If you live and eat in the U.S. – Read This

If you’ve read many of my blogs, you’ll quickly learn that I talk about the importance of eating healthy, daily exercise, and getting plenty of sleep at night.

Well now, there’s even more reason to eat the “right” kinds of food.

A new study has come out about our “Western” diet.  You know the one.  The fried foods, the processed and red meats, processed sugar, high fat diary items.  All the things that we crave, right?

Look at the details of this study and ask yourself if those few moments of satisfaction from these comfort foods is worth it in the end?

(HealthDay News) — A new British study provides further evidence that eating a so-called “Western” diet may not be good for you in the long run.

People who eat this kind of diet — which includes fried and sweet foods, processed and red meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products — are at increased risk for premature death. And those who do make it to old age are less likely to be in good health when they get there, the researchers said.

The study included nearly 3,800 men and 1,600 women in Britain, with an average age of 51, who were followed from 1985 to 2009. By the end of that time, 73 percent of the participants had experienced normal aging and 4 percent had undergone ideal aging, which is defined as free of chronic conditions with high scores on tests of physical and mental abilities.

During the follow-up period, 13 percent of the participants had a nonfatal cardiovascular event, 3 percent died from heart-related causes and 7 percent died from other causes, according to the research, which was published in the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

Those who ate a Western diet were less likely to have ideal aging, lead investigator Tasnime Akbaraly of INSERM, a biomedical and public health research institution in Montpelier, France, said in a journal news release.

“We showed that following specific dietary recommendations … may be useful in reducing the risk of unhealthy aging, while avoidance of the Western-type foods might actually improve the possibility of achieving older ages free of chronic diseases and remaining highly functional,” Akbaraly said in a journal news release.

“A better understanding of the distinction between specific health behaviors that offer protection against diseases and those that move individuals toward ideal aging may facilitate improvements in public health prevention packages,” Akbaraly added.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett

Warning: Read This Before You Go to Sleep Tonight!

How’s your sleeping at night?  Do you fall to sleep right away or are you one of the millions of Americans you have trouble sleeping.  If you have trouble sleeping you might also be a part of this group of millions who take sleeping pills to help fall and stay asleep.

When you’ve had a good night of uninterrupted sleep, you know just how good it makes you feel the next day.  Your energy soars, you feel sharp mentally, physically, and emotionally.

But, are there dangers to taking these sleep aids over time?   For a short period of time and under the direction of your doctor, it may be o.k. for you to take a sleeping aid.   However, these sleeping pills are not designed for prolonged use.  There are dangers to long term use of these pills.

According to WebMD, here are some of the dangers to using sleeping aid over a period of time.

Common side effects of prescription sleeping pills such as Lunesta, Sonata, Ambien, Rozerem, and Halcion may include:

  • Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty keeping balance
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • Unusual dreams
  • Weakness

The FDA requires manufacturers of Ambien and Zolpimist to offer lower doses for women. Women clear the drugs from their systems more slowly than men and the agency says blood levels of the drugs could still be high enough the following morning to affect activities that require alertness, such as driving. The FDA says doctors should offer the lower dose to men too.

Don’t be fooled by the immediate benefits of sleeping aids.  Make sure you consult with your docotor before you take any sleep aids and then do your best to stop using them as soon as possible.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett

What You Should Know About Brain Aneurysms

I got the call late Tuesday night.  Shocking news about a friend who was found dead earlier that day from an apparent Aneurysm in the brain.  Words cannot describe how I felt.  How could this person no longer be with us?  She was only in her mid 30s.  A mother of 5, happily married with young children and a full life.  She was a very healthy lady that exercised, ate right, and lived a normal life.

Sadly, we can all do the right things; exercise, eat right, live right and still be taken out in an instant.  Unfortunately my friend was one of the victims of a brain Aneurysm.  But could she have done anything?  I heard she did complain of a severe headache and thought she had the flu.  Only minutes later she would be found lifeless by her husband in the shower.

Here is some vital and potentially life saving information about Aneurysms.  If you think you might be having an Aneurysm, don’t treat it lightly.  Call 911 and get to a hospital immediately!

