Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Fork in the Road

Too many people beat themselves up constantly over what they have eaten that day. And the day before. And last week. And last Thanksgiving. Leading a life of regrets is no fun and not mentally healthy. What is done is done – time to move on.

Treat each decision independently – it doesn’t matter what you did last time. Make the best choice available at that time. If the best choice at your business dinner is steak - enjoy it. Don’t worry that you had a burger for lunch. That being said, chances are that at noon you knew that dinner would be at a steak house; thinking ahead would have prompted you to choose the salad earlier.

Even at the steakhouse, wise decisions can be made. Order the ‘ladies’ portion. Skip the creamed spinach and enjoy the salad. Don’t get cheesecake for dessert but order the berries. Be careful of the calories in the beverages.

Make the better choice when shopping: buy the fat-free yogurt that is right next to the 2% variety. Planning ahead will help you make a better decision as to what to eat for breakfast. Choice the more distant parking space: your car is less likely to get dinged and the exercise is good for you (even if you have already been to the gym or will be doing later).

It doesn’t matter that you ate too much on vacation – eat less now. So what if you gained weight – it’s a new day and the weight will come off.

“When you come to a fork in the road …. Take it.” Yogi Berra

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Trip to the Pharmacy

Since I was running some errands today, my husband asked me to pick up an over the counter medicine that was on sale at the local pharmacy. The several hundred prescriptions per week that I write are sent electronically so I have very little actual contact with the retail stores other than an occasional chat with a pharmacist clarifying directions. It had been a very long time since I was last in a store. I could not have been more dismayed at the apparent state of retail pharmacies.

First all, calling the operation a pharmacy is disingenuous at best. There is a prescription dispensing area at the back of the store, past the aisles of shampoos, Halloween and Christmas decorations, socks and electronics. The queue to attract a pharmacy technician was quite long; there was plenty of time to read the posters for flu shots, glucose meters and frequent buyer clubs. The perimeter of the store held refrigerator and freezer cases with an assortment of beverages (milk, juices, soda) and frozen dinners. There was a dazzling display of potato chips and other snack foods and the assortment of Halloween candy and Xmas wrapping paper was impressive.

The shampoo aisle ran the length of the store; the “professional” section had products for all types of hair all labeled “to be sold in professional salons only.” Nice selection of batteries and lots of laundry supplies as well. The school supply section was cleaned out.

I had plenty of time to observe the other customers since there was only one checkout person for the fifteen people in line. No one seemed too happy, but no one seemed to be sick. The candy display under the checkout counter had plenty of offers: buy 2 get one for a penny, 4 for $5, buy 10 and get a $2 credit to use next time. Maybe the ad for glucose meters should be moved from the back to the front?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beer Here

The NFL is doing its best to play football and part of the fun of watching the game is having a beer or two. Moderate consumption of any alcoholic beverage is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease From a nutritional standpoint, beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine. The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine.

Where we run into problems is that there are a lot of games on Sunday and a couple of beers per game soon adds up. Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks on an occasion. Beer accounted for two thirds of all alcohol consumed by binge drinkers and accounted for most alcohol consumed by those at greatest risk of causing or incurring alcohol-related harm.

Overall, 74.4% of binge drinkers consumed beer exclusively or predominantly, and those who consumed at least some beer accounted for 80.5% of all binge alcohol consumption. By beverage type, beer accounted for 67.1%, liquor for 21.9%, and wine accounted for 10.9% of binge drinks consumed. Beer also accounted for most of the alcohol consumed by those at highest risk of causing or incurring alcohol-related harm, including people aged 18-20 years (67.0% of drinks were beer); those with three or more binge episodes per month (70.7%); those drinking eight or more drinks per binge episode (69.9%); those binging in public places (64.4%); and those who drove during or within 2 hours of binge drinking (67.1%).

Don’t forget that many beers have a lot of calories. There are plenty of lighter options – and watch out for the snacks! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Influenza 2012-2013

As soon as school starts in the fall, it’s time to start thinking about flu shots.

Each year experts from the FDA, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other public health experts study influenza virus samples and global disease patterns to identify virus strains likely to cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season.

Based on that information and the recommendations of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the strains selected for inclusion in the 2012-2013 flu vaccines are:
   A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus
   A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus
   B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus.

While the H1N1 virus is the same as what was included in the 2011-2012 influenza vaccines, this year’s influenza H3N2 and B viruses differ from those in the 2011-2012 influenza vaccines. There is always a possibility of a less than optimal match between the virus strains predicted to circulate and the virus strains that end up causing the most illness. However, even if the vaccine and the circulating strains are not an exact match, the vaccine may reduce the severity of the illness or may help prevent influenza-related complications.

For more information:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Is the Clock Ticking?

It’s common wisdom that it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant as she gets older. Women are most likely to easily get pregnant between the ages of 19 and 26 and the rate of conception steadily ebbs thereafter. There is a significant decline starting at age 31 and there is a big drop off in fertility at age 37. The subfertility in older (!) women is due to the poor quality of aging eggs, fewer eggs in reserve and changing hormones. Additionally, as time passes women have more opportunity to acquire medical and surgical conditions.

Now it appears that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Multiple studies haves shown that advancing age is a serious reproductive factor for men as well as for women. Animal studies show that older sperm contributors have lower fertilization rates, poorer embryo quality, increased miscarriages and smaller fetuses. Since sperm cells undergo many more replications there is more chance for mistakes to occur. Older fathers pass along many more genetic mutations than do younger men.

Observational data indicate that increasing weight in men leads to decreased fertility; observing a crowd of 35 year old men would indicate that they weigh more than when they were college seniors.

Men face the same time pressures as women. In the world of reproductive medicine, delayed childbearing is defined as older than age 30 for both men and women. Women have long heard the tick of their biologic clocks – perhaps it’s time for men to listen as well.