Exercise is Medicine by ACSM

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09 May

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic disorder in which a person has re-occurring thoughts (obsessions) and compulsions (behaviors) that the person repeats over and over. There is an urge for this repetition. These obsessions, compulsions, or both, can disrupt a person’s’ life, interfering with relationships, careers, school, and social life. Diagnosis is typically determined by the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). This disorder is quite common, and many people finally are diagnosed around the age of 19.

The exact cause of OCD is unknown. However, genetics might play a part, possible abnormalities in certain parts of the brain may be at fault, or this could occur as a result of a person’s environment (sexual abuse or physical abuse).

There are several signs and symptoms to look out for. Some people may only experience obsessions, others might only experience compulsions, and some experience both. Obsessions deal with repeated thoughts that cause anxiety. A person might have a fear of germs, they might need things in a specific order, or that might have unwanted taboo thoughts. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that might include cleaning, handwashing, double checking things, or counting.

In general, everyone does some of these actions every now and then. The difference is that a person with OCD is not able to control this. At the very least, one hour of their day is consumed by these thoughts and behaviors. They do not check the door four times to make sure it is locked or count the number of cracks on the sidewalk for pleasure. Rather, the ritual is necessary to relieve anxiety. These thoughts and behaviors disrupt life. Persons with OCD might isolate themselves and try to avoid situations they know will interfere with rituals or might be noticeable to others.

When it comes to eating and exercise, OCD can influence a person’s behaviors. Many of the symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder are related to binging and purging and food restriction. Two thirds of people with eating disorders have an anxiety disorder, specifically OCD that contribute to anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (Kaye WH, Bulik CM, Thornton L, Barbarich N, Masters K. Comorbidity of anxiety disorders with anorexia and bulimia nervosaAm J Psychiatry. 2004;161(12):2215-21. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.161.12.2215). Certain types of foods might be avoided, eliminated, or even excessively eaten. Counting and calculating become extreme. Eating in public can be difficult or non-existent. This can also transcend into exercise habits. The person can try to exercise until they feel they have negated what they have consumed. Body image is the underlying issue coupled by the need to control or fix what the person perceives and intolerable. What the person sees in the mirror and what everyone else sees are very different images.

The person can be stuck on how much food or when they have to eat or what they have to eat to the point that daily living is greatly disrupted by these obsessions. Preparing or shopping for “safe” foods takes priority. Binges can lead to such physical discomfort to the point that the person can’t move for the rest of the day. Hours on end can be devoted to exercise such as reaching as certain calorie count, time, or certain amount of working out. Obsessions have taken over and this lifestyle has become dangerous. The person is trying to control their body with obsessions, but really, they have lost control of their health in the process of doing so. The nature of OCD is too much or not at all. Healthy eating and healthy exercise can become unhealthy when they cause anxiety and non-stop attention. How can a person maintain a job, family, or relationships living this way? The answer is they learn to function until it is too late and without help life can’t go on this way.

There is help. One can use therapy or medication, or both. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat OCD. Understanding the side effects and interactions with other drugs is important. Children often use psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavior therapy, to help with behaviors. Symptoms may come and go. Some grow out of this disorder; others aren’t struck until adult life. Having OCD can be debilitating for some people because they are not able to function efficiently due to the burden of their constant and chronic obsessions and compulsions. A person with OCD is aware of their predicament but doesn’t feel in control to find peace with their actions. Seeking help is necessary to regain the enjoyment of everyday life, which is very possible.

01 May

When the body’s immune system starts to attack itself, disorder erupts. There are up to 80,000 different autoimmune disorders ranging in severity. The immune system falls on a spectrum of very low functioning to being overly active. When the immune system is deficient, the body is unable to protect itself to ward off infections. When the immune system is hyperactive, the body starts to attack and damage its very own tissues. The immune system is meant to fight off infections, but with an autoimmune condition, the body starts to produce antibodies.

