Turkey Day Tips for Heart Health Think about the foods you eat on Thanksgiving. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is decadent and delicious and full of butter—probably not the healthiest options. But a little careful planning and portion management can allow you to enjoy your holiday meal without damaging your cardiovascular health in the process. In general, it’s often best to enjoy your holiday meal with your family and friends, but make a point of not overeating. With the span of the holidays (Thanksgiving through New Years), the effects of overeating can really add up. Try to limit yourself to one serving during each holiday meal. If you take a break after you eat a plateful, you likely will be full and not want seconds. This will lead to better sleep and feeling much better the next day. Also limit alcohol to one drink to prevent heart rhythm problems and overeating. It is possible that the average person to rack up 2,000 calories in a single Thanksgiving sitting (that does not even include leftovers). 2,000 calories is the recommended number of calories for most adults for an entire day. Here's a breakdown of turkey day's goodies:
- Not surprisingly, vegetables are the heart-healthiest part of the big Thanksgiving meal. Items like green beans, carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes balance their calories with plenty of heart-helpful vitamins and minerals.
- The worst part for your heart? It's the gravy. Typically made from the high-fat, high-calorie greasy drippings of the cooked bird, gravy is very high in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol. It's been shown that a single high-fat meal can damage your arteries. But again, portion size is the key.
- If the cranberry relish is homemade, using real cranberries, it can be heart-healthy. If it's out of a can, it's likely to be very high in simple sugars which can worsen diabetes and raise triglcyerides (fats) in the blood.
- If you're nibbling on dark meat or, far worse, the turkey skin, you're ingesting even higher levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. Try not to do that, or just take a taste and stop.
Why it’s important to know your family history. Most of us are asked on health forms or in the doctor’s office about their family history, but why is it important to know? Most of us know that we can reduce our risk of disease by eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and not smoking. But, did you know that your family history might be one of the strongest influences on your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer? Even though you cannot change your genetic makeup, knowing your family history can help you reduce your risk of developing health problems. Family members share their genes, as well as their environment, lifestyles, and habits. Everyone can recognize traits such as curly hair, dimples, leanness, or athletic ability that run in their families. Risks for diseases such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease also run in families. Everyone’s family history of disease is different. The key features of a family history that may increase risk are:
- Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10 to 20 years before most people get the disease)
- Disease in more than one close relative
- Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male)
- Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer, or heart disease and diabetes)
Family Caregivers Are Important! November is Family Caregivers Awareness month, a time to honor family caregivers. Those who take care, every day, not just on occasion. A very tough job, filled with love and honor. A growing number of states are recognizing the valuable role caregivers play. So far, 30 states have passed laws similar to help recognize caregivers the CARE Act, an act which holds hospitals accountable for recording the name of the family caregiver in the patient’s EMR, informing them when the patient is to be discharged and often providing education and instruction of the medical tasks he or she will need to perform for the patient at home. As a caretaker, the demands can be challenging for an already exhausted clinical staff. According to AARP, organizations are stretched thin, and providers need help reaching patients and their circle of care. According to a 2012 article in the Annals of Family Medicine, the average primary care physician has about 2,300 patients under his or her care. Yet each physician would have to spend 21.7 hours per day to provide all recommended acute, chronic and preventive care for a panel of 2,500 patients. Family or at-home caregivers can help bridge this gap. When these caregivers are properly trained and educated, they extend the care team, keeping patients healthy at home and reducing preventable readmissions. Yet, educating family or at-home caregivers takes time too. Luckily, technology can help. When designed effectively, technology can be a powerful tool to extend the reach of the care team and enable them to have an ongoing conversation with patients – and their caregivers. Technology can help solve both patient engagement and caregiver education. Because technology can also collect key information for providers— like whether people still have questions around new medications, if the patient has new symptoms or side effects, or a patient with heart failure has gained weight — it can help providers know when specific patients and their caregivers need more help, enabling them to focus their limited staff resources on the people who need it most. If done right, patients will be empowered to take control of their own health, and their circle of care will be educated and accounted for—all without exhausting staff resources. It is important to focus on family and at-home caregivers, as they provide value and play a critical role in a patient’s optimal recovery. Caregivers not only monitor medication, provide transportation and prepare meals—they also give the patient encouragement and emotional support. Are you a caregiver and need some advice? We can help. Talk to your doctor.
