MIND your diet for brain health

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

With increasing frequency, I have the unenviable task of informing a patient or their family members that they have dementia. Often, the patient themselves has not realized that they have problems other than occasional attention lapses, even though family members have observed major behavioral and memory problems.

Perhaps nothing creates so much anxiety among those of us who are growing older than the loss of our higher mental functions. The old term, senility, or even kindly tolerance of eccentric age-related forgetfulness has been overshadowed by the specter of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. These are among the leading causes of death in the elderly and contribute to loss of function, dignity as well as adding tremendous stress on families. I understand the challenges of these conditions from professional, personal, and family experiences.

Like most areas of medicine, prevention is the preferred way of approaching chronic problems. A recent study by Dr. Martha Morris of Rush University’s Internal Medicine and Nutrition departments in Chicago and published in the journal, Alzheimer’s and Dementia in March 2015, has garnered national media attention. Entitled “MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s disease,” this is one of the few prospective studies on neuroprotection and dementia prevention. In this study, the MIND diet was the active intervention in more than 900 participants 58 to 98 years old. The researchers followed these subjects for an average of 4.5 years and found that moderate adherence to the MIND diet may decrease Alzheimer’s disease risk. Continue reading

Stem cells help in battling diabetes

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Diabetes may be common, but it’s serious business. Diabetes is repeatedly in the top 10 causes of death for Americans, killing or contributing to the deaths of 300,000 Americans in 2010. An estimated one in 10 people have it, but about one-third of them are undiagnosed. Diabetes costs the country $250 billion. But scientists are working on some good news for diabetics with the help of stem cells.

Type 1 diabetes is largely associated with children and represents about 5 percent of all diabetes cases. The more common form, type 2 diabetes, mostly affects adults and manifests when cells do not use insulin effectively so higher levels are needed, this is also called insulin resistance. Insulin is a molecule of protein, made and secreted by beta cells in the pancreas, an organ that regulates glucose levels in the blood.

Diabetes is a multifaceted disease that leads to a host of medical conditions and complications, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, blindness, cardiovascular disease and kidney problems. Those with diabetes are two times more likely to die of a heart attack and one and half times more likely to die of a stroke. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, leading to transplants and dialysis. Almost 60 percent of lower extremity amputations are the result of diabetes. Continue reading

More Smoothies

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Smoothies are a great way to start your day and start your way toward getting the recommended 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables (shoot for 30 percent fruits, 70 percent vegetables) we ought to consume daily for optimal health. So many of my patients and even our medical students eat less than that. It isn’t always convenient to have fresh fruits or vegetables around. Frozen produce works well though and keeping blueberries, spinach, mixed berries, tropical fruit mix, peaches, and the like in the freezer is a good way to ensure you always have plenty of superfoods around.

Here is one recipe, though you can play around with variations if you wish:

  1. Rinse a bunch of kale, about as much as you can grasp in one hand and put it in the blender or food processor
  2. Add some fresh spinach if you wish
  3. Put in one or two fresh avocados
  4. Squeeze in the juice of one or two lemons
  5. Add a couple scoops of whey or soy protein powder
  6. For extra flavor add some slices of turmeric root, ginger root, and/or a couple of garlic cloves
  7. Pour in sufficient organic apple juice to bring everything into a solution
  8. Blend and watch the amazing healthful Kelly Green colors arrive.

A cup of this is like 3 servings of veggies and fruit to start your day. In other words, a salad in a smoothie! Enjoy.

Here’s a fruit smoothie I have shared before but is back by popular demand:

  • 1 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup of cut mango, nectarine, peach, berries, or any fruit of your choice
  • 1 scoop of whey protein powder or soy protein powder
  • 1 scoop of ground flaxseed
  • High pulp orange juice
  • Blend to consistency desired

For a few more easy ways to get your daily fruits and veggies in, try any of the following: Continue reading

The birth of Ebola

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

For most Americans, the Ebola scare seems to have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the outbreak is over in Africa or that we’ve seen the last of the virus, especially considering its history. Scientists believed that Ebola is relatively new as far as viruses go — only 10,000 years old. However, ancient animal bones show that Ebola appeared between 16 million and 23 million years ago, perhaps even earlier.

The Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 during two outbreaks in what was then called Northern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and southern Sudan. The outbreaks were actually caused by two different strains of the Ebola virus named Zaire and Sudan, with 90 and 50 percent mortality rates respectively. Since then, three other strains have been identified: Tai Forest, Bundibugyo, and Reston, which is the only one that doesn’t affect people. Overall, there have been 27 outbreaks, but the current outbreak that started in March 2014 is by far the worst, infecting almost 25,000 people and killing over 10,000, thereby making it the world’s first Ebola epidemic. Continue reading

How to make summer outdoor meals safe for your family

Dr. Sally Robinson

Dr. Sally Robinson

Keeping Kids Healthy

Spring has arrived and after an extra cold winter, everybody is ready to get outside for some picnics, backyard barbecues, dips and cold, dressed salads. In other words, it is the season of rapidly spoiling food and food-borne illnesses.

