctor might test the fluid of the affected joint for crystals. An ultrasound can also detect urate crystals. Luckily, there are medications to treat and prevent gout attacks. NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or Aleve that a doctor might prescribe in a higher dose. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can come in pill or shot form to help alleviate pain. Colchicine is a pain reliever that specifically reduces gout pain. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors (XOIs) actually block uric acid production. Uricosurics help the kidneys remove uric acid.

Pain anywhere in the body should be addressed. This is certainly the case when any sign of gout arises. Pay attention to what triggers an attack. Your body and kidneys will thank you for taking care of your health. Uric crystals mean the near fortune is not good, so be sure to hydrate, watch your diet, and manage your weight.

15 Feb

Garlic comes from Central Asia and northeastern Iran. However, it is a seasoning that is used all over the world. This spice is a relative to onion, leek, chives, and shallots. It is readily used for cooking and sautéing. The perks of garlic are many, and the health benefits have made many people fans.

  1. The most popular benefit of garlic is its ability to boost the immune system with its powerful ability to fight infection. Garlic contains antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties. Garlic in raw form, can be rubbed on skin conditions that are fungi, virus, or bacterial related. One of the components called, ajoene, can help fight yeast infections.
  2. Garlic can also boost immunity. This spice is absolutely loaded with vitamin C. It also contains a high amount of potassium which means it helps with the absorption of other nutrients. The smell clears up lunge and throat problems.
  3. It helps fight off fatigue.
  4. It helps with digestive problems.
  5. Garlic is a major fighter against cancer. Studies have linked garlic consumption to a decreased risk for breast, stomach, colon, esophagus, and pancreatic cancer.
  6. Garlic is an anti-inflammatory. This spice contains diallyl sulfide (DAS) and thiacremonone which have anti-arthritic properties.
  7. Garlic blocks the growing progress of fat cells which can help ward off obesity because of its sulfur containing compounds.
  8. Garlic can help cleanse the body of toxins. It activates the liver enzymes to get rid of waist.
  9. It helps with earaches when warmed up and dropped into the ear.
  10. It is a mosquito repellant.
  11. It can help get rid of warts.
  12. When boiled and drank as a tea, it can help get rid of a cough.
  13. Cooked garlic can lower cholesterol.
  14. Cooked garlic can lower blood pressure.

Garlic is quite the super food and incredibly great for our health. It might make your breathe stink, but the benefits far exceed a little aftertaste. The trick is to have a little parsley after, which actually negates the smell of garlic. Beyond using it in so many different recipes, not just traditional spaghetti, garlic is something we all can have a little more of. Garlic comes in fresh form, powdered, crushed, you name it. A little garlic a day can really help keep poor health away and is an incredible home remedy that is easy, convenient, and even tasty.

08 Feb

General health can be greatly affected by hormones, and an imbalance can alter our mood and emotions. Hormone fluctuation can cause embarrassing acne outbreaks, and can make a person feel sad, mad, or just irritable. Sexual desire can be impacted and for women, the ability to become pregnant can be jeopardized. The bottom line is that hormones control most of our bodily functions. From hunger, to sleep, to puberty, even the smallest changes in hormones can cause life changing side effects.

The body’s hormones must work as a team to make the body thrive. The endocrine glands produce these chemicals that travel through the blood in the body. They tell the tissues and organs what to do. Together, the recipe for good health is created. However, just like when baking a cake, too much or too little of any one item can affect the final product. Lack of exercise, poor eating, and irregular sleep patterns are bad habits that some can get away for a while. However, for some, these choices can quickly derail a person’s overall health, especially when hormones are not in sync.

Symptoms that an imbalance is occurring might include:

1. Fatigue

2. Weight gain

3. Weight loss

4. Depression

5. Thinning hair

6. Anxiety or irritability

7. Muscle weakness

8. Frequent urination

9. Decreased sex drive

10. Infertility

There are 3 ways to measure a hormone imbalance.

1. Blood

2. Urine

3. Saliva

It is important to determine what the normal hormone level for your body is. Hormone levels vary based on gender and age and the exact hormone being tested. Blood tests can be performed to measure estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA, thyroid, and progesterone. Urine tests are mainly used for ovulation and pregnancy. Saliva testing helps determine the concentration of the specific hormone being tested.