Why is Healthy Skin Important? Everyone wants healthy, clear skin, but do you realize how amazing this organ really is? It’s the organ that comes into contact with the rest of the world. It holds body fluids in, preventing dehydration, and keeps harmful microbes out—without it, we would get infections. Your skin is full of nerve endings that help you feel things like heat, cold, and pain. If you couldn’t feel these things, you could get badly hurt and not even know it. Why is Healthy Skin Important? According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), your skin plays such an important role in protecting your body, you should keep it as healthy as you can. This will help you keep from getting sick or having damage to your bones, muscles, and internal organs. Skin is actually your body’s largest organ by size. Your skin helps keep your body temperature even. If you get too hot, blood vessels near the surface of the skin, called capillaries, enlarge to let the warm blood cool down. Your skin also makes vitamin D when the sun shines on it. Vitamin D is important for the health of your bones and other parts of your body. Your skin can be injured. It’s not too hard to injure your skin. So be careful when you’re doing anything that might injure it (like using sharp tools, working in the yard, or playing a sport). Cuts, bumps, and scrapes are a normal part of life. It wouldn’t be much fun if you tried to avoid them completely. But it’s smart to wear the right protective equipment, like gloves, long sleeves, knee and elbow pads, or helmets. Be very careful when you’re around anything hot that can burn your skin. Burns, including sunburn, can be very painful and can take a long time to heal. Burns can also get infected easily. Sometimes, burns leave bad scars and permanently damage your skin. If you’re helping out in the kitchen, make sure you use hot pads or wear oven mitts to protect your hands when you’re grabbing something hot. If you do get a cut or scratch, clean it right away with soap and warm water and put on a bandage to protect it while it heals. This keeps dirt and germs from getting into the wound and causing an infection. If you come into contact with a plant like poison ivy, wash your skin and clothing right away. If you develop a rash, ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines. For severe rashes, you might need to see your doctor. Have additional questions about your skin? Talk to your doctor.
Diabetic Eye Disease - What is it and how can you tell if it’s being caused by diabetes? Diabetes is on the rise in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 84 million US adults—over a third—have prediabetes, and 90% of them don't know they have it. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States (and may be underreported). Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5%. Did you know that diabetes can cause additional ailments including eye disease? Diabetes is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide, and, in the United States, it is the most common cause of blindness in people younger than 65 years of age. The signs and symptoms of diabetic eye disease, also known as retinopathy, encompass a wide range of other eye problems, for example:
- Diabetes may cause a reversible, temporary blurring of the vision, or it can cause a severe, permanent loss of vision.
- Diabetes increases the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
- Some people may not even realize they have had diabetes for several years until they begin to experience problems with their eyes or vision.
- Diabetes also may result in heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and circulatory abnormalities of the legs.
- The American Diabetes Association estimates that 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 8.1 million people additional people went undiagnosed. (This population is unaware that they have diabetes.)
- In the United States 1.5 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year.
- In the US in 2012, the total annual cost of diagnosed diabetes was 2.45 billion.
- Eighty-four million people in the US have prediabetes, and 9 out of every 10 don't know they have it. Of the 84 million people with prediabetes, without lifestyle changes 15% to 30% of them will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
- Lifestyle management has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes by at least two-thirds. It can also slow or halt the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.
- People can try to avoid the problems associated with diabetes, including those that affect the eyes, by taking appropriate care of themselves by the following:
- Maintain a normal level of weight
- Watch your diet, especially limiting unhealthy types of fats and substituting complex carbohydrates for simple carbohydrates.
- Participate in an exercise program. Try to exercise for least 30 minutes, five days a week or more. There are many ways to accomplish this without any expense. Go for a walk after lunch or dinner, ride bikes with the kids, plan an activity with a partner or friend, or rent an exercise DVD. Always check with your health-care professional before starting any exercise program.
- Don't smoke or quit if you do.