Why We Should Be So Thankful for Our Health

Being Thankful for HealthThis week, as we gather with friends and family, and volunteer our time to help those in our communities who are less fortunate, we can’t help but reflect upon everything for which we are thankful.

As I get ready to hit the big 5–0 in three months, I’m extremely thankful for my health. I’m thankful that I’m physically able to run around with my five very active kids. I’m thankful that I have the energy to work 12-hour days on my feet, write seminars and blog posts, and conduct research that helps me become better at what I do. As Mark Twain said, “The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.”

I thank God every day for my good health. I also thank God every day for giving me the ability to control my good health.

All of us are capable of making decisions each day, with help from qualified professionals, that affect how we feel. But achieving and maintaining good health requires a wellness plan.

Continue reading

Do You Want Your Child Learning about the McDonald’s Diet in School?

McDonals in schoolsYou may have heard about the Iowa school teacher who ate nothing but McDonald’s’ food for 90 days and lost 37 pounds. He created a video that went viral, wrote a book, and appeared on a bunch of TV shows.

He was also hired by McDonald’s to be a brand ambassador. That means he goes to schools around the country to teach children about good nutrition. He has already spoken to kids from nearly 100 schools.

Oh boy. Where do I start?

Continue reading

Understanding Diagnostic Imaging, Part 2

Dr. Proodian checking xrayIn Part 1 of this post, I discussed what diagnostic imaging is and what it does – a test that provides a doctor with a window into the body so we can diagnose and gather information about a person’s health and recommend the right treatment.

I also discussed three of the most common types of diagnostic imaging ordered by doctors – x-ray, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Here are three more tests that doctors use to pinpoint the cause of our health issues.

Diagnostic Ultrasound

While x-rays, CT scans and MRI use electromagnetic and radio waves to create images of the inside of the body, diagnostic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves. Also called sonography, ultrasound exams typically use a sonar device outside of the body, although some require a device to be place inside the body.

Most of us associate ultrasound with pregnancy. It enables doctors to see a pregnant woman’s uterus and ovaries and monitor the health and growth of the baby. However, diagnostic ultrasound can also be used to diagnose gallbladder disease and some forms of cancer, discover irregularities in the genitals and prostate, evaluate a lump in the breast, or assess blood flow. Continue reading

Understanding Diagnostic Imaging, Part 1

Dr. Proodian checking xrayDiagnostic imaging is one of those terms that can cause anxiety in a lot of people. They figure that a doctor would only order such a test if there was a serious problem. However, it’s important to keep in mind that diagnostic imaging will just rule out certain conditions just as often as it detects a problem.

Let’s start by clarifying what diagnostic imaging is and does. Diagnostic imaging is a test that allows a doctor to look inside your body. Much can be learned through medical history, visual exams and blood testing, but doctors often need to look deeper to find out what’s going on.

Diagnostic imaging is a tool that allows us to do just that. As the name suggests, diagnostic imaging helps us diagnose and gather information about a person’s condition and determine the most effective treatment.

Here are some of the most common types of diagnostic imaging: Continue reading

Halloween Can Be Healthy if You Do This

Healthy Halloween tipsHalloween is believed to date back to the eighth century when Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day to honor all saints and martyrs.

All Saints’ Day followed some of the traditions of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people lit bonfires and wore costumes to drive ghosts away. The poor would knock on the doors of the rich, receiving food in exchange for prayers for the souls of the rich homeowner’s dead relatives. Children later took up this practice.

Pleasant, right?

All Hallows’ Eve was the night before All Saints’ Day and eventually became Halloween. Halloween came to America with a flood of new immigrants during the mid-1800s, including millions of Irish who were escaping Ireland’s potato famine. It was during this time that people began dressing up in costumes and knocking on neighbors’ doors asking for food or money.

Continue reading

What’s the Difference between a Migraine and a Headache?

Headache or MigraineNine out of 10 Americans get headaches. Some headaches are worse than others. When a headache is really bad, many people assume it’s a migraine. But before you start popping pills, it’s important to try to figure out what kind of headache you have.

A headache involves dull, unpleasant pain or pressure that can occur on both sides of the head or specific areas, like the forehead, temples, or the back of the neck. There are dozens of causes of headaches – far too many to mention in a single blog post. Some of the most common types of headaches include:

  • Tension headaches, caused by stress, anxiety, muscle strains and other factors
  • Cluster headaches, which typically occur on one side of the head and are often accompanied by common cold symptoms like a runny nose, nasal congestion or watery eyes.
  • Sinus headaches, which often come with a sinus infection

Continue reading

Tests that Tell You if You Have Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity

celiac disease testingVery specific blood and genetic tests are required to rule out or prove the existence of celiac disease. Many people assume they have celiac disease but actually have gluten intolerance, also called gluten sensitivity. I’ve discussed the differences of these conditions in a previous post.

