Nutrients For Fracture Healing

As many of you know, almost a week ago my husband broke both bones in his right ankle.  After a late-Sunday urgent surgery and a short overnight stay in the hospital he came home and has been keeping my couch from escaping pretty much ever since.

Since I am NOT loving the extra stress here at the start of summer, I am invested in getting his fracture healed as quickly and as well as possible.  What does the literature say about important nutrients for fracture healing?

Vitamin D

It’s no surprise that there’s been a lot of research about vitamin D and fracture.  It’s well known that calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are required for healthy bone matrix and vitamin D deficiency accelerates bone loss and osteoporosis.  It has been shown that vitamin D deficiency is more common in fracture patients, and there is preliminary evidence that vitamin D supplementation improved fracture healing.  Since in northern Ohio we can’t get any vitamin D from the sun in the winter, it makes sense to take supplemental vitamin D.

Pro-Angiogenesis Factors

In order to put down new bone matrix, the body must grow new blood vessels. This process is called angiogenesis.  There are nutrients that are known to promote the development of healthy new blood vessels and, in theory may help to speed the healing of bone fractures.  These nutrients include fish oil, antioxidants and polyphenols like resveratrol, and ginseng.

Other Nutrients

Good nutrition will support wound healing and help fractures heal properly.  From a high-quality multivitamin to trace minerals to probiotics.  Soy and zinc have also shown to be helpful in supporting healthy bone.

So what do I have my husband taking? He is taking Shaklee products, of course.  Vitalizer and Vivix, extra vitamin D and OmegaGuard and Chewable Cal Mag.  These are part of his normal supplement regimen so I don’t believe we need to make any changes at this point.

We didn’t plan on a serious fracture but it’s nice to know we are taking the right supplements to heal it if it happens.

QUESTION: Have you ever had a fracture?  Did you use supplements to help it heal?

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The Cost Of Poor Health

This topic comes up in the office all the time.  Patients tell me they can’t afford to eat healthy.  They don’t have time to exercise.  Their medications are too expensive.  There is always a reason why patients have a hard time doing the things they need to do to stay well.

Today I’m fed up.  I’m going to talk about how expensive BAD decisions are, when it comes to your health.  What exactly is the cost of poor health?

Which is more expensive?  Fresh fruits and vegetables, or a heart attack?  The time to exercise, or the time you miss with your grandkids because you died of a preventable stroke?  Your $150-for-90-days prescription for diabetes medication, or the $2,200/year pack-a-day cigarette habit?

Which costs more?  Health, or illness?  Where are you going to invest your time and money?

Now, I’m blessed that my parents taught me good eating habits and helped me learn to enjoy being active.  I’m even more blessed that my husband and best friend knows I’m happier and less stressed when I run regularly and eat right.

But I’m also an adult and in charge of my own health.  If I were not in good health, there are lots of resources I could use to learn what I need to know.  From my doctor to good books to reputable websites on the Internet (like this one, LOL!), there is plenty of good sensible information about how to improve your health.

If you or someone you love is unhappy with their health, suffering with the dreaded “I don’t feel good” disease, overweight or obese, PLEASE do three things.

LEARN

Talk to your doctor and ask for good resources to learn more about what’s going on with your health.  Ask for books, websites, referrals to specialists or nutritionists or physical therapists to skill up.

Invest TIME in learning about what’s going on with your body.  Learn how to eat, what foods are best for your particular health problems.  Ask if you’re able to exercise safely and what the best exercises would be.  Learn how to manage your stress.  Get enough hours of sleep.

LOOK

Check out your budget and track for a month where your money is going.  How much do you spend on junk food?  Do you eat out a lot?  Do you buy fast food lunches during the week?  Do you smoke?  Do you drink soda or energy drinks?  What discretionary money do you spend on things that are unhealthy, and how might you redirect that money to BUILD your health instead of tearing it down?

What money are you spending NOW because you are unhealthy?  Do you spend money on medications and treatments that you might not need if you changed your diet, improved your nutrition, exercised, got good sleep, managed your stress better?  How much is being unhealthy costing you NOW?

INVEST

Now I’m going to ask you to exercise some discipline.  I want you to make a mindful decision about where your money goes.  I want you to redirect some or all of the money you are spending on UNHEALTHY or frivolous purchases and spend it on your and your family’s health.

That may mean eating out once per week instead of three times.  That may mean packing a healthy lunch every day instead of hitting the fast-food drive-through.  That may mean getting up 15 minutes early and drinking your coffee at home instead of stopping at Starbucks on the way to work.

You might decide to decrease your pack-a-day cigarette habit to a half-pack and spend the other $100 per month on a gym membership and a high-quality supplement program.

After all, which is better?  Spending 2 hours a week in the gym, or spending 10 hours a week in the dialysis center?  (And no, that’s not a stretch.  The number one cause of renal failure requiring dialysis is diabetes which responds beautifully to regular exercise and a sensible diet.)

