Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our Oz Obsession

It seems like for the past 5 or so years, our country can not get enough of the beloved Dr. Oz. He was an "Oprah child", as I like to call the likes of them (you know...like Dr. Phil and Iyanla whatever-her-name-is)...and you know when you are in Oprah's good graces you are pretty much set for life.

Here's my problem: he is a cardiothoracic surgeon. A SURGEON. He cuts people for a living. Now, I can not comment on his surgical skills or his expertise, because I haven't seen his results nor have I ever worked with him...(nor could I ever be a surgeon...bad idea...). But I will say, I always found it a little weird that a heart surgeon would speak on national television about "female issues", sinus problems, headaches, and every other type of medical condition you can think of. Why? Because he is a HEART SURGEON. He has the same training I do when it comes to medical problems that are out of his scope of practice....the same things we all learned in medical school. The same things you can google and wiki and read about...and you do prior to every doctors appointment (hence why every patient thinks they are dying of some sort of cancer).

Now, when it comes to the current problem at hand, the issue that he touts random, and non-scientifically proven, supplements and remedies for weight loss and other medical ailments...I agree with the senators who scolded him. Why? Because he is a well-recognized physician that the general public looks up to. They (we) rely on him for advice. They (we) trust what he says because he is a physician. They (we) look up to him as a role model. Should we look up to him? Should we hang on every word he says? Easy one....no. The problem is that he is in a place of power, on a platform you might say. When he uses this platform and power to send messages to the general public that may not be true or reliable, and even in some cases, detrimental, then we have a serious problem.

But let's face it people, the public is to blame too. On what planet do you think that there is a "magical green coffee bean" that will cause you to melt off fat, as if it some "miracle" drug. REALLY? Shame on you. We hang on the words of celebrities as if it is written in the bible. (Fashion too...have you guys seen what you are wearing lately...I'm sure some celebrity made some of these terrible fashion statements "cool"). If you have not learned by now that hard work and dedication are the keys to most everything in life (weight loss included), then let this be your lesson. Also, let's remember that all supplements and even medications are not created equally for everyone. What may be helpful to one patient might be VERY dangerous to the next. This is rarely addressed on his show. Are they safe to take with your current medications? Are they safe for someone with kidney or liver disease?

I'm sure that he and his producers have the same issues with his show that I have with my blog. Content. It's hard to come up with relevant ideas and topics to discuss. That's why I often ask for blog topics or questions. So, it's no surprise that the show has turned to "ooo...what's the cool and trendy supplement now?" on the show...just for content. And you know what? America eats. It. Up. They will not go to the doctor for an annual physical, or get their mammogram, or take their statin, but they will take raspberry ketones. Seriously. What the hell are raspberry ketones? Well I'll tell you one thing...whoever manufacturers them or grows them..or whatever you have to do to get them..is making a KILLING. Why? Because Dr. Oz said they will make you lose weight. And hell, if he says it, then it MUST be true. $$$

While I am at it, no shakes (this is very trendy now...it's actually a pyramid-scheme with parties and all...hilarious), herbs, supplements, or other trendy pyramid-scheme diet fads will ever stick. Ever. Do you really plan on drinking pre-made shakes for the rest of your life? Diet and exercise are a LIFESTYLE change. Nothing will take the place of that.

Let me make a two things very clear:
1. I am not bashing Dr. Oz. I am sure he is a phenomenal physician and surgeon. I am just saying that I think he is a little too enthusiastic about some things that have not been proven...and could potentially hurt people.
2. I am not against supplements. What I am against is taking random things from your nutritional supplement store because some random doctor told you they were good for you. Don't you think YOUR doctor who knows YOUR history and problems may know the best thing for you? If you don't then you should find another doctor.

Once again...eat right. Watch your portions. Exercise. Don't drink soda. Watch the carbs. DO NOT SMOKE. Know your numbers. De-stress. Pretty simple, really.

I wish you all a very happy and HEALTHY ((hot)) Summer!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Heart-y Humor

Recently, I asked for some opinions for a blog post on Facebook. One friend and reader said that she was part of an expo where they are doing "laughter yoga", and was wondering if laughter and happiness can lead to better heart health. What a great question!

