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Monday, December 7, 2020

Post-COVID Stress Disorder

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly 1.5 million deaths worldwide as of late November 2020. It’s also been the source of considerable suffering as people struggle with economic devastation, food insecurity, unemployment, workplace safety concerns, the loss of loved ones, and social isolation. 

Even after individuals infected with coronavirus recover, the psychological toll can last long-term and symptoms can be similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People affected by post-COVID stress disorder may experience nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, detachment from family and friends, and overwhelming feelings of anger, fear, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression.

Scientists and doctors are still learning about the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-related stress disorders. Researchers in North America have developed COVID Stress Scales to help identify people in need of mental health services as a result of the pandemic. So far, healing has focused on interventions that have proven helpful for individuals affected by PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Here are five ways to address post-COVID stress disorder, improve mental health, and adopt coping strategies amidst the ongoing global pandemic.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

4 Reasons to Go Grain-Free

Grain-free is the new gluten-free when it comes to diet trends. Gluten, a group of proteins found in wheat and certain other grains like barley and rye, can trigger allergic and autoimmune reactions in some individuals. But gluten may not be the only problem and the avoidance of grains all together may be a better solution for some people.

Grains are staple components of diets around the world, but they aren’t actually required for human health. Grains are composed primarily of carbohydrates with small amounts of fiber, fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals. We can get these nutrients from other plant foods—like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds—which are even better sources of fiber, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Eliminating grains from the diet can certainly have health benefits. Because gluten is only found in grains, grain-free diets are automatically gluten-free and can improve symptoms of illnesses caused by immune-mediated responses to gluten like celiac disease. Grain-free diets may also improve conditions unrelated to gluten and celiac disease. So far studies have shown potential benefits for maximizing athletic performance and treating patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, obesity, schizophrenia, and atopic illnesses like hayfever, asthma, and eczema.1

Grain-free diets can feel very restrictive and for most people they can be difficult to maintain long term. Eliminating grains from the diet often requires spending more time and money on food preparation and for some people it can limit social activities. A study that followed 260 people eating a grain-free diet found that most participants reported only minimal interference in daily function, relationships, and lifestyle, but eleven percent reported “high levels of interference with social leisure activities.”

Several grain-free diets already exist including paleo, ketogenic, carnivore, and Whole30. These plans eliminate other things as well and vary in the foods they allow. If you’re considering grain-free diet, you can follow a specific plan like one of these or you can simply stop eating grains. Here are four reasons to go grain-free.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Stress Management: 6 Strategies Just For Kids

Students, teachers, and parents have had an unprecedented start to the new school year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Everyone is facing new challenges and new sources of stress. Some kids are struggling with distance learning and separation from friends while others are adjusting to social distancing inside schools, wearing masks all day long, and undergoing daily temperature checks by strangers wearing head-to-toe personal protective equipment. Stress affects us emotionally as well as physically and in children it can manifest as stomach pain, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, changes in mood or behavior, and problems with focus and concentration. Stress management is regularly recommended for adults but it’s equally important for kids. Here are six strategies just for them.

Friday, October 2, 2020

5 Ways to Lose the “Quarantine Fifteen”

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change our lives completely. We’ve been staying home. We’ve been struggling with fear, anxiety, depression, and isolation. We’ve been spending more time in front of screens and less time outside. We’ve been eating more comfort food and exercising less. It’s a perfect recipe for weight gain. 

Given the circumstances, the “quarantine fifteen” may be an understandable outcome, but it’s still dangerous from a health perspective. Excess weight increases our risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic diseases including osteoarthritis, liver and kidney disease, sleep apnea, and depression. And a recent study found that, before the age of sixty, obese individuals have twice the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization as non-obese people (measured by a body mass index below 30).

Successful and sustainable weight loss requires addressing all of the underlying factors that caused weight gain in the first place. Diet and exercise are important, but so are stress, sleep, and even the way we use electronics. Medical conditions and medication side effects can also contribute to weight gain, and you’ll need your doctor’s help to know for sure. But there are things we can all do right now. Here are five ways to address the root causes of weight gain and reverse the quarantine fifteen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

8 Things This Doctor is Doing to Keep Her Family Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2, also known as SARS-CoV-2 and 2019-nCoV, is a new strain of coronavirus that was identified in humans last December. The disease associated with the virus, Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19, has become a global pandemic. It’s the first pandemic ever caused by a coronavirus and so far it’s spread to 182 countries and territories around the world and killed more than 11,000 people, although these statistics are changing every day.

Currently there are no medicines that can prevent or treat COVID-19 but there are measures we can take to reduce our risk of infection. Physical distancing and hand-washing are essential, but we can do more. Here are eight other things my family is doing to stay healthy during the COVIS-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

5 Myths About CBD

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been marketed as a natural cure for conditions ranging from anxiety and insomnia to epilepsy and chronic pain. At a time when 90 percent of people in the United States believe that the cannabis plant has medical benefits, CBD product sales are surging. Market researchers predict that U.S sales will go from 1.9 billion dollars in 2018 to 20 billion dollars by 2024.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Holiday Survival Guide

The holiday season can be a busy and stressful time. Some of the stress is good for us—like spending time with family and friends—but much of it is unpleasant and unavoidable—like jet lag and unexpected travel delays. We can’t avoid holiday stress completely but we can minimize its effects by maintaining healthy habits all year long. After all, what we do on a regular basis has a greater impact on our overall wellbeing than what we do once in awhile. Follow these five guidelines to make this your healthiest holiday season yet.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Natural Remedies for Bug Bites

Nature is good for us! Studies show that forest environments promote lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol, lower blood pressure, and better balance in the nervous system. Spending time outside can improve markers of immune function, boost levels of vitamin D, and expose us to fresh air. It also exposes us to a lot of bugs, and some are friendlier than others. Don’t let bug bites stop you from enjoying the great outdoors. Read on to learn how to prevent bug bites, how to treat them naturally, and when to see your doctor.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Collagen Craze

Is collagen really the new fountain of youth? It may not be far off, considering that collagen is the primary structural protein in the body and as we age—starting in our mid-20s—the body’s natural production of collagen begins to decline. Supplementing collagen in capsule or powder form is one way to increase collagen stores in the body and studies continue to show benefits across the board, from wrinkles and cellulite to arthritis, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Collagen is actually an ancient remedy and you can make it yourself at home. There are even options for vegans who want to maintain healthy collagen stores without any animal products. And everyone can adopt healthy lifestyle habits that help prevent collagen loss. Read on for my top six tips.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring Detox Diet

Spring is a season of renewal. Over the winter, as our bodies have stored energy, they’ve also stored environmental toxins. Now is the time to eliminate them. True detoxification involves several enzymes, hormones, and organs, including the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, skin, lungs, adipose tissue, and lymphatic system. Comprehensive detox programs like the one I wrote about in my book, The Prediabetes Detox, and the ones I put together for my patients, can be a big commitment. They usually involve diet changes, supplements, exercise, hydrotherapy, saunas, relaxation, and extra sleep. Not everyone can do all of this. But we all can do some of this, and diet is a great place to start. Here are my top five diet changes for a fresh start this spring.