Sunday, August 24, 2014


There are many tasks as one prepares for retirement: where to live, take a lump sum or monthly payments from the employer, how to spend the many newly available hours. In addition to the visits to HR, the real estate agent and the financial advisor I suggest one more stop: to your physician. It’s time for a frank conversation about how long you might live and in what shape.

If you have fifty pack years of smoking, an elevated blood sugar, untreated hypertension and a cholesterol greater than 300 I have a suggestion: take the lump sum and plan to live somewhere that your spouse will be happy as a widow(er). Fit in that one really great trip since you probably won’t have a long retirement. If you have never had a colonoscopy, can’t remember the last mammogram and think that immunizations are just for kids I suggest you relocate near a major medical center. You might need a good oncology team. The crystal ball is cloudy as to how long you might live – roll the dice to determine lump sum versus payout.

If you are in good health at age 65, take all your medications as directed and follow simple guidelines for weight, exercise, preventive care and immunizations you can reasonably expect to be in good health at age 85. Plan accordingly.

The most important preparation for retirement: keeping mentally sharp. Remember: you are not retiring from, your are retiring to.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Heart Attack Beginnings

Heart attacks have beginnings – and if recognized in time, these “beginnings” can be treated before the heart is damaged. People may experience mild chest symptoms, such as pressure, burning, aching or tightness. These symptoms may come and go until finally becoming constant and severe.

 Early symptoms may include:
            Jaw pain
            Pain that travels down one or both arms
            Shortness of breath
            Back pain
            Chest pressure, squeezing or discomfort
            Shortness of breath
            Feeling of fullness
85% of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack. Knowing the subtle danger signs and acting upon them immediately could prevent heart damage. 

Heart disease causes one out of every six deaths in the United States. 

In 2011, about 785,000 Americans will have a first-time heart attack and about 470,000 will have a repeat heart attack. Every minute someone will die of a coronary event.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gluten Intolerance

Famous Philadelphia restaurateur Marc Vetri wrote about the gluten  (GI) conundrum that he faces when designing his menus. “When someone has a shrimp allergy, I don't make them something that looks and tastes like shrimp, but isn't. I make them a great meal based on foods and flavors they can actually eat. Why would they want something "shrimpy" if they don't eat it? So, when someone doesn't eat gluten, I assume they don't want something "wheaty." With so many other choices available from our kitchen, why would they want faux pasta anyway? With Italian cuisine I can make anything they want to eat. Making them a gluten-free pasta--one that's most likely going to be crumbly at best, or chewy, but bound with some sort of chemical that mimics what gluten does to pasta--is the very last thing on my mind.”

Chef Vetri prefers another definition for GI: grossly ill-informed. About 1% of the population has celiac disease and truly gets sick from gluten. “Wheat is nutritious. In its truest form, the wheat berry has so many nutrients. It has protein, fiber and minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. How can a grain that is a basis of human civilization be bad for us? Wheat itself is not bad for us, but how it's used is a big part of the problem. Wheat nutrition depends entirely on the form in which you eat it, and weight gain is actually inversely associated with the intake of high-fiber whole grains.” It is what we have done to wheat that is the problem: over-processing and stripping out all the nutrition.

I am a fan of eating a wide variety of food and not excluding any one group. We should strive to eat minimally processed food and consider the source. Food comes out of the ground – not wrapped in plastic from a factory. If someone has reason to think that GI is a problem, consulting a physician is appropriate. Blood tests can be helpful and the definitive diagnosis is made with a small bowel biopsy.

The original Marc Vetri post.

A discussion about food allergies and intolerances.