Your Health, Your Choice | September

Avoid metabolic syndrome with good nutrition

About 40 percent of adults over 40 are thought to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of three or more of the following risk factors: high triglycerides, a waistline circumference of more than 35 inches for women and 40 for men (regardless of body-mass index), low HDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure. The good news is that while metabolic syndrome may be hard to recognize, the prescription for counteracting it is loud and clear.

  1. Eat real food. Vegetables, legumes, fish, fruit, olive oil, intact grains, nuts, herbs and spices are the foods that nourish us and support metabolic and overall health. Highly processed foods, refined flour and sugar, and manufactured oils never have and never will.
  2. Both cardiovascular and resistance exercise can help prevent and reverse metabolic syndrome. Make exercise a game, make it a goal, make it a date, whatever it takes. Getting 150 minutes of moderately intense activity a week is ideal, but don’t fall into the all-or-nothing trap. If you can’t make your Zumba class or don’t have time for your 30-minute walk, take a few brisk loops around the block or do a few minutes of jumping jacks and push-ups. Something is always better than nothing.
  3. Lose weight if you need to. If you’re overweight, losing as little as five percent of your body weight can lower your heart disease risk by 20 percent.
  4. Relax. For a lot of people, stress reduction should be step number one for the simple reason that it makes other beneficial habits much more likely. When you’re in a state of chronic stress, it’s easy to let healthy habits fall by the wayside. Chronic stress can also increase inflammation, which can fuel metabolic syndrome. A regular practice of meditation, yoga, tai chi is a fantastic way to work stress relief into your routine. When in doubt, just breathe: spending five minutes doing slow, deep breathing can trigger the body’s relaxation response.

Understanding anxiety disorders

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms.

  • Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling the worry
  • Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

Panic Disorder People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; sweating; trembling or shaking; sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking; and feeling of impending doom.

  • Sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear
  • Feelings of being out of control during a panic attack
  • Intense worries about when the next attack will happen
  • Fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past

Social Anxiety Disorder People with social anxiety disorder (sometimes called “social phobia”) have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others.

  • Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
  • Feeling self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
  • Being afraid that other people will judge them
  • Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
  • Staying away from places where there are other people
  • Having a hard time making and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
  • Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around

Evaluation for an anxiety disorder often begins with a visit to a primary care provider. Some physical health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid or low blood sugar, as well as taking certain medications, can imitate or worsen an anxiety disorder. A thorough mental health evaluation is also helpful, because anxiety disorders often co-exist with other related conditions, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.

Save the bed for sleep

Avoid watching TV, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed. The bed should be used for sleep and intimacy only. If not, you can end up associating the bed with distracting activities that could make it difficult for you to fall asleep.

Snap, Crack, Pop

Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering from joint pain? This aching can range from an annoyance to excruciating pain and often dictates how we move through the day. Joint pain has a way of robbing us of life’s pleasures—you may avoid that walk with the dog, gardening, playing your favorite sport, or enjoying our njansék. However, we have an effective prescription for most of your joint pain. Regular movement.

It has been proven that regular movement can help relieve joint pain, whether in your ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, or wrist. There is no excuse for agonizing through the basics movements of your day; the right exercise program can help alleviate the pain of getting into the car, carrying laundry or groceries, and other sharp reminders of your current limitations.

When exercise is performed properly it can become a long-lasting way to subdue your joint and arthritis pains. Although it might seem exercise would aggravate your aching joints, this is simply not the case. Exercise can actually help to relieve joint pain in multiple ways:

  • It increases the strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints.
  • Exercise relieves stiffness, which itself can be painful. The body is made to move. When not exercised, the tendons, muscles, and ligaments quickly shorten and tense up.
  • It boosts production of synovial fluid, the lubricant inside the joints. Synovial fluid is essential to bring oxygen and nutrients into joints, keeping them “well-oiled.”
  • It increases production of natural compounds in the body that help with pain management.
  • It helps you keep your weight under control. This helps relieve pressure in weight-bearing joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles.

Exercise also enhances the production of natural chemicals in the brain that help boost your mood. You’ll not only feel better, you will become happier. Your Health. Your Choice.