Symptoms can be similar to other diseases such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, so it’s important to know what blood tests and genetic tests to discuss with your doctor. Here are the most common tests ordered to determine whether a person has celiac disease. Continue reading

Why You Should Care that October Is Health Literacy Month

Health LiteracyEveryone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thousands of people in our local communities, and millions of people around the world, will be going on runs, walks and bike rides to raise money for breast cancer research and encourage women to have regular mammograms. Throughout the month, we’ll see pink ribbons everywhere.

I applaud the individuals who work tirelessly to support these efforts, and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one to breast cancer.

October is also Health Literacy Month. I think it’s fair to assume you’ve probably never heard of that one.

According to the Affordable Care Act, health literacy is defined as “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.” Continue reading

What Is Myalgia, and What Is Causing It?

myalgia pain

We’ve all experienced aches and pains from head to toe over the course of our lives. We may experience back pain after working in the yard, or our entire bodies could ache when we come down with the flu.

In the simplest of terms, myalgia is the medical term for muscle pain. Depending on the cause, myalgia can occur in a small or large area, on one or both sides of the body. The severity of muscle pain can range from mild soreness to sharp, excruciating pain.

There are many different types of myalgia, including polymyalgia, epidemic myalgia and fibromyalgia. Polymyalgia involves pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, arms and buttocks on both sides of the body and is usually accompanied by inflammation. Epidemic myalgia, or Bornholm Disease, is a viral form of myalgia that affects the upper abdomen and lower chest and often involves spasms, fever and headaches.

Continue reading

How to Make Sure You’re Eating Healthy Yogurt

healthy yogurt - greek yogurtOur society loves to generalize certain types of foods as good or bad. For example, when given the choice between chicken and beef, most people automatically assume chicken is the healthier choice because it has less saturated fat and cholesterol.

But it’s not that simple. How were the animals raised? What were they fed? Were they given any drugs? Was the food processed? Where was it processed?

Beef from a grass-fed cow that wasn’t given antibiotics and hormones could be far healthier, especially if the chicken consumed pesticide-infested feed and was shipped to China for processing before being sold to you at your local grocery store.

The same kind of generalization typically applies to yogurt. Many people consider yogurt a healthy snack. After all, yogurt has those probiotics that are so good for us. They often choose the fat-free or light options, assuming those are even healthier.

Well, you know what they say about people who “assume.” Continue reading

The New Coke Sales Strategy? Buy a New “Truth”

Cokes new marketing tacticsAt what point does the truth become so watered down, cloudy and overrun with hype that it is no longer the truth? Has it gotten to the point in which we allow billion-dollar corporations to redefine what the truth is?

For years, soda makers, fast food companies and other purveyors of unhealthy “food” have tried to shape perceptions about their products. They don’t want people to believe their products cause chronic disease, even though scientific studies have proven this to be the case.

So what do the folks at Coca-Cola do? They use their money and influence to try and change science.

It was announced last month that Coca-Cola is funding the Global Energy Balance Network, which is trying to prove that exercise is more important to good health than nutrition.

Continue reading

An Overlooked Safety Issue as Kids Head Back to School

Backpack safetyAs a father of five, I’ve had dozens of conversations with my kids about different safety issues over the years. We’ve talked about riding bikes safely, crossing the street, seatbelts, strangers, drugs and alcohol, good nutrition, fire safety, playground safety and other topics that always come to the forefront as kids go back to school.

One safety issue related to our kids that’s often overlooked is the issue of backpack safety. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year, and about 5,000 end up in the emergency room.

Kids often end up with pain in the upper back, neck and hips because they lean forward to carry heavy backpacks. Shoulders and knees can become tight and stiff. Musculoskeletal injuries can be aggravated. Kids can lose their balance and injure themselves or others.

The problem isn’t the backpacks themselves. In fact, backpacks represent a healthy way to carry weight because they’re designed to balance the load across the human body’s strongest muscles in the back and abdomen. The problems are related to heavy loads and improper use.

Continue reading

What a Healthy, Low-Carb Diet Looks Like

Diet decision concept and nutrition choices dilemma between healthy good fresh fruit and vegetables or greasy cholesterol rich fast food with a man on a crossroad The media really distorted the great work of Dr. Atkins, whose low-carbohydrate approach to eating became extremely popular about 15 years ago.

Dr. Atkins never said it was okay to eat hot dogs, sausage and grain-fed burgers as long as you don’t put them on a bun. He never said you could eat steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course, that’s what you heard in the media.

It’s true that most people are overweight because of high loads of bad carbohydrates. These carbs lead to a host of chronic illnesses. In fact, the marker for type II diabetes in a blood test is hemoglobin A1c, which is also an important longevity marker. Your hemoglobin A1c level is directly influenced by carbohydrates. This is why a healthy, low-carb diet will help prevent type II diabetes.

But that doesn’t mean you can just cut out carbs and load up on bad fats.

Continue reading

What Are Prebiotics?


