Resolve to Make Real Nutrition a New Year Priority

A new year signals a chance to renew your commitment to healthier eating, but many of the most popular diets, like the keto diet and paleo diet, eliminate entire food groups, which can cause you to fall short on nutrients you need.

For example, a study in the “Journal of Clinical Lipidology” suggests low-carb diets may not have meaningful long-term benefits for weight or heart health compared to other diets and could actually restrict foods that are good for your heart.

This new year, instead of jumping on restrictive diet bandwagons, focus instead on consuming real, wholesome foods you can still enjoy, like dairy milk, that deliver benefits backed by decades of research.

Consider these tips for incorporating nutrient-rich foods into a few trending diets to make them work for you.

Intermittent Fasting: Skipping meals could do more harm than good if you’re not getting the nutrients you need to be your best. A better bet: balanced, flavorful meals that incorporate multiple food groups. If you really want to try intermittent fasting, consider not eating past a certain time in the evening so you can “fast” throughout the night, and make sure to eat a nourishing breakfast in the morning, like oatmeal made with real milk, topped with fruit and a handful of nuts.

Plant-Packed Plates: If you’re considering a vegetarian or plant-based diet in the new year, it’s important to pack the right nutrients into your meatless meals, particularly protein, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Make sure you’re getting enough by enjoying a variety of plant-based foods like beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables along with some other thoughtfully chosen options. Real dairy milk is a good choice in a vegetarian diet, providing as much as eight times more protein than many non-dairy milk alternatives. Each 8-ounce glass is also a source of vitamin D, and an excellent source of calcium and vitamin B12.

Focus On Fats: If you’re keeping closer tabs on your fat intake, it’s important to choose the right ones and know that a growing body of evidence suggests not all saturated fats are the same. For example, whole milk, which has more dairy fat than skim or low-fat varieties, may actually help raise “good” cholesterol and could be considered part of a diet that’s also good for your heart, according to research in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”

Calorie Conscious: Monitoring the calories you consume versus the calories you burn through exercise and everyday activity can help manage the fuel your body needs. When you consistently burn more calories than you eat, you are more likely to effectively lose weight. However, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo all your favorite foods. For example, when it comes to dairy, swapping full-fat options for skim or low-fat alternatives is one way to receive the same nutrient package with less fat and calories.

Make better nutritional balance a priority this new year and find more advice and recipes at MilkLife.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
MilkPEP

How to Start a Keto Diet

(Family Features) Starting a keto diet continues to be one of the leading trends in nutrition, though many find the transition to be daunting. Kristin Kirkpatrick, RDN, Quest Nutrition spokesperson and former nutrition lead for the Cleveland Clinic, recommends these guidelines for a day on the meal plan to help you get started. Find more information at questketo.com.

SOURCE:
Quest Nutrition

Understanding Rare Cancers

Four facts to know about one type of rare cancer, soft tissue sarcomas

Although rare cancers don’t occur often, they can affect people of all ages and genders.

A rare cancer is defined as fewer than 15 new diagnoses per 100,000 people per year, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Additionally, as noted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the 5-year survival rate is lower for people diagnosed with a rare cancer than for people living with more common cancers. Greater awareness of rare cancers may lead to earlier diagnosis and management, and potentially better survival rates.

  1. There are more than 50 types of soft tissue sarcomas (STS). STS account for about 1% of all cancers and affect soft tissues such as muscle, fat, nerves, blood vessels and skin. Although STS can be found in any part of the body, they are often in the arms or legs, internal organs, the back of the abdominal cavity or in the trunk, head and neck area.

If you have recently been diagnosed with STS, it’s important to ask your doctor for more information about the specific sub-type you have. For example, if you received a diagnosis of undifferentiated sarcoma, ask your doctor for an integrase interactor-1 (INI1) test to see if you have a rare STS called epithelioid sarcoma (ES). (See sidebar for more on ES.)

