Is Dopamine the Mircale Drug?

How does this sound?

You are super motivated.  You accomplish personal, physical, and financial goals.  Your happier than you’ve been in years.  You are losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.  You start a side business or perhaps you just ran a 10k.  You are in love with your significant other and your relationships with friends are really good.

Who wouldn’t want all these things.  Well, if you have a healthy level of Dopamine, it could be that I’m describing you.  That’s right, Dopamine is a chemical that is present in your body as a neurotransmitter.  It was previously known as the “pleasure chemical” but now doctors are discovering it’s ability to help motivate you.  Studies have shown that those “go getter” people actually have higher levels of Dopamine.  Not only did the higher levels of Dopamine give more motivation to accomplish tasks, but it increased levels of happiness in the individual.

Conversely, people with low levels of Dopamine were linked to Parkinson’s Disease, other neurological issues, and ADHD.

While there are some foods that naturally raise levels of Dopamine in your body, it’s not advised to try and manipulate the levels on your own.  If you think you might have low levels of Dopamine, consult your physician for options on achieving healthy levels.

Who knows.  You might get the right level Dopamine and then conquer the world!

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett


Healthy Tailgating Snacks for the Superbowl

It’s almost Super Sunday!  Superbowl XLVII is Sunday with the San Fransisco 49ers battling the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.  With this big event comes parties, get-togethers and elaborate tailgating sessions.  What usually ensues is an obscene amount of calorie consumption and subsequent heartburn, guilt, and regret.

Good news!  There is a way for you to enjoy mouth watering treats without breaking your diet or busting your waistline.

Here are some healthy tailgating snacks for your Superbowl Sunday!

Broccoli-Cheese Calzone

This is a great way to use up leftover vegetables and cheese. Use any vegetable or veggie combination you want – I really like the mixed vegetables for stir-fry (like bell peppers and onions) sold next to the other mixed vegetables in the freezer aisle.

Olive oil cooking spray
2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets, thawed if frozen
1 pound fresh or frozen bread or pizza dough, thawed according to package directions
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic and herb seasoning or Italian seasoning (preferably salt-free)
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

If using fresh broccoli, blanch the florets in boiling water for 30 seconds or steam in the microwave for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Roll dough out into a large circle, about 1/2-inch thick, and transfer to prepared baking sheet (don’t worry if some dough hangs over the edge – you’ll be folding it in half).

Combine mozzarella cheese and seasoning and toss to combine. Top one half of dough with mozzarella mixture. Top mozzarella mixture with broccoli. Fold over side of dough without toppings and pinch edges together to seal.

Spray top of calzone with cooking spray and sprinkle parmesan cheese all over top.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting crosswise into slices.

Cheesy Kale Chips

Tear kale leaves into large pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Spritz with olive oil and bake in a 350° oven until crisp. While still warm, sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Tex-Mex Treat

Dress bagged coleslaw mix with jarred salsa and roll up in a corn tortilla.

Healthy Chili

1     (1.25 lb) Pack extra-lean ground turkey1
1     (16 oz) Salsa (any kind will work, but I used corn and black bean salsa!)
1 cup     Celery, chopped
1     Small white onion, chopped
1    Green bell pepper, finely chopped, (or a red or yellow bell pepper)
1     (28 oz) Can crushed tomatoes
1     (28 oz) Can diced tomatoes
1     (15.5 oz) Can pinto beans, drained
1     (15.5oz) Can red kidney beans, drained
1    (15 oz) Can corn
1/2 tsp     Garlic powder
1/2 tsp     Salt (or to taste)
2 tbs    Chili powder2
1pkt    Sugar substitute of choice3
Optional    Toppings: light sour cream, 2% shredded cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, a few baked tortilla chips crushed on top, or a few saltine crackers!

Place meat and chopped onion in a large saute pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cook over medium high heat until meat is browned.

