Exercise is Medicine by ACSM


04 Jan

The flu season is here. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), annually there have been close to 11.7 million cases of the flu, up to 5.6 medical visits related, and nearly 141,000 hospitalizations. We know that the flu is highly contagious and is caused by the influenza viruses. It can be mild, severe, or even lead to death. Unlike a cold, the flu strikes quickly. It is a respiratory illness that happens suddenly. Symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue, coughing, runny nose, or vomiting. The duration of the flu can be just a few miserable days, or it can last up to two weeks. Anyone can fall victim to the flu, and it typically spreads during the colder months.  

The flu itself is not easy to endure. Complications can arise especially for those over the age of 65, pregnant women, and children under age 5. Sometimes a person can develop an additional sinus infection or even pneumonia in addition to the flu. When these complications arise there are typically warning sides that should not be ignored. Medical help should be sought right away if a person has trouble breathing, severe vomiting, confusion, dizziness, and any pain in the abdomen or chest. In children, warning signs include fever with a rash, bluish skin color, trouble breathing, not being able to keep fluids down, and constant irritability. For infants, warning signs include having no tears when crying, being unable to eat, trouble breathing, and having few wet diapers.

The CDC does recommend the flu shot for anyone ages 6 months or older and to receive an annual vaccination. The risk is reduced by as much as 60% when vaccinated. There are different strains of the virus, and the shot seems to be most effective in the fight against influenza B and influenza A (H1N1). A doctor can test you for the flu within 10 to 15 minutes using one of the rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs). Upon diagnosis, antiviral drugs can be used to at least lessen the duration of the illness. In most cases just staying home and resting away from people is best. Medication can be used to help suppress fever.

When the flu hits, it’s time to isolate and wash your hands. You should stay home at least 24 hours after your final fever is gone to avoid spreading germs. The flu likes to make friends with all those you are in contact with so don’t let it become anymore popular than it is. Anyone who has had the flu doesn’t have anything nice to say about it at all. The fear or catching it makes vaccination a yearly task. Do what you can to reduce your risk and stay flu free again this year.

28 Dec

Headaches are actually quite complicated and not always a simple answer when it comes to causality. That is why some people continue to suffer from chronic headaches. There are different types of headaches, different reasons why they happen, and different types of treatments. The complexity of headaches lies in the fact that there are over 150 types.

The most common types of headaches include the following:

  1. Migraines: This pounding and throbbing pain can last for 3 to 4 hours or longer. They can also happen up to 4 times or more per month. A person becomes sensitive to light, might feel nauseous, lose their appetite, or become very sensitive to smells.
  2. Tension headaches: This is most common type of headache. They can cause mild to moderate pain and will go away over time.
  3. Cluster headache: This is the most severe type of headache. They tend to happen in groups, hence the name. They can happen multiple times per day and last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. The person might feel a piercing pain behind their eye with constant throbbing and pounding.
  4. Sinus headaches: The person feels a throbbing in their cheeks, bridge of the nose, and forehead. The person typically also has a runny nose, clogged ears, and a fever. They sinus cavities have become inflamed.
  5. Chronic daily headaches: This type of headache can last 15 days or more. Sometimes they are short and sometimes they can last 4 or more hours.

There are other types of headaches that are less common, but that doesn’t downplay their disruption to someone’s day. Exercise can cause headaches because the muscles in the head and neck and surrounding area need more blood. This can cause a pulsing pain. Post-traumatic headaches can also occur even up to 2 to 3 days after a head injury. Hemicrania continua is an ongoing headache that usually affects the same side of the face and head. Hormone headaches can occur as the hormones are shifting during menstruation or menopause.

The brain becomes overwhelmed by different signals coming from the brain, blood vessels, and nerves. Combine this will illness, stress, genetics, and environment, and one becomes at high risk for a headache. To this day doctors still do not know what exactly causes a migraine, making treatment difficult. Doctors might suggest a CT or MRI. Treatment depends on headache type, cause, and how often. There are of course pain management solutions such as a warm or cold compress, drinking herbal tea, lowering the lights, avoiding looking at screens, exercise, drinking plenty of water, avoiding certain foods, sleeping, massaging pressure points, for some people drinking coffee or soda can help, limiting alcohol, and avoiding certain smells and chemicals. Pressure is always difficult, especially to the head. Be patient and over time you will find an answer and a way to keep the headaches at bay.

