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Physician: “OK, Mr. Jones, your cholesterol and blood pressures are too high. You need to take these medicines and get some exercise. Come back in a few months. Any questions? Good! Stop at the front desk to get scheduled.”
What would you think if you woke one morning and you noticed in the mirror that half of your face looked strange? By strange, I mean you couldn’t blink one eye and your lips, mouth and tongue didn’t move properly. In short, one side of your face was paralyzed. Would you be concerned that you were having a stroke? Most people would naturally be very scared and concerned that a stroke was indeed occurring.
Unless you are an unfortunate soul who is allergic to peanuts, nobody doesn’t like peanut butter, to paraphrase Sarah Lee’s famous tag line.
Every cell in the body continually carries out millions of biochemical processes requiring oxygen. By-products of this cellular metabolic process are unstable electrons called oxidants or “free radicals.” Unfortunately, these free radicals are not harmless. Their chief danger comes from the damage they incur upon cellular structures or DNA. ANTI-oxidants reduce the effects of dangerous oxidants by binding with them, thereby, decreasing their destructive power. Food sources of antioxidants include those with high levels of vitamin A, C, E, and beta-carotene, such as spinach and liver. Anti-oxidants are thought to have a role in slowing the aging process, preventing heart disease, and protecting against the development of cancers.
Consider the following very typical scenario: You are one of the growing numbers of individuals who takes an aspirin every day because of its cardio protective properties on the advice of a health care provider. Then, one day you sprain your ankle and you consider taking a couple of over-the-counter ibuprofen two or three times a day for a few days for its anti-inflammatory effects. Seems harmless enough, but is it? Is it advisable to be taking aspirin and ibuprofen simultaneously?
What is hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)? Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and is commonly known as the element that carries oxygen. But it does something else: it combines with some of the sugar (glucose) circulating in the blood stream to become glycohemoglobin. The amount of glucose that combines with the hemoglobin is directly proportional to the total amount of glucose circulating. Since the average life span of a single red blood cell is three months, it stands to reason that measuring the amount of glycohemoglobin would give a good approximation of the average blood sugar level of the previous three months.
Why is it that from 2004 to 2010, the gluten-free food industry has grown at a compounded annual rate of almost 30 percent? Probably because 1 in 133 persons is now being diagnosed with a condition known as celiac disease. Patients with celiac disease are unable to tolerate a protein called gluten, which is found in the grains wheat, barley and rye. The inability to digest these grains when eaten leads to inflammation of the small intestines manifested by destruction of microscopic hairs, called “villi,” lining the small intestines. Without these villi, the patient is unable to absorb vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients, and malnutrition and anemia ensue. Young children who develop celiac disease are particularly vulnerable as their growth and normal development can be stunted.
Besides pulse, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, a patient’s temperature is also considered a “vital sign.” The thing that makes a person’s temperature vital is that the body’s homeostasis, or ability to maintain all functions optimally, depends upon a certain range of heat. Most everyone can recite that the average body core temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit with a healthy range being anywhere from 97 to 99 degrees. Temperatures that vary below or above this average create an internal atmosphere that is not conducive to the various systems’ functioning. The term “fever” generally refers to anything over 99 degrees. In order to maintain the healthful range, the body has a regulating system that kicks in much like any thermostat. If the core temperature starts to rise, we begin a cooling mechanism through sweating. If the core temperature starts to decrease, shivering will initiate warming through muscle contractions.
How many times has this “Medical Advice” column reported a change in prevailing medical recommendations? Here we go again. Humpty Dumpty could certainly identify with the angst a humble egg currently has to deal with. Talk about self-esteem issues. For years, eggs have been slashed from “healthy” diets because they were considered too loaded with fat and, therefore, a leading contributor to heart disease. The general recommendation was no more than two eggs per week. Even yours truly ascribed to that theory and personally was responsible for instructing her patients in that direction.
So you have made a New Year’s resolution (again?) to get fit this year. How do you begin?