What You Should Know About Cerebral Aneurysms

What is a cerebral aneurysm?
An aneurysm is a weak area in a blood vessel that usually enlarges. It’s often described as a “ballooning” of the blood vessel.

How common are aneurysms?
About 1.5 to 5 percent of the general population has or will develop a cerebral aneurysm. About 3 to 5 million people in the United States have cerebral aneurysms, but most are not producing any symptoms. Between 0.5 and 3 percent of people with a brain aneurysm may suffer from bleeding.

How do aneurysms form? Are people born with an aneurysm?
People usually aren’t born with aneurysms. Most develop after age 40. Aneurysms usually develop at branching points of arteries and are caused by constant pressure from blood flow. They often enlarge slowly and become weaker as they grow, just as a balloon becomes weaker as it stretches. Aneurysms may be associated with other types of blood vessel disorders, such as fibromuscular dysplasia, cerebral arteritis or arterial dissection, but these are very unusual. They may run in families, but people are rarely born with a predisposition for aneurysms. Some aneurysms are due to infections, drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine that damage the brain’s blood vessels, or direct brain trauma from an accident.

Warning Signs/ Symptoms

Unruptured brain aneurysms are typically completely asymptomatic. These aneurysms are typically small in size, usually less than one half inch in diameter. However, large unruptured aneurysms can occasionally press on the brain or the nerves stemming out of the brain and may result in various neurological symptoms. Any individual experiencing some or all of the following symptoms, regardless of age, should undergo immediate and careful evaluation by a physician.

  • Localized Headache
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Pain above and behind eye
  • Weakness and numbness
  • Difficulty speaking

Ruptured brain aneurysms usually result in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is defined as bleeding into the subarachnoid space. When blood escapes into the space around the brain, it can cause sudden symptoms.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately If You Are Experiencing Some Or All Of These Symptoms:

  • Sudden severe headache, the worst headache of your life
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Stiff Neck
  • Sudden blurred or double vision
  • Sudden pain above/behind the eye or difficulty seeing
  • Sudden change in mental status/awareness
  • Sudden trouble walking or dizziness
  • Sudden weakness and numbness
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Seizure
  • Drooping eyelid

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett

615-942-9271

10 Things About Food You Probably Didn’t Know But Should

If you’ve read this blog very long you’ve probably read the basics of a health lifestyle and diet are plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise daily, get plenty of sleep, and drink lots of water.  Those basic building blocks to a health life haven’t changed.  So keep on doing those things.  However, here are some things about nutrition that you should be aware of and implement into your lifestyle if possible.

1. Just because the label says “whole grain” it might not be as healthy as you think.  Don’t be tricked by “whole grain” cookies, cereal, and even some breads.  A cookie is still a cookie and cereal still has a lot of sugar.  Try to get whole grain sources from pasta, oatmeal, and popcorn.  Whole grain bread is fine but make sure it’s high in fiber.

2. Don’t just eat a bowl of fruit or a smoothie for a meal.  Fruit is good for you, but it’s all carbs and that means your blood sugar will spike and then leave you hungry and hour later.  Complement the bowl of fruit with some protein such as peanut butter to keep you full longer.

3. Try to buy the “freshest” produce.  Produce that has been on the shelf a long time loses it’s nutrients.  Look for produce that is local and if you can’t find local then try the frozen produce section.

4. Don’t eliminate all fat from your diet.  Your body still needs fat to help fight off disease.  Go for an olive oil vinaigrette with your salad to give you the healthy fat you need.  But don’t over do it.

5. If you have a craving for the sweet stuff, try a little bit in the morning.  This will give you all day to burn it off.  Plus you have more will power in the morning so you can tell yourself not to eat so much of it.

6. Eating health is all about preparation.  It’s hard to grab fast food healthy food.  So take a little time before the beginning of the week to prepare a few meals that you can take with you.

7. Under cook your pasta a little.  Tougher pasta will make you chew it more versus the softer version where you gobble it down.  You’ll probably eat less of it and it will digest better with all the chewing.

