Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food Allergies 101- The Juries Still Out

I get asked all the time, "Why are food allergies more common these days?"

But is that really true, or are we just more aware of food allergies? It's an interesting question that was tackeled by Branum and Lukacs in this months issue of Pediatrics.

They looked at the databases from the national Center for Health Statistics for the incidence of food allergies and eczema. They found increases in food allergy and eczema in children from 1997-2007.

In which population were food allergies most prevalent? Non-Hisapnic White and Black and Hispanic Children had the highest prevalences.

While the number of outpatient visits for food allergy evaluation almost tripled during this period, we still don't know if we are diagnosing more food allergies or if the incidence is actually increasing.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

Great you're well on your way to dare I say, a person who exercises regularly!

You're at the 2 week mark and things must be getting easier. I'm sure you've noticed an increase in your endurance, improvement in breathing, energy level and mood. Better yet, are you noticing muscles and a new shape to your body.

Practicing exercise just like everything else makes it perfect.

Don't forget, keep site on those goals you set out 2 weeks ago. Is it time to set new ones? I say go for it! Reward yourself for sticking to your plan.

Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's your Goal?

Congrats on comitting to yourself to exercise! That is the first step on a life long journey to living a healthier lifestyle. Now that you've said you will do it, how do you figure out what's a safe amount?

Are you a total couch potato that thinks exercise is walking to a from the bathroom during commericials? Or a regular gym goer that wants to add a little umph to their routine to lose those last few pounds?

Really be honest with yourself about where you are and where you want to be in 2 weeks time (yes, you will notice improvement in as little as 2 weeks!). If you are really out of shape, talk to your doctor to determine a specific safe plan for you.

Set a realisitic goal. Write it down.

*If you're totally out of shape, start with 2 minutes of walking in place in the privacy of your own home. Every other day, add 2 minutes onto this.

* Totally buff and tough, committ to taking a new class at the gym or working out with a friend you know will push you. Try a new activity to startle your muscles.

Stick with this for the next 2 weeks and you'll notice your new activity feels pretty comfortable & possibly you're pants are a little looser.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Exercise and the Immune System- An Added Benefit

Immune what? This is a typical question that people ask me after I tell them what I do for a living. Your immune system is how your body fights off infections (bacterial, viral or fungal) on a regular basis.

As New Yorkers, we are bombarded daily with germs from the subway, door handles, the gym. An interesting question is how is the immune system affected by exercise? Does the intensity of exercise matter on the effect on your immune system?

On average, most of us experience about 2-3 colds per year. How does exercise affect this?

There is very good evidence that regularly exercising boosts your immune system and keeps you less susceptible to infections. Researchers at Appalachian State showed that those who walked regularly at a quick pace had 50% less colds than those who didn't exercise regularly.

Interesting, very intense exercise (like in those training for a marathon) for prolonged periods of time actually causes pertubations in the immune system making it weak. The body to produce naturally steroids and adrenalin & these hormones act to weaken the immune system for up to 72 hours after the event, making you more susceptible to infection. Not willing to give up your training program, there is some evidence that eating probiotics and food before and during the workout helps maintain the strength of your immune system

What about if you have a cold? Should you continue your exercise program or wait till you're 100% better?
Light to moderate exercise when you have a cold actually stimulates your immune system while intense bouts of exercise weakens it and may prolounge your infection.

Bottom line- regular exercise helps keep you healthy!

Have you set your date yet?

Did you know?

20 minutes after quitting smoking your heart rate drops.

12 hours after quitting smoking the carbon monoxide level (a toxin) in your blood drops to normal.

After quitting smoking for 2 days, you can smell and taste better!

It's pretty rewarding to know that you'll reap the benefits of a positive decision in your life so quickly.

Please write in and let me know how it's going and what you are doing to stay on track.

Want help quitting smoking in NYC?

Here is a direct link to all areas of Manhattan where you can receive direct help with quitting smoking.


It's a Nasty Bug

So many New Yorkers are plagued right now with an awful cold- it starts in your sinuses, and then travels to your voice making you hoarse, and consume more tissues than should be humanly possible. Everyone seems to be coughing, blowing there nose and hoarse.

It's a good time to talk about how to know when you have a viral versus bacterial infection and whether antibiotics will work our not.

Viral Infections
*Viral infections are often feel worse than bacterial infections because they antibiotics DON'T have any effect on them.
* Simply put, we really have no good treatment for them other than rest & symptom relief.
* They can last anywhere for 10 -14 days with lingering effects for almost 3 weeks.
*May or may not be associated with a low grade fever. (99<100 F)

Bacterial Infections
* Respond very quickly (within 24-48 hours) to antibiotics.
* Typically are associated with a high grade fever (>101 F)
* Symptom relief medications help.

If you have any cold that lasts longer than 5 days you should see your doctor.

Best of luck staying warm and well in this cold weather!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Keep Those Knees Up!

Congratulations! You've decided to start an exercise program. Scared? Any time you decide to change your behaviour it's a brave move. It takes confidence to look at yourself and say, "I'm willing to change!" It's also incredibly empowering to know you can change.

What can you do to insure you'll succeed?

1) Set a goal, set a time.
Create mini weekly, monthly, and a yearly goals for yourself. Have a birthday or dinner party coming up? If not, schedule one to work towards that you'll look great for and work towards it.

2) Be kind to yourself.
* Totally out shape? Start with 2 minutes of walking in place. Each other day increase this by 2 minutes. Repeat several times a day. When you're up to 16 minutes, take your routine outside. Don't be embarassed by how little or much you can do. This is only for you!

3) Have fun!
* Change your attitude towards exercise- it should be play time for your mind and body. Find something, anything active you enjoy and puts a smile on your face. Take a new aerobics class, work out with a friend, try rock climbing, dance classes anything you think will be fun.

4) Vary your routine.
* Whether you are a triaathelete or total couch potato, give your body some variety. However great of shape you think you're in, you'll be surprised to discover how quickly a new routine will give you sore muscles. For example, my family contains many avid runners and swimmers, and no one of my family could walk after last year's families football game!

5) Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI).
* BMI?? What's this? This can tell you what a healthy weight is for yourself. http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

If you're out of the range for a healthy weight, work slowly towards fitting into that range (> 25).
If you're in your range (BMI 18-25), work towards staying in the range.

Commit to weighing yourself weekly, naked first thing in the morning. It's much easier to lose 1-2 lbs than it is to 10 lbs!

6) Build Exercise into Your Daily Routine.
* I'm so proud of my Mom, a self described loather of exercise, she committed to building walking into her daily routine. When she goes to the grocery store, she parks as far as she can from the entrance. You can do this to in the city. Get off the subway or bus one stop earlier. Take the stairs. Walk to work. Take a walk around the block at lunch. Get a coffee at the deli 2 blocks away, rather than across the street.

A weight loss of as little as 5 lbs has benefits for asthma symtpoms, blood pressure, arthritis, and mood!

Good luck and I'll be writing again soon with more tips and encouragement!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Here we go...Quit Smoking 101

Okay, you've committed to quit smoking, or at least trying to quit smoking, and that is the first step.

Below are some tips to help you succeed.

1) Set a quit date.
* It doesn't have to be today, just set a date. Tell people when you are going to quit so they can help support you.

2) Ask for help.
* Talk to your doctor, friends, family, co workers. Tell them you are quitting smoking and ask them to help you. Call 311- there are lots of free resources for individuals trying to quit smoking.

3) Clean up before you quit.
* Wash all your clothes and throw away all your lighters & ash trays so you won't have triggers to remind you to smoke. Not having a light easily accessible may give you a few minutes to get through the urge.

4) Start a breathing program.
* Pay attention to how you breathe. Breathe deeply for 1-3 minutes daily. Pay attention to how your lungs are working. It may sound silly, but this will make you more intune with how your lung function is improving as you go forward.

5) Replace one habit with another.
* Many people tell me they don't won't to quit smoking because they are scared they'll gain weight. Don't replace smoking with eating! Don't replace smoking with eating! Chose another habit that you can easily incorporate into your day- like exercise, drinking a glass of water, calling a friend etc... Most importantly, make it a healthy habit and something you want to do.

Good luck!