Craving NO More Tobacco

May 31st.  It marks the end of May, and it also observes World No Tobacco Day. There are many risks associated with tobacco use, and this day aims to highlight not only the threat it poses to one’s health, but also the effective strategies to limit tobacco consumption.

MedicinePlus broke down the numerous dangers related to tobacco and one’s health including:

  1. Heart and blood vessel problems – Blood clots, increased blood pressure, coronary artery disease
  2. Cancer – More likely in the lung, mouth, larynx, bladder, kidney, etc.
  3. Infertility OR problems during pregnancy (early labor, low birth weight, etc)
  4. Tooth and gum disease
  5. Poor wound healing

Not to mention, much of your free time will be spent in doctor’s offices treating these conditions as a result of use. R-Health is always there for you when you need us to be, but having more healthy, free time…priceless.

As we know, there are different ways to tackle tobacco cravings. Previous posts confronted the idea of ways to commit yourself while on this journey to quit. For example, find a reason, develop a plan, and sticking with your plan to name a few. However, we’ll discuss a few ways to resist these cravings, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.

  1. Nicotine replacement therapy – These replacement therapies can help overcome intense cravings. They are also safe to use in combination with nicotine patches.
    • Prescription nicotine in a nasal spray
    • Over the counter nicotine patches or gum
    • Prescription non-nicotine smoking medication
  1. Delay – If you’re feeling like you’re going to give into a tobacco craving, delay yourself. Tell yourself to wait 10 minutes, and in that time, distract yourself with something else.
  1. Chew on it – Give your mouth something to do whilst fighting the tobacco urge. Sugarless gum, hard candies, sunflower seeds, or even raw carrots.
  1. Don’t have ‘just one’ – It’s fool’s gold believing you can stop at just one early in the process. More often than not, one leads to another, and leads to another. Simply don’t engage.
  1. Get physical – Physical activity can not only distract you from cravings, but also lessen their intensity. Even short bursts of exercise like walking stairs or activities like painting, can help you with distraction.
  1. Practice relaxation techniques – Techniques such as yoga, massage, deep breathing exercises, and even calming music can have positive effects on your stress levels, which reduces your need to use.
  1. Go online for support – Join a stop-smoking program or read blog posts with positive thoughts reinforcing your will to quit.
  1. Remind yourself of the benefits – Ending your tobacco use not only will aid in you feeling better, being healthier, and saving money, but it also helps the environment around you.

There are countless techniques you can use to gradually be tobacco free. On this World’s No Tobacco Day, if nothing else, if interested in quitting smoking, or use of any tobacco products, please make that call to your R-Health doctor so they can not only share some helpful tips, but also serve as support during this process.

Healthy Grilling, Healthy Livin’

Welcome back, Grilling Season! We’ve missed you. Whether you’ve been hiking, biking, or any of our suggested activities last week, we’re sure you’re excited to take a quick break and pick up a spatula. This time of year is abundant for cookouts and barbecues, but we want to make sure when you step behind that grill, you do so with healthy intentions.

Healthy grilling is not only fun, but it’s in the best interest of the people consuming. Heart healthy foods, whether grilling or ordering, should always be in the forefront of minds. Today we will talk about a few tips for healthy grilling, and a few foods which are key to keeping the heart healthy and blood pressure normal.

When it comes to normal blood pressure, the key is to find foods balanced in sodium, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Healthline discussed the top foods for lowering hypertension and we’ll discuss the following:

  1. Leafy Greens – Rich in potassium and helps your kidneys get rid of excess sodium, lowering your blood pressure (BP)
    • g. Romaine lettuce, arugula, kale, collard greens, spinach, Swiss chard
    • Frozen vegetables.
  1. Garlic and Herbs – These are not only great for the grill, but they can lower BP by widening the arteries, courtesy of the nitric oxide increase they provide to the body
    • Herbs and spices also help cut back on sodium intake, if necessary
  1. Salmon, mackerel, etc. – Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids which can lower BP, but also a great source of lean protein.
    • Fish are also a great source of vitamin D and can reduce inflammation
  1. Seeds – High in potassium, magnesium, and other minerals great for lowering BP
    • Seeds go great in salads as a side dish to whatever you are grilling
    • g. Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, or squash
  1. Dark chocolate – studies show that it’s been associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and it also pairs well with many other hypertension reducing foods (i.e. yogurt, berries, bananas, oatmeal)