Just as we know that stress can lead to a multitude of heart problems...read about one case here...can we assume that a happy life can lead to a happier and healthier heart? Actually, we can! There have been multiple studies which have shown that people who laugh do indeed have a lower incidence of heart disease. One study showed that people with heart disease are 40% less likely to laugh than people without it. Laughter decreases stress and anxiety, both of which can increase hormones in the body which can raise blood pressure and lead to heart disease.

The University of Maryland did a very interesting study. They took 2 groups of people and had one group watch a drama, "Saving Private Ryan" and the other, a comedy, "There's Something about Mary". After the movies, the blood vessels of those who watched the comedy behaved normally, expanding and contracting. Those who watched the drama, however, had tense blood vessels, restricting flow.

There have also been studies relating laughter to better sleep habits as well as decreased blood sugar levels, both of which are extraordinarily important to a healthy heart.

So, to answer my friends question...YES! Laughter likely does indeed help to keep our hearts healthy.  More so than just laughter, it is probably an overall positive attitude and decreased stress levels that allow us to laugh, and this is likely the reason for the healthier heart. (But don't think that you can just go see a comedy instead of going to the gym....it's not THAT closely related!).

Thanks for the great idea for the post! Now, can you tell me what the heck "laughter yoga" is?!

Until next time....keep smiling and laughing!

xo,

Monday, April 28, 2014

The e-cig Debacle

Let me start off with a little dialogue of how some questions go for a first time patient in my office:

Me: Do you have any medical problems?
Patient: No, I'm healthy.
Me: Have you had any surgeries?
Patient: Tonsil surgery when I was 10.
Me: Okay, what about any allergies?
Patient: Pollen.
Me: Any allergies to medicines?
Patient: Nope.
Me: And you don't smoke and never have, right? (Notice how I phrase this one...)
Patient:......
Me: >:-(
Patient: Well.....okay. Maybe. A cigarette here and there. But I've cut down! I was smoking a pack a day. Now, maybe a cigarette a day. The e-cigarettes and vapor have helped a lot!

Honestly, it's hilarious. The looks I get the way I phrase that question. And I growl. That's right. Growl. And we laugh..and then I stop and say "yeah, not funny. Stop that crap. NOW".


BUT, what is hard is giving recommendations on the new vapor and e-cigarettes. Why? Well, because frankly there is just not a lot of information and research on them. I did recently get an e-mail with this title: 

"FDA To Announce Long-Awaited Regulations On E-Cigarettes, Other Tobacco Products"

oooo! I was giddy. What does the FDA have to say?? Eh, but then I got bored because it was all about how they are going to regulate them, just like they do regular cigarettes, and not anything about the health aspect. So, I had to do some of my own research.


Basically, an e-cigarette (electronic cigarette) or vaporizer are devices which deliver synthetic nicotine via a mouthpiece. When a use inhales, it triggers a sensor that heats liquid (synthetic) nicotine, and the user gets a puff of hot gas that feels like tobacco smoke. The "smoke" is actually a substance called PEG, which allows the user to "blow out" just like they would with a cigarette. And, that's it. No carcinogens. Just the PEG stuff (which is in a lot of stuff like saline solutions, cosmetics and mouth washes), synthetic nicotine and artificial flavorings. So it is BAD for you?

My take on this? It HAS to be better than regular cigarette smoking. And, they have been shown to administer less nicotine than regular cigarettes...BUT, the nicotine is the issue. Although the yucky cancer-causing ingredients *may* be absent (I say this because when the FDA doesn't regulate something...do you REALLY know whats in it?), the nicotine is what causes other health issues like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and dementia. Remember also, that it is the nicotine that is addictive. So, generally, using e-cigarettes does not help someone to stop smoking, because they just pick up the e-cigarette and keep going with that. What concerns me too, is that the e-cigarettes are becoming a fad, and teenagers are picking up this habit. Right when we were starting to go in the right direction!