Doctors don’t exactly know the root cause of autoimmune disease. The most common symptoms include fatigue, achy muscles, hair loss, and skin rashes. Flare ups decide when they want to occur. Women do acquire this condition 2 to 1 compared to men. The disease usually begins in childhood and teenage years. Many types run in families such as multiple sclerosis and lupus. Researchers believe environmental factors may be the culprit since the rate of these diseases are on the rise. Eating high fat, high sugar, and processed foods also wreaks havoc on the immune system. An anti-nuclear antibody test (ANA) can be performed to confirm diagnosis.

Some of these conditions are more common than others or terms you have heard of before. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body produces antibodies that attack the joints. This causes pain, inflammation, and swelling to the areas of the joint. Multiple sclerosis is when the immune system attacks the nerve cells. Muscle spasms are a common symptom. Inflammatory bowl syndrome (IBS) occurs when the immune system starts to attack the lining of the intestine. As a result, bowel movements can become uncontrollable, diarrhea can occur, as well as rectal bleeding. Type I diabetes is also an autoimmune condition that occurs when antibodies attack the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Thyroid diseases are also in the autoimmune class. Grave’s disease, also known as hyperthyroidism, is when the antibodies produce excess amount of the thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s has the opposite effect, taking place when the antibodies destroy the cells that produce the thyroid hormone. Lupus is when the antibodies attack different tissues in the body such as the lungs, joints, and kidneys.

There are different steroid drugs and medications to suppress these conditions. Many of the symptoms overlap so diagnosis can be difficult as well as treatment. Blood testing is the most informative tool a doctor can use to help address the pain. The idea is to suppress the overactive immune system. Living with an autoimmune condition can be debilitating, so seek treatment, practice self-care, and do all that  you can to keep yourself in the best health possible at all times.

24 Apr

Mold and mildew are found everywhere in the environment. Both are a type of fungi that grow and thrive in moist conditions. Dark areas with little sunlight love to produce mold and mildew. The seeds and smores spread and spread and eventually enter the air. Those in the vicinity inhale and can encounter mold and mildew. Fortunately, the human body goes to bat working with the immune system to ward off these particles. Like anything in excess, when a person breathes in too much or is overly and repeatedly exposed, the body isn’t able to respond accordingly. Respiratory infections can occur as well as allergies and asthma. The eyes become irritated, itchy, and a person might start to cough and sneeze. Already having allergies or asthma can only complicate symptoms making them worse. Yet, some people are exposed to plenty of mold and mildew and have no side effects.

Some types of molds produce myotoxins which usually grow in outdoor areas. These myotoxins can also make their way into buildings, especially those that have moisture damage. Leaking pipes are a common culprit. Exposure to myotoxins has been linked to cancer, nervous system damage, and liver damage.

Mold can enter a person’s home through vents, doorways, windows, and heating and air conditioning systems. What is taken outside then taken inside can also cause mold in the home such as clothing, bags, shoes, and pets. Roofs and pipes are common areas. Mold likes to grow on wood products, paper products, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, drywall, carpet, and upholstery. Seems like anywhere there is moisture, mold can make its way in. It is very important to address the mold problem in the home. Some common remedies and suggestions include making sure the shower area, cooking, and laundry areas all have ventilation. Leaky roofs, windows, and pipes should be fixed right away. Any place that has been flooded should be dried and cleared up immediately.

Mold has a musty smell to it. No matter what color or type, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends removing the mold immediately. It doesn’t matter the type, as some people like to have testing done. Some people try to save money by determining what levels of mold are acceptable to get away with before a possible expensive removal process. Bleach is a self-home remedy to remove mold. Wearing protective gloves and being sure to ventilate is important.

Basements, garages, crawl spaces, attics, and bathrooms, are mold and mildew breeding grounds. Behind the refrigerator is also a common location. Mold and mildew don’t grow over night but letting the accumulation can lead to a costly clean up later. Fresh, clean, smelling good air, is what those lungs want. A breath of fresh air, especially in one’s own home, feels good and is invigorating. Hey, if you needed motivation to keep a clean house, well the threat of mold and mildew should do the trick.

