Hide

Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in

Close
holidays-xmas

Surviving the Holiday Season

The hardest time of year for weight management is from Halloween until Valentine’s Day – temptations are everywhere from home to the workplace and everywhere else you go, people wear more clothes and are more covered up because of the weather, and people tend to exercise less because they are stressed, exhausted, it is cold, and they have very little time. Here are some tips to manage weight during the holiday season:

Plan ahead

  • Eat something before you go out so that you are not inclined to eat everything or anything in sight.
  • Stock your home, office, and/or car with healthy snacks such as fruit in your home, almonds in your office, and a nutrition bar in your car.
  • Plan on making healthy choices for your meals such as mustard instead of mayonnaise or light Italian rather than ranch dressing.

Manage stress

  • Make a list of stress relieving activities that do not include food or eating such as getting a massage, exercising, listening to music, or talking on the phone.

Party responsibly

  • If you are attending a pot-luck party, bring something healthy so you know there will be at least one healthy choice at the party.
  • Eat small portions of your favorite sweets at parties.
  • Try to fill your plate with mostly fruits and veggies at parties.
  • If you want to try new dishes, only take a taster size portion so that you are not tempted to eat more than you should. Then go back and get more of what you like if you are still hungry.
  • Drink a glass of water after each glass of soda or alcoholic beverage in order to cut beverage calories in half.
  • Focus on socializing with other guests rather than eating the food available.

Keep moving

  • If you know you will not have time to exercise, try to fit other small activities into your day such as parking farther away, taking the stairs, and putting the shopping cart away instead of putting it to the side.
  • If you have a stationary bicycle or a treadmill that you haven’t used for a while, take it out and put it in front of the TV, so you can watch TV when you work out.
  • Take a walk alone or with your spouse, kids, or other family and friends after dinner.

Kristy Richardson is a dietitian and exercise physiologist, specializing in sports nutrition and weight management, She is the founder of OC Nutrition and also works as a nutrition professor at Fullerton College.

References

Cleveland Clinic. (2009). 8 Steps to Surviving the Holiday Weight Gain. Retrieved December 22, 2009 from: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/holidayeating12_01.aspx

Zamora, Dulce. (2007). Holiday weight management; Surviving the Feasting Season. Retrieved December 22, 2009 from: http://www.medicinenet.com/holiday_weight_management/article.html

DNA-puzzle

The Evolution of Truly Personalized Medicine: Epigenetics, Food, and Fitness

Most would not argue that there is ongoing transition in how our healthcare is being delivered. This article will examine some of these transitions as a result of breakthroughs in technology, as well as how genetic information, exercise, and diet will play an increasingly greater role.

When medical science was first getting its start, a more holistic philosophy was taken on how to treat illness and maintain health. Hippocrates is often deemed the father of modern medicine, and even today the allopathic physicians (M.D.s) take the Hippocratic Oath – to do no harm to their patients. Hippocrates knew, even in 400 B.C., that the best healer of the body is the body itself. For the most part, the best treatment is to create a strong body and get out of the way. Five guiding principles used in his philosophy for treatment include:

  1. Walking is man’s best medicine.
  2. Know what person the disease has, rather than what disease the person has.
  3. Let food be thy medicine.
  4. Everything in moderation.
  5. To do nothing is also a good remedy.

The second and fifth principles emphasize the power of knowing the individual and getting out of the way! The first and third principles show the power of exercise and food for healthy living. Even the genius, Thomas Edison, realized that a health maintenance organization (HMO) approach was the best method of healthcare both practically and financially. His quote, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease,” is evidence that a holistic, preventative approach is what he advocated. He is also quoted, “…you can’t improve on nature.”

One size does not fit all

Personalized medicine is now on the forefront and it utilizes the genetic and epigenetic data of a person to guide medicines and treatment plans. Cancer drugs have probably harnessed this advantage to the greatest extent, thus far. Former President Jimmy Carter received Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for his brain cancer and it boosted his immune system and beat the cancer. While most of America (71%), still doesn’t even know about personalized medicine, those who were familiar with it did not know it would yield better results with fewer side effects. The different directions of personalized medicine are still being realized, but the field of pharmacogenetics is the first to really jump on the bandwagon of highly effective, precision-based treatment.

The reasons some drugs work for some people and not for others, or why side effects occur in some individuals and not others, is due to individual variability in metabolism. Why are some people lactose tolerant, or some can drink alcohol with no problem, and others have severe issues? It is usually because of enzyme differences, which are under the control of our genes. Interestingly, our enzyme genes can often be turned on or off by “inducible sequences” known as promoters or suppressors of operons, respectively. These “switches” can be repressed or induced depending on our environmental stimuli. Thus, we actually have some control over our gene expression, and this field is known as epigenetics.

Knowing what gene variants someone possess or not will guide the personalized medicine physician on which drug to use or not. By knowing allergic reactions in advance or which medicines may have side effects will help physicians to not make a bad situation worse. Unfortunately, the cost of personalized medicine drugs is much higher than alternative treatments. There is still a lot of exploration to be done on all the various applications of this technology, but the bottom line is that understanding individual variations and enabling the body to do what it is designed to do is a very good thing! Companies like Toolbox Genomics is one of many companies that use your genetic information to then tell you what foods and supplements to eat or avoid, and which exercises may help you the most, and ones that you may not respond to so well. The reason physicians do an intake on family history, or run various tests is to collect information that will guide their treatment. A genetic test on certain gene variants is simply taking this a step further.

How does exercise and diet apply to our epigenetics?

Did you know that exercise is highly beneficial to not only help with fighting cancer once it is already present, but also to never getting it? Physical exercise or movement in general will shift the epigenetics so that genes that suppress tumors are increased, and genes that cause cancer (oncogenes) are decreased. It does this by changing the amount of certain reactions called methylations. Things go wrong when there is too much or too few methylation reactions. Exercise has been shown to reduce or even reverse the epigenetic mutations that often result in tumorigenesis or tumor production. Exercise has also been shown to reduce genetic factors associated with aging like telomere length.

The fields of proteomics and metabolomics as well as pharmacogenomics, are all emerging because of the knowledge on how our genetics affects proteins, metabolism, and reactions to drugs, respectively. The field of nutrigenomics is rapidly expanding, and several companies are capitalizing on studying the relationship of how our genes affect how we process and utilize foods, as well as how food can affect our genes. Vitamins A and D, certain fatty acids, especially medium and short chain, some sterols (derived from cholesterol) and zinc have been shown to directly influence gene transcription. In direct effects include how diet affects gut bacteria, which in turn influences gene expression. Soon when nutritional recommendations are given, it will likely be “for this individual.”

The future of medicine will be taking our genetic information to a whole new level. Soon “smart” watches, clothes, hats, and other common devices will collect information that can benefit our health in many ways as the way healthcare is delivered continually evolves.

This article was featured in MedFit Professional Magazine summer 2019 issue.

Subscribe to MedFit Professional Magazine to read more great content like this!


Dr. Mark P. Kelly has been involved with the health and fitness field for more than 30 years. He has been a research scientist for universities and many infomercial projects. He has spoken nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics and currently speaks on the use of exercise for clinical purposes and exercise’s impact on the brain. Mark is a teacher in colleges and universities in Orange County, CA., where Principle-Centered Health- Corporate Wellness & Safety operates.

Dementia Brain Problems

Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Differences and Prevention Methods

Laymen (and even medical professionals) still often have difficulty recognizing dementia, as opposed to Alzheimer’s disease.

And while the symptoms and even some of the prevention methods may be similar, we need to find a better way to distinguish between the two if we are to provide the best level of care to patients.

Let’s explore some of the traits of each, and examine how we can prevent them:

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease: differences and similarities

Dementia is an umbrella term used to denote a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. As opposed to Alzheimer’s, it is not a specific disease.

