Preventing Neurodegeneration by Taking Care of the Brain

what is neurodegenerationAll of us are born with a certain number of brain cells. Over the course our lives, brain cells inevitably become damaged and die. Yes, the brain actually shrinks, so if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

This is the process of neurodegeneration. Neurodegeneration is a combination of two words – “neuro,” which refers to nerve cells, and “degeneration,” which refers to progressive damage.

The quicker your brain cells die and degenerate, the faster brain function deteriorates. You start to deal with depression, headaches, anxiety and fatigue. You have difficulty making decisions and suffer from memory loss. This leads to serious neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Continue reading

Why Not All Forms of Arthritis Are the Same

Arthritis When you hear the word “arthritis,” it’s similar to when you hear the word “cancer.” Most people tend to lump all forms of arthritis or cancer into the same group. Just like there are many forms of cancer, there are many forms of arthritis that fall into one of two general categories – osteoarthritis and autoimmune arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear, the degeneration of cartilage and bone at the joints as we get older. If you live long enough, you’re probably going to develop osteoarthritis. It’s a chronic condition that affects about 27 million Americans, mostly over the age of 65.

Osteoarthritis affects joints anywhere in the body, but most commonly occurs in the knee, hips and spine. A number of lifestyle factors contribute to osteoarthritis, including running and other repetitive joint trauma, the physical demands of a job, accidents, deconditioning and weight gain. An inflammatory diet also increases the likelihood of arthritis. Continue reading

When is Fasting Okay?

Fasting has been practiced for thousands of years. In fact, it’s a Biblical term. Every religion has a time of fasting when people stop consuming food, drink or both for a certain period of time to purify the body, mind and spirit.

There are medical reasons for fasting. For example, we’re often required to fast before surgery so digestion isn’t affected by the changes to the body that occur while we’re under anesthesia. We’re often required to fast before a blood test in order to get a more accurate baseline count.

Fasting has also been used to treat disease. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, known for the Nutritarian Diet that focuses on eating foods that are rich in micronutrients, has conducted research that suggests fasting can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment for cancer and increase the likelihood of a cure. Continue reading

Instead of Resolving to Lose Weight, Resolve to Do This

New Years ResolutionsThis is one of my favorite weeks of the year because I usually get to spend an entire week with my wife and kids as I look forward to the New Year. Unfortunately, a lot of people quickly leave the joy of Christmas behind and become depressed or feel guilty about how they look, their relationships, or their career.

This helps to explain why nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of course, the most common resolution is to lose weight, whether that means going to the gym or trying the latest fad diet.

The problem with the average exercise regimen is that most are unsupervised. Instead of following a customized fitness program developed by a professional, most people do what they see other people do – run on the treadmill, lift weights, take an aerobics class, and so on. Continue reading

What if There’s NOT a Doctor in the House?

Doctor in the houseMy wife, Stacy, and I were out enjoying a nice dinner a couple of months ago when a look of horror came over Stacy’s face. A man behind me passed out and fell backwards, and the back of his head slapped against the table, knocking him unconscious.

Fortunately, this was not a life-threatening situation, although he did have a concussion. I was able to provide emergency care until the ambulance arrived. The folks at the restaurant were very appreciative and gracious and bought us dinner.

A few weeks later, Stacy and I were sitting at the corner of a bar, having dinner. It was already late and we didn’t want to wait for a table. This time, Stacy screamed. Continue reading

Emails Expose Coke’s Attempt to Deflect Blame for Obesity

Crushed Soda CanIn September, I wrote that Coca-Cola was attempting to change science and buy a new “truth.” This post came after it was revealed that Coke was funding the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), which claimed that good health is more about exercise than nutrition.

I asked the following question of the folks at Coke:

“Do they think we’re so stupid that we would believe research funded by Coca-Cola is anything but a desperate attempt to reverse declining sales of Coca-Cola products?”

In a development that should surprise nobody, emails acquired by the Associated Press prove that Coca-Cola was more than a little influential in the activities and messaging of the GEBN. Continue reading

Healthy Foods that Can Make You Feel Bloated

Mid section of woman with stomach pain in hotel roomWe all know that junk foods can make us look and feel lousy. The body wasn’t designed to absorb and digest processed foods, artificial sweeteners, soda, bad fats and pretty much anything you would get from a box, a can or a drive-thru.

Aside from the long-term health issues these “foods” cause, they give us belly fat and make us gassy. They make the gut feel swollen, or bloated.

Most people think bloating is the result of overeating, and that is certainly a common cause. It can also be caused by eating too quickly. But bloating is often caused by what we eat – including healthy foods.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is a condition that can cause bloating. SIBO occurs when an abnormally high amount of bacteria grow in the small intestine, making it more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. This can lead to conditions such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and gastritis. Continue reading

Startling Facts about Obesity and Its Impact in New Jersey

obesity statistics

I often discuss the global epidemic of obesity and how it leads to chronic illness, which is crippling healthcare systems around the world. But what is the state of obesity in New Jersey, right here in our own backyard?

The numbers may shock you.

According to data released by the New Jersey Department of Health in October of 2015, 26.9 percent of New Jersey adults are obese, and 36.3 percent are overweight. That means nearly two thirds (63.2 percent) of New Jersey adults are either obese or overweight.

If we continue at this pace, nearly half (48.6 percent) of New Jersey adults will be obese by 2030.

The numbers aren’t any better for our children. One in four children ages 10-17 and 23 percent of high school students are obese or overweight.

But here is one statistic that truly frightens me. In New Jersey, more than 14 percent of low-income children under the age of 5 are obese. New Jersey has the highest rate of low-income childhood obesity among the 44 states that report this data. Continue reading

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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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