16 Apr

Cornstarch has a bad reputation but is still so popularly used and consumed. It is an ingredient that thickens soups, sauces, and desserts. Cornstarch is versatile and the answer to many cooking recipes. Other uses include softening baked goods, holding together fruit fillings, and adding crispy coating to meats, vegetables, and crusts. Many people have it in their pantry because it is used for so many purposes. However, as good as it is for cooking, it isn’t so good nutritionally. It is considered a highly processed food that is stripped of all its nutrients.

When it comes to cornstarch in our diet, well, it happens to be high in both calories and carbohydrates. The good nutrients we benefit from and need like protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, are not part of the picture. Although we don’t consume a full cup of cornstarch when we do eat it, for content purposes, one cup of cornstarch has 488 calories, 117 grams of carbs, and only 0.5 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber. If you were to eat a fruit tart, you probably only have a tiny, tiny amount of cornstarch, but even this amount can affect your blood sugar. This is because cornstarch is high on the glycemic index. When we have foods that contain cornstarch, it is digested very quickly so your blood sugar spikes up quickly. Type 2 diabetics must be cautious.

A healthy diet can still have a minimal portion of cornstarch in it. Keep in mind, if cornstarch is used to thicken foods, well, it can do the same to your body. One to two tablespoons at a time on occasion is okay. It’s typically the type of foods you are eating that have cornstarch in them that probably aren’t the greatest. Having gravy, sauces, and desserts wouldn’t be foods to have daily. Puddings, custards, pancakes, waffles, beers, and ales aren’t what a healthy diet entails on a daily basis. The best way to stay away from cornstarch is to avoid processed foods entirely and when you cook leave this ingredient out of it. Basically, all foods with cornstarch also have plenty of sugar, fat, and sodium. There are other cooking alternatives to cornstarch such as tapioca, arrowroot, potato starch, or wheat flour. Be mindful, enjoy bites, and portion control might take willpower, but your overall health and body weight will thank you.

10 Apr

Yogurt is the result of bacterial fermentation of milk. This bacterium is called yogurt cultures. The fermentation of lactose produces lactic acid which is a milk protein. This milk protein gives yogurt both its taste and texture. Cow’s milk is the most popular dairy source used for yogurt production since it is the most readily available. However, yogurt can also be produced from the milk of a goat, buffalo, camel, ewe, or yak. Each type of milk produces different results, and it also depends on if the milk is pasteurized, raw, or homogenized. Most people eat yogurt as a dairy snack, with breakfast, dessert, at any time of the day because they like the taste. There are many good reasons to like yogurt.

Yogurt is filled with vitamins. It contains potassium, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and vitamin E. it also contains vitamin C which could help induce weight loss. Vitamin C tells fat cells to create less cortisol which is the hormone related to belly fat. This means that yogurt can help the body burn fat versus store fat. Yogurt is also filled with the good bacteria our digestive system needs. It contains active live cultures and probiotics. Low fat dairy products can also help lower blood pressure. Yogurt contains protein which helps a person feel satiated and fuller longer. Greek yogurt is especially high in protein. Specifically, for those who exercise, protein is important because it contains amino acids which can help muscles recover post-workout. The calcium in yogurt is great for bone health and strong teeth. Some yogurt types contain more than half of the daily requirement amount. The combination of calcium and Vitamin D can also help ward off osteoporosis.

All of these incredible health benefits certainly depend on the type of yogurt being consumed. Adding yogurt to one’s regular diet can be great, but reading labels is always necessary. One should consider the calories, fat, and sugar content. There are brands that add different fruits and preservatives that can almost make yogurt more of a dessert than a healthy option. Many reduced fats and low-fat options are packed with artificial sweeteners. Yogurt can also be used as an alternative to mayonnaise, to add thickness to salad dressings, or to replace sour cream. There are so many flavors and plain flavors can be used for many purposes. One must of course be able to handle dairy. Yogurt is a great tool for someone making healthy lifestyle choices. Find the type of right for your body, waistline, and taste buds and see how much it can help you.

