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Fixin' Healthcare

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Exercise and Mental Function

This article reports on a study that reconfirms the benefits of exercise upon mental function and offers a mechanism as to how it works. There can be no denying that regular, sustained physical activity has all sorts of positive effects on health. Start slow and build up in duration and intensity. It's called physical conditioning. Try it, you'll like it.

Stop Smoking

As a nonsmoker I have little understanding of the desire to smoke or to continue smoking. However, I do understand the terrible toll smoking takes on health. New studies indicate that better and more prolonged therapy to stop smoking can be successful, even among those who don't desire to stop. The conclusion is to treat smoking like a chronic health condition or disease. Probably not an unreasonable approach to the problem.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weight Management For Children

Obesity in children is a growing problem that proves difficult to control in our society. This article describes a successful program at Stanford University involving the family. The objective for children is to achieve a healthy weight in a healthy way over time. There are no secrets, it's just a matter of doing it. Most families need help.

Got Arthritis? Keep Moving.

Anyone with arthritis knows that movement is painful but they also know that inactivity increases the pain. Unfortunately, many people with arthritis are not physically active. In study of 1000 people age 49 to 84 years, ninety percent were not exercising (20 minutes of moderate activity daily) and forty percent of men plus sixty percent of women were total couch potatoes. There are practical reasons that regular physical activity helps arthritis plus it is beneficial for general health (cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic). Enough said, lets go for a walk or jump in the pool.

Nutritional Supplements

It is best to assume that a healthy diet provides everything human metabolism needs. However, people don't always eat a healthy diet and even if they do nutritional supplements are considered insurance. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine 2011; 171(18):1625-33 explored the hazard for increased mortality in a group of women average age 61 years. In summary, supplemental iron was associated with the highest risk and calcium with decreased risk.

Room For Improvement

Plant based whole food contains everything human metabolism needs for normal function. Increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit and decreasing intake of processed food plus animal protein and fat is the double whammy of health. But it is slow to happen. In a survey of high school students by the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), only 16.8% ate fruit and 11.2% ate vegetables at least four times daily. And most were not engaging in 30 minutes of physical activity daily. This is in comparison to the recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables daily. One cup is equal to a medium apple or 12 baby carrots.


The debates about willpower and the influence of lifestyle on health are of vital importance to each individual and the nation. Is it "woe is me" or "get up and get moving"? Evidence indicates that willpower is a mindset and it can be cultivated but it is hard work. Something to think about. Personally, I don't believe, or want to believe, there is nothing I can do about how I live. However, no one says it is easy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Business of Gluten Free

Celiac disease is a significant health problem and gluten sensitivity is more widespread than previously thought. As people become more aware of the condition, more diagnoses are made and companies respond by making gluten free products. Vegetables and fruit provide everything in abundance that human metabolism needs and without any gluten.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fight the Fat Gene

Scientists believe they have found a gene that predisposes people to accumulating body fat and it is distributed widely throughout the population. But they also discovered that physical activity (exercise) can modify expression of the fat gene. In other words, genetics is not entirely fate. Healthy lifestyles make a difference and exercise (physical activity) does not have to be running and weightlifting. Eat more plant based whole foods and keep moving. And may the force be with you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cancer Is A Word With Multiple Meanings

The word cancer can be terrifying but it has multiple meanings. There are different types of cancers in different organs. Some cancers progress slowly and some rapidly. Cancer may not be cured in many cases but modern therapy can manage it as a chronic disease. Anyone with cancer needs to be educated about their condition and what to expect. In addition to any need for therapy specific to the cancer there is need for special diligence in regard to a healthy lifestyle. The body has mechanisms for combating cancer that require support with a healthy diet, exercise, adequate sleep and stress relief.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivate an "attitude of gratitude". Studies shows it leads to less anxiety and depression, sounder sleep, better health and a kinder behavior toward others. Kindness usually wins in the long run. History shows that toughness is the ability to take a beating, not give a beating.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Numbers Don't Lie, Do They?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism are often vague and difficult to evaluate. Blood tests are a helpful guide but they also may be misleading. With the increasing reliance upon technology and the limited time spent with patients, mistakes can happen and often do. It is always good advice to listen to the patient and evaluate the laboratory results accordingly. Experienced physicians frequently utilize the laboratory and imaging for confirmation of what they already suspect. However, all the findings must be considered and inconsistencies cannot be ignored.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Size Fits All

The same healthy lifestyle habits that reduce the risk for heart disease also reduce the risk for cancer. The same is true for diabetes and probably many other diseases. As far as primary prevention is concerned, one size does fit all. And it is all in your hands every day, all day. Just learn how to do it and join an environment consisting of other people who live it and promote it. Many communities are developing such an environment and welcome your participation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tough Love

Everything old becomes new again. Small groups, trust, tough love and competition produce weight loss. Health is a community affair that is paid for with time, energy and concern for others. Nothing is ever learned so well as to teach others. Good health depends upon behavior and healthy behavior is achieved day by day with constant reinforcement. Yes, we are our brother's keeper and they are ours.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Brown Rice

Brown rice is filling and it is a healthy food. Here are many recipes for using brown rice.

