Staying healthy is one of the most personal aspects of human life. You are solely responsible for the care, upkeep, and maintenance of your body. Your doctor is here to help and advise you, but the long journey to health starts and ends with you. Although regular checkups and working in partnership with your physician is key, you are the one who is with you on a daily basis, making choices, establishing patterns.
Each day, we decide how healthy we want to be with our actions, and sometimes our inactions. When we eat food, we are making a choice. When we exercise, we are making a choice. When we take vitamins or supplements, we are making a choice.
There are many aspects of being healthy, and there are many choices we can make that will ultimately decide how healthy we are. Over the last few years, I have published a wealth of information on many different aspects of health. This month, I am putting together a guide, taking the essential information you need in different areas of wellness in order to help you make the best and healthiest decisions for yourself and your family. Below, there are sections about general aspects of health, and specific tips from some of my past posts for each.
Food & Nutrition
Although we don’t often think of food as medicine, it is certainly the single largest intake to the body and the thing that has the largest impact on our health in the short and long term. This gives credence to the saying “You are what you eat.” Having some general protocols around it can make a huge difference in your life, and improve all aspects of health.
The dietary style I advocate is low Glycemic Index food choices. You may have heard of the Glycemic Index before, as the results it can produce are as profound as the dietary method itself. This nutrition method has worked wonders for the patients in my weight loss program and for countless other people across the globe.
The Glycemic Index ranks different types of food based on the way your body breaks them down, and eventually turns them into glucose to give you energy. The index uses pure glucose as a reference point, assigning it a value of 100. The lower the Glycemic Index value is for a food, the more effective it will be for health and weight loss.
Click here to read about Healthy Food Choices and the Glycemix Index
Vitamins & Supplements
Beyond just watching your glycemic intake, it is important to make sure you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive. The human body can best absorb nutrients through food, so vitamins and supplements should be used to “bridge the gap” when your normal diet doesn’t supply all of the vitamins and nutrients that you need. It always helps to know what you are taking, so read the labels on any product you take to learn as much as you can. Doing your research, reading your labels, and working with your doctor to develop a supplement plan is the best way to make sure you get the most out of your supplements.
Click here to read more about vitamins and supplements
Getting the Right Amount of Vitamin D
One of the most important vitamins is Vitamin D. For starters, there are a few healthy foods that contain vitamin D. Foods like fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified milk all contain vitamin D that your body can use. Getting your nutrients from healthy food is the best way to get what your body needs.
Getting some sunshine is also very important to your body. Exposure to ultra-violet light found in sunshine triggers vitamin D production within your body. Getting outside and letting your skin absorb some sunlight will help this process. As always, make sure to practice sun safety, so as to not sunburn or damage your skin. Read my earlier post on protecting your skin from the sun. You don’t need to lay down and tan to get vitamin D. Just being outside and exposed to the sun in small doses is enough to help your body. I don’t recommend using tanning booths or any other kinds of artificial tanning, as they bear an increased risk of skin cancer.
Click here to read more about Vitamin D
Healthy Holiday Eating
The most important thing you can do to stay healthy during the holidays is to remember what you are trying to accomplish. By planning your meals, avoiding heavy beverages, and making healthy dishes, you can mitigate holiday weight gain. Keep up with exercise, the resulting speedy metabolism will help your body process the holiday spread without adding excess fat. And finally, remember that you are trying to be satisfied with your holiday meal, not stuffed. You’ll feel better in the days and weeks after the holidays if you are careful to stay healthy.
Click here to learn more about healthy holiday eating
Those who suffer from typical pimples and blackheads can benefit from several over the counter acne products. I recommend a gentle face wash and spot treatment cream.
- Gentle cleansing with warm water and a mild soap, such as Dove or Cetaphil.
- Applying benzoyl peroxide (such as Brevoxyl or Triaz).
- Applying salicylic acid (such as Propa pH or Stridex).
Click here to read more about acne treatment
You have probably heard of these popular injections that can smoothen skin and improve your appearance. Over the past twelve years, Botox injections have been used to treat wrinkles and skin damages over in over 5 million procedures. Botox is the most common aesthetic medicine procedure and for good reason: it’s low impact, and it works! Botox injections work by weakening or paralyzing certain muscles or by blocking certain nerves. The effects last about three to twelve months, depending on what you are treating.
Sometimes just clearing off that top layer of skin and starting fresh can make your face feel amazing and clean. Medical peels help you do just that. A chemical solution is applied to the skin, and as the solution dries, the chemical “blisters” and eventually peels off. When it does, your skin is left feeling silky and smooth.