04 Apr

Everyone has different types of skin lesions that are common and benign, meaning not cancerous. The most common are freckles, moles, and skin tags. Some people embrace these skin markers while others would rather do without and even try to get rid of them.

  1. Freckles: These are small brown spots found face, neck, arms, and chest. They are very common and a threat to one’s health. They are typically more common in the summertime and are more readily found on lighter skinned toned people. They are caused by sun exposure as well as genetics. It is always best to avoid excessive sun exposure and use protective sunscreen. People who develop freckles more easily are at increased risk for cancer. For those who don’t like the appearance of their freckles, they can be covered up with makeup.
  2. Moles: These are brown or black growths that can appear anywhere on the skin and sometimes are found in groups. They usually develop during the first 25 years of a person’s life. Some people can have up to 40 moles by adulthood. Over time, moles can slowly change by becoming more raised in shape, growing hairs, changing color, or they may not change at all. Some might even disappear over time. Moles are a result of the cells of the skin growing in a cluster instead of spreading out along the skin. These cells are called melanocytes. They can darken over time due to sun exposure and sometimes during pregnancy. Most moles are not dangerous. However, one should be mindful and check moles for any changes in height, size, color, or shape. Upon concern, a dermatologist can help determine if the mole is cancerous. Moles that are more often exposed to the sun should be checked often. Checking moles and using the ABCDE method is recommended.

Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn’t match the other half.

Border: The edge of the mole is jagged or irregular.

Color: The mole has different shared throughout and not a consistent tone.

Diameter: The diameter of the mole is larger than a pencil eraser.

Evolution: The mole is changing in color, shape, and size.

  • Skin tags: These are a small flap of skin that hangs off by a connecting stalk. They are usually found on the neck, armpit, chest, back, under the breast, or near the groin. They are more common in women and arise when weight gain occurs or sometimes more often with age. They are not painful but might be irritating to the person if they wear jewelry or with some clothing. They can be cut off or burned off.

Our skin is our outer later and what we should take care of to protect. Afterall, our skin is our protective layer. Take time to take care of yourself and your body will reward you with radiating beauty and a great reflection you like to see.

27 Mar

Symptoms of heavy menstrual cycles, infertility, and abdominal pain may be due to the develop of tissue lining outside the uterus. The area outside the uterus is called the endometrium. The key players for this condition are the ovaries, tissue lining the pelvis, and the fallopian tubes. The tissue becomes displaced but still operates as if all is normal. Therefore, the tissue, just like during a period, thickens, breaks down, and bleeds. This displaced tissue has no way to exit the body and this trapped tissue can now cause problems. The ovaries can become involved, and cysts can start to form. The existing healthy tissue can become irritated having to interact with the displaced tissue and scar tissue can form.

A person who has endometriosis has increased pelvic pain when having their menstrual cycle. Painful periods are called dysmenorrhea. Periods also have excessive bleeding and bleeding can occur between cycles. Also, during this time, the lower back can start to hurt. Sexual intercourse can be painful. Sometimes endometriosis is discovered when a woman goes to seek treatment for infertility. Bowel movements and urination can be painful too.

This condition can be caused by retrograde menstruation. This occurs when the endometrial cells flow back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. Levels of estrogen can actually transform embryotic cells. It is possible that endometrial cells attach to areas that had a surgical incision such as a hysterectomy or C-section. Immune system disorders can cause this problem. The blood vessels might also carry endometrial cells to other parts of the body (endometrial cell transport).

Women who have never given birth, those going through menopause at an older age, those with high levels of estrogen, having a low body max index, or someone who started their period at an earlier age, are all at increased risk to develop this condition.

For diagnosis, a doctor can perform a pelvic exam, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and/or a laparoscopy (looking at the abdomen). Depending on the severity of the condition, a doctor will select the appropriate treatment. A doctor might recommend over-the-counter pain medication, surgery to remove the endometriosis implants, or hormone therapy. Birth control can help control the buildup of endometrial tissue. Fertility treatment can be performed for those trying to get pregnant. Doctors used to perform hysterectomies as the main treatment for this condition, however, doctors are now focusing on removing the tissue rather than the ovaries.

Endometriosis is often hard to detect, but it can be helped. Discomfort is normal during a period, but pain is not. Whenever the body is speaking, one should seek medical attention to find a solution. The displaced tissue should not wreak havoc on your health.   

21 Mar

Cucumbers are part of the gourd family called Cucurbitaceae. There are three main varieties of cucumbers include seedless, pickled, and sliced. They are usually consumed raw or pickled. The leaves, stem, and seeds are used in Asian cuisines. It is also readily used in the cosmetic industry for lotions, soaps, shampoos, and fragrances. This green vegetable will not hurt your waistline as one cup of slices has about 16 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates, with only 2 grams of sugar. To maximize nutritional value, cucumbers should not be peeled when eaten.

Cucumbers have multiple benefits. They are high in nutrients with vitamin C, K, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. They are 95% water and some people get as much as 40% of their water intake form the foods they eat. Being properly hydrated is important for many health aspects and between the fiber and water of this vegetable, bathroom regularity can be helped. This promotes detoxification and weight loss. They also contain antioxidants they help block free radicals. This can help reduce the risk of cancer, lung, heart, and autoimmune disease. Some studies have shown that they may also reduce blood sugar levels.

There are also some other interesting uses for cucumber. When the mirror gets foggy after a steamy shower, try taking a cucumber across the mirror to see clearly again. They can also help get rid of creatures in gardening soil. They can also be used to tighten and firm skin. Some claim they get rid of cellulite. They might also prevent a hangover if eaten before bed after having too much alcohol. They can be used to polish shoes. Cucumber, when held at the roof of the mouth, can help reduce bad breath when mints or gum aren’t handy. They can also wash crayon and pen off walls which is handy if there are young children around. Cucumbers also clean stainless steel really well. Seems like having cucumber on hand (ALWAYS) is a great idea. Talk about a versatile vegetable.

Cucumbers are easy to add to your diet and have access to. They can be eaten raw, added to a sandwich, infused in water, pickled, eaten with goat cheese (a popular combination), or be used to make a cold cucumber salad. Eating cucumbers and using them for other skin or beauty related purposes, is a great and easy addition to utilize. Making healthy food choices and at home-remedies are money saving, convenient, and nice to have.

13 Mar

Hair loss can be embarrassing, concerning, and even a sign of a health problem. Hair might start to show up on you pillow, more on the hairbrush, in the shower drain, and in some cases small bald spots have become noticeable. A possible cause of this excess hair loss could be from a condition called alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disorder. This type of hair loss can also be called spot baldness. In this case, the immune system has started to attack the hair follicles. Hair can start to fall out in clumps that can even be the size of a quarter. Some might only lose hair in a few spots, while others might see this phenomenon all over their scalp. Hair loss might just occur on the scalp or it can occur over the entire body. Most people appear to be overall generally healthy, but then sudden hair loss occurs. Alopecia areata is a case by case basis. For some, hair loss comes and goes and regrows itself each occurrence, however, for others the hair loss can be permanent. Most people only experience hair loss with this condition, while others notice possible changes in the text and shape of their finger and toe nails.

A dermatologist is the type of doctor to seek treatment for help. He or she might perform blood work and examine some of the hair. Unfortunately, alopecia areata cannot be cured. It can be treated to help the hair grow back. Treatment might include topical immunotherapy which involves applying chemicals to the scalp. These chemicals will cause an allergic reaction if they work. The reaction is what causes the hair to grow back. This usually must be repeated several times for the itchy rash to be most effective. Corticosteroids can also be used. These are prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs which can come in the form of injections that can be made into the scalp, given as pill form, or applied as an ointment or cream. Minoxidil, most commonly known as Rogaine, can be applied to the scalp and usually takes abut 12 weeks for the hair to start to grow again.