Overall, the incidence of food-borne illnesses has dropped over the past decade. Much of this is due to food safety programs by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration at the food production level.
Still, according to an article by staff writer Judith Rusk of the journal Infectious Diseases in Children, food-borne diseases cause 76 million illnesses, 325 thousand hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year and are most dangerous in the young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Continue reading

Participate in your own nutritional good health

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Perhaps no other topic is so widely debated, discussed, and as confusing as nutrition. One study confounds another. Long held sacred cows like cholesterol management in diet, eating eggs, artificial sweeteners, and so on seem to be slaughtered daily in the media and scientific journals. Daytime food shows have been so popular as we love to talk about, shop for, cook, and, of course, eat food. They often add to the noise and disinformation about nutrition and health. Nonetheless, they are closely watched as eating is the very human thing we all do. Once we have enough food to survive, we hope to make the right food choices to thrive.

We are increasingly discovering that food is more than calories. It is information. Our choice of foods alters our microbiome, the critically important bacteria in our gut. These affect everything from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, joint or other systemic inflammation, and even may be related to neurological conditions like Alzheimers’ disease and autism.

Genetics, long thought to be so crucial in our health is no longer destiny. It turns out that food we eat and the exercise we do alter the expression of genes we are born with. This process, called epigenetics, produces measurable and large outcome changes in our health destiny. Family history no longer needs to be a fate to await and endure but an inspiration to eat well, be active, and be cured. Continue reading

Marijuana use in teens is unhealthy

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

MEDICAL DISCOVERY NEWS

It is now legal to use marijuana (recreationally and/or medically) in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia, and as more places debate legalizing the substance, more people are asking about its consequences on human health. There are many myths and misconceptions out there, but this is what science has to say about the subject.

As with all substances, the health effects depend on the potency, amount and a person’s age. An independent scientific committee in the United Kingdom evaluated how harmful various drugs were based on 16 criteria and ranked heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine as the most harmful drugs to individuals using them, and ranked alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine as the drugs that cause the most harm to others. Marijuana ranks eighth, with slightly more than one-quarter the harm of alcohol.

Short-term use is associated with impaired short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information while under the influence. Short-term use also can impair motor coordination, interfering with tasks such as driving. The overall risk of an accident doubles if a person drives soon after using marijuana. In comparison, those with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit are five times more likely to have an accident, and the combination of alcohol and marijuana is higher than either one alone. Continue reading

When is your child too sick to go to school?

Dr. Sally Robinson

Dr. Sally Robinson

Keeping Kids Healthy

Most children get sick at some point during the school year. In fact, the average school-age child gets about 6 to 9 common colds per year. Many parents sometimes send their children to school sick and other children catch what they have.

Sometimes it is difficult for parents to tell if their child is too sick to go to school. It can also be hard for parents take off work, especially in single-parent households or families in which both parents work.

But it is extremely important to keep children home if they are sick because they can expose other children to whatever they have.

Here are some basic guidelines to help you decide whether or not to send your child to school if he or she is not feeling well: Continue reading

The bright side of black death

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

It’s easy to think that nothing good could come from a disease that killed millions of people. But Dr. Pat Shipman, an anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University, disputed that notion in his recent article in “American Scientist,” where he suggested the Black Death that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages may have resulted in some positive effects on the human population. Considering that we are in the midst another significant plague (the Ebola virus in West Africa), we could certainly use more information about the role of pandemics on human populations.

The Black Death or Bubonic plague started in the mid-1300s and was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, which typically enters the body through the bite of a flea. Once inside, the bacterium concentrates in our lymph glands, which swell as the bacteria grow and overwhelm the immune system, and the swollen glands, called buboes, turn black. The bacteria can make their way to the lungs and are then expelled by coughing, which infects others who breathe in the bacteria. The rapid spread of the infection and high mortality rates wiped out entire villages, causing not only death from disease but starvation as crops were not planted or harvested. It killed somewhere between 100 million to 200 million people in Europe alone, which was one-third to one-half of the entire continent’s population at the time. The plague originated in the Far East and spread due to improved trade routes between these two parts of the world. Continue reading

More information about acupressure and its effects

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

After last week’s column about tapping on your acupressure points to bring energy and balance to sports and other performance, I received an unusually large number of enthusiastic comments. So, I thought I’d follow up with a more general coverage of acupressure.

I also wanted to offer a clarification that some of my readers brought to my attention this week. Tapping is done bilaterally over the paired meridians on the face and body points except when the point is in the midline, above and below mouth, and on the sternum. The index and middle finger are used to tap firmly a half dozen times or more over each point. The diagram last week showed only one point per side on the face so I have brought a revised one this week, and also one of the hand points. Tapping can be done on either or both hand points less obtrusively. Again, if tapping isn’t your thing, you can apply pressure over the points while taking a deep breath or two for the same benefits. For those of you that missed the article, you can look back on the GDN website or get a detailed overview by getting a copy of Coach Greg Warburton’s easy to read paperback, Winning System from Amazon. Continue reading