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Archive for the ‘Diet and Nutrition’ Category

AbPain

At one time or another, all of us have experienced abdominal pain. It is one of the most common complaints seen in emergency rooms.

Most of the time, it is not caused by a serious medical problem, but when it is serious it can be life-threatening. In this article, I’d like to differentiate between mild pain symptoms and more serious symptoms that would cause you to seek urgent medical care.

There are an abundant number of causes of abdominal pain too numerous to mention in this article, but there are many signs and symptoms of abdominal pain of which you should be aware.

What are the most common causes of abdominal pain?

– Indigestion, constipation, ulcers, and gas.

– Stomach flu and food poisoning.

– Food allergies and lactose intolerance.

– Gallstones and kidney stones.

– Urinary tract infections, pelvic infections, ovarian disease, endometriosis, and menstrual cramps.

More serious causes include:

– Aneurysm (swelling with possible rupture) of the aorta.

– Decreased blood supply to the intestines (ischemic bowel).

– Appendicitis, diverticulitis, and cholecystitis (infections of the appendix, the colon, and the gallbladder respectively).

– Bowel blockage (obstruction).

– Cancer of any of the intra abdominal organs especially of stomach, colon, or liver.

– Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

– Pneumonia.

– Heart attack.

Seek immediate medical help or call 911 for abdominal pain that involves:

– Severe sudden abdominal pain.

– Vomiting blood, having blood in your stool, or if your stool appears tar colored.

– Tenderness over your abdomen, or if it feels rigid when you touch it.

– Pregnancy either confirmed or suspected.

– A recent injury to your abdomen.

– Pain and difficulty breathing.

– Mild abdominal pain that does not improve within 24-48 hours, or becomes more severe or frequent, especially if occurring with vomiting.

– Diarrhea for more than several days, especially with fever or blood.

– Fever over 100 degrees with your pain.

I have tried to simplify the complex subject of abdominal pain. Obviously, this is not all-inclusive, but my goal has been to have you understand those symptoms that should prompt immediate medical attention. This information is from my personal experience to serve as a guideline in dealing with abdominal pain.

As I always say, in spite of anything you may have read or heard about, if you have any symptoms that concern you, or just doesn’t seem right, seek medical care.

Of course, as with most problems with your health, it’s much better to deal with them sooner rather than later.

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Athlete drink

I’m often asked by patients how much water they need to drink each day. The Institute of Medicine has calculated that men need about 13 cups or three quarts of liquids and women need about nine cups or two quarts of liquids daily. We also ingest approximately 2 ½ cups, or 20 percent of our daily intake of liquids from food, especially fruits and vegetables. In addition, beverages that we commonly drink such as coffee, juice, milk and soda are composed mostly of water.

Water makes up 60 percent of our body weight. Every cell and system of our body depends on water. Lack of water causes dehydration, a condition that occurs when the body receives an inadequate amount of fluids, which in turn slows down and eventually shuts down vital bodily functions.

Our bodies constantly lose water from perspiring, breathing, urinating and having bowel movements.

Various factors determine just how much more water we may need to drink, such as:

– Environment — Hot weather, especially with high humidity, increases perspiration. Even in frigid weather, water is lost from our bodies when breathing during activities such as skiing or hiking.

– Exercise —Also increases perspiration. The more prolonged and intense the exercising, the greater the fluid loss is.

– Illness — Intense or prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea can lead to life-threatening dehydration. This is an unfortunate cause of death in many developing countries.

– Pregnancy and breast feeding — Increases women’s fluids needs.

After hours of prolonged exercise with heavy sweating we lose electrolytes, especially salt. This is when drinking a sports drink is recommended because it will not only replace the lost water but also the depleted electrolytes. Electrolytes lost through sweat from mild to moderate exercise, can be replaced from the food we eat.

Some liquids can act as a diuretic, which means they cause you to urinate more liquid than you’ve taken in. Caffeine is often implicated, but is really a weak diuretic. Alcoholic beverages on the other hand, especially at higher quantities, can be very potent diuretics causing dehydration which is a major cause of a hangover.

A rough guide as to whether or not you are consuming enough water is to check your urine color. If it appears light yellow, like lemonade, you’re probably well-hydrated but if it is very dark yellow, like apple juice, you need to drink more water.

To keep your body healthy:

– Drink a glass of water or other low or non-calorie beverage with each meal and between each meal.

– Drink water before, during and after exercise.

Bottoms up!

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healthy diet clears constipation

Constipation is not exactly a dinner topic, but it is a condition that affects almost every living person at one time or another. It’s a common complaint at the doctor’s office.

Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools. The normal number of bowel movements for adults ranges from one or more per day to two to three per week. For most people, going without a bowel movement for several days is a temporary condition and does not lead to any obvious discomfort or health problems. One may begin feeling uncomfortable when constipation lasts more than a few days. It should be noted that constipation does not build up toxins in the gut, nor does it lead to cancer.

There are many causes of constipation, some of the more common being:

– Inadequate amounts of fiber in your diet.

– Insufficient liquid intake.

– Lack of physical activity.

– Side effect of some medications, especially narcotic pain medications such as Vicoden and Percocet.

– Changes in daily routine or lifestyle.

– Colon cancer (rare).

There are two methods of dealing with constipation including:

Life style changes

– A high fiber diet including beans, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and less dairy, red meat and processed foods.

– Adequate fluid intake.

– Regular exercise.

– Trying not to delay a bowel movement when one has the urge.

Laxatives

– Fiber supplements are natural and very safe. Examples include Metamucil and FiberCon which are safe and effective to use daily.

– Stool softeners, such as Colace and Surfak, add moisture to the stool.

– Stimulants help increase intestinal motility. Examples include Dulcolax, Senekot, and Correctol. (It’s best not to use these too often.)

– Osmotics bring more fluid into the intestines causing easier passage of stool. One of the most common which I recommend is Miralax available without a prescription.

– Saline laxatives also help to draw fluid into the intestines. Examples include milk of magnesia and Haley’s M-O.

– Lubricants, such as a dose of mineral oil, help the intestines to pass the stool more easily.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about colon cleansing which is enema therapy that is claimed to help flush the toxins out of the colon. There is absolutely no scientific proof that there are toxins in the colon which can cause any harm. Most substances good or bad have been absorbed into the body in the small intestine which is not affected by enemas. In fact, colon cleansing can flush out needed electrolytes before they can be absorbed by the colon and also wash out beneficial intestinal bacteria. Don’t flush your money down the toilet on this misguided treatment.

From my experience, if you suffer from constipation and follow my advice in this article, you can save a trip to your doctor. But if symptoms persist or worsen, by all means get professional advice.

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Halloween is soon upon us, and our little trick-or-treaters will be carrying home bags full of candy. As candy is full of sugar, I’d like to discuss the effects of sugar on our health.

The average American consumes a whopping 2 to 3 pounds of sugar a week, about 130 pounds a year. That’s up from 25 pounds per year just 20 years ago. This rapid increase in consumption is because sugar is increasingly being added to many of our daily foods, such as soda, breakfast cereal, bread, mayonnaise, peanut butter, salad dressing, canned goods and many other food products.

The main problem of eating too much sugar is that it adds extra calories to our diet; in most cases, much more than we need. Extra calories add up to weight gain and eventually to obesity, which is one of our greatest health epidemics. Obesity from eating too much sugar can cause health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

Sugar is the main cause of dental cavities and tooth decay. It is also associated with an increase in triglycerides (a type of fat in the bloodstream), which can be another cause for heart disease.

There are many other possible — but not necessarily proven — health problems related to excessive dietary sugar, such as suppression of the immune system, hyperactivity in children, arthritis, asthma and many more diseases.

Some think that natural sugar, such as that found in fruits, dairy products and other foods, is healthy. This is true only to the extent that these foods also contain healthy amounts of vitamins, fiber and other nutrients.

Sugar is sugar, no matter what it’s called. There are brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, molasses, honey and others. They all contribute calories.

The American Heart Association says that women should get no more than 100 calories a day from added sugars. That’s about 7 teaspoons, roughly 25 grams, which is about equal to one typical candy bar. Men should get no more than 150 calories from sugar. That’s about 10 teaspoons, roughly 38 grams, the amount found in 12 ounces of soda. Most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons — 355 calories — of added sugar a day, far exceeding healthy guidelines.

The best way to cut back on added sugar is to limit, if not eliminate, soft drinks from your diet. Many other drinks are high in sugar, including ready-to-drink teas, sweetened alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, and juice drinks. To satisfy sweet cravings, try eating fresh fruit. For snacks, swap candy and sweets for air-popped popcorn, dry roasted nuts and baked tortilla chips.

Look at food labels, which list the ingredients and often give the amount of sugar measured in grams.

The bottom line is that most of us consume enough naturally occurring sugar in a well-balanced diet. The more we can cut back on candy, sodas, pastries, cakes and cookies, the healthier we will be.

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