Although it’s understood you won’t be rushing to put all these foods on the grill, it’s important to know some key methods so grilling is not only enjoyable, but healthy for everyone who will consume. The American Heart Association shared the best tips for healthy grilling and we’ll discuss below:

  • Pick the perfect protein – Fish, skinless chicken breast, and lean ground poultry are all healthier choices with immense benefit for the body.
  • Rightsize your portions – a healthy portion of meat is about 3 ounces and should be no more than 6 ounces.
  • Add color – Almost every fruit and vegetable can be grilled. Using healthy oil like olive oil (good for hypertension) helps prevents sticking but also aids in bringing out the delicious flavors.
  • Choose healthier sides – Instead of traditional baked beans, cole slaw, macaroni, learn how to grill veggies and make your own custom fruit/green salads, etc.
  • Grill fruits for dessert – As we mentioned, almost everything can be grilled. The natural sugars of the fruits will caramelize with high heat giving them more flavor and extra sweetness. Apples, pears, pineapples, and peaches are great for grilling.
  • Keep it clean – scrubbing down the grill after each use will prevent burning, smoking, and bitter flavors during the next use.

Grilling is always a fun event shared among family and friends over a great meal. You can make great, healthy meals without sacrificing flavors, and it works in everyone’s best interest. If you’d like to learn more about heart healthy foods for grilling or otherwise, please talk to your R-Health doctor; and while you’re at it you can even invite them to your next barbecue!

Yes, You May Get Active

Spring in May is a wonderful time of year. The weather gets better by the day, which not only gives great incentive to spend more time outdoors, but also serves as the perfect time to rededicate yourself to an active and healthy lifestyle. That’s why May is also Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

Since this week is Bike-to-Work Week we’ll provide you with some of the best outdoor activities for spring, however, we’ll start by explaining how to ease into your exercises to avoid injury.

It’s important to prepare your body for any upcoming activities you’ll partake in, especially if you’re coming off a lengthy layoff. According to WebMD, one of the most commonly seen injuries is muscle soreness, stemming from too much activity, too quickly. Therefore, a great starting point is to perform manageable activities to prepare your body for what’s to come. It’s recommended you do slight exercises that increase in duration over time before true strenuous activity.

For example, if you plan on golfing during the spring and summer days, you should increase the amount of time you spend stretching per week for optimal flexibility. If you are a jogger, you should start by walking lightly, and increase the minutes week to week. The key is to prepare your body and avoid any lingering muscle pain. However, on the off chance you do overexert yourself, to recover you’ll need RICE (a mnemonic device used to remember):

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression (with an elastic bandage)
  • Elevation

Now let’s get to the activities! The Huffington Post wrote of the best spring exercises, and we’ll highlight the following:

  1. Biking – You can’t have Bike to Work Week without actual biking. Biking is a great alternative to traditional activities done indoors, plus it improves your cardiovascular fitness while working the legs.
  2. Swimming – If you’re not a big runner, swimming is another great exercise. Another cardiovascular intensive activity, swimming saves your joints of the high impact stress that may be experienced while running.
  3. Outdoor games – A quick game of basketball with your buddies, or tossing a Frisbee with your kids, these fast-paced games are a great way to get active during the spring.
  4. Hiking – While we’re not saying to go climb Mt. Everest, there are plenty of hiking trails that offer the same benefit: power and endurance training, core conditioning, and balance improvement.
  5. Yoga – Typically thought of as an indoor activity, but outdoor yoga offers great benefits, such as, new levels of mental concentration and peacefulness.

There are plenty more activities that provide both the physical and mental benefits, but the key is to find the one you enjoy and get active. This is the perfect time to not only challenge yourself physically, but also explore new avenues to be lively. If you are starting a new exercise program or searching for new ways to get active, it’s important to reach out to your R-Health doctor to make sure you are fit for the task.

The Battle of Arthritis

There’s an old myth that’s gone for decades about joint pain and weather predictability. Does pain in your knee or ankle really mean a storm is soon approaching? While there’s no scientific evidence of this, there have been links between seasonal change and arthritic pain.