So...my personal (professional?) opinion? If you MUST pick one, then go for the e-cigarettes...but let's face reality...the best option is nothing at all! (But, com'on you already knew that!)

Until next time...

xo,

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where are your calories hiding??

I have noticed an on-going trend with my patients. A lot of times, they swear that they are eating healthy, but when you really begin to delve into a person's eating habits, you can find some pretty scary calories lurking where you may not know they exist.

One example is my patient who "forgot" that she snacks on cheese and crackers with her glass of wine nightly. Breakfast-good. Lunch- good. Her dinner was so-so...but the snack BEFORE dinner was loaded with calories. Because, let's face it folks, you do not just have one or two pieces of cheese and crackers...you have 20. Be honest.

mmm....Veggie Juice!
Also, I know that "juicing" is the big thing now. AWESOME. I am all for it. But let me make myself extraordinarily clear...juicing at home is WAY different then picking up a smoothie from the local smoothie joint! First of all, the best juices are at least half veggie juice and have no added sugar. Most smoothies from your favorite chain have added cane sugar or syrup. A lot of times, they will advertise "all-natural agave syrup". Okay, great. All-natural. Sugar packed? Yep! Your typical smoothie from any chain store has approximately 50 grams of sugar. Seriously.

Now, let's talk about yogurt. I love yogurt. LOVE IT!!  BUT...and that's a big BUT...I always eat a Greek yogurt that has a lot of protein too. Why? Because both kinds (plain, non-Greek and Greek) do have a lot of sugar. The only way for me to stay full is to have a breakfast with protein, and let's face it, the regular yogurt is all sugar and no protein.

Watch out for these hidden calories!!
Extras. I will tell you, hands down, that if someone is "watching" their weight, the biggest downfall they have is not knowing how many calories are in the crap that they add to their food. Number 1 enemy? Salad dressing. Look at your dressing label. Compare caesar and ranch to balsamic vinegar. Typically the former have at least 50% more calories (and usually fat, too!) than the latter. Ketchup is another culprit. Did you know that 1 teaspoon...not tablespoon...teaspoon....of ketchup has 15 calories and about 4 grams of sugar? Now, think...how many teaspoons do you put on your burger, fries or hot dog? (Actually, why are you eating that stuff anyway?!)

To keep it simple, do a calorie log. Do it for a few days. Do not change anything you typically eat. But just write it down and look up by the box or by google how many calories you are eating each day...it may (and likely will!) surprise you!

Happy eating!

xo,

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Medical Fact vs Fiction...Part 2!

Which of the following is actually TRUE??

1. That Z-Pack will get rid of that cold.

2. Stretching prior to exercise will help avoid injuries.

3. Back Pain? Then you should rest.

4. Yawning is contagious.

5. Fresh fruits and veggies are better than frozen.

Did you guess right? It's #4. Yawning IS contagious! The others are actually all false!

Ouch! What do you do
with that back pain?
1. Ahhh...the infamous Z-Pack. Don't get me wrong, I love me a Z-pack too...BUT it will NOT...I repeat...will NOT get rid of a cold! A cold is a virus. A Z-pack kills bacteria. Two. Different. Things. Moral of the story?? Don't get all upset when your doctor refuses to write you a script for antibiotics (and don't think that if he or she doesn't that she is a "terrible doctor")...maybe..just maybe...your doctor is right!

2.  There is still a lot of confusion about this one, but the latest research is indicating that stretching prior to exercise to help prevent injury may be a bunch of crap. Most people stretch to prime their muscles for what is about to come. Do we have any proof that stretching prevents injury? Not really. BUT, we know that stretching and flexibility overall leads to wider range of motion which in turn may help to improve balance and prevent injuries. My verdict? Take the 3 minutes to stretch a little. Not going to hurt, right?

How cute! Did you
yawn yet?
3. This one is a favorite of mine. Most of the time the trick of the trade "if it hurts, rest it" is true. The big exception here is back pain. Obviously, be sure to check with your doctor first, but 9 times out of 10, back strains and pulls should be treated with careful walking and movement, among other things. Laying flat is most of the time, one of the worst things you can do.

4. True! Yawning is contagious. Why? No one knows! You can read online the hundreds of different theories, but frankly, no one knows. Go ahead....yawn....yawnnnnn...I dare you to not do it! Just reading the word YAWN makes you want to YAWN! :)

5. Surprisingly, no! Most times, fruits and veggies are frozen at their ripest stage, and therefore are jam packed full of nutrients. Freezing them does not take away any of these healthy antioxidants and other good stuff in them. Also, fresh fruit, as it is being transported from where ever it came from to your kitchen, is exposed to a lot of different elements, including light, which may degrade some of the vitamins.

Did you win Fact vs. Fiction??

Until next time....

xo,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

You know you wanna.....

Hello to all of my lovely readers! I thought that you all may want to actually hear my voice for once! :)

I was recently on a local radio station WFTL in South Florida all about dieting in the new year, knowing you numbers, and other tips!

Chock full of good info....listen to radio interview here!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Year in Review!

Well, 2013 has been quite the year for us. We successfully opened an office (and let me tell you...this was WAY harder to do than what we ever expected)! Our country has implemented perhaps the most debated and controversial reform known to date-- health care reform. Personally, I have lost friends and family members to accidents and disease...but you know what they say...as one passes another is born. 'Tis the circle of life. P.S. There is a pretty good reason why I have been so lackadaisical with my posting lately, but you will have to read the WHOLE post to find out why...:)

In health care news, 2013 has brought about some interested research and new ideas in medicine. I thought that I would address my top 5 favorite (and most important) here on my last post of 2013.

1. Change in Cholesterol Guidelines
To me, this was probably the biggest news of 2013. The ACC/AHA (American College of Cardiology & the American Heart Association) published new guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol in November of this year. Simply, these guidelines will dramatically alter the way physicians treat patients now in regards to their cholesterol. We are now focusing less on the numbers, and more on the "story" behind the cholesterol. Instead of reaching a certain goal LDL across the board, the goals are now tailored to each patient. You can read more about these guidelines...here.

The Artificial Heart
2. The Artificial Heart.
Just this month the first 100% artificial heart was transplanted into a patient in France. This heart, weighing three times the size of a normal human heart, is self- regulating and mimics a real human heart in incredible ways. (Including the cost- approximately $200,000). The heart can beat for 5 years and is meant to serve as a "lay-over" for patients with end-stage heart disease while they await a human transplant...for now. Who is to say that this device will pave the future for transplants? I think a BIG door to the future was just opened.

3. Sleep is Special.
2013 was a big year for sleep medicine. More and more research is beginning to emerge about the importance of sleep time and sleep hygiene. One study showed that sleep loss negatively affected the immune system as well as increased inflammation in the body. Other studies have shown a direct link to sleep apnea and heart disease and stroke. Heck, one study even showed a better golf game with correction of sleep apnea! (I can't make this stuff up...) Conclusion? Sleep (good sleep) is a necessity for your body. If you do not think that you are sleeping well (or your partner can't sleep because of your snoring...) then go see a sleep medicine specialist!

4. Morning After Pill
Earlier this year, the ban on age-restrictions for the morning after pill was lifted. Previously, a person 17 years and younger had to obtain a prescription for the pill. Now, Plan B (and generic versions) are available to all women of child bearing age without a prescription. The pill is most effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of intercourse.

5. The comeback of measles...and others.
Refer to my previous rant...here. This year we have seen previously abolished diseases come back with force- measles and pertussis (whooping cough) being the two biggest ones. Why? Primarily due to the lack of proper vaccinations in this country following the inaccurate "vaccines cause autism" study years ago. Point #1- Vaccines DO NOT cause autism. It's been proven multiple times. Point #2- We do not live in the 1800's, so let's not re-create diseases that we have learned to eradicate.

What a year we have had. Both in medicine and in life. I have lost a good friend this year as well as my grandmother just yesterday. My losses are bittersweet. After a while trying, Camilo and I are happy to announce that we will be first time parents in the new year! We have a lucky little baby...personal guardian angels just for him/her. This is why I have been a little....behind...:)

Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2014!!!