Imbalances are not uncommon. Some of the most common imbalances result in the following:

1. Irregular periods

2. Chronic fatigue

3. Acne

4. Weight gain

5. Tender breasts

6. Increased facial hair

7. Cysts in the ovaries or breasts

8. Migraines/headaches

9. Hot flashes/ night sweats

10. Constipation

11. Memory loss

12. Insomnia

13. Difficulty concentrating

The study of endocrinology involves the endocrine system and the associated hormones. An endocrinologist can diagnose and treat hormone related problems and diseases. Growth and development, metabolism, and tissue function are all part of this branch of biology and medicine. Finding the root of the problem and addressing the imbalance can help a person start to feel more like themselves again. Hormones are a complex medical phenomenon that are part of nearly all that our body does for us. Keeping them in check and in line is necessary for optimal health.

01 Feb

Varicose veins are the bluish cords just below the surface of the skin, usually on the legs and feet. These all twisted up veins are usually harmless. Although ever present, they are not a threat but can be painful and become swollen from time to time.  They might be tender, ache, or become itchy when they want attention. They’re much more common in women and generally a genetic gift from one’s parents.

Our blood is pushed back to the heart through the veins. The veins operate with the muscles and valves of the arteries. These muscles use their force to push the blood through and the valves open to let blood pass. The valves then close after. In a varicose vein, the valve is not performing its duty and the muscles aren’t able to push the blood through. Blood starts to pool as the blood team members aren’t cooperating. Pressure starts to build, and the veins start to protrude and twist amongst this chaos. Circulation has become inhibited. The veins become more visible due to becoming so enlarged. One may feel not change to the body, but can see the bluish, purple veins coiled near the surface of their skin. Spider veins are a milder form of this poor blood flow outcome.

Varicosity can be amplified by obesity, standing for prolonged periods, chronic constipation, and pregnancy. When a female is pregnant, the uterus is causing extra pressure to the legs. Blood circulation changes to help the growing fetus. Coupled with hormonal changes, this is why women are more at risk for these veins. Female hormones relax the walls of the veins. Living a mostly sedentary lifestyle leads to a blood pumping team that is not conditioned to perform its job. Exercise increases blood flow, which in turn can help prevent and alleviate varicose veins. Our blood pumping veins do weaken with age, so our veins become more vulnerable to this condition the older we get.

For most people with varicose veins, medical attention is not needed. Treatment can start with compression socks. These are sold over the counter, but a doctor can prescribe high pressure compression socks. These socks apply strong pressure beginning at the ankles and tapering off towards the knee. They help the leg muscles do their job to push blood up to the heart and can be worn throughout the day. Swelling can be alleviated by ibuprofen or aspirin.

Varicose veins can be removed but there are also natural remedies to try. Eating foods that support vein health are part of this. These include foods high in fiber (e.g., whole grains, beans, broccoli) that help with digestion. When you are constipated this actually puts pressure on veins to push the food through. Foods with potassium ((e.g., yogurt, almonds, salmon) also help with water retention. When the body is potassium-deficient this increases blood volume in the veins which then extra pressure. Foods with flavonoids (e.g., onion, garlic, bell peppers) help with cardiovascular health which is necessary for blood circulation. There are also herbal options that can be taken orally or used topically. Grape seed extract has been found to help with swelling, cramping, and restless leg syndrome which are all caused by chronic venous insufficiency.

For the most part, varicose veins just add color and character to your lower body. However, if they are painful, itchy, and a persistent hinderance, medical attention may be in order. Our blood is our body’s fuel, so we have to make sure each team member for flow is able to do their part. Be sure to exercise, manage your weight, avoid high heels and tight clothing that restricts blood flow, and elevate your legs from time to time if the majority of your day is standing. Pressure can be stressful, and your blood shares this sentiment. The Lifestyle of the FIT and healthy knows that your heart health is influenced by your blood health, so we must make sure the veins live in a healthy environment where their job is not disrupted.