The Jerusalem artichoke is one example of a prebiotic-rich food

We’ve all heard of antibiotics. Most people know only of the antibiotics that are prescribed by doctors to fight bacterial infections.

Most of us have heard of probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria and yeasts that help with digestion and keep the gut healthy.  By maintaining this good bacteria our immune system functions better.

Yogurt is the most popular source of probiotics. However, once dairy has been pasteurized, it kills the live and active cultures. To receive all the benefits of probiotics in dairy, it must be consumed raw, which is nearly impossible in the United States.

Better food sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, tempeh and pickles. Just make sure you read the labels. If the product has vinegar in it, it is no longer probiotic-rich. The vinegar acts as a stabilizer to extend shelf life and kills the bacteria. Live, probiotic-rich foods will be found in the refrigerated section.

Continue reading

Understanding the Risk of Prescription Painkillers

prescription drugs, instructions and warnings.

In a previous post, I discussed why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers to strengthen language on warning labels. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 50 percent when taken on a regular basis. Prescription pain relievers create an even higher risk.

Aside from making people aware of the dangers of these medications, I think it’s important to recognize how addiction to pain medication, especially prescription drugs, became an epidemic in our country.

Why is it that 44 people in our country die each day after overdosing on prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)?

Why are prescription painkillers responsible for more fatal overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined?

Why does the non-medical use of prescription painkillers cost health insurers $72.5 billion each year? Continue reading

FDA Orders Drug Makers to Strengthen Warning Labels

photo of scattered ibuprophen

For many too many Americans, pain killers are part of the daily routine. We pop a pill or two in the morning and another pill or two at night to deal with everything from chronic back pain to arthritis to menstrual cramps. We use these drugs to reduce a fever, even though the body naturally raises its temperature to kill the virus.

Drugs may provide temporary relief from pain, but they could also be killing you, and killing you quickly.

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen to update their warning labels to include the following language:

The risk of heart attack or stroke can occur as early as the first weeks of using an NSAID. The risk may increase with longer use of the NSAID. The risk appears greater at higher doses.

Continue reading

How to Implement a Corporate Wellness Program, Part 2

starting a corporate wellness program

In my last post, I started to explain the steps involved in launching a corporate wellness program. The process begins with understanding the true meaning of health and wellness, building a culture that supports those definitions, and choosing a health educator to serve as the spokesperson and advocate for your wellness program.

The health educator is the most important person involved with your wellness program and should have access to other qualified healthcare professionals who can help implement program services.

Not only should the health educator be a doctor who has been trained to lead a wellness program, but they need to be inspirational. Employees aren’t going to act on newsletters, emails and memos. They need to be motivated and educated through seminars, meet-and-greets, and 1-to-1 interaction.

Continue reading

How to Implement a Corporate Wellness Program, Part 1

Health Health Care Disease Wellness Life Concept

Wellness program. It’s the hot thing to say and do these days. Companies ranging in size from mom-and-pop shops to large enterprises are realizing that a successful wellness program can reduce health insurance premiums.

Unfortunately, most wellness programs today are just fluff and givebacks. Give employees 10 percent off their gym membership. Give them 10 percent off at Whole Foods. Give them free yoga classes at lunch time.

The real giveback of a true wellness program is that you’re adding years to the lives of your employees. In some cases, you’re saving their lives.

Companies like Johnson and Johnson blazed the trail for corporate wellness because they’ve built a wellness culture. The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 but Johnson and Johnson had a corporate wellness program back in the 1980s.

Continue reading

The Physical, Mental and Financial Impact of Presenteeism

the cost of presenteeism

I’m sure you can remember more than one occasion when you were off your game at work. Maybe one of the kids was sick and you didn’t get much sleep, or your mind was elsewhere. You had a lousy day, but you got caught up the next day. It happens to the best of us.

But when your health affects your productivity on a regular basis, that’s a much more serious problem.

When employees are physically present at work, but chronic illness, pain or stress is affecting their job performance, this is called presenteeism. And it’s on the rise.

According to a 2012 study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 30 percent of respondents said more people were going to work ill than during the previous year. 52 percent of these companies noticed an increase in presenteeism.

Continue reading

The FDA Drags Its Feet Again, But We’re Not Standing for It

caloriesThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is at it again.

A few weeks ago, I expressed my outrage that it took decades for the FDA to finally ban trans fats despite mountains of evidence that trans fats are unsafe. It took another year and a half to make the decision official, and the FDA is now giving food companies three years to eliminate trans fats.

But the hits just keep on coming.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA is giving grocers, convenience stores and other establishments that sell food more time to post the number of calories contained in each food product or menu item.

The rules, which apply to any food outlet with 20 or more locations, was announced last year after being delayed for several years, thanks the ever-present food lobby. Now, the deadline is being pushed back to December 1, 2016.

Apparently, we can look under the hood of a car and see a comprehensive list of what’s inside the car before we buy it, but we can’t do the same when it comes to food that we put into our bodies.

Continue reading