Place meat and onion mixture, and all of the rest of the ingredients into a Crock Pot and cook on high heat for 4 hours or  low heat for 8 hours

Take chili off the heat when all of the veggies are translucent and soft. Top with optional toppings if desired, and enjoy!!!

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett


Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Don’t Drink!

We’ve all been there before.  You have two or three glasses of wine after a heavy dinner.  A good time turns into extreme drowsiness.  You feel as if you could go to sleep and sleep forever.  You do fall asleep pretty quick, but then you either wake up in the middle of the night not being able to go back to sleep, or you manage to stay asleep but the next day you feel as if you haven’t sleep at all.

There’s a real good explanation for this.  A new study in the medical community shows that alcohol does help you to fall asleep quicker but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM).  REM is the deep sleep you achieve about 90 minutes after you fall asleep.  It’s the sleep where you dream and where your brain restores itself.

How much is too much for a lousy night of sleep?

It seems like 1-2 drinks has a minimal effect but any more after that only disrupts the sleep more as you drink more.

Because alcohol does get you to sleep faster, people often think or rely on it as a sleep aid.  Researchers warn that you should not rely on alcohol for this.  It will rob you of the much needed deep sleep that helps you feel refreshed the next day.

If you are having trouble sleeping you should try these things first.

  • Establish a sleep time and awake time routine.  Your body has an internal clock and keeping to this schedule will help your body get and stay in this routine.
  • Don’t consume alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine at night.  If possible try to cut them out all together and you’ll be surprised at how sound you will sleep.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise.  Wear your body out with some good ole’ running, working out, etc.  This will really help you get some zzz’s
  • Try using clean sheets.  It’s amazing how comfortable freshly washed and dried sheets are.
  • Don’t do work in your bedroom.  Keep the bedroom for sleeping and relaxing only.
  • Try reading a book.  This can get you in a relaxed state.

If you’ve tried all these things and still can’t fall asleep, then try seeing a professional doctor about your issues.

If you live in the Nashville, TN area and need a doctor for sleep or other health problems, feel free to contact our office for an appointment.

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett


Cut the Sugar, Drop the Weight!

If you find yourself needing to drop a few pounds this New Year, then think about cutting down on your sugar intake.  A new study from the University of Otago has found that a decrease in dietary sugars lead to weight loss while an increase of the sugars lead to weight gain.  This is probably not that new to most of you.  For years experts have suggested that diets high in sugary foods and drinks lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

The normal accepted amount of daily sugar intake i around 10% of your total calories.  This includes foods that contain sugar naturally such as honey, fruit juice, and syrup as well as food where the consumer, manufacturer, or cook adds sugar to it.

Think about the amount of sugar in a regular can of Coke.  There’s an obscene amount of sugar in these type of drinks.  Cutting out soft drinks and artificially flavored snacks, could alone make a huge difference in your overall weight loss.  Substituting a candy bar and a coke with a piece of fruit and a glass of unsweet tea with lemon can save you thousands of calories over the course of a year.  With those less calories means less weight.  That sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

Another pitfall in the sugar intake world is alcohol.  Many people don’t realize there’s a lot of sugar in those afternoon cocktail, especially in the mixers.  Be sure that the sugar you cut out of your diet isn’t replaced with more food.  Eat normal but cut down on the sugary drinks and snacks.  Natural sugar found in foods such as fruit didn’t correlate with the weight gain like the artificial sugar did.

So there you have it.  If you are on a 2,000 calorie per day diet then keep your sugar intake to 200 calories per day.  Doing this along with a daily exercise routine of 30 minutes per day, you’ll be well on your way to reaching the weight loss goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year.

Consistency is key.  Keep a journal and remind yourself that being healthy is a daily activity.

Here’s To Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett


The Flu Continues!

I’ve dedicated a couple of posts in the past few weeks in regards to the flu, but due to the extreme outbreak of the flu this year, I decided to talk about it one more time.

As you can see from this map the dark red represents a severe outbreak. Chances are if you are reading this you are probably in a severe area.