21 Dec

Attention deficit hyperactive disorder, also called ADHD, is a condition that commonly involves hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and the inability to pay attention. This condition used to just be called ADD or attention deficit disorder. This condition always begins in childhood and can be carried into adulthood. About 4 to 5% of adults have ADHD and not everyone seeks treatment. Some people even go undiagnosed but start to take notice later in life. As an adult it can be difficult to manage a job, be timely, or even try to set goals.

This behavioral condition is more common in boys than it is in girls. Typically, during the school age years, a child begins to have trouble paying attention or sitting still at school. The symptoms can be categorized into three forms: hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity. A child with hyperactivity has trouble staying seated and tends to bounce or fidget. They’re restless and climbing on things. They also talk excessively. Inattention is characterized by being distracted, having a hard time following directions, trouble getting organized, daydreaming, and losing things. Impulsivity is marked by interrupting others, blurting out, and impatience. These characteristics spill over into adulthood and can cause problems at work, result in anger problems anxiety, mood swings, feeling bored a lot, relationship problems, and depression.

ADHD might be caused by several reasons, and the exact or direct cause is unknown. Most of the time, this condition occurs in families, it can also be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, toxins that could affect the brain, a brain injury, or any substance abuse during pregnancy. Contrary to what most assume, sugar does not cause ADHD. It is also not caused by watching too much T.V. or going to a bad school.

Although there is no cure for ADHD, medication and therapy is available. Medications called stimulants can help. There are also non-stimulant medications which can be prescribed after age 6. Omega 3s have also been found to be effective. Therapy might involve behavior modification, transitioning into a special education classroom to learn structure and have a more conducive environment to addressing the issue, counseling that can help with emotional control, and there are support groups.

Many people with ADHD live happy lives and are successful despite diagnosis. Catching the signs and symptoms early can really help modify behaviors and learn coping skills. Sometimes the body adapts to medications and may need to be adjusted. Some people even grow out of these behaviors. Every individual is different and certain management therapies are effective for some and not others. When daily life gets hard to manage, seeking help is always important.

13 Dec

We all hear of this cancer treatment, but what exactly does the process of chemotherapy entail?? Simply put, it is a way to kill cancer cells with drugs. Cancer cells grow and divide very quickly, so treatment is a race against this spreading. Chemotherapy specifically targets the cells that spread quickly. “Chemo” can work throughout the entire body, which is different from radiation or surgeries that can only target specific locations. The trouble is that chemo can also affect healthy cells too such as those of the hair, skin, bone marrow, and intestines. That is what causes the detrimental side effects of this treatment.

Although there may be side effects to this method, the goal of chemo is to either ease the symptoms, help control, or even cure cancer. It works to shrink the cancer-causing tumors, and to keep them from spreading, and to hopefully absolutely destroy the cancer cells. Many times, doctors combine chemo with another form of treatment. It can be used to shrink cells prior to radiation treatment (using radioactive particles to kill cells), after a doctor removes a cancerous tumor, or in addition to vaccinations and antibodies that work to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy has the ability to make other treatment forms more effective.

Chemotherapy varies from person to person. Factors to consider include the type of cancer, the way your body responds, how far along the cancer has gotten, and what the ultimate goal of the treatment is (shrink, cure, ease pain). Sometimes chemo is administered in cycles that allow the body to recover between treatments. A person might do chemo for one week then take a three week break before returning for more. Treatment can be done via injection to a major muscle such as the thigh, hip, or stomach. It can come in oral form or even topical. Intravenous (IV) is also a method which goes directly to the vein. Intra-arterial (IA) is when it goes directly to the artery. Intraperitoneal (IP) is when it goes directly to peritoneal cavity which includes the liver, intestines, stomach, and ovaries.

Most people feel absolutely worn out by this process. There are even certain laws that can help a person with their place of employment because working during treatment can become just too daunting. Health insurance is incredibly important to have for all of this. Chemotherapy is a difficult but incredible process that saves lives. Patience is key and having a network of support because the body is fighting to heal itself, renew itself, and make the most what it can do to keep the body alive and well. As the saying goes, if at first it doesn’t succeed, then try, try, try again and beat cancer once and for all.

07 Dec

Love is a feeling we get that can be related to emotions that make us excited, nervous, angry, upset, and/or passionate about something. How we give and receive love says a lot about our personality and character. The expression and acceptance of love affects our relationships. Understanding our love language helps us know and feel love as we desire. The five languages of love include acts of service, quality time, affirmation, physical touch, and receiving gifts. We can better speak from the heart if we can communicate our love language.

  1. Acts of service – These are things you can do for others and/or others can do for you to feel loved. These could be simple acts of doing the dishes or putting gas in the car. These are the “it’s the little things” that are noticed.
  2. Quality time – Some people need undivided attention. You or they want the other person’s focus. Quality is the factor that matters, not necessarily the quantity. This could be putting the cell phone aside and/or making eye contact.
  3. Affirmation – Some need to hear spoken words to feel love whether it be encouragement, text messages, praise, quotes, or appreciation. Pointing out something and acknowledgement are key.
  4. Physical touch – This could be holding hands, touching the persons arm, a little massage, and/or sex. It can be cuddling and being close.
  5. Receiving gifts – Some people appreciate the time and effort and thoughtfulness of gifts whether it be giving them or receiving them. Some people remember every little gift, and it isn’t always about the most expensive item. It’s knowing that the gift giver put their love into the gift.

Two people in a relationship don’t have to have the same love language, nor do we fall in love more with people who do have the same as ourselves. Some of us have never even thought about or identified our love language, but there are some questions we can ask ourselves to do so. To identify your love language, ask yourself these questions regarding how you feel in relationships. Do you feel more loved when your partner…..

  1. Run errands for you?
  2. Plans a trip for the two of you?
  3. Tells you I love you and says sweet things?
  4. Holds your hand when you walk places?
  5. Surprises you with a gift?

There are some perks to understanding love languages. By learning about other’s, you are being selfless. You are accepting someone else for what suits them best. You aren’t trying to convince someone that you love them when you know how to express it in the meaningful way they seek. You also grow as a person and in how you are a better half of a relationship when you learn about someone else, act accordingly, and go outside your comfort zone to do so. You could be nervous your gift isn’t enough to someone who finds love from receiving gifts. However, you grow, knowing that your gift is more than enough, and you can go buy it and give it without judgement. You can also become more intimate with the other person because you’re connected to them. You really get to know someone more than just surface level.

It’s important not to pressure someone to conform to love language or to try to convert them to the language you prefer. It’s good to recognize that your language and the other persons’ language may change, but the key is to communicate this and not expect the other part to automatically be aware of the change. Not all people are romantic and not all people believe in love being defined.

Healthy relationships thrive on putting into practice the love both parties need. Love almost requires a level of fulfillment, so it’s good to point out what fills your heart. It doesn’t have to be complex, rather, the languages are simple. What gets confusing is when you try to figure someone else out or think the other person should figure you out. Love feels amazing when we receive and give it so that the other person receives and feels it. It’s not to be taken for granted, so tools like putting love languages into play, can be successful acts from the heart that bond two people together.

30 Nov

The majority of processed foods do contain food dye, also called artificial food coloring. What might seem harmless and decorative, might raise concerns about health risks. Of course our drinks, candies, and baked goods look bright and lovely, but looks can be deceiving. Children consume it the most and overall consumption has gone but my 500% in the last 50 years.

Oh the things we do for appearance. Food dyes are chemicals that originated in 1856 from coal tar. Only a handful are okay for consumption and the rest are considered toxic. The attraction to artificial food dyes versus natural ones are the bright colors it makes. Manufacturers want to draw our eyes in and make us envision the foods even when we aren’t having them.

  • The FDA has approved food dyes as being safe, but controversy still surrounds this approval. These are the currently approved FDA food dyes and what they’re used for: 
  • Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue): popsicles, icings, ice cream, canned peas, packaged soups.
  • Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine): ice cream, candy, cereals, snacks.  
  • Red No. 3 (Erythrosine): cake decorating gels, candy, popsicles.
  • Red No. 40 (Allura Red): candy, condiments, sports drinks.
  • Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine): chips, cereals, candy, soft drinks, popcorn.
  • Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow): sauces, preserved fruits, baked goods.