8. Kick out the sauces and welcome in the spices.  Sauces are often packed with fat and sugar.  To spice up your food try cayenne pepper, garlic, cinnamon, and ginger.

9. Don’t forget the coffee.  A little coffee can do you some good.  Skip the cream and sugar.  I know black coffee is hard to drink, but once you get used to it, it’s not so bad.  Try about 16 oz before noon and it can do a world of good for you.

10.  Don’t be afraid of hunger.  It’s o.k. to be a little hungry sometimes.  Actually the first cues for hunger in your stomach are often related to hydration so drink water first and then if you still feel hungry eat a nutritious snack in between your balanced meals.

I know that’s a lot to take in, but if you can do some of these things or one or two at a time, you are going to feel better, think better, act better, and be healthier.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett

Ban High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Recently New York City and Mayor Bloomberg has been in the news over banning large sugary drinks in the city.  With much bickering back and forth over what role government has in our food/drink consumption, I thought it would be good to take a look at exactly what is high fructose corn syrup.

How Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Made?

During the 1950′s, researchers found that they could turn glucose into fructose with a certain enzyme.  It wasn’t until 1971 when the Japanese modified  and improved upon that it went mainstream.

With the US. Government  subsidizing corn growers, high fructose corn syrup made food cheaper and easier to sweeten.  It is a man-made sweetener that chemically modifies the glucose (sugar) in corn syrup with enzymes and turns it into fructose.  Fructose is one of three types of sugars – the others being sucrose and dextrose.  Both sucrose and dextrose are are easily broken down into our bodies long before they ever make it to our liver but fructose does not breakdown and when it reaches the liver it is almost fully intact.  The fructose in high fructose corn syrup has a higher concentration and thus is pushed to the liver.

The Effects Of High Fructose Corn Syrup On The Body

Once the high fructose corn syrup reaches the liver, it builds triglycerides which imitate insulin and forces the liver to release fatty acids into the bloodstream causing our muscles to develop a resistance to insulin.  High fructose corn syrup does not stimulate the production of insulin, leptin or ghelin.  These tell the body how much food to eat.  So, in essence, high fructose corn syrup is a powerful appetite stimulant.  This gives people an increased desire to eat more.

But that’s not all.  High fructose corn syrup causes the body to burn sugar not fat which leads to obesity.  It also throws off the good HDL/bad LDL cholesterol ratio by increasing the LDL and lowering the HDL.  To make matters worse, high fructose corn syrup is 6 times sweeter than sugar and has 10% more fructose than sugar.  This means you could eat the same foods that are sweetened by sugar but you would be consuming 10% more sugar.

Read more here

As you can see here in this article, high fructose corn syrup doesn’t sound too good when it comes to our bodies being able to digest it.  So, if we are aware of it, should our government keep us from something that is potentially dangerous?  Or should we be able to police ourselves when it comes to eating something, doing something, participating in something that isn’t good for us?

This is an interesting debate for sure.  What do you think?

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett

Is Stress Making You Sick?

If you are alive you are probably dealing with some kind of stress.  Stress does not discriminate against age, race, wealth, height, weight, nationality, or religion.  We all seem to experience some of it at various levels.  If you think about it, a little bit of it isn’t too bad.  If we didn’t feel some tension on certain things then we probably wouldn’t feel the need to accomplish what we felt stressed about.  However, we often times allow it to grow to intense levels consequently negatively affecting our health.

What Are The Symptoms?

Stress can show up in many different forms.  It can be physical, mental, and emotional.  Physical stress could be unexplained weight gain or weight loss, headaches, teeth grinding, excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, excessive sweating, rapid hear beat among many other signs.

Mental stress could be worry, bad dreams, bad decision making, impaired judgement, etc

Emotional stress is all the things like mood swings, anxiety, lacking confidence, tension, and irritability.

What Can You Do?

Now that we’ve identified the symptoms how do you manage it?