Here are the symptoms of the flu. It’s important to note as some people often confuse a cold with the flu.

High fever
Aches and pains in joints and muscles
Overall weakness
Watery eyes
Warm flushed skin
Dry cough

What to do if you get the flu?

Try to stay away from others (except for medical care professionals)
Get plenty of rest (normal time for it to run it’s course is 5-7 days)
Drink lots of water
Take pain medicine (not Aspirin) for body aches
If you find yourself really sick, you can see a doctor who can prescribe some antiviral medication.

The good news is that most experts believe the outbreak has peaked and expect to see number of cases fall over the next few days and weeks. Until then, wash your hands all the time, don’t touch your face, and cover your mouth with your sleeve when you sneeze or cough.

If you live in or near Nashville, TN and feel like you might have the flu feel free to contact our office for an evaluation.

Here’s To Your Health

Dr. K Bennett


Is Being a Little Overweight Good For You?

So you read the title of this blog and you are saying, what?  Being overweight good for you?  Are you crazy Dr. K?

According to a recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, having a few more pounds on you could help you to live longer.  Optimal word here being “could”.  How can this be?  This goes against the foundation of everything we taught the general public since the beginning of modern medicine.

Well, this study takes a new look at people who had a few extra pounds versus those who were obese or were a normal weight.   The study which lasted two decades included almost 3 million people.    The studies conclude that people with BMI’s under 30 but above normal were less likely to die than people with normal BMI’s.   Do you know what BMI is?  BMI stands for Body Mass Index and it calculates a ratio between your height and weight.  It’s pretty easy to calculate.  Here’s a calculator to help you figure out what your BMI is.

People that were slightly overweight had a risk of death which was 6% less than people with normal BMI.  People that were obese had an 18% increased risk of death.

So what do we make of this?  Does it mean you should go out and start slamming Big Macs and Whoppers?  Umm, no.  I’m not saying that.  Here’s the rest of the story.

This study only looked at the association between death and body size, it didn’t calculate “quality of life”.  Being overweight can carry some health risks in and of itself, such as diabetes.  This study only suggest that if you are healthy and slightly overweight, it may not be the worst thing in the world.  It doesn’t advocate training for hot dog eating contests.

So what do you think?

If you need help figure out if you are healthy or need to see a doctor about a health problem, feel free to contact our office or set up an appointment online with us.

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett


How Drinking Too Much Can Affect Your Health

New Year’s is just a few days away and party goers everywhere are making their final plans for the big year end celebration.  Many of these celebrations will center around alcohol, so I thought I’d take a weekly post to talk about the dangers and side effects of drinking too much.

Let me start by saying, if you are planning to drink for New Year’s make plans ahead of time to have some one drive you home or plan for a way to stay off the roads.  Beside all the physical effects alcohol will have on you, there’s none more dangerous than driving while drinking, or being on the road when a lot of other people who have been drinking are.  This has to be a priority to keep yourself and others safe.

O.k. now that I’ve got that out of way let’s take a look at how alcohol affects your health.  Heavy drinking messes around with chemicals in your brain.  If you are going to drink for New Year’s try to drink a glass of water or a non alcoholic drink between alcoholic drinks.  This little trick can help slow your roll when it comes to pounding drinks.

How many drinks do I have to have to be impaired?  Great question but there’s not a single answer for that question.  There are too many factors such as gender, weight, number of drinks, time spent drinking, what you’ve had to eat, etc.  Here’s a blood alcohol calculator that can help you determine if you are impaired.

Alcohol also robs you of important deep sleep.  Many people who have a heavy night of drinking will fall asleep fast but the alcohol keeps them from reaching the deep levels of sleep known as REM.  This is another reason why you feel so bad the next day after a night of heavy drinking.

Alcohol dehydrates you worse than a Christmas ham.  If you thought eating ham at grandma’s for the holidays made you thirsty wait until you slam some drinks.  There’s a whole post I could use on staying hydrated and how your body needs water to function properly.  Stay hydrated and drink lots of water.  Again this will help you cut down on the alcoholic drinks.

If you did drink too much and wake up feeling horrible the next day, don’t reach for a cocktail or beer to help you get over it.  You will feel better in the short-term, but all you are doing is delaying the inevitable.  You will eventually get the hangover symptoms.  No matter how many pills you take or recovery drinks you drink, nothing will get your body back to normal except time.  Speaking of pills, don’t take acetaminophen if you’ve been drinking.  The combination of the two could damage your liver.

So to recap….drinking too much equals an unhealthy body.  Cold showers, coffee, exercise, heavy meals, pills won’t help you get sober faster.  Driving while drinking can kill you and drinking too much too fast can give you alcohol poisoning.  This doesn’t sound like a lot of fun when think about it this way does it?

There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks as long as your doctor says it’s o.k. but  don’t overdo it.

Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you in 2013.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett


Beating Depression During the Holidays

Christmas is just a few short days away.  While many adults and children wait with excitement for the big day to come, many are not too thrilled with this time of year.  Admittedly this time of year can be very tough with people who suffer from depression.   Even if you don’t have depression it can be a tough time of year.

Think about it, you’ve got long lines at the post office, packed shopping malls with traffic jams everywhere.  Then you’ve got the whole family side of things.  Maybe you don’t get along with your family, or perhaps you’ve lost a loved on recently and this time of year causes you to miss them even more.  Then there’s the part about the year coming to an end and looking back on missed opportunities or failed goals, etc.  Let’s face it, it’s not the easiest time of year to get through.  Oh, and I forgot, It’s cold dark and the shortest day of the year is 4 days before Christmas.  Shheewww, I’m getting a little depressed writing all of this.

O.k. let’s talk for a second about some things we can do, do lessen the effects of depression during this time of year.

1. Get outside and move around.  This time of year we are often cooped up inside all day and night.  Bundle up and go for a brisk walk.   This will make you feel better.

2. Cut back on the alcohol.  This time of year brings many parties with a lot of chances to drink.  It’s o.k. to have some (as long as it doesn’t hinder medication you are taking), but don’t over do it.  Alcohol can often make little emotional things seem bigger than they are.

3. Try to cut back on all the junk food.  Christmas cookies, fruit cake, chocolate, etc.  We’ve all been there.  It’s easy to tell ourselves that it’s only one time a year and it’s o.k. to indulge.  Try to keep some balance with the junk food and squeeze in some fruit and veggies.

4. Give yourself a break.  You work hard all year-long.  Try to schedule some time off from work this time of year.  Spending time with loved ones or friends can make you feel better.

5. Give thanks.  Instead of thinking about all the things you could’ve done better or all the things you didn’t do this year, take some time to give thanks for where you are, what you have, and for being alive.  It’s not always as bad as it seems in your mind.

These are some real easy to follow tips that can make a difference on your holiday season.

Everyone have a Merry Christmas!

Dr. K Bennett


Beat the Cold and Flu By Doing These Things

Every fall and winter we brace for flu and cold season.   Not only do we have to endure shorter days, colder weather, and barren vegetation, but we have to be on the alert for these illnesses that can sideline us for days or weeks at a time.  The good news is there are some things you can do to help prevent these sicknesses from getting you down.  Here are some natural things you can do to protect yourself.

  1. Probably the most important thing is to WASH your hands.  Not just after you go to the bathroom but a several times throughout the day.  Germs are mostly spread by others with dirty hands.  These germs can live for several hours on your hands.  If you aren’t able to use soap and water try using some hand sanitizer.  While sanitizer isn’t quite as effective as soap and hot water, it’s better than nothing.
  2. Cut out smoking and heavy drinking.  This is good advice in general, not just for trying to avoid colds or flu.  There are several reasons behind this.  Smoking dries out your nasal passages and lungs.  There are little hairs in there that help keep these viruses out.  With heavy drinking, this suppresses your immune system….so don’t do it J
  3. Do aerobic exercise!  Exercising helps promote virus killing cells in your body.  So get out and run or jump on the tread mill during your favorite t.v. show.  Twenty to thirty minutes is enough to get the heart pumping and sweat rolling.
  4. If you have to cough or sneeze, do it on your sleeve on the inside of your elbow.  Sneezing or coughing in your hands will spread germs everywhere you touch.
  5. Along with #4, keep your hands away from your face.  The way that colds and flu enter your body is through your mouth, nose and eyes.   Think of this area as sacred territory not to be touched.
  6. Get plenty of sleep.  A solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night will help to keep your immune system ready to fight virus intruders.
  7. Eat healthy.  There are a ton of vitamins and nutrients in REAL food.  By real food I mean fruits and vegetables.  Vitamin pills aren’t quite the same.  You need the real deal.  Go to your local grocery store and stock up on healthy fruits and veggies.

Now that you’ve read this blog with fine detail and have strictly followed everything I’ve said, you may still end up with the cold or flu.  Sorry, that’s the world we live in.  However the good news is that if you do all these things you have a better chance of not getting the cold or flu than you did if you didn’t do these things.

Here’s to your health!

Dr. K Bennett


Sunshine Medical Clinic is a family friendly medical practice in Madison, TN that helps individuals and families feel better and get back on their feet.

Look Out for the SALT!

If you’ve been alive in the past 30 years you’ve probably heard it time and time again from health experts and doctors alike “cut your sodium intake!”.  Salt, the evil additive that makes things taste so good.  While most of us think that cutting salt means leaving the salt shaker in the pantry, you might be surprised that the high levels of sodium in our diet is not due to the salt shaker.  It has more to do with the salt that is already in the food we eat.

Here is a list of the “6 High Salty Foods” to avoid if possible.

  1. Bread and Rolls – WHAT!?  Yes, bread and rolls contain up to 230 milligrams of sodium.  The recommended limit of sodium per day is 1,500 milligrams.  Unfortunately most of us intake as much as 3,400 milligrams per day.  So you can see how quickly a few rolls or pieces of bread per day can hit your limit pretty fast.
  2. Cold cuts or cured meats – This one should come as no surprise.  Pre-packaged turkey can have as much as 1,050 mg of sodium.
  3. Pizza – Oh, how we love our pizza.  But did you know 1 slice can have as much as 760 mg of sodium.  Two pieces and you are done for the day when it comes to appropriate sodium levels.
  4. Poultry – Raw chicken has an added salt solution to help preserve it.  Three ounces of frozen chicken nuggets has about 600 mg of salt.  Ouch!
  5. Soup – Again, here’s a tricky one.  We think of soup as a healthy meal.  One bowl of chicken noodle soup has about 940 mg of sodium.  That’s almost a full day’s worth of sodium in one bowl.  Look out eating too much soup in the winter.
  6. Sandwiches – If you read #1 and #2 on this list then this is a no brainer.  Add the two together and you’ll get a sodium busting meal.   One sandwiched and you are doomed for the day.

So what can you do about it?

Keep in mind that a high sodium diet can lead to many health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

When grocery shopping keep these foods in mind.  Instead of eating a whole sandwich, replace it with half and eat a salad or snack on some veggies.  Moderation is key.  While it’s difficult to ask someone to cut out all these foods, try to not eat them as often.   Look at the labels on the food when you shop and keep the recommended daily amount in mind.

Here’s to Your Health

Dr. K Bennett


Sunshine Medical Walk in Clinic, LLC is a family friendly doctor’s office in Madison, TN that offers high quality health care at affordable prices.  While most people have insurance we realize that some do not.  We keep everyone in mind when we open our doors each day.  If you don’t have insurance give us a call and see how we can help.  We accept most major insurance as well as TennCare.