Kale: Can you really eat it?

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

At a recent fundraiser for Meals on Wheels, the wonderful chef at the Galveston Country Club served a lovely salad made with kale.

A friend sitting with us who runs one of Galveston’s finest healthy eating establishments expressed an opinion that many of us may hold about kale: it is a nice ornamental in your garden or a garnish on the plate, but who would eat that bitter stuff?

So why, when a friend of my wife’s gave us a couple big bunches of organically homegrown kale was I as happy as a 10-year-old with a new pony? Because kale is a really healthy, nutrient-dense addition to the menu plan and offers many ways to enjoy it. Americans are falling in love with kale like never before, even raw kale. Continue reading

Make room for some down time

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

It seems to be a mark of status in our society to be forever busy. Ask someone how they are and a likely response is, “Busy.”

Now there is nothing wrong with attending to business, family and other responsibilities. However, it seems to me that the slavish value we give to always being busy often goes too far.

What about down time? What about taking time when we just stop our endless busyness to rest, reflect, recuperate, and recharge? Isn’t this just as great a value to our health and happiness as constant motion?

My favorite Chinese philosopher, Lao Tsu had much wisdom to offer us on this topic. More than 2,500 years ago, Lao Tsu said “Always be busy, and life is beyond hope.” And on the benefit of quietude: “Who can wait quietly while the mud settles? Who can remain still until the moment of action?” Here’s another: “A truly good man does nothing, yet leaves nothing undone. A foolish man is always doing, yet much remains to be done.” Continue reading

Sex is a window into who we are as a person

Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen

Drs. Tristi Muir and
Catherine Hansen

We treat women, sometimes men and, ultimately, couples for sexual dysfunction. A lot of the time, problems in the bedroom are an indicator of something much bigger. The relationship needs help.

Research has found that married men and women are healthier, happier and live longer than their unmarried counterparts.

We understand on many levels something that our patients may not be aware of when they ask for help — that healing a sexual relationship heals people. It restores individuals, couples, marriages and even families.

Studies have shown that growing up with married parents is associated with better physical health in adulthood and increased longevity.

Keeping our patients’ relationships strong can improve their individual overall health and improve how they function at home, work and in the community.

All relationships go through stages, with the first stage marked by an inability to use necessary brain functions, mainly critical thinking. This is the “honeymoon phase” of infatuation and romance. Continue reading

Bodies change after birth

Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen

Drs. Tristi Muir and
Catherine Hansen

Bringing a new life into the world is truly a miracle. Yet in the aftermath of the birth and all the excitement surrounding bringing the baby home, many women find themselves noticing something not so miraculous — their body is not the same.

The uterus, vagina, pelvic muscles and nerves undergo tremendous change during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.

The uterus shrinks back to approximately its pre-pregnancy size within six weeks. Bleeding can persist throughout this time, but resumption of an actual period is variable and often significantly delayed if a woman decides to breast-feed.

The hormones a woman’s body produces around the time of delivery empower the cervix and vagina with the tremendous capacity to expand and contract.

Frequently, though, the baby exceeds the body’s powers of expansion and tears the vaginal skin. Minimal tears or abrasions will heal on their own (although they can sting with urination during the healing phase), while deeper cuts require stitches. Continue reading

How can we detect early prostate cancer?

small prostate caThis is a high-resolution high-strength magnetic resonance (MRI) image of the prostate gland below the bladder. Notice the 6 mm dark spot to your left (white arrow on the right side of the prostate). This represents an early prostate cancer confined to the gland. Often, these small cancers can be treated with lasers and no surgery.

 

 

 

 

 

The Right Choices for a Healthy, Smart, Super Baby

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Infertility, premature birth, children with neurological conditions such as autism spectrum and attention deficient disorders, obesity, and diabetes are now rampant in our society.  Scientists have determined these problems have been increasing rapidly over the last decade and longer.  

No single cause for these trends been agreed upon by specialists. Factors such as brain injury, genetics, behavioral, and social problems all play a likely role.

I am going to suggest a not so radical idea. These problems in the ability to conceive, to have a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby are primarily linked by several common causes: nutrition, lifestyle, and environment.

To put it basically, we are living very different lives than our ancestors whose diet was mainly whole, home-cooked foods, without the chemicals that are part of our contemporary environment. In the past, babies were all breast-fed and obesity in adults or children was rare.  And how about daily activity levels? Stress?

Our environment has changed radically. Foods are now highly processed, pesticides and insecticides in them are common, chemicals from plastics disrupt vital hormonal pathways, and nutrient deficiencies alter expression of genes and increase birth defects. Continue reading

Study Shows Big Improvement in Diabetes Control Over Past Decades

At the Stark Diabetes Center, one of the ways we strive to improve the health and quality of care for Texans is through  a specific emphasis on prevention of diabetes and its complications. So, we’re very encouraged when we hear more people are meeting recommended goals in the three key markers of diabetes control, according to a recent study conducted and funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, recently published online in Diabetes Care, shows that, from 1988 to 2010, the number of people with diabetes able to meet or exceed all three of the measures that demonstrate good diabetes management rose from about 2 percent to about 19 percent. Each measure also showed substantial improvement, with over half of people meeting each individual goal in 2010.

The measures are A1C – which assesses blood sugar (glucose) over the previous three months – blood pressure and cholesterol. They are often called the ABCs of diabetes. When these measures fall outside healthy ranges, people are more likely to be burdened by complications of diabetes, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.

Despite improvement, the results show continued need for better diabetes control. In particular, young people and some minority groups were below average in meeting the goals. Read more and access the full report…

Lynn Maarouf is a registered dietician offering diabetes education and nutrition counseling at the Stark Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

“Vajazzle” with care: As new beauty trends drift down there, do we understand the risks?

Dr. Tristi Muir

Dr. Tristi Muir

The human body is amazing! And people are tempted to continue to try to improve upon it. Arms, legs and abs (our favorite!) are worked on for hours in the gym. Hair takes on different shapes and colors. “Body art” has been the rage for the past decade–tattooing is common from head to toe, piercing and gauging has extended from ears to multiple locations on the body and across genders. Women have embraced decorating their bodies for centuries. It has just become more “all inclusive” as of late. Pubic hair is dyed, styled, shaved, plucked and waxed. The vulva (the anatomic word for the area generally covered by pubic hair) can be decorated or “vajazzled.” Recently, the vulva and vagina have become the focus of new cosmetic surgical procedures.

While make-up, manicures and pedicures are part of the routine for many women, there’s a new trend in town: vajazzling. The Urban Dictionary defines vajazzling as “to decorate your vag with jewels, thus bedazzling your vagina.” Continue reading

Prevention is best medicine against kidney disease

Earlier this month, we at UTMB Health joined others around the globe in celebrating World Kidney Day. Our kidneys are crucial and a hardworking organs. Here are a few tips to help keep yours in top form:

What is CKD?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition where the kidneys are damaged and lose the ability to keep you healthy. As kidney disease gets worse, body waste can build up in your blood and make you feel sick by creating a host of health problems. Problems caused by CKD typically happen slowly over a long period of time.

What causes CKD?
The two main causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of CKD?
Most people do not have symptoms until their kidney disease is fairly advanced. Lack of energy, poor appetite and nausea are some of the common symptoms of advanced CKD.

Five things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy:

  • Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet
  • Have an annual physical exam especially after age 40
  • If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions
  • Avoid regular use of medications that may harm your kidneys
  • Ask your primary care physician if it is necessary to see a kidney doctor

Dr. Pradeep V. Kadambi is a nephrologist and associate professor and medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He serves patients at UTMB Health’s Multispecialty Center, in League City.