Starting with the physical again think diet and exercise.  You’d be amazed how much better you will feel after a brisk walk or long run.  Doing this daily could help you managed your stress if it’s not severe.

Eating less sugar and simple carbohydrates.  Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein will help keep your body and mind in balance.

Get plenty of sleep.  You’d be surprised at how much bigger things seem when you are tired.  Even 2 hrs less per night can make a big difference in your irritability.

When it comes to dealing with mental stress there a some simple things you can do such as scheduling breaks to avoid burnout.  Try to have fun at something each day and don’t forget to smile.  Smiling, even for no reason can trick your mind into feeling better.

For emotional stress you need to build a support group.  Share your feeling with your friends, family, and co-workers.  Don’t try to bottle up your feeling and do it alone.  Often times when you voice your challenges to others they become smaller than they seemed in your mind.

Final Thoughts

To recap, some stress is healthy.  It’s required for us to accomplish things in life.  Most of us when faced with normal stress are able to cope and overcome it.  If you have tried all I’ve laid out in this blog and still feel overwhelmed and helpless then you should probably see a professional doctor about your issues.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett

Get Paid to Lose Weight!

Get paid to lose weight.  Yes, you did just read that.  Where? how? how much?  Sign me up, right?

I’m always amazed at all the different medical studies that are done each year.  Apparently a new study has shown to prove that people with incentives or disincentives to lose weight, actually do and they keep it off.  How much money?  Well according to the study performed, it doesn’t take a huge amount to motivated people.  Some participants lost weight with only $20 per month on the line.

What the study concluded is that it really wasn’t about the money, it was about the accountability.  So, if you think that you have to pay some money for not hitting your goal or if you are going to get some money for hitting your goal, then you are much more likely to stay on target with your weight loss goals.  I guess that’s why show’s like “The Biggest Loser” work.  I believe the winner gets a pretty nice chunk of money at the end.  Probably makes sense as well why Jarred form Subway kept his weight off.

Many companies are now offering incentivized weight loss programs.  Whether it be a contest including a group of people or incentives for individual progress, there’s plenty of upside to these cash rewards.

So, what can you do?  Start your own weight loss club with a group of friends, coworkers, or family members.  Set weight loss goals for the group.  If it’s a contest for the whole group then you’ll want to measure by percentage of weight loss versus actual weight loss due to everyone being a different weight.

Come up with a monetary reward, tracking system, and deadline.  Have everyone pitch in to the pot and either reward the whole pot to the overall winner or give a majority percentage to the overall winner and perhaps a smaller percentage to 2nd and 3rd place.

Give it a shot and see how well you can drop some pounds and keep them off!

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett

I Didn’t Know That (Medical Myths)

How many times have you heard something that you just believed it as fact.  Unfortunately everyday we are faced with mountains of information for our brains to process.  Often times we take the information at face value and go on with our lives.

So, for this week’s blog I’d like to share with you 6 Medical Myths that have been circulating for years.  You’ve probably heard these before but never knew that they weren’t true.  Enjoy!

6.  Shaving body hair causes it to grow back thicker and or darker.  FALSE

When hair grows back it seems coarser because it’s short and darker because it hasn’t been exposed to light like the previous unshaven hair.

5.  We only use 10% of our brains.  FALSE

Don’t know where this started but many studies have proven that no area of the brain is inactive or unused.  If you only use 10% of your brain you couldn’t read this.

4.  Reading in dim light strains your eyes and causes bad eyesight. FALSE

Reading in dim light does make it hard to read but it won’t ruin your eyesight.  The bad lighting will make you blink less and dry out your eyes but not much else.

3.  Eating turkey makes you drowsy. FALSE

This is one of my favorites.  Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry made his girlfriend a heavy turkey dinner complete with wine so she would fall asleep and he could play with your vintage toys?  Well it was the heavy meal and the wine that made her sleepy, not the tryptophan in the turkey.  As a matter of fact chicken and beef has as much tryptophan as turkey.  Pork and cheese actually contain more tryptophan than turkey.