Like many other autoimmune disorders, causality differs and is not always evident. For those who have alopecia areata, there are some lifestyle changes to help. Stress seems to trigger this condition; therefore, one should aim to reduce their personal troubles as well as feelings of anxiety and sadness. Wearing hats, wigs, and scarves can be done. It is important to remember that the lost hair can grow back, depending on what your immune system will allow. There are options to cover up and there are options to try that have been effective for others. Sudden hair loss should be paid attention to and should be checked by your doctor. Fortunately, life can still carry on with or without hair and success comes in all types of packages, hair and hairless.

06 Mar

Most people often forget about or don’t even consider including beets as part of a healthy diet. It hardly makes the list for the grocery store maybe because they aren’t front and center in the produce section and popularity hasn’t quite hit the dining out menus. Beets are a superfood that we shouldn’t neglect. Here are a number of reasons you may want to pick up some beets the next time you shop:

  1. Low in calories – Every 100 grams of beets only has 43 calories. They don’t have any fat either. Adding them to a salad or in a smoothie makes it easy to consume them. This can help with weight loss by sticking to lower calories options.
  2. Low in carbohydrates – in 100 grams of beets there are only 10 carbs. Compared to other foods, especially fruits that often go into smoothies or juices, this is a low amount. Less carbs can be conducive to achieving weight loss. This means they’re also lower on the glycemic index which is good for diabetics. Their score is only 8.3 which means you would have to eat a whole lot of beets for them to impact blood sugar levels.
  3. Fight cancer and premature aging – Because beets are loaded with antioxidants (phytonutrients) they are able to ward off damage to the cells. This can keep cancerous cells away and cells that damage our skin, especially since antioxidants are powerful for repairing damaged cells.
  4. Vitamin A – Beets contain beta carotenoids which can improve learning, cognition, and mitochondria performance. This means you get more energy.
  5. Inflammation – Beets contain betaine which protects the cells from various environmental stressors. Reduction of inflammation can ward off achy joints, arthritis, depression, and brain fog.
  6. Improve respiratory system – Beets have been said to heal respiratory issues such as asthma. They can reduce both the risk of asthma and the number of attacks a person has.
  7. Fiber – In 100 grams of beets, there are 2.8 grams of fiber which is 11% of the daily recommended value. It is soluble fiber that gets absorbed into the bloodstream so we can reap the benefits of reducing blood sugar levels and lowering blood pressure. This can also lead to lowering your cholesterol.
  8. Potassium – Beets are a great source of potassium which can help improve physical performance. Beet juice is considered an isotonic drink because it has sodium and calcium that help replenish and nourish the body for performance and recovery.
  9. Performance enhancing – Beets are vasodilators which means that they widen the arteries and the veins. This makes it easier for our body to get blood and oxygen. More blood and more oxygen moving more freely in our body means more energy. Beets act as vasodilators because they contain nitric oxide. In our body, nitric oxide is needed for the body to perform at optimal levels. That is why many athletes eat beets or drink beet juice before events.
  10. Brain power – Another area of the body that benefits from the nitric oxide in beets is the brain. More blood flow to the brain improves memory and mood.
  11. Lower blood pressure – Because beets expand the diameter of the blood vessels, this lowers blood pressure. The heart doesn’t have to pump as hard, so blood pressure goes down with less work.
  12. Improve recovery time- Again, the widening of the blood vessels also allows more nutrients to be delivered to the muscles more quicky. Those little micro tears in the fibers can be repaired quicker and muscles can feel the gains faster.
  13. Reduce the risk of heart disease – Lower blood pressure of course leads to a healthier heart with less risk for heart disease. This is important because heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. Beets also have lots of antioxidants which help fight cellular damage from free radicals.