The most commonly (90% of foods) used dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. One might question when a dye like Green No. 3 is approved by the FDA but not in Europe. However, Quinoline Yellow, Carmoisine and Ponceau are approved in Europe but not the US. Seems risky.

There isn’t a lot of science to back up the claims regarding the harmfulness of artificial dyes, although studies have been done. There can be possible changes in children’s behavior which have been linked to hyperactivity. Some doctors recommend eliminating artificial dyes from children who may have ADHD. Questions have also been raised about the relationship between food dyes and cancer, particularly Blue 2 and Red 3. Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 might be contaminated with cancer causing substances. The best answer is to eat whole foods, not processed. This takes away the risks possibly associated with food dyes. Eat food in its natural color and form. Prepare your own food. It can be scary knowing what is put in our food to preserve it, but the best solution is to shop yourself, cook yourself, and to choose healthy options for your meals and snacks.

22 Nov

Mom always said to drink our milk so we can have strong bones. Our bones are constantly being broken down and then replaced. Osteoporosis is the condition that prevents this bone regeneration from happening in a timely matter, so new bone isn’t built in time to keep up with the removal of old bone. This causes what bone is left in existence to be weak and brittle. Bone loss silently prays on its victims, giving away no clues at first that this problem is occurring in the body.

In severe cases, even coughing can cause a bone to fracture. Falls become highly dangerous with the potential of bone fractures to the hips, spine, and/or wrist.

By about age 20, our bones have developed and grown to their peak. Youth works in one’s favor when it comes to bone health because the body is full speed ahead at making new bone even faster than the old bone is broken down. As we age, this process reverses and we lose bone mass faster than we can rebuild it. The teenage years are a period that bone is built and stored in the reserve. When we age, we make withdrawals from this reserve. The more we have in our storage container, the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis in our older years.

The symptoms aren’t exactly smacking someone in the face. However, some indications that could warrant seeing a doctor include poor posture, loss of height, back pain, and bones that seem to break much easier than they ought to. Besides aging, other risks for osteoporosis include gender, as women are more susceptible, family history, being petite or having a small body frame, as well as being Caucasian or Asian. Certain medical conditions can also increase risk including cancer, lupus, arthritis, IBS (inflammatory bowl disease), and celiac disease. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to weak bones. Being sedentary also increases risk. Hormonal imbalances are related to osteoporosis. Menopause has a tremendous impact in women, due to lower levels of estrogen. Men also have a reduction in testosterone levels as they age but not as gaping as women do. Having low calcium levels is a threat to your bone health. Bone density decreases. Eating disorders can escalate this lack of nutrients.

Weight bearing exercises, i.e. resistance training, is a great preventative tool to improve bone health. This will help will better posture and balance. Exercise is medicine. Weight management is key as both being underweight and overweight increase risk. Protein is the building block for bone health, so meeting your body’s dietary needs is important. Adding to this, calcium and vitamin D are crucial. As we age, we need about 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day which can come from dairy, green vegetables, and fish (to name a few sources). Vitamin D helps us absorb this calcium. The sun the best resource for this.

Our body frame is the collection of our bones. Our skeletal system needs good bone health for muscle functioning and movement. We might not be able to go back in time and deposit more bone into the reserve, so moving forward we need to exercise, eat right, and be sure to get a little sunshine. Age doesn’t have to equate to a decline in your height and posture. Stand up tall, embrace the beauty of age and wisdom, and lift a few weights while you are at it.

15 Nov

Dietary fiber is a very important component of nutrition. There are a number of reasons why we need to consume this “roughage”. Fiber is the part of plant type foods that our body does not digest or absorb. The body doesn’t break it down once eaten, rather it passes through our digestive system. It is most commonly found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Generally, processed foods contain low amounts of fiber, explaining the high prevalence of inadequate dietary fiber intake.

There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Once the fiber reaches the colon, these types differ in their performances.

  1. Soluble fiber: Sources include apples, citrus fruits, carrots, peas, oats, barely, and psyllium. This type of fiber dissolves in water looking more like a gel. Its benefits include lowering cholesterol and glucose.
  2. Insoluble fiber: Sources include whole wheat, green beans, and cauliflower. This type of fiber assists the digestive tract to help food move through the system, making it beneficial for constipation and irregular bowels.