2. When someone has a concussion, don’t let them fall asleep. FALSE

You hear this all the time when someone has a concussion.  The truth is someone who has had a concussion will probably be tired as the body signals to the person that they need rest.  Keeping them awake is making matters worse.

1.  You need to drink 8 glasses of water each day. FALSE (Sort of)

While the 8 glasses has been the rule of thumb, it’s actually 64 oz of liquids.  So other things like coffee and tea count.  However if given a choice between tea, coffee or water I think you should choose water.  Definitely no sugar drinks.  These liquids are the worst for you.  Water is essential for life so make it the main component of your 64 ozs.

There you have it.  Now, the next time you hear one of these myths you can know the truth.

Here’s to your health!

Dr. K Bennett

These Boots Were Made For Walking

We’ve known for a while and have heard it over and over that sitting for long periods of time is not good for you, and now there is research to prove it.

People, you’ve got to get up and move around.  Your life literally depends on it.

Researchers from Australia and Kansas State University said their findings have implications for office workers, truck drivers and other people who regularly sit for long periods of time. To reduce the risk of chronic disease, the study authors concluded that people should sit less, and move more.

“We know that with very high confidence that more physically active people do better with regard to chronic disease compared with less physically active people, but we should also be looking at reducing sitting,” Richard Rosenkranz, assistant professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, said in a university news release.

“A lot of office jobs that require long periods of sitting may be hazardous to your health because of inactivity and the low levels of energy expenditure,” he explained.

The study involved over 63,000 Australian men from New South Wales, ranging in age from 45 to 65. The researchers questioned the men about whether or not they had various chronic diseases. The men also reported how many hours they spent sitting down each day.

The study revealed that the men who sat for four hours or less daily were much less likely to have a chronic condition — such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure — than those who sat for more than four hours each day. And the men who sat for at least six hours daily were at significantly greater risk for diabetes, the researchers noted.

The number of chronic diseases reported increased along with sitting time. This was true even after the investigators took the men’s physical activity level, age, income, education, weight and height into account

The bottom line is we have to be aware of these dangers and get a sweat going each and every day.  Even if you can’t work up a sweat, try walking at least 10,000 steps each day.  Every little bit will help.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett

615-942-9271

Best Way to Lose Those 5 Extra Pounds

I think just about every patient I see would agree, they could afford to lose a little extra weight.  Even for the healthiest of us, there’s those few extra pounds that seem to hang on no matter what you do.  Here’s some things to think about to drop those 5 extra pounds.

Control How Much You Eat

Controlling how much eat can be all that it takes.  In our society we have our food portions out of control.  A good idea is that when you go out to eat, either share a meal with your partner or immediately ask for a to go box and put half of it in there for later.  Another rule of thumb with this is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.  If you eat off a plate with a pattern, keep your food inside the pattern.  That will be a healthy portion.

Add More Protein To Your Diet

When you have protein in your body to burn, your body burns twice as many calories as it does when it burns carbs.  Try adding more lean protein to your diet.  Fish and nuts are two foods that are a great source of protein.  You can check out protein powders, shakes, and bars but watch out for the sugar content in those.

Ditch the Artificial Sweetners

You think you are saving calories by drinking that Diet Coke, but studies have shown tiime and time again that your body is expecting calories when you introduce these artificial agents to your body.  Which in turn causes you to eat more.  Replace your diet drink with an unsweet tea and squeeze a lemon in it for sweetness.  Or drink water and squeeze a lime in it.   And it goes without saying, don’t drink regular soda either.  It’s a horrible source of calories.  Again, this one thing alone could help you drop the 5 lbs over the course of a few weeks.

Be Active

It’s recommended to take a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.  You can find inexpensive step counters online or at a local retailer.  Get one and track your steps daily.

Drink More Water

How easy is this!  Drinking more water will boost your metabolism and help you to consume at least 200 calories less per day.  It’s recommended to drink around 6-8 glasses per day.  You need to drink enough that your urine is clear.

There you have it.  5 steps to lose 5 pounds.  Or just focus on one of these steps you might be surprised that it will do the trick.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett