Posts Tagged ‘factors that affect health’

With vacation time in full swing, it is time to ensure you remain healthy before, during and after your vacation.  You want to make the most out of this time, so it is important you stay healthy through some easy actions.

www.HealthOneLabs.comThe following are some tips and precautions for enjoying a healthy vacation:

  1. Before you go you should ask your physician if you need any immunization boosters – ie. tetanus.
  2. If you are headed for an exotic destination in the tropics or developing countries you may want to research if there are any immunizations (like hepatitis A or yellow fever) or medicines you take as a precaution, or have them with you in case you get sick.  The State Department has ample information on travel vaccines.
  3. You can ease jet lag by going to bed 2 hours later(if you are traveling west) and 2 hours earlier(if you are traveling east) each night
  4. About 30 to 70 percent of people who travel to developing countries get traveler’s diarrhea(TD) so you can ask your doctor for antibiotics in case this happens. Also try to avoid raw foods, street fare, ice and unbottled water
  5. Hotels and motels are the most common places to get bed bugs. Places that look rundown and outdated are less vigilant about treating rooms so you are more like to get bed bugs. However, luxury hotels are also prone to bed bug issues so be aware of what to look for before climbing into the bed.  Do keep clothing and luggage off the floors
  6. Remember to stay hydrated. Being on vacation isn’t like your normal routine so you have to drink more water to stay hydrated. You should aim to drink 9 to 13 cups of fluids
  7. Pack all medications in their original packaging in case so the medication can be quickly identified in an emergency or if necessary.
  8. In case you run out of medications or need medical attention be aware of where the local doctor and pharmacy are located at your destination.
  9. Program your cell phone to have someone listed as an Emergency Contact so medical personnel can contact your designated person to assist if required.
  10. Find ways to add exercise while on your vacation – it can be as easy as walking instead of driving, renting a bike or taking a hike nearby.  Have a sense of adventure.

Safe travels!



Nutrients Combat Disease

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Everyone knows certain foods are better for you than others but what many don’t know is that certain foods can actually be medicine to fend off various diseases. Eating foods that help prevent disease is very different then taking drugs because foods are not isolated substances. Food contains vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that work together to reduce risks of diseases. Studies have shown diets such as the Mediterranean diet are high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and actually reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammation and even some cancers. The following are some examples of foods with medicinal benefits:


    • Blackberries cause the self destruction of colon, breast, oral, and prostate cancer and has antibacterial action
    • Blueberries are not only antioxidants but are also rich in Omega-3 and help protect the Aorta blood vessel
    • Raspberries may help to prevent the growth of cancer cells


Triggers cells in the body to produce enzymes that protect against inflammation and oxidative stress which in turn is beneficial for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention


Is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which has anti-inflammatory properties.Omega-3 fatty acids also help lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, reduce irregular heartbeats, and reduce risks for heart heart failure

Ginger and turmeric:

These have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Ginger may also help relieve nausea and vomiting


Full of good fats and fibers which are very good for cardiovascular health. They also promote health blood sugar and weight levels

Food is medicine and you should put the best in your body to improve your health!


Do You Have Carb Phobia?

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When you are trying to lose weight you often try to reduce or eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet, but in the process you will also be eliminating some vitamins, minerals, fibers and phyto-nutrients. It is important to not group all carbs as the same because there are different types; some are more beneficial than others.

Everyone knows that bread, pasta, cereal, etc. are high in carbs; but so are some vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Carbs have such a negative connotation so it’s important for you to be able to differentiate the “good” vs “bad” carbs.

Why Do People Avoid Carbs?

Generally, carbs are avoided by many people because they are thought to cause weight gain; and in some cases that is true. All carbs are equivalent to 4 carbs per gram, but the quality of the carb you eat can determine whether it will make you gain or lose weight. Any sugar sweetened foods or refined grains such as white bread are related with weight gain. On the other hand, consuming whole grains, dairy, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables are associated with weight loss.