Community Health

"Health is a community affair". This article reports on the Saddleback Church using small groups to assist people with losing weight and improving health. I am confident that companionship and losing weight relieved depression better than antidepressant medications. Reducing risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer can be added to the list of benefits. No doubt about it, community health is God's work.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dietary Sodium

There is controversy about whether limiting sodium in the diet improves health. Some data indicates that limiting sodium interferes with health but these recommendations might include amounts of sodium as low as 1,500 mg daily. The issue for the most part revolves around the large amount of processed food in the American diet containing high levels of sodium. A better way of addressing the problem of high sodium is to eat more plant-based whole foods containing higher amounts of potassium and eat less or no processed food. That will improve health, reduce weight and lead to feeling better with a greater sense of energy. The results speak for themselves.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Exercise To Slow Aging

Here is more evidence that exercise helps avoid losing muscle mass and strength, as well as avoid the decline from vitality to frailty. It is never too late to start and keep it up.

Five Ways To Reduce Risk For Diabetes

Each of these five ways will reduce risk for diabetes by 30% and all five together reduces risk by 80%. It's not a bad deal because diabetes is no fun and it will kill you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A View of Medical Care

This interview with the chancellor of the University of California San Francisco paints a picture of how science and medical care will explain disease and lead to cures and prevention. It is not a new view of health. This is the pathway followed by biomedical research and medical care for the past century with increased attention since World War II. Progress has been significant but slow and expensive. Meanwhile, the public believes success is imminent and places their faith in medical care. It is not so much a belief in science as a form of wishful thinking. When you suffer with a disease, any hope is comforting. The tragedy is the lack of attention to the highest technology in health. The human body and the control of the technology in the human body through lifestyle can prevent disease and reduce the severity of disease. This is available immediately with amazing results. In many ways the faith in medical care clouds the vision of health care in the form of primary prevention and public health resulting in less than optimal health status. Health care is for everyone, medical care is for those who need it. 

Insurance Is Not A Health Provider

David Brooks is my favorite political commentator because he seeks the balanced and practical (prudent) approach to problems. And he is willing to say that we cannot be sure about the outcomes of many proposed solutions. In this article he expounds upon Mitt Romney's proposals for Social Security and Medicare. Addressing the Medicare, I agree with Mr. Brooks that the fee-for-service payment system is a central problem for medical care not just Medicare. But don't look for insurance companies to solve that or any other health problem. Health insurance is not a health care or medical care provider and it does not work like other insurance. Sharing risk is a problem when there is no differentiation between health care and medical care.

No issue in the United States is more important and more misunderstood than health. The current concept of health is robbing the nation of vitality and treasure. People fear sickness more than they trust the pursuit of good health. Medical care has usurped health care and public health is relegated to a secondary role. The expansion of medical care and health (medical care) insurance has created an enormous business enterprise with the objectives and values of commerce. That warps health and health care to the detriment of health status. The goal of national health policy must be to achieve and maintain the best health status possible by reducing sickness, disease and disability. In that context medical care is the default system for those who need it, which I propose is significantly less than the current utilization.    

Now, envision a nation with better health status, more vitality and less medical care. That vision would consist of a transformed society. More like we think we are than what we are.

The Freshman 15

The freshman 15 pound weight gain is a myth. On average the gain is more on the order of three pounds. As a myth, the freshman 15 takes its place among all the other myths about health and the economy. However, a three pound weight gain is not something to be ignored as it may be the start of something bigger.


"Heartburn", acid reflux, GERD and hiatal hernia are diagnoses associated with chest pain due to food and/or drink. Although an abnormality of the anatomy is assumed to be the culprit, more often than not the symptoms will regress with a change in diet. One of the common causes of the symptoms is regular and diet sodas. Highly processed food is another common cause. Perhaps the diagnosis should be poor diet. A diet consisting of plant based, whole foods is the best protection against "heartburn".  

Monday, November 07, 2011

Air Pollution - continued

This article gives an overview of the status of air pollution in the US. Certainly, it is better than it used to be but pockets (areas) of trouble continue to exist. Everyone should realize air pollution is a serious health hazard and be vigilant to the status in their area. Urban and industrialized areas are at greater risk.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Inactivity Boosts Cancer Risk

Physical inactivity boosts the risk for cancer. Walking is good and keep moving. Watching television and sitting at a computer not so good. The same advice applies to reducing risk for artery and heart disease. No one can do it for you but having someone to do it with is helpful. Like most things in life it starts in the head not the legs. Keep thinking about it, you can do it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Shared Lives

Each of us shares our bodies with numerous microbes. The estimated ratio of microbes to human cells is 10 to one. Microbes contribute to metabolism and healthy function of the body. Evidence is growing that lifestyles (diet and perhaps exercise and sleep) determines the mix and amounts of microbes. Antibiotics have a major impact upon the bacteria that invade as well as those that inhabit our bodies. There are so many things we don't know about this aspect of health, as well as health in general.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Nursing Home

Long-term care for the elderly is one of the vexing problems of society that each of us has to deal with sooner or later either as a participant or as a son or daughter with a parent who needs such care. For the most part it is not a positive experience and it is expensive. This description of "Green Houses" is an example of trying to do it another way. I wish them well.

The Quandary of Finding a Small Tumor

What to do about the incidental finding of a small tumor? If it is on the skin, the answer is easy but in the pancreas much more difficult. This is a quandary that has become more common with more frequent scanning with higher resolution scanners.

Houston, We Have A Problem

People who work in public health have known for a long time that education is linked to health status. Those of us who worked in large public hospitals (Grady, Parkland, etc.) have seen how poverty and lack of education impact health. Education is on the national agenda and it will take time to have an impact on the problem. Other issues such as immigration will influence this effort. It makes no sense not to educate the children of immigrants, illegal or not. Even the Texans understand that. Meanwhile, medical care and private health insurance will have little impact on the status of health for the population as a whole.