Arthritis is a way of referring to joint pain or joint disease, and there are over 100 different types and related conditions; the main two being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America, affecting more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children, of all ages, sexes, and races. Some of the common symptoms associated with arthritis include the following:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion

Per the Mayo Clinic, there are multiple risk factors associated with arthritis that may make one more susceptible to the symptoms. For example:

  • Family History
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Previous joint injury
  • Obesity

Since we’re amid a seasonal turnover, it’s important we focus on how change may affect the experience of those with arthritis. Although symptoms come and go, varying in intensity from person to person, Joint Essential identified seasonal factors that may impact arthritic pain.

  • Exposure or intensity of sun-rays – A study conducted showed intensity and frequency of pain attacks decreases during warm weather months.
  • High vapor pressure – High pressure of water vapors have a positive effect on arthritis symptoms. A person may be more likely to experience disturbing symptoms on rainy days than dry ones.
  • Temperature change – Extreme temperatures (freezing winter days, or excessive heat warning summers) can aggravate the intensity of symptoms.
  • Changes in air-pressure – This can lead to flaring of symptoms of arthritis. High barometric pressure pushes against the body and doesn’t allow tissue to expand, causing severe pain and swelling.

Humidity, precipitation, and even wind speed may also play a factor in arthritis pain, however, Joint Essential also highlighted ways to manage pain during weather change. The following are suggestions:

  1. Learning root cause – It’s imperative to know which type of arthritis you have. However, what’s even more important is understanding the root cause of your symptoms and how to deal with them, or distract yourself from them.
  1. Home exercising/gym training – Spring and summer months are known for increased hours of physical activity, and thus helps with steady circulation of the joints.
  1. Hydrotherapy – Excellent for alleviating joint swelling and edema in patients with flaring episodes of arthritis.
  1. Keeping warm – Although there is a lot more sun to absorb during the spring and summer months, there are times you’re indoors with an air conditioner blasting. It’s important to adjust the room temperature to your comfort level to ease symptoms.
  1. Massage therapy – Similarly to exercising, massages help with circulation across joint surfaces. You can enjoy massages in any season, but if that’s not a preferred method, there’s also physical therapy, acupuncture, or yoga.

While everyone is affected differently throughout seasonal change, it’s important to take preventative measures so your joints and tissues aren’t damaged, and your ability to function and perform day-to-day operations isn’t endangered. Reach out to your R-Health doctor to discuss your symptoms, and follow us for more helpful health and wellness tips.

The A-Team: Allergies and Asthma

April showers bring May flowers…and allergies…and asthma. The latter part is often left out of the rhyme, however, you can’t overlook its importance, especially during Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

Since World Asthma Day is on May 2nd, we thought now would be the best time to discuss the connections between asthma and allergies, while also sharing some tips to limit symptoms during the peak of the season.

Allergies and asthma, while two separate ailments, often come hand in hand during this time of year. Per the NIH, of the more than 24 million people affected by asthma, nearly three quarters of them also have allergies. Since each may cause respiratory symptoms, allergies can both worsen and trigger asthmatic episodes, which often results in people diagnosed with allergic asthma. Although this doesn’t affect everyone, the symptoms of allergic asthma are fairly the same. According to WebMD, symptoms are likely to be the following:

  • Cough
  • Wheeze
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast paced breathing
  • Chest tightness

While non-allergic asthma can be triggered by other things such as a change in weather or tobacco, allergic asthma can be triggered by allergens such as the following:

  • Windblown pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds
  • Mold spores and fragments
  • Dust mite feces
  • Cockroach feces
  • Animal dander (dead skin)

While the Mayo Clinic outlined treatments designated to help both conditions – Allergy shots (immunotherapy), Anti-IgE therapy – today, we’ll offer you some tips to help control the allergen induced asthma attacks.

  1. Stay inside when pollen counts are high
  1. Control indoor humidity
  1. Check for pet allergies
  1. Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean and dry
  1. Choose air filters wisely
  1. Careful with outside work (e.g. raking, gardening)

For personalized strategies on how to avoid your triggers, please consult with your R-Health doctor, and come up with the best plan to get you through the season.