Archive for the ‘Gut Health’ Category

Why it is important to check your Hemoglobin A1C levels if you are a diabetic:

If you are diabetic, you know that it is crucial to maintain and test your blood sugar levels daily. However, you may not have known that it is also very important to check your hemoglobin levels as well. Hemoglobin is a red protein that transports oxygen in the vertebrates. One of the types of hemoglobin is called hemoglobin A (HbA), and hemoglobin A1c is a subtype of HbA. Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to hemoglobin A1c and stay bound to it for months. Therefore, the higher amount of blood glucose means a higher amount of hemoglobin A1c, and by measuring its value, you can get your average blood sugar level during the past 8 to 12 weeks. The hemoglobin A1c test is commonly used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes because it measures average blood glucose levels over a period of two to three months. After being diagnosed, the A1c test is then used to measure how well you are managing your diabetes.online lab tests This test can also go by other names such as glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1c, and HbA1c, but no matter what you call it, the results will show a high A1c level, then your blood sugar is not well-control ed. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, if you are not managing your blood sugar, then there will be a higher risk of diabetes-related complications including kidney failure, vision problems, and leg or foot numbness. Conversely, the lower your A1c level, the lower your risk for diabetic complications. The A1c test is referred to as the “gold standard” for evaluating the risk of damage to tissues caused by high blood sugar levels. This is why it is one of the most useful tools to determine how effectively your diet and your diabetes medication are regulating your blood sugar. In turn, it can also help your doctor determine whether your medication needs to be adjusted. If you are diabetic and would like to have better insight into your blood sugar levels, get a hemoglobin A1c test. Please discuss your test results with your physician.  If you have diabetes, be mindful of your blood sugar levels because it can reduce your risk for long-term health problems, like eye, heart, and kidney problems, and even stroke.

 


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Should you buy generic or brand name drugs?

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The use of prescription medicine has increased over the years.  Likewise, the use of generic drugs has increased versus their brand name counterparts.  In fact, about 8 in 10 prescriptions filled in the US are for generic drugs.  Many people question the safety of generic drugs, but the FDA has concluded that generics provide the same quality and performance as brand-name drugs:

  • Generics must have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand-name drug
  • Generic manufacturers have to prove that the drug is the bioequivalent as the brand-name drug
  • Generic manufacturers must pass the same quality standards as the brand-name drug manufacturer.order online lab tests

Many people don’t know that a lot of the generic drugs are made in the same manufacturing plant as the brand-name drug! Millions of dollars are saved annually when patients switch from brand name to generic drugs Generic vs. Brand Name Drugs. The FDA estimates that generics saved patients $158 billion dollars in just one year.  Paying significantly lower prices for a generic doesn’t mean you are sacrificing quality or effectiveness of the drug.  When a brand-name drug becomes generic, they do not need to repeat the costly clinical trials.  They also usually do not pay for expensive advertising, marketing, and direct promotion to physician offices and hospitals.  Finally, there is usually more than one manufacturer that is producing the generic drug which means the competition further decreases the drug price. Discuss the use of generic drugs versus brand-name drugs with your physician to see if generics are a cost-saving option for you.


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Why You Should Wear Sunscreen Year Round

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With summer officially gone, the beginning of fall means cooler temperatures, and often times people think you do not have to wear sunscreen any other time than in the summer. In reality, you should be wearing sunscreen Vitamin D Testing. Is it Necessary? every day, regardless of the temperature outside or if it is even sunny. Sunscreen is the one skincare that works upon application and helps prevent wrinkles and even skin cancer. Studies show that only about 30% of American women and 14% of American men wear sunscreen, which is incredibly low numbers. Many cases of cancer could have been prevented by simply applying sunscreen before going outside.online lab testing services

The following are some tips you should follow to make sure your skin is protected year-round:

  1. A very common misconception is that just because it is cloudy outside, you don’t need to wear sunscreen. Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds, so don’t believe that cloud cover will save you from damaging sun rays. Apply sunscreen.
  2. Wear sunscreen under your makeup. There are foundations and powders that contain SPF (sun protection factor), but you would need about 10 times the normal amount of foundation/powder to get the right protection from the sun. You should opt for a moisturizer with broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15 and apply foundation over it.

Don’t spend too much time under the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm because the sun’s rays are most intense and more likely to damage your skin during these times.


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PSA Blood Test Overview

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The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) is produced by the prostate.  A simple blood test measures the amount of PSA and high levels may suggest the presence of prostate cancer. If you are a male, have an average risk of prostate cancer, and are over 40 years old, you should get a PSA blood test.  According to the American Urology Association, the following is a general schedule for when you should get tested– please note you should discuss this testing with your physician for individualized consultation:online blood tests

  • Under age 40: PSA screening is not recommended
  • Ages 40-54 and at average risk: Routine PSA screening is not recommended (note: this decision has been debated by physicians so check with your health care provider)
  • Under age 55 at higher risk (family history or African American): The decision should be discussed with your physician as to the frequency of this test.
  • Ages 55-59: This age group tends to get the most benefit from having a PSA blood test done.  Routine screening is recommended every two years.
  • Ages 70+: Routine PSA screening is not recommended although some men over the age of 70 may benefit from prostate cancer screenings.online lab tests

Because prostate cancer is the number two cancer killer of men, there is nothing wrong with having a PSA test if you are concerned or if your physician recommends having this test. You can order a PSA blood test here.


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How Blue Light May be Affecting your Health

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Blue lights create blue wavelengths, hence the name, and is considered positive during the day as it helps increase mood, reaction time, and attention span. However, it can be very disruptive at night and can throw off your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s biological clock. Blue light is emitted from electronics with screens such as your phone, and energy efficient lights. Being subjected to blue wavelengths at night repress the secretion of melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland and is responsible for regulating sleep.online blood test

Research has shown that not getting enough sleep at night can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, depression, premature aging, and diabetes. It is important to try to limit your use of screens that produce blue light at least 2 hours before going to sleep, this will help preserve your circadian rhythm, thus allowing you to go to sleep at a reasonable time. You can also opt for red lights at night, which have the least power to affect your circadian rhythm or the production of melatonin in your body. Lastly, try to get as much natural daylight as possible, as this will increase your ability to fall asleep at night, and keep you much more alert and awake during the day.


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If you are considering or already are a vegan or vegetarian, one of your main concerns may be how you will get enough protein in your diet. Protein is one of the three macronutrients your body requires, so it is important you are getting enough of it. The protein intake varies from person to person, but according to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), a good way to see roughly how much you should be getting by using your weight is 0.36 grams per pound. Although this approach will tell you the amount of protein you should be getting in order to prevent deficiency, you may want to consider speaking to a nutritionist as there are many factors that can affect the right amount for you. As a vegetarian or vegan, you shouldn’t feel like you are struggling with getting good sources of protein in your diet. The following are different options of high protein foods you can incorporate into your diet:protein vegetarians and vegans

  1. Edamame/Tempeh/Tofu: all 3 of these come from soybeans which is a complete source of protein, and has other nutrients such as calcium, and iron. There are about 10 to 19 grams of protein per 100 grams of either one of these.
  2. Nutritional Yeast: This is the deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. This will give a cheesy flavor to your recipes AND it is dairy free which is great if you are a vegan. Not only is it a good source of protein, but also has copper, vitamin B12 Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency may be Causing your Fatigue, magnesium, and zinc. There are 14 grams of protein per 28 grams of nutritional yeast.
  3. Spirulina: A superfood made of blue-green algae.  It has riboflavin, essential fatty acids, and potassium. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are about 8 grams of complete protein in 2 tablespoons of spirulina.
  4. Quinoa: A good source of phosphorus, complex carbs, iron, magnesium, and fiber. It has about 9 grams of protein per cooked cup of quinoa.
  5. Chia Seeds: These can be incorporated into your cooking in so many different ways such as baking, smoothies, and even chia seed puddings. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, selenium, antioxidants. Chia seeds have 6 grams of protein per 35 grams.

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What is Holistic Health?

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Often times when there is something physically wrong with people, they immediately take medication to ease or eliminate the physical pain, however, they don’t get to the root of the problem. It can be like putting a band-aid on the real underlying issue. Holistic health takes into consideration a person as a whole, meaning emotional, spiritual and physical changes in the body. Many are skeptical of this approach because they assume this form of healthcare can’t include traditional approaches like medication. Holistic health includes traditional approaches as well as non-traditional ones, such as acupuncture or oxygen therapies. online labTestsThese two methods complement one another, leading to optimal health. Holistic health is used to achieve life balance, which means feeling well internally, thus promoting physical health. People achieve this by being self-aware, living an active lifestyle How to Have a Less Stressful Lifestyle, eating right, and being positive. This allows their mind, spirit, and body to connect. Achieving optimal health by eating right and being active may not be groundbreaking news, but it can go a long way. Eating better means avoiding processed foods, artificial dyes, foods with harmful chemicals, or food with little nutritional value. Exercising allows you to burn calories, reduce stress, gets the blood flowing and clears the head. It is important to set time aside in the day for some type of physical activity, which doesn’t always have to be a long workout, even 10 minutes of vigorous exercise is better than nothing. Lastly, just like your body doesn’t respond well to unhealthy foods, it also doesn’t respond well to negative energy or thoughts. Imbalances in your personal life can affect your health, so it is important to be self-aware and to practice self-care. This can’t always be done alone, often times the help of a professional may be necessary. All in all, holistic health requires a lot of discipline but ultimately will allow people to be in their best health condition.

 


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How Stress can Affect your Health

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Stress can be responsible for some health issues you may be having such as constant migraines, reduced productivity, and even insomnia. Many don’t understand the toll stress can take on their body, which is why it’s important you find ways to manage it. Stress is most commonly known to affect your behavior, feelings, and thoughts, but it can also affect your physical health. High levels of stress that are not managed for an extended period of time can increase blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Some signs you may be under too much stress are headaches, fatigue, chest pains, weariness, anxiety, depression, mood swings, change in eating pattern, and drug/alcohol abuse. There are many techniques you can try out to see what works best for you. You can try meditation, exercise, being social, and/or practicing one of your hobbies. Many times when you think of destressing you think of just going home and watching tv, playing video games, or surfing the internet. These inactive activities may actually increase your stress in the long run, so try going for activities that require you are active. If you have tried the techniques mentioned and are still not feeling any relief, you may want to reach out to a professional for help.


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Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

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Intermittent fasting has become very popular recently, and it is simply when you eat for a certain  period of time during the day and fast for the of remaining time of the day. The most common way of practicing this is the 16:8 ration, which is eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours. However, there are many other ways and variations to practice intermittent fasting. It is up to you to choose the time period that is most convenient to fast and to eat. Although intermittent fasting is often thought of as a way to lose weight, it isn’t always the case. Intermittent fasting is an eating habit, and a common misconception is that if you fast you can eat whatever you want during your eating window. Like any other eating pattern, you should opt for healthy eating habits. The following are a few other health benefits of intermittent fasting:

  1. Reduces inflammation. Fasting causes autophagy, which is when the body gets rid of damaged or old cells, helping the body cleanse it self, thus reducing inflammation. Intermittent fasting also causes your body to use up all of its sugar stores, and then forcing it to turn to fat as fuel. When fat is used as fuel, it creates ketones which block part of the immune system responsible for regulating inflammatory disorders.
  2. Insulin levels drop. This makes it easier for your body to burn fat
  3. Creates brain cells. Studies have shown that fasting stimulates and increases the rate of neurogenesis in the brain, which is the development and growth of new cell/nerve tissue. This may increase brain performance, focus, mood, and memory.
  4. Gives you energy. Intermittent fasting increases the creation of new mitochondria. Since mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cells in your body that take the food you consume and turn it into energy, the creation of new ones will boost your energy.

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The Importance of Gut Health

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illustration-fruits-vegetables-grains_0What is considered as “The Gut?”

It is typically considered your digestive tract – which includes a muscular tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your anus.  The food and drink journey is about 30 feet long and works with other parts of your digestive system to break down food and drink down into smaller molecules of nutrients. The blood absorbs these and carries them throughout the body for cells to use for energy, growth, and repair.

Why your Gut is Important

The gut is referred to as the “second brain” a lot because of its many important functions in the body. It is responsible for the immune system, digestive system, how well your body absorbs minerals/vitamins, capacity to remove toxins from your body, and well-being of your mental health.

Many are surprised to find out gut health can affect mood, and mental health.  Hence it is important to maintain a healthy gut.

The Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is what lines the gastrointestinal tracts, and this is important because the ENS is not only responsible for the immune system, but also for communicating with the brain regarding the body’s gut. There are certain types of bacteria that are helpful for your gut and types that are harmful, and when there is an imbalance of these, it damages the mucosal layer in your gut. In turn this leaves you susceptible for the food you consume to enter your bloodstream, thus triggering your immune system, and causing food sensitivity, inflammation, and other symptoms. The ENS also sends messages to your Central Nervous System (CNS), which can affect mood, memory and cognitive function. Lastly, most of the body’s serotonin is cultivated by a certain bacteria in the gut, which can also affect your mood.

Ways to Heal your Gut

There are a few things you can do to heal your gut naturally. First you need to figure out what is damaging your gut, like food sensitivity, too much consumption of processed fatty foods, or if you’ve taken antibiotics recently as these are damaging to the gut. You should also make sure you are getting enough prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are helpful bacteria for your gut and prebiotics induce the growth of these helpful bacteria. Good sources of probiotics are kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir. Prebiotics can be found in bananas, onion, garlics, jicama, and oats. If you believe you have a leaky gut, or any other type of gut issue speak to a physician first.


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