How much do you need per day??

Men: age 50 or younger need 38 grams, age 51 and older need 30 grams

Women: age 50 or younger need 25 grams, age 51 or older need 21 grams

In order to meet these daily needs, the best source of fiber comes from whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and beans are quality options. Supplements can also be an option. Some food does have added fiber like yogurts or granola bars. However, this substitute has been known to cause gas and stomach discomfort. There are also products like Metamucil on the market.

We need fiber for our digestive health, particularly our bowels. Fiber makes our stools easier to pass and decreases constipation. It is able to make the stools larger and bulkier which are easier to exit versus watery stool. It actually helps make the watery stool more solid. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and inflammation. For diabetics, fiber is critical for blood sugar levels because it can help absorb sugar. Fiber is also important for weight management because these foods help you feel fuller, with the potential to then eat less. Feeling full can help ward off overindulgence. It can also help prevent diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Anything in excess can be bad. Having too much fiber can lead to bloating, gas, and cramping. Too much help from fiber makes the stomach area crowded and backed up. Fiber is another reason to eat your fruits and vegetables. Your gut health is a primary concern considering we eat to live. What goes in must come out, and fiber is that conductor making sure the path is clear for easy exit.

08 Nov

Gout is a form of arthritis that typically effects 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 most commonly occurring in the big toe joint, gout can take its toll on any joint it decides. Then moving that joint become difficult. The first 12 hours are the worst feelings of pain reported by sufferers. The attach 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 bi-product 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 crytals. 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. Corticosteriods, 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.

09 Aug

Dried Fruit: The pros and cons to packaged sweetness

Part of a healthy, balanced diet includes the consumption of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Dried fruit might seem like a handy snack to meet this dietary recommendation. This snack consists of fruit in which the water has been removed by a dehydrator or naturally from the sun. Apricots, cranberries, raisons, dates…. are just a few on the list. Sometimes they’re coated in a spice or sugar for added taste, such as dried mangoes with chili pepper. There are pros and cons to this selection. You be the judge whether you decide to reach for fresh or dried next time you have some.


Fans of dried fruit love its sweet taste, the no mess, how convenient for on-the-go it is, and the long shelf life. Dried fruit outlives and fresh type. We find these snack packs in vending machines, at the airport, while we are checking out at the grocery store, and at gas stations. Seems like a good alternative to a candy bar when the options are limited. Dried fruit is nutritious in the sense that it is just compacted fruit. It actually contains close to 3 ½ times the amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber compared to fresh fruit. It is a great source of antioxidants.


Sugar, sugar, sugar. Dried fruit can contain up to three times the amount of sugar compared to fresh fruit. No wonder it is so tasty. Ever heard the word “fructose”?? Well that is the very sugar hiding in dried fruit. When we have extra fructose in the body, the liver converts it to VLDL. This is the bad cholesterol that is high in triglycerides. The health consequences of high triglycerides include heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. For example, let’s take a look at popular dried cranberries. Topped on a salad or part of your trail mix, it seems like an added healthy bonus. Wrong. One cup of fresh cranberries has 4 grams of sugar. One cup of dried cranberries has 70 grams. That equates to one bag of M&Ms. This raises the calorie content as well. In general, dried fruit has twice the calories and carbohydrates as fresh fruit. While all these no-no’s are added, calcium is subtracted as a result of the drying process.

The freedom of choice

What we perceive to be healthy doesn’t always equate to be true and this can be reflected by our fitness results. Clean eating involves fresh choices. Mother nature is the only additive. It’s probably a good idea to not eat anything with ingredients we are unable to pronounce. Real fruit doesn’t come with a label. We are also misled to believe that the bag of dried apricots was one serving, when really it was 2 or more which is another indication that we neglect labels and are not fully aware of what is being put in our bodies and how much.  It is easy to justify once bad choice over the other by reaching for a package of dried fruit instead of the candy bar. The truth is that a fresh apple can fit in your purse or bag too. Such a tiny snack pack wrecks quite the damage on the waistline. We are told to always stay hydrated, and this seems like good advice for our fruit too.