Furthermore, the quality of the carbs consumed may also increase or decrease risk of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating quality carbs like total fiber, grain fiber, and fruit fiber decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. It also showed that consuming a lot of starchy carbs like white bread, corn, and white potatoes are related with 23 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Consuming carbohydrates is an important part of your diet, without them you may even struggle with everyday activities. They are like fuel for your muscles. It is important for you to choose quality carbs instead of completely cutting all carbs out of your diet.




How to Have a Less Stressful Lifestyle

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Having a little bit of stress or pressure on you can often better your productivity and senses, however, having a high amount of stress on you can hinder you from doing everything that you’d like to get done. A lot stress can make you sick both mentally and physically. In order for you to lower your stress level, you need to first identify the symptoms of stress and then take action. If you experience moodiness, trouble falling asleep, negative thoughts and an overwhelming feeling then you might be too stressed out.

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The first step to reduce your stress is to identify the symptoms, and the second is to take action. There are many things you can do to reduce stress and lead a healthier lifestyle. You should try to have a more positive attitude to things that are in your control, don’t worry too much about things that you can’t change. Exercise is key when trying to reduce stress levels, it is recommended to exercise for at least thirty minutes a day. Exercise goes hand in hand with your eating habits. You should strive to eat foods that are high in protein and contain vitamin C, B, and A which help to lower stress. It is also important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, being well rested allows you to have a more positive attitude. You should have a group of people who support you and that you can count on for help, like if there’s something bothering you, you can go to these people and express your feelings. You should never have feelings bottled up, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or a family member about something, seek help from a counselor. Lastly, you should simplify your schedule for the things that are really important in your life, spreading yourself too thin might be the source of your stress.

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Is Your Medication Affecting Your Thinking?

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Is your medication affecting your thinking skills? Every time you take medication there are possible side effects:

  • dry mouth,
  • nausea or
  • drowsiness.

brain memory

Certain medication may affect your thinking skills; a lessor known and potentially debilitating side affect:

Anticholinergics, which can be found in over-the-counter and prescription medication, can alter your mental status and put older people at a higher risk for falls. Anticholinergics may be found in medications that treat for muscle spasms, depression, incontinence and allergies.  Many of these medications are taken by the elderly thereby further increasing their risk for falls and cognitive function.

How does Acetylcholine affect the brain?

These common medications can block acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for stimulation and activity in the brain. Slow brain activity caused by the acetylcholine being blocked, leads to confusion. People who are older tend to take more medication which leads to a chemical reaction that may impact the brain activity and also leaving the brain with higher concentration of acetylcholine.  High levels of acetylcholine can eventually cause the body to have a difficult time to rid the chemical out of their bodies quickly.

Considerations for you and your physician

The medication dosages should be based on the patient’s kidney function and your physician can assist with providing you the dosages that can treat symptoms while minimizing negative side affects. Frequently, the side effects of these medications can be mistaken for side effects of old age, so it is important to monitor side effects after starting to take medication with acetylcholine. You should also talk to your physician or pharmacist to find out how much acetylcholine you are taking, and let them know any over-the-counter medicine you are taking to ensure you’re not taking a high dosage of acetylcholine.

Additional reading:  The Role of Acetylcholine in Learning and Memory


Diabetes, Blood Sugar and Glycemic Index

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Your blood sugar has highs and lows throughout the day.  Typically, blood sugar increases after meals but will drop lower later on.  What you eat can lesson the intensity of the blood sugar swings.