Click here to read more about Botox and Medical Peels
Microdermabrasion is a technique that your doctor can use to treat your skin, and it works similar to exfoliation, but with much more profound results. No chemicals or anesthesia are used in the procedure, which is known for being simple and pain-free. It’s appropriate for most skin types because it is non-invasive, and can effectively reduce or eliminate wrinkles, acne, age spots, stretch marks, and more.
Click here to learn more about Microdermabrasion
Taking Care of Yourself
Taking good care of yourself involves so much more than just eating healthy. Every day brings new stresses, worries, and challenges to our mental and physical health. It is important to take a holistic perspective, and understand how the hustle and bustle of our day to day lives can affect our bodies. If we are diligent, and on top our of our personal and health priorities, we can minimize stress and maximize our enjoyment out of life.
Deep rest during the night helps you fight stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keeps your energy levels high. Your body uses the time you are asleep to regenerate damaged tissue and streamline mental processes. Better cognitive reasoning, immunity to sickness, weight control, and memory are all linked to restful sleep.
Doctors recommend between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Your deepest and most beneficial sleep occurs between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. After 2am, your sleep becomes more superficial. This has to do with your internal sleep regulator – the pineal gland, which regulates sleep patterns based on changes of light. Thus it’s an excellent idea to get to bed before midnight each night, and studies suggest that the later you go to bed past 10:00 pm, the longer it takes to get to sleep.
Click here to read more about getting the right amount of sleep
Managing our stress levels is key to keeping our bodies healthy, from our minds to our veins. Meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Contrary to the way that you may think about it, meditation is not just an action, it is more so a state of mind. There are many different methods and techniques of meditating, but they all aim at helping you achieve a specific, more relaxed, state of mind. In our everyday life, we focus on the external world around us. In meditation, we turn our attention inward, and experience what it feels like simply to be a living, breathing, human being. We objectively observe the sensations in our body and mind, rather than reacting emotionally to any specific feeling. Putting ourselves in this state of mind allows the body to relax, restoring health and reducing stress.
One of the most common reasons that people are resistant to meditation is that they find they cannot easily quiet their mind. Meditation is not something you should need to force, simply allowing yourself to relax, breathe, and observe your own thoughts and feelings is enough to have positive mental and physical effects.
Click here to read more about Mediation for Stress
One of the most important things you can do to reduce stress any time of year is to take care of your body. This includes eating right, despite that delicious but deadly holiday spread, and getting exercise.
When those stressful feelings start to wash over you, try not to fight them. Avoid overeating and heavy drinking, and accept how you’re feeling, take a deep breath, and let those stressful feelings go. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
Financial strain can be a source of stress for adults during the holidays. Developing a budget for the season and sticking to it is one excellent way to prevent unnecessary stress.
Click here to read more about Handling Holiday Stress
Using Alcohol Safely
Alcohol use effects the lives of each of us, in varying ways. The most important thing to remember in order to drink safely is to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had, how quickly, how strong they are. By doing this, you can make a conscious choice about how much alcohol you consume.
Doctors recommend drinking no more than four alcoholic beverages in one sitting. It is also important to make sure you have eaten so your body will more slowly absorb the alcohol. Drink slowly, and alternate with non-alcoholic beverages. Never drink and drive! Get a ride, or call a cab. It’s just not worth it. Each person’s limit for alcohol is different. Be aware of yours, and don’t push far beyond it in order to drink safely and reduce serious health risks.
Click here to read more about Using Alcohol Safely
Social Media and Mental Health
Psychology has shown that people not only thrive on social interaction, but depend on it for mental health and stability. While social media may seem to help connect, it can also help us feel more isolated and alone. If one focuses on the lives of others as presented on sites like Facebook, they can feel inadequate and anxious in a constant digital effort of “keeping up with the Jones’s.” Furthermore, cyberbullying and other forms of online nastiness, have exposed people to the negativity of others. Medical News Today, and other sources, have recently published studies showing some negative mental health effects of social media.
Click here to read more about Social Media and its effects on health
Family Medical History
Gathering information about your family medical history will help make sure you get the right treatment you need. When you meet with your doctor, the doctor’s job is to collect as much relevant information about you as possible, so they can make an informed decision as to how to best provide for your health. It may not be fun to answer question after question, or fill out those long information sheets in the waiting room, but collecting this kind of information is absolutely vital to making sure you receive optimal care.
Click here to read more about the importance of family medical history
Stay Fit With Technology
Over the past few years, the inception of the smartphone has changed the way people think about fitness. Medical professionals advise that keeping track of your fitness progress is key to achieving health goals. Dieticians and physical trainers alike recommend that patients monitor what they eat and how they exercise to stay healthy. Now that smartphones and smartphone apps have taken off in popularity, many people use their devices to help track fitness goals. The best apps include Fitness Buddy, Nike+, Moves, Lose It!, Daily Burn, FitBit.
Click here to read more about the Best Fitness Apps
Let’s face it: getting older is tough. It requires us to break old habits, and form new ones that suit our stage in life. We might not be able to exercise the way we used to, or our skin might start to show its wear and tear. However, taking proactive steps to make sure you maintain the aspects of your health that wane with age will keep you happier and better suited to the road ahead.
Exercise at Any Age
Many Americans live a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting in the car, sitting at work, and laying on the couch for hours each day has an adverse impact on our body’s ability to stay fit. Furthermore, this sedentary way of living actually exacerbates the negative effects of aging. This quote from the New York Times’ new article of the benefits of exercise on aging sums it up well:
Physical inactivity,” they wrote, “is one of the strongest predictors of unsuccessful aging for older adults and is perhaps the root cause of many unnecessary and premature admissions to long-term care.”
You may have to replace more difficult workouts with more relaxing substitutes. I recommend just talking daily walks to get your heart rate up and moving. Stretching and yoga are also excellent ways to keep your body limber. Choose a form of exercise that allows you to release mental stress without adding any to your body. Push your body, but don’t cause unnecessary damage through stress.
Click here to read more about Exercising at Any Age
Screening For Serious Illness
As we get older, our likelihood of facing certain types of diseases increases. However, regular screening and testing with your doctor can help you indentify these threats early on, and prevent serious problems down the road.
For example, Breast Cancer is one of the most common killers in the United States. However, regular screening and testing can significantly reduce the risk of getting late stage cancer and can start treatment quickly.
Click here to learn more about Screening and Breast Cancer
Maintaining Healthy Hormone Levels
Both men and women experience a loss of hormones as they grow older. This is a common fact of life. As the body ages, fewer hormones are produced which can have a profound and negative effect on the body
Hormone replacement therapy has long been used to treat hormone imbalances. However, a novel approach to this procedure, known as Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, is what I recommend to my patients. Hormone levels in the body may be altered by a variety of methods, such as creams, skin patches, injections, and oral administration. Each patient works with their doctor to figure out the optimal method of delivery and dosage for that individual.
Click here to read more about hormone replacement therapy
Osteoporosis is a growing cause of concern for both older men and women. While you may have heard of the disease, not everyone knows just what osteoporosis is, or what to do about it. Osteoporosis causes one’s bones to become fragile and brittle, making it easier to suffer broken bones.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommends screening for Osteoporosis in women aged 65 years or older. Your doctor can give you an Osteoporosis screening with a bone mineral density scan, or take an x-ray to determine the extent of Osteoporosis damage.
Those diagnosed with Osteoporosis can benefit from regular diet and exercise and taking calcium and vitamin D. Osteoporosis treatment may include the prescription of certain medicines like bisphosphonates and estrogens.
While Osteoporosis usually affects people later in life, taking the right actions now can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease. Regular exercise, adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, and avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol in excess can all help you prevent Osteoporosis.
Click here to read more about osteoperosis
Dealing With Varicose Veins
If you are getting older, you may have noticed varicose veins developing on your legs or elsewhere on your body. If you are a younger person, you may remember seeing these red or purple visible and raised veins on older friends and relatives in your past. Prevention is the key while you are young, and reducing damaging pressure on your legs helps manage the problem. These types of visible veins are extremely common, as about 27% of American adults experience venous problems in their legs. Fortunately, there are many good varicose vein treatments. Consulting with your doctor can help you determine which treatment would be best for you.
Click here to read more about varicose veins
How I Can Help: A Doctor’s Perspective
Hopefully, through reading this guide, you understand that your health is your responsibility, and one that you should take very seriously.
As a doctor, it is my job to help people through treatment, education, and prevention. Your doctor can help you as well. By regularly consulting with your doctor, getting routinely screened for potential harm, and taking the doctor’s advice to heart, you can best put yourself in the position to live a healthy life.
Some doctors can provide specific help, for example, I specialize in aesthetic medicine. I take great joy in helping my patients enjoy a high quality of life because they took the steps to keep their skin looking happy and healthy.
Click here to read more about my aesthetic medicine services
Make sure to find a doctor with the right experience and personality to best suit your health needs. With the right partner, you can bear the responsibility of your health, and enjoy all of the rewards that good health can bring.
Dr. Rogena Johnson