I have no idea what is going on in your life or in your budget.  However, I don’t know anyone (including myself) that doesn’t spend money on things that harm their health.  Think about how that money could be better spent.

What are you giving up in terms of money, time, and the ability to do the things you desperately want to do, because of your health?  What small changes (or really HUGE changes!) could you make that would pay big dividends in health and wellness?

You deserve it 🙂

QUESTION: Is your health costing you anything?  What are you investing to make it better?

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Healthy Heart Equals Healthy Sex Life?

In the office, I often feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall with some guys.  They are in their 40s or 50s and they smoke, they’re overweight, they eat crap and don’t exercise.  They don’t care that they are increased risk for a heart attack, diabetes and stroke.

Maybe I should start telling them they won’t be able to get an erection…

Don’t laugh.  There was a study published last month that suggested that erectile dysfunction is more likely to develop in men with lower cardiovascular health.  Keeping your heart healthy means you’re more likely to have a healthy sex life.

This study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, followed over 1000 men for 10 years, starting in their early 60s.  They were assessed for cardiovascular health using 7 metrics:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes / high blood sugar
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle

The researchers followed these men for 10 years to see how having these risk factors affected their chances of developing erectile dysfunction.

Now, we already know that erectile dysfunction is considered a marker of cardiovascular disease.  In order for the penis to become properly erect for intercourse, there has to be good blood flow to the tissues.  Atherosclerosis, the development of blockages to blood flow, interferes with the function of the tissues of the penis.

The researchers found that the higher (or more unhealthy) each man’s cardiovascular health score was at the beginning of the study, the more likely he was to develop erectile dysfunction by the end of the study.  In fact, the risk of erectile dysfunction ranged from 15% in the healthiest men to 100% in the unhealthiest.

So if the risk of a heart attack or stroke isn’t enough to make you (or your mate) get serious about quitting smoking, eating healthy, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, here’s one more reason.

Poor cardiovascular health can make you unable to have sex.

Now THAT’S a motivator!

QUESTION: Are you surprised about these findings?

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Pelvic Exams

Women over the age of 21 know what THIS is all about.  You go to the gynecologist or your primary care doctor for birth control or for your annual checkup.  After a zillion questions and the typical heart-lungs-belly exam the doc pulls out those lovely things for you to put your feet into and invites you to “Come on down!”

After scooting your bottom down (your NAKED bottom) until you feel like you’re going to fall right off into your doctor’s lap, the doctor proceeds with the annual two-part indignity of Pap test and pelvic exam.

The Pap test involves inserting a speculum (used to let him or her see your cervix) and taking a sample of cells from the surface of the cervix.  The bimanual exam has the doctor putting one or two fingers inside the vagina and the other hand on the abdomen to assess the size and position of the uterus and ovaries.

What if I told you half of that exam wasn’t necessary?

In March of this year, the United States Preventive Services Task Force issued a summary recommendation stating there is not enough information to recommend for or against the bimanual pelvic exam as a screening test.

I admit I had to stop and think about that one.  I was taught in school to do a pelvic exam every time I do a Pap test, but when I stopped to think I realized that I have never found a true problem in a woman who has no symptoms.

What symptoms might a woman have that indicate a potential problem in their pelvic organs?  Pain, of course.  Heavy or irregular menstrual periods.  Bothersome vaginal discharge.  In those cases, the pelvic exam is a useful part of the diagnostic process.

However, how often do we find problems in patients who have no symptoms at all?  Studies have shown that doctors actually are pretty lousy at telling the difference between a normal exam and an abnormal one.  We tend to find problems that aren’t actually there.

One analysis of three different studies looking at pelvic exams’ accuracy in finding ovarian cancer showed that 96-100% of abnormal pelvic exams actually had no abnormality identified.  The doctor felt something and ordered a test (usually an ultrasound or CT scan).  The test showed no evidence of ovarian cancer.

So if pelvic exams are not terribly accurate in identifying ovarian cancer, are they harmful?  Yeah, actually, they can be.  In studies, up to 60% of women reported physical pain and discomfort with the exam.  Up to 80% of women reported fear, embarrassment and anxiety.  Also, women who have a negative experience (because of pain or fear) are much less likely to return to the doctor for a repeat exam.  Obese women are more likely to report a negative experience and are much less likely to have an accurate exam, because of the difficulty of performing the exam.

There are more serious harms too.  There was a study that showed 1.5% of patients who had a pelvic exam wound up with unnecessary surgery for a concern about ovarian cancer.

The USPSTF states that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against pelvic exams.  However, the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians have made recommendations that pelvic examinations NOT be performed in women who have no symptoms and have no increased genetic risk of ovarian cancer.

What does that mean for female patients?  You need to see your doctor regularly for screening exams based on your age, which may include a mammogram, Pap test, colonoscopy and blood tests.  However, the doctor performing a pelvic exam shouldn’t be part of the visit unless you’re having symptoms.

QUESTION:  Will you be more likely to get regular physicals if you know you won’t have to have a pelvic exam?

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