Glycemic Index (GI)

The glycemic index is a tool to rate carbohydrate containing food by how much they boost the blood sugar in your body.  Many people who are diabetic use this tool to help keep their blood sugar under control and to keep the high peaks and low valleys in their blood sugar from affecting daily life.  Not only is a low glycemic diet good for moderating blood sugar but it has also been shown to reduce the risks for cancer, heart disease and other diseases.

low glycemic image resized 600

Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Index Values

There are many foods that contain carbohydrates which are basically made up of sugar molecules such as glucose and fructose.  There are other types of carbohydrates that are considered starches and can be found in potatoes, corn and wheat which are just chains of glucose.  When we think of food with carbohydrates we typically think of bread, pasta, cereals, beans, etc., but carbohydrates are in many foods.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is an indicator of how a carbohydrate containing food affects the blood sugar levels.  It is determined by how quickly the food type breaks down in the digestive system, releasing the sugar molecules.   The index measures how the food will boost your blood sugar as compared to digesting pure glucose.  For example, a slice of white bread has a glycemic index of 71 so it would increase your blood sugar as much as 71% as compared to 100% if you ingested pure glucose.  The higher the glycemic index the higher it can raise your blood sugar as would eating straight glucose.  Naturally, you want to keep the glycemic index of the food you eat in a lower range or you can add some fat or acid to offset the impact on your blood sugar. For instance, if you eat bread with olive oil or something acidic, like vinegar or lemon juice, can slow the conversion of starch to sugar, and so lower the glycemic index.

The internet has many charts that will provide the glycemic index of common foods and you should use this as a tool when eating or planning meals.

Low Glycemic Index for Diabetes and Other Health

A low glycemic index diet can help regulate blood sugar but there are other health benefits.  Since most low glycemic index foods are low in carbohydrates, are not processed, contain whole grains, and vegetables, it helps with other health issues.  Studies have shown that high glycemic index diets have been linked to increased risk of certain cancers:  prostate, colorectal, breast and pancreatic.  It has also has been linked to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

How to Incorporate the Glycemic Index in Your Diet

  1. Try to substitute high glycemic index food items with low glycemic index foods.
  2. Choose low glycemic index foods with values of 55 or less
  3. Eat low glycemic foods more frequently throughout the day to avoid blood sugar lows and highs

Some easy substitutes for common foods include:

Ditch the instant oatmeal and opt for slow cooked or steel cut oatmeal

Ditch the white rice and opt for brown rice

Ditch the white bread and opt for whole-grain bread

Ditch the corn and opt for lettuce, cooked greens or leafy vegetables


To see the long term impact of blood sugar levels, it is recommended to have your Hemoglobin A1c tested every three months.  The Hemoglobin A1c provides an average of your blood sugar control over a six to 12 week period and is used in conjunction with home blood sugar monitoring to make adjustments in your diabetes regimen.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.  Please visit for more information.


Factors that Increase Mortality

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According to The American Journal of Epidemiology (edition 173: 319-329) which cited a Harvard University study of 50,000 people, these factors increase the risk of early mortality:

  • Personal history of diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure (140/90 or higher)
  • Smoking
  • Diet high in cholesterol (animal products)
  • Being overweight at age 18
  • Eating foods with high glycemic load (white bread, white rice, soft drinks, French fries, refined grains and sweets)
  • Family history of early heart disease (before age 60 in parents or siblings)
  • Heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages

These factors decrease the risk of early mortality:

  • Eating cereal fiber including whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, etc. Aim for 3 to 4 servings of whole grains daily.
  • Eating nuts. Eat an ounce of nuts most days.
  • Getting regular physical activity – at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 or more days per week.
  • Including polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Best choices: soy and soy foods, sunflower, olive, canola and corn oils, as well as walnuts, almonds, avocado, flax meal, and hazelnuts.

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According to the article, the above 12 risk factors all exert an independent effect on health and mortality. But, when taken together, they have profound effect on your health. In the study, those who did not follow the good health practices above were six times more likely to die from cancer, 12 times more likely to die early from any cause, and 24 times more likely to die early from cardiovascular disease.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


Control the Risk Factors of Heart Disease

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February is National Heart Month and there will be many articles on how to improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease.  Note that if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol is even higher. Some researchers indicate that it is better to get your blood pressure and cholesterol under control then work on your glucose levels.  Check with your physician for the best protocol.