  1. STS can be visible or invisible depending on location. STS may appear as painless bumps under the skin, usually on arms or legs. Some sarcomas begin in the abdomen and typically don’t show symptoms until they grow and press on nearby organs, nerves, muscles or blood vessels. When this occurs, symptoms may include pain and trouble breathing.
  1. Early diagnosis can help inform disease management. As with other types of cancer, early diagnosis of STS is key, as earlier treatment may result in more favorable outcomes. Because other conditions can cause similar symptoms, it’s important to check with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the warning signs listed above. If your doctor decides it’s best to “watch and wait,” consider developing a six-week follow-up plan in partnership with your health care team if your symptoms have not improved.
  1. Seeking care from a specialist is key. Given the rarity of STS, finding a sarcoma specialist who understands the complexity of this rare disease and can help determine which treatment option is best for you is important. Treatment options depend on multiple factors, including your overall health, the location and type of tumor, its size and whether the disease has spread elsewhere in the body. STS are typically treated with a combination of options including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. A specialist may also speak to you about participating in a clinical trial where investigational therapies in STS are being studied.

Learning More About Epithelioid Sarcoma

A rare type of STS, epithelioid sarcoma (ES) accounts for less than 1% of all STS, which themselves account for approximately 1% of all cancers, according to research published in “Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.” ES can present as a lump or sore on the skin.

Notably, more than 90% of ES tumors do not express the INI1 protein, which when present acts to suppress tumor growth. INI1 loss plays an important role in the diagnosis of ES, according to researchers with “The American Journal of Surgical Pathology.”

Data from the NCI indicates that approximately 150-200 people in the United States are diagnosed with ES each year. Research published in “The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology” found the disease often occurs in young adults in their 20s and 30s. Because most ES patients are adolescents and young adults, there is a gap in the unique psycho-social needs for this patient population, including resources for patients who miss school while undergoing treatments, as well as fertility considerations later in life.

If you or someone you love is living with ES, you can find resources, information and the real-life perspective of an ES survivor at ESsentialsforES.com. (Family Features)

Content courtesy of Epizyme, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
Epizyme

Does Your Skin Have a Holiday Hangover?

What to Do When Libations Take a Toll on Your Skin

‘Tis the season…for eating…and drinking.

We’re all aware of the effects binge drinking can have on our health, but that doesn’t stop most of us from overindulging during the party season. What many people don’t realize is that drinking alcohol in excess can have a negative impact on our appearance. Alcohol dehydrates your body including the skin, your body’s largest organ. This happens every time you drink. Extra cocktails can be adding years to your face in the form of wrinkles, poor texture, and lack of radiance.

Dr. Gretchen Frieling is a Boston Area Board-Certified Dermatopathologist. She explains that frequent alcohol consumption is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. “Over time, drinking heavily can have other, more permanent, detrimental effects on your skin. Rosacea, a skin disorder that starts with a tendency to blush and flush easily and can eventually lead to facial disfigurement, is linked to alcohol. Since alcohol increases your blood flow, it often causes blood vessels in your face to dilate (sometimes permanently) and often burst, leaving behind broken capillaries and red spots that are difficult to get rid of,” offers Dr. Frieling.

Here’s a look at what alcohol can do to wreak havoc on your appearance.

Brittle hair.

What’s worse, drinking too much doesn’t only affect the appearance of your skin; it will dehydrate your hair, making it more prone to breaking and split ends. Weak, brittle hair in addition to premature wrinkling, can easily add 10 years to someone’s appearance.

Dark circles, bloodshot eyes, and even blindness.

In much the same way that alcohol causes broken capillaries on your face, it irritates and enlarges the tiny blood vessels on the surface of your eye (the sclera) causing a “bloodshot” appearance. If vanity doesn’t get your attention, how about blindness? “Because excessive drinking robs the body of some nutrients required to maintain eye health, it can lead to a condition called alcoholic optic neuritis, which impairs eyesight and, over time, can result in blindness,” cautions Dr. Frieling.

Some tips to avoid a “skin hangover” include…

1. Stay hydrated.

Aside from giving up booze altogether, Dr. Frieling says it is possible to minimize the unwanted effects of alcohol by constantly staying hydrated. “That means drinking a full glass of water for every cocktail you have. Drink even more water before you go to bed to flush the alcohol out of your system, so you wake up less dehydrated, puffy, and flushed,” she advises.

2. Take care of your skin before bed.

Taking care of your skin before hitting the sack is also crucial. Dr.  Frieling advises fully washing your face and then applying a moisturizer, like a hydrating serum before getting into bed. “Sleeping with dirty skin makes it prone to clogged pores and acne.”

