Archive for May 2011

How to avoid weight gain when you quit smoking

One of the most common reasons I hear from patients regarding why they don’t want to quit smoking is a fear of gaining weight.  Since cigarette smoking is the #1 most avoidable cause of death in our society, quitting is crucial for your well-being.  Let’s examine what to do about the weight gain.  It is true that smokers who quit gain on average 5-8 lbs over the first year that they are no longer smoking.  Part of that is because some smokers replace a smoking addiction with a food addiction when they feel those cravings hit.  But, that’s not the only reason it happens.  Nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes.  It binds to nicotinic receptors in the brain and elsewhere in the body in just 11 seconds after you light up.  Nicotine is mostly a stimulant.  It increases your heart rate, cardiac output, blood pressure, and thus increases your overall metabolic rate (or how many calories your body burns).  The net effect of this is that on average a smoker’s body burns about an extra 200 calories a day.   So, when you stop smoking, you will stop burning through these 200 calories a day. ( Don’t forget- you’ll be healthier without artificially increasing your heart rate and blood pressure to burn those 200 calories.  That’s what makes heart attacks and strokes so common in smokers. )

When you quit, you need to have a plan in place for how to eliminate 200 calories a day from your diet or to get some extra activity to make up the difference.  There are 240 calories in one 20 ounce coke so eliminating just that 1 drink a day would do it.  The key is, have a plan for those 200 calories.

Call 1-800-QUITNOW for more help on how to quit smoking.

Antibiotics are not always what you need

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are becoming a bigger and bigger problem worldwide. Most of you have heard about MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) but may not realize the many other bacteria that are accumulating resistance to our routinely used antibiotics.  This is a serious problem!  These resistant bacteria kill nearly 100,000 US hospital patients every year.  While that is bad enough, the problem is likely to worsen unless we get a handle on the overuse of antibiotics in our country and start developing new antibiotics.  16 new antibiotics were approved for use between 1983 and 1987 meaning resistance wasn’t that big of a deal because we had newer meaner antibiotics to fight off the bacteria.  But guess what, only 2 new antibiotics have been approved since 2008.  We’re running low on options for treatment and need to maintain the efficacy of the antibiotics we have now.  Imagine going to the doctor for a relatively common infection and being told it can’t be treated because none of the antibiotics we have work against it. It will be like going back to the pre-antibiotic era.

So, as a patient, what can you do to help?  Don’t pressure your doctor to prescribe you antibiotics if he feels your illness does not warrant them.  Viral illnesses are often the culprit for making our patients feel terrible but unfortunately antibiotics just won’t help. We can help you treat the symptoms but your body has to do the work to fight off the illness, not a pill.  We all have bacteria that live on our bodies all the time. When you take antibiotics when you really don’t need them, it’s like giving your opponent all the plays in your book to prepare for the game.  The bacteria use those antibiotics to figure out ways to fight against them the next time you’re sick.

Second, when you are prescribed antibiotics – take them all no matter how good you feel by the 3rd day of treatment!  If you don’t, what you’ve done is killed off just enough bacteria to weaken the attack on your body but left behind all the super-bacteria that were strong enough to survive the first few days of treatment.  They’ll be back to make you sick again.

For more information click here.

Using yoga for a healthy heart

Practicing yoga has already been shown to have a positive effect on the overall health of  patients with a variety of illnesses including anxiety, depression, cancer and heart failure.  Now, a new study by Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy that was presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology shows yoga can reduce episodes of irregular heart beats in patients with atrial fibrillation.  Dr. Lakkireddy was prompted to study this when he witnessed the improvement in a patient who practiced yoga regularly.   Patients in the study participated in a yoga program (which included breathing exercises, yoga postures, meditation and relaxation) three times a week and decreased their irregular heart beat episodes from 2.6 to 1.4. More importantly, they reported an improved quality of life, decreased anxiety and depression.

Here’s another example of how clearing your mind of stress can lead to a healthier body.  It’s amazing to me how our physical body is so directly impacted by our mental health.   Yoga is just one way to work on improving your mental health.  Find what works for you and stick with it…your body will appreciate it!