Research shows that you can control one or more of these risk factors if you elicit help from a friend, family member or professional.  Everyone can benefit from these simple choices, so find a partner and see if you can make some healthy choices:

  1. Get regular check-ups to monitor your health
  2. Measure your blood pressure and test lipids (cholesterol)
  3. If you are overweight, take control and start to lose pounds gradually
  4. Take all prescribed medicine as directed
  5. Get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise
  6. Quick smoking
  7. Modify your diet to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish
  8. Read food labels to minimize food high in saturated fats & cholesterol
  9. Limit your salt intake to 2300mg/day.  Most of this comes from processed foods
  10. Drink in moderation – men: 2 drinks/day and women: 1 drink/day

Research also indicates that alternative medicine can be a major factor in meeting goals for a heart healthy lifestyle.  Studies show that massage and acupuncture can reduce stress, reduce blood pressure, assist with smoking cessation and improve circulation and range of motion to help maintain an exercise program.

Do you know your numbers?  There are convenient ways to get your blood pressure and cholesterol (lipid) blood tests done.  Almost every pharmacy has a blood pressure machine and it is a good practice to check your blood pressure often.  Discount blood testing is available to have your lipids checked.  This includes cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL and VLDL.  Test now then make dietary changes and test again.

Other simple ways to incorporate heart healthy lifestyle changes is to

  1. meditate
  2. prioritize and delegate tasks to reduce stress
  3. limit distractions or focus on less stressful events
  4. grill, steam or roast your food
  5. reduce portion sizes – try a smaller plate
  6. exercise in short bursts – 3×10 minute intervals = 30 minutes of recommended exercise and is just as effective

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


Type 2 Diabetes and White Rice Link

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Many people are consuming white rice every day.  Whether it be visiting Asian and Latino restaurants or adding it to home cooked meals, white rice use has increased.  It’s a common food in soups, entrées, desserts and sides and the taste and low cost make it a convenient choice.  Additionally, much of the rice today is more processed in order to decrease the cooking time.  Recent research suggests this high-starch grain may be linked to type 2 diabetes.
white rice bowl resized 600

In a recent study by the British Medical Journal, researchers examined data of an estimated 353,000 people. They looked at the data to measure white rice consumption and cases of type 2 diabetes. The research found that those individuals that ate the most amount of white rice (four servings per day) were 27 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least amount of white rice.  The researchers also found that for every large bowl of white rice (5.5 ounces) a person ate per day, the risk for type 2 diabetes rose 10 percent.

Health advisors address these research findings by explaining how glycemic index is the main cause:  white rice is rapidly converted to sugar in your blood stream.  White rice isn’t the only culprit with a high glycemic index, other high-starch carbohydrates (and highly processed food) include white bread, white pasta and white potatoes.  Essentially, eating high glycemic foods that are quickly converted to sugar can leave you feeling hungry thereby increasing the probability of overeating and developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetics typically have a fasting blood glucose level higher than 126 mg/dl.  This is done by testing the blood after fasting for 12 or more hours and taking a blood glucose test.  A better indicator is the hemoglobin A1c test that provides the average blood glucose levels during the previous 8-12 weeks.  When blood sugar gets this high, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy.

People at risk for developing type 2 diabetes can improve their ability to regulate blood sugar by

  • losing weight,
  • exercising, and
  • modifying diet.

If their blood sugar levels remain high, despite behavior modification, medication may be necessary.

White rice is popular, tasty, but may not be the best dietary choice.  The good news is there are healthy alternatives that are just as tasty and easy to make.  For instance, brown, rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa and other grains.  These types of grains have more bran and fiber than white rice, and contain additional nutrients.  Naturally, we all know that eating more fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains combined with regular exercise can also prevent diabetes and help regulate blood sugar levels.   Just another friendly reminder to try an establish good habits.
Take Control of Your Health!

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.