3. Prop pillows and use tea.

One of the best ways to minimize the eye and face puffiness is to sleep on two pillows, slightly propped up. In the morning, rubbing ice cubes all over your face helps, too. “One of the best ways to deflate eye puffiness and reduce the redness is to place cold tea bags over the eyes. The tannins in the tea help constrict blood vessels,” adds Dr. Frieling.

4. Cover up what you can’t cure.

To camouflage the redness in the face, use a green-tinted primer before applying makeup, which should help neutralize any redness. If you must use foundation, look for a lightweight, moisturizing formula.  Avoid powders, as they are often more drying.

5. Consider lasers.

When at-home remedies aren’t making much of a difference. There are pricier measures you can take to minimize the effects of alcohol. “Certain laser treatments can reduce redness and spider veins on the face. It’s important to see someone who is well trained to administer the laser treatment,” suggests Dr.  Frieling.

6. Choose your booze wisely.

If you are going to consume alcohol know that different alcohols have different effects on the skin, but as a general rule, the clearer, the better. Vodka, gin, and tequila leave your system quicker. “If you’re going to drink anything, drink vodka that doesn’t have a grain in it, like potato vodka. It’s a lot clearer and smoother, so it gets in and out of your body quickly,” says Dr.  Frieling. Most dermatologists agree that although everyone metabolizes alcohol differently if you can remember to drink in moderation and stay hydrated, you can save your skin.

About Board-Certified Dermatopathologist Dr. Grethen Frieling

Dr. Gretchen Frieling

Dr. Gretchen Frieling

Dr. Gretchen Frieling (“Dr. G”), MD is a Harvard-trained, board-certified Dermatopathologist, with over 10 years of experience in Medicine and Dermatopathology.  With a background notable for intensive ballet, including the Juilliard School, Dr. G combines her artistic eye, perfectionistic qualities, and medical expertise, to give her patients the ability to be better versions of themselves.  Dr. G has an extensive academic background, including numerous publications in peer-reviewed medical journals, selected Editor of medical journals, an author of noteworthy medical textbook chapters, an educator at the Harvard Medical School, and speaker at many national medical conferences.

When it comes to non-surgical cosmetic procedures, Dr. Frieling has mastered the art of re-defining and re-vitalizing the face by eliminating fine lines, wrinkles and re-establishing volume with a minimalistic approach.  She is the founder and CEO of the GFaceMD luxury medical skincare line.  GFaceMD is a unique, boutique, client-focused aesthetic practice, with a mission to optimize beauty through advanced microenhancement techniques with the utmost professionalism, education, and confidentiality.  Services include injectables from neurotoxins to dermal fillers, fat dissolving treatments, collagen-stimulating treatments, laser treatments, medical facials, microneedling, chemical peels, dermaplaning, and more.  Along with splitting her time as a practicing Dermatopathologist, Dr. Frieling enjoys spending time with her husband, her two kids, and extended family, as well as volunteering in the community. She is an avid philanthropist, serving as a judge in the Miss Pink Organization, an active member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and a contributor to many non-profit organizations, including My Life My Choice and St. Jude.

Dr. Alok Trivedi Offers Ten Tips on Setting and Keeping Resolutions

It’s almost that time again when people everywhere will be setting their annual New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s making more money, losing weight or anything else, what can you do to make good on your New Year’s resolutions in 2020?

Dr. Alok Trivedi is a human behavior and psychological performance expert. He is the founder of the Aligned Performance Institute and author of the book Chasing Success.

He offers these ten tips when it comes to setting and keeping resolutions:

  1. Start small: Having a big goal in mind is fine but realize the best way to be successful is to see it as an incremental process. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds. That’s great but focus on losing ten pounds at a time. If you constantly look at the big picture, you’re going to get overwhelmed. Smaller goals are easier to accomplish and will leave you feeling motivated and inspired to keep moving towards your larger goals.
  1. Keep your mouth shut: When you keep your goals to yourself, it creates an inner drive to achieve them. Telling everyone else what you want to accomplish only puts more pressure on you and makes the process much more difficult to manage. If you feel like sharing, tell other people about your failures. It makes you a humbler person. The other reason to speak about your failures is because there is so much learning in failure for yourself as well as those around you.
  1. Don’t compare your goals to someone else’s goals: This is your life, your goals and your reality. What you want to accomplish in your life is going to be very different from what someone else wants to achieve. For example, in the next few weeks, so many people are going to say they want to lose weight in 2020. Do they really want to lose weight or are they saying that because it’s the popular thing to do? Set goals that are truly valuable to you.
  1. Master your failures. Master the areas you have failed at by finding out why. Why didn’t you succeed in the past? If you didn’t accomplish your goals last year, figure out what went wrong so you don’t make the same mistakes. Treat your failures as a learning experience to move you closer to success.
  1. Focus on the experience, not the goal: It’s not the million dollars that you’re after, it’s the experiences you get to have because of the million dollars. It’s fine to have your goals, but rather than spending so much time obsessed with them, focus on the experience. Every day is a new experience with new people and new adventures. Knowing where you want to go is important, but don’t miss out on the ride.
  1. Expect bumps in the road: Trying to accomplish any goal is a process filled with ups and downs. Most people enter the new year expecting things to just magically change without any effort or obstacles. The person who accomplishes his New Year’s resolutions is the person who overcame the most obstacles.
  1. Listen to the negative talk: All the self-help gurus, while well-intentioned, encourage you to only think positive thoughts. This is unrealistic because you’re living in a fantasy world. Paying attention to your negative self-talk is extremely important because it’s trying to break you of your addiction to that fantasy. The key is to be optimistic about what you want while listening to the negative thoughts because it will keep you grounded in reality.
  1. Focus on your ‘why not:’ Most personal development people will tell you to focus on your ‘why.’ Instead, you need to focus on your ‘why not.’ This is the real reason you’re not going after your goals. Until you figure out what’s really holding you back, you can’t have any forward progress.
  1. Stay away from vision boards: These should be called nightmare boards. All they do is slap you in the face and constantly remind you of all the things you haven’t been able to accomplish. Staring at million-dollar mansions, Lamborghinis and super fit models with bulging muscles isn’t going to inspire you for greatness. It’s delusional thinking that will leave feeling down on your luck.
  1. Don’t wait until January 1: Why wait until January 1? Thinking you’re going to make a magical change come the New Year is delusional thinking, gives you more time to indulge in the bad behavior and digs a deeper hole. If you’re serious about making a change, start right now, this very second.

Learn more about Dr. Alok Trivedi by visiting www.alignedperformanceinstitute.com.

Two Homes for the Holidays . . . and How Divorce Affects Your Children

Written by Hara Wachholder

At the young age of two, I became quite the traveler. Well . . . not in the way you might think. I did not have extra miles sitting on a card to travel around the country. My traveling consisted of venturing several times a month between two cities about twenty minutes apart. What sounds like an easy trip between neighboring towns felt like a journey that never seemed to end.

I am the adult daughter of divorced parents. While I now have the ability to decide who to visit, I was not given this privilege until the age of seventeen or eighteen. Instead, I would bounce back and forth like a ping pong ball between my parents’ homes for over fifteen years. Just as I would start to get comfortable somewhere, I would have to pack my bag and start all over again.

I am not going to sugar-coat this. Being the child of divorced parents can be traumatizing. Parents ted to argue over who will get to have their child for birthdays and holidays as well as for spring, summer, and winter break. Plus, there is the issue of different parenting styles and different rules in each of the households. Children are often caught in the middle witnessing the arguments or at least sensing the tension if they are not directly involved. Trust me when I say that children know a lot more than they may let on. On a personal note, I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I chose to continue to shuffle back and forth between my parents without speaking up for myself. There are many children out there that have also selected this path.

This is why I have chosen to share my perspective as a child of divorce. There are so many thoughts and feelings that swirl through the mind and heart of a child. No child can prepare themselves for what is to come, and this is my point to all of the divorcing or divorced parents out there. Yes, I know you are hurting; however, you still have the crucial job of raising your children and supporting them before, during, and after this difficult process. We, the children of divorced or divorcing parents, often feel like collateral damage, a pawn being dangled or a prize to be won.

I want you to think about this as you put together a structured plan for your children or begin the very overwhelming process of fighting for custody. This is a huge transition and not an easy one. This is not about maintaining control or “winning” in the outcome. This is about taking the time to understand the needs and concerns of your children.

During the holiday season, there can be added pressures. For instance, parents may feel it is necessary to create the illusion that everything is “picture perfect” and are waiting until after the holidays to drop the bomb of the divorce. There might be some parents who choose to try to keep everything the same, including past holiday traditions to avoid upsetting anyone. There are also the parents who feel that they have to overcompensate now that they are alone. Or we have the parents that want to compete with their former spouse to provide the children with better gifts or more exciting holiday plans like a week-long cruise to the Caribbean.

Of course, in the eyes of a child, the thought of double the gifts can be quite appealing. However, double the gifts does not mean that it will cancel out the fact that their lives are changing. If, as you are reading this article, you realize that you have been guilty of the aforementioned examples, it is important to remember that the holiday season would be a great time to establish new traditions that meet the needs of your new family dynamic as well as focus on creating a more positive environment for yourself and your children.  That would be a very meaningful gift to give this year. As the saying goes, “Stay in your lane!” Focus on your relationship with your child and make new memories rather than making this a competition.

Speaking of holiday gifts, I have the pleasure of announcing the release of my new book. My Parents Are Getting a Divorce . . . I Wonder What Will Happen to Me is an interactive discussion book written by yours truly and my mother, Karen Kaye. As a mother-daughter team of therapists with personal and professional experience with divorce, we wanted to provide a bridge of understanding between parents and their children. Our book creates a safe space for children to share their innermost thoughts and feelings while also teaching healthy coping skills for children to empower themselves during a chaotic and confusing time in their lives. The goal is to take children out of the middle and provide them with a voice as well as the tools that will allow them to grow into healthy, balanced individuals.

For more information or to purchase my labor of love, visit www.imstillmebook.com.

Hara Wachholder

Hara Wachholder

Hara Wachholder, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor with the State of Florida and received her master’s degree in counseling from Nova Southeastern University. It was after the resolution of the long-winded custody battle between her parents that Hara recognized her calling to help others going through the same struggle. Hara Wachholder is currently the clinical director for a family therapy center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Refresh Your Child’s Diet with Low-Sugar Options

Many families look to the new year as a time to reset their eating habits and focus on making healthier choices. However, adults aren’t the only ones who could use a menu refresh as children may also need to focus on healthier food choices.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed children consume an unhealthy amount of added sugar every day. Researchers found nearly all of the toddlers in their study ate an average of 7 teaspoons of added sugar daily – the equivalent of a candy bar. Additionally, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, excess sugar consumption can lead to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“Small children have small stomachs,” said Courtney Hines, a nutritionist for KinderCare Learning Centers, which care for more than 165,000 children around the country every day. “You want them to fill up on nutrient-dense foods, not empty calories in the form of added sugar. When children consume lots of sugar, their palates get used to overly sweet flavors. They may not accept other, less sugary flavors or learn to appreciate the natural sweetness of a piece of fresh fruit.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the consumption of added sugar for children under the age of 2. Children ages 2-18 should aim for less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added sugar per day.

For families that want to cut down on the amount of added sugar in their diets, Hines recommends cooking more at home, relying less on processed, packaged foods and serving only water or milk for beverages.

Consider these low-sugar ideas for meal and snack times to help control the amount of added sugar you and your family consume.

Dip Smart

Herbs, spices, citrus and fresh fruit add flavor without relying on the added sugars found in many popular sauces and dips. Consider making your own low-sugar alternatives at home so your family can still enjoy favorite flavors like these:

  • Ranch Dressing – In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, buttermilk, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper for a kid-tested, nutritionist-approved take on a favorite dip. Serve over salad or as vegetable dip.
  • Honey Mustard – Popular on a variety of sandwiches and as a dip or salad dressing, combining plain yogurt with milk, honey and regular or Dijon mustard can create a more family-friendly version.
  • Teriyaki Sauce – Perfect for serving with healthier options like lo mein, chicken wraps or fried rice, a homemade version can be created using water, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic powder and cornstarch slurry.

Swap Out Syrup

Pancakes are a popular breakfast option at KinderCare centers and in many homes, but even the healthiest whole-grain pancake becomes a plateful of sugar if it’s doused in syrup. Hines recommends these toppings that are sweet and savory without the added sugar:

  • Nut butter or seed butter (such as peanut, almond or sun) and banana slices
  • Warm fruit compote (mix of warmed berries)
  • Applesauce (no-sugar-added variety) and cinnamon
  • Nut butter swirled into plain yogurt; mix in 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract to add a sweet flavor

Snack Sweet

Opting for less added sugar doesn’t mean avoiding sweet snacks altogether. These alternatives can still help satisfy those cravings:

  • Applesauce with baked cinnamon pita triangles for dipping
  • Toast topped with nut or seed butter, smashed banana and sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Frozen fruit smoothies
  • Plain yogurt topped with granola, nuts, seeds or fruit
  • Apple slices with nut or seed butter

For more ideas to introduce your children to healthy habits from a young age, visit kindercare.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
KinderCare

Psychiatrist’s 8 Tips to Reducing Holiday Stress

The festive season is so much fun for many people. However, for some, family get-togethers, festive season shopping, cooking, and more make them feel stressed and anxious. Festive season stress is a real thing and it’s something that mental health professionals help their patients with during November and December. How can you help yourself feel better?

Vinay Saranga, M.D.

Vinay Saranga, M.D.

Vinay Saranga M.D., is a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry (www.sarangapsychiatry.com).

He offers these tips:

  •  Breathe: One of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to slowdown your breathing. When we are stressed, overwhelmed, worried or something is bothering us, our breathing tends to get fast and shallow. This actually makes us feel worse than we are already feeling. Focus on slowing down your breathing. Breath in through the diaphragm (stomach area), hold for a few seconds, and slowly exhale through the lips.
  •  Mindfulness: When you start worrying about preparing Thanksgiving dinner, shopping for gifts, or uncomfortable topics of conversation coming up with family you don’t see that often, practice mindfulness. This is the act of being present and immersing yourself in the present moment. It’s easy to dwell on the past and worry about the future, but being in the present moment is the best place to focus your energy.
  •  Take a break: The festive season can be overwhelming for many people. It’s okay to take a break. Go for a walk. Take a drive and turn up the tunes. Hit the gym. Surf the web. Go to your favorite place and just people watch. It doesn’t matter what you do. If you feel your anxiety levels rising, take a break from what you’re doing and connect to something that makes you feel good.
  •  Avoid controversial issues: There’s nothing like a heated debate over things like sex, politics or religion to ruin what should be a nice family together and stress you out. If a topic feels too far out there, or if you know that people have very differing points of views, stay away from it. Focus conversations around TV shows, movies, music, books, reliving memories and other fun and interesting topics.
  •  Get outdoors: It’s easy to get stuck inside watching the parades and footballs games, but getting some fresh air and a little activity can be good for everyone. Think of games to play outside. Go for a bike ride or a walk around the block. Watch the kids get involved in an activity. A little fresh air can relieve stress and holiday tension.
  •  Comfort yourself: Whether you don’t like the family get-togethers or large gatherings just stress you out, be kind to yourself with the language you choose. Remind yourself that it’s only a few hours and you can get through it. Spend time around the people with whom you have the most in common or the ones who don’t stress you out as much. Remember to smile as this not only makes you appear to be enjoying yourself, it really will help you feel better.
  •  Stay on your meds and keep doctor appointments: The festive season and long family get-togethers can be tough for many people, but even more so if you are suffering with a mental health condition. The holiday season is not the time to come off your medication. Remember to keep all doctor appointments and stick to your therapeutic routine. 
  •  Take a trip: If the festive season really stresses you out that much, there is no shame in telling people that this year you are getting away and taking a family vacation. Going on a cruise, heading to the mountains or whatever you choose to do is perfectly acceptable. You are not being selfish by putting the needs of you and your family first and foremost.

Prevention is Better Than the Cure: How Functional Medicine Can Change Your Life

Integrative approaches to health are becoming more and more common. In the city of Tyler, the
Adventum Mindfulness Triathlon is a mind-body wellness approach that has been gaining some traction. It involves a two-mile run or walk, doing yoga for 45 minutes, and ends with 20 minutes of meditation. The triathlon also offers sessions with counselors, chiropractors, and other specialists. Meanwhile, in Amarillo, the ReCODE Program which is based on preventing and reducing inflammation, optimizing nutritional intake, and the systemic elimination of toxins in the body has been the first program to actually improve the mental state of dementia patients. These integrative approaches to treating both mental and physical ailments are reminding patients and doctors that the old adage still holds: prevention is better than the cure — the core idea behind the practice of functional medicine.

Functional medicine (FM) is a scientific approach to holistic medicine. In a nutshell, its aim is to keep you not just alive, but healthy, happy, and well. The main difference between FM and conventional medicine is that the former is focused on prevention, while the latter is about treatment. For instance, A post by Parsley Health on ‘5 Reasons Why Functional Medicine is the Only Kind of Health Care You Want’ explains that while the conventional triage approach is the best way to prevent death or further trauma when treatment is needed, it has nothing to do with your health and quality of life outside the emergency room or clinic. In contrast, FM is focused on what can be done now to mitigate or prevent trauma and disease later.

This doesn’t mean that FM is opposed to conventional and other forms of medical treatment. Far from it — treatment begins with anything and everything that can significantly improve your health, quality of life, and resistance to chronic diseases and conditions. This approach begins with knowing your medical history. Questionnaires and interviews allow FM specialists to find out every bit of information that can be used to improve their patients’ overall health and wellness. This assessment of your medical history determines the program that you need to follow.

FM programs are mostly personalized lifestyle changes geared towards long-term wellness. The biggest factor that dictates our physical and mental health is nutrition, which is where these programs begin. This is hinged on the fact that we are what we eat — scientifically speaking, whatever we consume inevitably ends up being used by our bodies to repair and maintain daily and special functions. This is why FM specialist Dr. Robin Berzin doesn’t recommend any specific diet for health purposes, but instead suggests following personalized nutritional plans to meet every person’s unique needs. For most patients, this means eating a greater variety of plants while also decreasing their intake of highly processed food. The actual recipes or meal plans will be determined by the current state of your health as well as your goals.

Also, by optimizing daily food intake, you can either avoid having to take pharmaceutical medication that might have long-term adverse effects, or at least supplement their positive effects so you’ll need less potentially harmful medication. For instance, for sufferers of gout or chronic joint inflammation, sticking to an optimized diet means not having to take too much non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are known to wreak havoc on the liver. Through nutritional programs, FM specialists can help you decrease or completely avoid the long-term consequences of certain pharmaceutical treatments.

Regular exercise factors into FM programs as well. There’s a ton of research that shows how regular physical activity improves health. Our article on ‘Defeating Obesity with These Isometric Exercises’ shows how even the simplest, safest exercises can help mitigate and prevent chronic disease. Meanwhile, strenuous exercise has long been shown to help people deal with insomnia.

As for mental health concerns, FM specialists also either provide consultations or refer patients to mental health practitioners who can provide talk therapy and, if necessary, prescription medication. FM recognizes how the mind influences the body’s ability to heal and stay healthy, which further illustrates the value of taking an integrative and inter-disciplinary approach to health and wellness.

By combining these different approaches to human health, FM seeks to address the root causes of illness. The mind controls the body; the body affects the mind — what we do and consume with both determines the state of our health.

Are Your Lungs Trying to Tell You Something?

Do you get short of breath doing daily activities? Feel like you’re unable to take deep breaths? Are you constantly coughing or wheezing? If you said yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious, potentially devastating lung disease also known as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Though it’s easy to think of these symptoms as just part of “getting older’’ or as problems that come with allergies, often they are not.

Nearly 16 million people in the United States are currently living with a COPD diagnosis, and millions more don’t know they have it. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability.

In people with COPD, the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs become partially blocked, which makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. If left undetected, the disease can greatly affect your quality of life and your ability to complete even ordinary daily activities.

COPD often occurs in people who have a history of smoking or long-term exposure to secondhand smoke and other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, and dusts from the environment or workplace. The chances of getting COPD also increases significantly in people who have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic condition.

While COPD develops slowly and worsens over time, its symptoms can be treated and its progression can be slowed, which is why early detection and treatment are so important. If you are noticing any issues with your breathing, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for COPD. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner treatment can begin. Your provider will design a treatment plan to help address your symptoms and improve your lung function and quality of life.

The key to keeping COPD at bay – or preventing it from getting worse – is to understand and recognize the signs and symptoms early and discuss them with your health care provider. The sooner this happens, the sooner you can get back to doing the things you love.

Through educational efforts like the Learn More Breathe Better program (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/breathebetter ), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute shares valuable information about the symptoms of COPD, as well as how to diagnose and treat it. With these tools, those living with COPD can effectively manage the disease, and those who have symptoms can find the support and assistance they need. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute