Sunday, February 22, 2015

Smartphones, tablets can do damage to overall health in unexpected ways

Despite the many benefits of having information at your fingertips, smartphones and tablets can do damage to your body and
overall health in unexpected ways.

Tiled tabletsYou may not realize it, but all that time spent with your head down
checking email and texting may be creating more than a social gap — you
may also be harming your spine. Research suggests that spinal pressure
actually doubles with each inch you bend your head down.

Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day
hunched over, says Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York
Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, in his recent report for
Surgical Technology International. As a result, back and neck pain have
increased among users of electronic gadgets, and the effects may linger
for years.

"Poor posture is easy to spot in the hunched over forms of older
adults who have carried bad habits for a lifetime," said Stephen
Gubernick, Doctor of Chiropractic at The Joint Chiropractic. "However,
few people realize that there are health implications that make good
posture essential for healthy living at any age."

Dr. Gubernick explained that a misalignment of your spine can affect
your overall health and well-being. Your spine protects your nervous
system, which controls and coordinates all the different functions of
your body. Any disruption in nerve communication to your organs and
tissues may result in abnormal function. "There are countless benefits
from simply improving the alignment of the spine," he added.

Poor posture negatively impacts your muscles and ligaments, as well
as your spine, which can lead to a host of health problems ranging from
neck and back pain to gastrointestinal problems and even hyperkyphosis —
a condition in which the spine curvature is significantly exaggerated,
with increased risk of pulmonary and arterial health problems.

When posture or other factors cause a misalignment, a spinal
adjustment is one way to help restore normal nerve function and
communication, thereby allowing your body to work normally and

In addition to recommending exercises that strengthen your core
postural muscles in an effort to sustain and improve posture, a
chiropractor can also assist you with identifying proper posture
techniques to use during daily activities that help reduce the risk of

Why Posture Matters

There are many benefits to practicing good posture. According to the
American Chiropractic Association, keeping your spine aligned properly:

  • Ensures bones and joints are correctly aligned. This helps the
    muscles to be used properly, diminishing the abnormal wear which can
    cause degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
  • Places less stress on the ligaments which link the spinal joints, decreasing the chance of injury.
  • Creates efficiency within the muscle groups, helping the body use less energy and avoid fatigue.
  • Reduces the likelihood of back and muscular pain, overuse disorders and muscle strain.
Maintaining Good Posture

Ditching your smartphone probably isn't a practical solution for
improving your posture, so instead work to keep your posture in check
with these tips:

  • To protect your posture while using your phone and other electronic
    devices, avoid angling your head down for prolonged periods. Raise the
    device closer to eye level, or use a stand to prop the screen.
  • Treat back and neck pain, which may signal a posture problem or
    worsen poor posture habits, with regular chiropractic adjustments to
    keep your body balanced and flexible.
  • When sitting, avoid crossing your legs and keep your knees at or
    below hip level. Use a back pillow to support your lower and middle
    back. Relax your shoulders and avoid sitting in the same position for
    extended periods of time.
  • While standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart and your knees
    slightly bent. Stand straight with your shoulders pulled back and your
    stomach tucked in.
Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Friday, February 20, 2015

CRE outbreak: You're due to go in for a procedure. Should you be worried? -

UCLA narrows cause of superbug infection to 2 tools
UCLA narrows cause of superbug infection to 2 tools 01:15
(CNN)You're due to go in for a medical procedure. But after what happened at a UCLA hospital, you're a little apprehensive.
patients died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in a superbug
CRE outbreak, caused by two medical scopes that still carried the
bacteria even after they were disinfected.

In addition to the two
victims, seven hospital patients were infected with the deadly superbug
between October and January. The medical center has contacted 179
others who had endoscopic procedures between October and January and is
offering them home tests to screen for the bacteria.

The superbug, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, can kill up to half the patients who contract them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

So, should you cancel your procedure?

Here's what you need to know:

1. What type of equipment caused these horrible infections?

They're called duodenoscopes.

UCLA hospital was using a duodenoscope made by Olympus Corp. of the
Americas, but the Food and Drug Administration is also reviewing data
from the two other U.S. companies that make the devices, Fujifilm USA
and Pentax Medical.

Duodenoscopes are most commonly used for
procedures on the gallbladder, pancreatic ducts, and the bile ducts,
which are a series of thin tubes that reach from the liver to the small

2. I'm scheduled to get a colonoscopy soon. Should I be worried?

No. Duodenoscopes are not used for colonoscopies.

3. How common are these infections, and why do they happen?

than half a million duodenoscope procedures are done every year in the
United States, and there have been fewer than 100 known cases of
transmission of the CRE bacteria, according to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

The problem is this: A part of the scope called "the elevator" can be tough to clean because it has many small moving parts.

According to the FDA, the cleaning instructions that come with duodenoscopes say to brush the elevator area -- but that might not be enough.

moving parts of the elevator mechanism contain microscopic crevices
that may not be reached with a brush," the FDA said Thursday. "Residual
body fluids and organic debris may remain in these crevices after
cleaning and disinfection. If these fluids contain microbial
contamination, subsequent patients may be exposed to serious

4. Yech. I'm supposed to have a procedure with a duodenoscope. Should I cancel it?

A procedure with a duodenoscope can be lifesaving. It can remove
gallstones, for example, or insert a stent into a blocked bile duct. If
you need it, you need it.

5. OK. My doctor says I need it. So how do I make sure I'm safe?

Remind your doctor that following the manufacturer's cleaning instructions on a duodenoscope might not be enough.

Show your doctor this advisory from the FDA
that recommends additional cleaning practices, including meticulously
cleaning the elevator mechanism by hand. Many hospitals already do this.

Also, show your doctor this article from the Centers for Disease Control:
A hospital in Illinois put a stop to duodenoscope infections by using a
technique called gas sterilization. Other hospitals have started
testing their scopes for bacteria and only using them when the results
come back negative.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why Your Doctor Might Not Be the Best Nutritional Resource

Why Your Doctor Might Not Be the Best Nutritional Resource
Your doctor is one of the most important people to your wellbeing,
and rightfully so. While you should trust their advice on certain
matters, it's also important to understand the boundaries of their
training, and when you should seek outside help.

I grew up obese despite the fact that both my parents were medical
doctors, and fit ones at that. The few conversations we had about my
weight were essentially lectures on moderation (or simply "eat less, move more").

I always figured the lack of intervention was probably because they
assumed I'd grow out of the chub. Besides, it can't be easy for someone
to dual as parent and diet coach.

Fast forward two decades, and the story is completely different. My
father is now overweight, pops countless (medical) pills for breakfast.
He doesn't know the first thing about losing weight, nor does he care to
learn. Contrastingly, my mother is in great shape, thanks to becoming
an avid consumer of fitness information following my own transformation.

Looking back, I now know that their silence wasn't because they were
hesitant or unwilling to help me lose weight. It was because they had no
clue how to help me lose weight.

My parents are just n=2, but in my coaching experience, many clients
have reported a similar gap in their own GP's knowledge. Sure, their
doctor can tell them when to lose weight, but dispense poor advice to
help them achieve it. This is unsurprising.

What Doctors Know: Disease vs. Health

Why Your Doctor Might Not Be the Best Nutritional Resource
Most doctors spend at least 11 years in school: four years in an
undergraduate program, four years in medical school, and at least three
years in residency (depending on chosen area of expertise). Basically,
doctors learn a whole lot about a whole bunch of stuff, for a long time.
But in all those years, and all those textbooks, very little of that is
about nutrition—the biggest factor in weight loss, and debatably one of the most important factors for overall health.

Of the 40,000 hours that doctors spend on training, typically only 19 of those are devoted to studying nutrition. According to the Chicago Tribune, this number is steadily decreasing:

On average, doctors receive 19 hours of total nutrition education in
medical school; in 2004 the average was 22.3 hours, according to the
study, conducted as part of the Nutrition in Medicine project at UNC. In
2009, 27 percent of the schools met the minimum standard of nutrition
training, compared with 38 percent in 2004.
As such, it shouldn't be surprising that a study from The Journal of the American College of Nutrition
shows that only 14% of internal medicine interns feel they can
adequately talk to their patients about nutrition, while 94% feel it's
their responsibility to do so. Yet, if Dr. Oz's popularity ratings are
any indication, society still considers doctors to be weight loss

To be clear, this is a systematic failing of the medical educational
system, and not the fault of our doctors. Between seeing patients and fixing them—something that they are
incredibly knowledgeable about—there's not a lot of time to make up for
their educational shortcomings. Still, it seems silly to look to medicine to reduce incidence of disease, when dietary intervention may have prevented some of these in the first place.

The Problem with Defaulting to Doctors for Nutritional Advice

Why Your Doctor Might Not Be the Best Nutritional Resource
The nutrition and fitness industry is full of shi—err...incredibly confusing,
which is in no way helped by the apparent paralysis of relevant
regulatory parties. Case in point: despite decades of outcry from the
scientific community, the FDA is only now relaxing its message on the dangers of dietary cholesterol.

With conflicting information abound, people deal with confusion in different ways. Some are autodidacts,
or self-learners, who read voraciously until they can navigate through
the noise. Most people, however, naturally default to someone they trust
to tell them what to do.

Human beings are subject to something called bounded rationality—the
idea that, in the face of complexity, humans sacrifice calculating the
purely rational choice by making mental shortcuts. For most people,
doctors are the gatekeepers of health information. They know doctors are
educated in their profession, and generally trustworthy. Therefore, it
seemingly follows that a doctor's health advice must be reliable.

The problem is that too many people think that "curing disease" is
the same thing as "preventing disease." In reality, these are two
completely different areas of expertise. As my friend Dr. Joseph
Lightfoot once told me: "In medical school, I learned about disease, but
I did not learn about health."

In spite of this, it's hard to imagine a doctor's typical nutritional
recommendations could be harmful, after all how dangerous could an
abundance of cruciferous vegetables be?However, the utility of their
advice is undermined by one of medicine's most basic tenets: "First do
no harm." In other words, they must make sure that any treatment does
not make a patient's situation worse. For nutrition, this often
translates into stock-standard dietary advice.

For example, let's say a doctor is faced with the choice of giving a
recommendation that's in line with the status quo, such as limiting
sodium, or going against the grain by saying that you shouldn't worry
about salt intake. In the doctor's eyes, which is more likely to "do no
harm?" Most doctors would avoid the controversy and just tell their
patient to limit their salt intake, because that's what everyone has
always said. Their assumption is that this advice "does no harm."

The problem is that it does do harm. It increases their
patient's chances of failure, thereby precluding them from the benefits
of maintaining a healthy weight and an enjoyable lifestyle. Quite
simply, research shows that the best diet is one you can stick to. By creating false restrictions
and limiting choice, you state that there is only one path for success
(the doctor's)—a low sodium, low saturated fat, low cholesterol,
alcohol-free one—when in reality there are many.

According to obesity specialist and frequent Lifehacker contributor Dr. Spencer Nadolsky:

Unless trained through ABOM (American Board of Obesity Medicine),
ABPNS (American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists ), or similar
training/experience, the typical doctor isn't as well equipped to help
with dietary guidance. This doesn't mean the doctor is bad, it just
means it wasn't in their training.

How to Find a Doctor That Can Help You

Why Your Doctor Might Not Be the Best Nutritional Resource
Of course there are plenty of doctors with abundant nutritional knowledge, like Dr. Nadolsky or Dr. Yoni Freedhoff,
another frequent Vitals contributor. In fact, because of their
multi-domain expertise, these doctors have unique insights around
preventative health and disease that few others possess. The danger, however, is that assuming that all medical doctors have this same expertise.

Here's how to find out if your doctor can help you with your own nutrition and fitness endeavors:

  • Research the latest evidence on topics such as saturated fat, protein intake, and dietary cholesterol.'s FAQ
    is a good place to start. Ask your doctor questions about these topics,
    such as "Is a high protein diet right for me?" or "Are eggs bad for my
    health?" If they default to outdated wisdom without batting an eyelash,
    then you may want to seek nutritional guidance elsewhere.
  • Pay close attention to whether or not their advice is specific and actionable.
    Are their recommendations vague, such as "eat healthy" and "do things
    in moderation?" or do they go into specific recommendations, such as
    "keep a food journal and track calories."
  • Look at other credentials other than the "Dr." in front of their name. You can use this handy PDF
    to search for a physician's certifications by any state. Are they
    trained by the American Board of Obesity Medicine, the American Board of
    Physician Nutrition Specialists, or something similar?
  • Be realistic about how well you get along with your doctor. Knowledge isn't everything. Your doctor can be the most knowledgeable in the world, but their advice can backfire if you feel that they are overly judgmental or lack empathy.
At the end of the day, the onus is on you to make sure that you have
the resources you need in order to get (or stay) healthy and fit. Stay
as informed as you can on the latest nutritional research. Don't expect
your doctor's knowledge about medicine to apply to other domains. After
all—like you—they are only human.

Images by LalithHerath (Shutterstock), murphy81 (Shutterstock), katherinarspb (Shutterstock), caliorg, Jeremy Wong, and Ilmicrofono Oggiono.

Why Your Doctor Might Not Be the Best Nutritional Resource

Monday, February 9, 2015

6 habits to improve healing after surgery

A successful surgery depends on a number of factors -- a few of them you can control.
A successful surgery depends on a number of factors -- a few of them you can control.
(CNN)The winter is surgery season.
get into skiing accidents and need to replace knees, or they slip on
ice and need to fix a hip, or they just want to get ready for bikini
weather and schedule a nip here and an enlargement there.

Surgeons are particularly busy these days, but Dr. Jamal M. Bullocks, a surgeon from the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston, has advice if you do need surgery.

A successful surgery depends on a number of factors -- a few of them you can control.

minor surgery may pose some risk that has long-term implications. So,
for those considering surgery, there are six habits you need to commit
to right now to help your body heal.

Here's how Bullocks suggests you can improve your chances of recovering more quickly if you do go under the knife:

Quit smoking

shouldn't even have to tell you this. If you smoke, you know this habit
can cause irreparable damage to your organs. It increases your chances
for heart attack and stroke.

Smoking can significantly hamper
the success of your procedure. While in surgery, the damage from smoking
to your airway and lungs makes it more difficult to control your
breathing while you are under anesthesia.

Additionally, because
smoking damages your vascular system, it can bring on complications in
wound healing that may lead to infection and wound breakdown.

you smoke and have plans to go under the knife, talk to your physician
about smoking-cessation programs and products and follow his or her

Use this surgery as an opportunity to improve your overall health by quitting smoking.

Improve your diet

Malnutrition and the effects of poor eating habits can negatively alter how your body reacts to surgery.

is a serious condition that can affect overall health and is a concern
for many older adults since senior citizens are at particular risk.

can weaken your immune system, cause muscle weakness that can decrease
cardiac and respiratory function and may negatively affect wound

Talk to your physician about your eating habits, and if
he or she determines you need help improving your diet, work with a
registered dietitian before surgery.

Consider supplements

if you eat a well-balanced diet, your diet may still be lacking in
important vitamins and protein that promote healing after surgery.

vitamins (such as vitamins A, E and C) and protein can promote acute
wound healing -- and despite looking and feeling healthy, your body may
need a boost.

Ask your physician to confirm that you are not
deficient in any vitamins and to test your protein building capacity and
work with him or her to determine an appropriate supplement regimen
before surgery.

Manage your weight

This is easier said than done.

overweight or obese raises your risk because many people with this
condition have other risk factors such as cardiovascular disease,
respiratory abnormalities, heart failure, hypertension, pulmonary
embolism and deep vein thrombosis.

If you are overweight or obese
and considering a nonurgent surgery, work with your physician to develop
a weight-loss plan and try to attain a healthier weight.

It may help improve your overall condition as well as lower your surgery risk.

Manage chronic conditions

kidney disease and hypertension are just a few examples of chronic
conditions that may increase the chances of complications during and
after surgery.

It is important to be in the best possible condition before undergoing surgery.

you have a chronic condition that is not well-controlled, work with
your care team to help improve your outcomes before an elective surgery.

Follow your doctor's orders

You've chosen your surgeon
to guide you through this experience based on a lot of things. You did
research on this procedure, and he or she came highly recommended. Such a
surgeon may have special credentials or certifications that make you
feel more confident.

You trusted your surgeon enough to start
down the path of preparing for this surgery, so why won't you listen
when we give you special instructions to follow beforehand?

are like every other kind of doctor; they want to help patients improve
their health, but they also want to minimize the risk of a condition
worsening as a result of the surgery.

This is a team effort, and
it is imperative you do your part to eliminate potential problems and
help with a successful outcome.

Follow your surgeon's instructions before surgery -- and always ask questions if something is confusing or unclear.