What do we know about Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease, where plaques containing beta-amyloid form in the brain, causing cell damage and complex changes. This damage results in dementia symptoms that will get worse as time goes on. It is also one of the most common causes of dementia. Dementia can also be caused by Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

While it most often occurs in patients over the age of 60, early-onset Alzheimer’s can begin to show symptoms after the age of 30, typically in patients with a family history of the disease. It is believed these cases account for around 5% of the total number of patients with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and possibly third as a cause of death in the elderly.

One of the most typical early signs of Alzheimer’s is trouble retaining recent information, as the disease tends to affect the part of the cerebrum that is associated with learning first.

Other symptoms, in no particular order of severity and manifestation, include:

  • Impaired reasoning and judgment: leads to poor decision-making and can bring the patient in harm’s way
  • Impaired visuospatial abilities, caused by eyesight problems: leads to the inability to recognize people and objects
  • Impaired use of language: including speaking, writing, and reading
  • Changes in behavior and personality

The main challenge we face in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is understanding its underlying causes. While we know it is caused by changes and damage to brain cells, the cause of these changes remains unknown to this day.

What do we know about dementia?

Patients suffering from dementia have trouble keeping track of time and space. They become repetitive, their judgment is impaired and they often forget to eat, bathe, and perform the simplest tasks.

The early warning signs of dementia include, but are not limited to:

  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Apathy
  • Repetitiveness
  • Impaired sense of orientation
  • Delusions
  • Impaired speech
  • Impaired focus and organizational skills
  • Impaired memory, especially day-to-day retention

Dementia patients are mostly unaware of their symptoms, and their loved ones are the ones to notice they’re losing their keys, mixing up dates, and forgetting to take the trash out.

There are several types of dementia we have been able to identify:

  • Vascular dementia: caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies: caused by a build-up of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the cortex.
  • Frontotemporal dementia: caused by the loss of nerve cells in the front and side areas of the brain.
  • Mixed dementia: resulting from several different causes

Dementia can also be caused by brain tumors, HIV, Niemann-Pick disease type C, progressive supranuclear palsy, and other diseases or conditions.

To sum it up: dementia, as a cluster of symptoms, and Alzheimer’s, as a specific disease (and the leading cause of dementia), naturally share the same symptoms.

Treatment

The treatment of dementia will depend on its underlying cause. When caused by Alzheimer’s, there is no cure for it, and there is no treatment that can stop its progression. There are treatments that will combat some of the lesser or more severe symptoms, but we haven’t yet found a way to reverse or pause the ongoing damage.

This fact alone is the cause of much despair among the families of patients suffering from any form of dementia.

There are signs that the early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s can improve patient quality of life. And when that’s all that’s left in the absence of a cure, it becomes even more imperative we do our best to prevent this disease.

Prevention methods

Evidence has been found that the risk factors that cause heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes may also contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s.

However, there is no sufficient evidence to provide any substantial proof as of yet. The prevention methods recommended for dementia and Alzheimer’s focus on improving overall health and exercising your brain.

Some of the courses we can advise our patients include:

  • Balanced diet. As opposed to the umbrella term the web tends to use, let’s focus more on tailoring diets to individuals. What works well for one patient will not work for another, and encouraging intuitive eating and adapting one’s diet to your own lifestyle and needs should come more into focus.

Naturally, this diet should focus on eating 80% of the foods that are actually good for us, and getting most of our nutrition from fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, as opposed to fast food choices and high-sugar options. Cutting down on caffeine and alcohol intake can also prove beneficial.

  • Movement is one of the keys to preventing any disease, and encouraging at least three 30-minute sessions per week should be imperative. As diets, exercise regimes should be tailored to a patient’s needs and preferences. Instead of being made a chore, regular exercise should be an enjoyment and a clear avenue to improved overall health.
  • We tend to overlook sleep as one of the equal members of the health trifecta. Teaching sleep techniques should become more widespread, as the pace of modern living continues to speed up.
  • Stress-relief. Undoubtedly one of the top contributing factors to any disease, stress takes a toll on our bodies in a way we don’t even fully understand. While eliminating it will be impossible, and while it may even be beneficial in small doses, removing stress as a detrimental factor should be the focus of any preventative course of action. Whether this is achieved by yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness practices, exercise, reading, journaling, or any other method, should be up to the individual.
  • Brain training. It is also recommended to keep your brain working and engaged by reading, solving puzzles, and trying to teach it to think in new ways. Improving the neural connections in our brains will help prevent the degeneration of cells that lead to dementia.
  • Finally, let me advocate an unconventional remedy – smiling. It has been proven that smiling and the feeling of joy can be beneficial in patient recovery, and it can also serve as a great prevention method. While the science is still vague on how connected happy hormones and chemicals are with the reduced risk of degenerative brain disease, we can try anything in our power to diminish our risk factors.

Conclusion

Alongside heart disease and cancer, Alzheimer’s and dementia remain the most explored and discussed diseases of our time. We may not see a cure for any of them in our lifetime, and that’s all the more reason to remain vigilant in trying to prevent them. A large part of these prevention efforts entails exploring different avenues in achieving a healthier body and mind, as this remains the only course available to us at the time.


Sarah Kaminski earned her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences. Due to her parent’s declining health, she decided to become their full-time caregiver. Now, she takes care of her loved ones and writes about the things she learned along the way. Sarah is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows. 

References:

  1. (2019, October 23). Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet – National Institute on Aging. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet
  2. (2013, July 22). Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical and Research Update … – Hindawi. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jar/2013/207178/
  3. (2014, May 22). Number of Alzheimer’s deaths found to be underreported. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/number-alzheimers-deaths-found-be-underreported
  4.  (2017, October 4). What Causes Dementia? | BrightFocus Foundation. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/article/what-causes-dementia
  5.  (2019, March 21). Early Detection & Treatment of Alzheimer’s Can Improve Life …. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.bayalarmmedical.com/medical-alert-blog/early-detection-treatment-of-alzheimers-disease-can-improve-quality-of-life/
  6.  (2002, June 20). Physical Activity Fundamental To Preventing Disease | ASPE. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/physical-activity-fundamental-preventing-disease
  7. (2014, November 14). Stress and Disease – Conditions that May Be Caused … – AARP. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2014/stress-and-disease.html
  8. (n.d.). Don’t Worry and Be Positive: What helps the most in … – NCBI. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2729270/
Instructor Showing Health Results On Clipboard To Senior Couple

Respiratory Disease and Exercise: How to help your clients not suck at exercise!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions of people suffer every day from chronic respiratory diseases (CRD).  Currently in the United States, 24.6 million people have asthma1, 15.7 million people have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)2 while greater than 50 million people have allergic rhinitis3 and other often-underdiagnosed chronic respiratory diseases.  Respiratory diseases do not discriminate and affect people of every race, sex, and age.  While most chronic respiratory diseases are manageable and some even preventable, this is what is known about the nature of chronic respiratory diseases4:

  • Chronic disease epidemics take decades to become fully established.
  • Chronic diseases often begin in childhood.
  • Because of their slow evolution and chronic nature, chronic diseases present opportunities for prevention.
  • Many different chronic diseases may occur in the same patient (e.g. chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer).
  • The treatment of chronic diseases demands a long-term and systematic approach.
  • Care for patients with chronic diseases should be an integral part of the activities of health services, alongside care for patients with acute and infectious diseases.

Exercise and CRD

If you are a health and fitness professional, some of your clients may be suffering from a chronic respiratory disease and you may be an important source for relief.  Moderate exercise is known to improve use of oxygen, energy levels, anxiety, stress and depression, sleep, self-esteem, cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and shortness of breath. While it might seem odd that exercise improves breathing when one is short of breath, exercising really does help one with respiratory disease.  Exercise helps the blood circulate and helps the heart send oxygen to the rest of the body.  Exercise also strengthens the respiratory muscles which can make it easier to breathe.

Beneficial Types of Exercise

There are several challenges to exercise prescription and physical activity participation in this population, but a large body of evidence demonstrates important health benefits from aerobic exercise.  Resistance training has also been shown to increase muscle mass and strength, enhancing individuals’ ability to perform tasks of daily living and improving health-related quality of life.5

Aerobic exercise is good for the heart and lungs and allows one to use oxygen more efficiently. Walking, biking, and swimming are great examples of aerobic exercise. The guidelines are approximately the same as generally healthy individuals.  One should attempt to train the cardiorespiratory system 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes per session.  One should exercise at an intensity level of 3-4 on the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (Scale Rating from 0 Nothing at All-10 Very, Very, Heavy).

Resistance exercise increases muscular strength including the respiratory muscles that assist in breathing.  Resistance training usually involves weights or resistance bands but using one’s own body weight works just as well depending on the severity of the symptoms.  It is recommended that one should perform high repetitions with low weight to fatigue the muscles.  This type of resistance training also improves muscular endurance important for those with CRD.  Resistance training should be performed 2-3 days a week working all major muscle groups.

Stretching exercises relax and improve one’s flexibility.  When stretching, one should practice slow and controlled breathing.  Not only does proper breathing help to deepen the stretch, but it also helps one to increase lung capacity.  One should gently stretch all major muscles to the point of mild discomfort while holding the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, slowly breathing in and out. Repeat each stretch 2-3 times.  Stretching is an effective method to warming up and cooling down before and after workout sessions.

When exercising, it is important to remember to inhale in preparation of the movement and exhale on the exertion phase of the movement.  An individual should take slow deep breaths and pace him/herself.  It is recommended to purse the lips while exhaling.

Use of Medication

If an individual uses medication for the treatment of respiratory disease, he/she should continue to take the medication based on his/her doctor’s advice.  His/her doctor may adjust the dosage according to the physical activity demands.  For example, the doctor may adjust the flow rate of oxygen during exercise if one is using an oxygen tank.  In addition, one should have his/her inhaler on hand in case of a need due to the increase of oxygen demand during exercise.

Fitness professionals can effectively work with those who have a chronic respiratory disease providing them with a better quality of life through movement.  You as their health and fitness coach can provide a positive experience to facilitate an effective path to better health and wellness.

Expand your Education to Work More Effectively with these Clients!

Check out CarolAnn’s 4 hour course with PTontheNet, Respiratory Disease and ExerciseThe goal of this course is to educate health and fitness professionals on how to effectively implement exercise training techniques and work with clients that suffer from various respiratory diseases to help develop strength, flexibility, balance, breathing, and improve their quality of life.  Click here to learn more about the course.


Known as the trainers’ trainer, CarolAnn has become one of the country’s leading fitness educators, authors, and national presenters. Combining a Master’s degree in Exercise Science/Health Promotion with several fitness certifications/memberships such as FiTOUR, ACSM, ACE, AFAA, and LMI, she has been actively involved in the fitness industry for over 25 years. She is currently the Founder and Director of Education for Chiseled Faith, a Faith Based Health and Fitness Program for churches. Visit her website, www.CarolAnn.Fitness

References

  1. 2015. NHIS Data; Table 3-1. www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2015/table3-1.htm
  2. Mannino DM, Gagnon RC, Petty TL, Lydick E. Obstructive lung disease and low lung function in adults in the United States: data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-1994. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:1683–1689.
  3. CDC, Gateway to Health Communication and Social Marketing Practice. Allergies. https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/Allergies.html
  4. World Health Organization http://www.who.int/gard/publications/chronic_respiratory_diseases.pdf
  5. Eves ND, Davidson WJ. Evidence-based risk assessment and recommendations for physical activity clearance: respiratory disease. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism. 2011;36(Suppl 1):S80–100. [PubMed]