3 Ways To Stay Healthy While Traveling

Greetings from Las Vegas!  My family and I are in HOT and sunny Nevada right now having some fun.  Shaklee’s Global Conference begins in a few days and I can’t wait to find out about all the new products and services Shaklee has for our Shaklee family 🙂

Earlier this week I had asked myself what I should write about this weekend and, since I’m traveling I thought I would write about ways to stay healthy while traveling.  It’s not easy to keep your routines up while on the road!  Getting OUT of your normal routine is a stressor, and as you know stress lowers your immune system and makes you more prone to pick up germs.

So how do you keep your immune system strong while traveling?  There are 3 major ways to stay healthy while traveling.

Get enough rest

Yep.  We tend to burn the candle at both ends while traveling.  Isn’t it funny how we go on vacation to rest and rejuvenate, then cram our schedules full of activities and must-do lists!  This is normal and natural, but you have to make sure to leave enough time for healthy rest.

You should ideally try to stay on your normal sleep schedule while traveling.  For those with kids, that means doing your best to stick to their normal wake-up times, naptimes and bedtimes.  You know your kids, and you know how flexible they are.  My own kids can sleep anywhere, anytime.  (They are related to their Aunt Becky who once slept through the whole car ride from Cincinnati to Hilton Head, only emerging for meals and rest stops.)

Traveling to the West Coast time zone made me think a little about jetlag.  I’ll be here for about a week, so I won’t be able to avoid shifting my sleep cycle.  If it were just for a few days I’d do my best to stay on East Coast time.  Unfortunately for this length of trip it’s just too hard to fight my brain’s response to daylight and dark.  When I get home I’ll have to just be extra careful about my sleep so I don’t let myself get run down.

Eat and drink healthy

When you’re traveling it’s easy to eat crap.  Fast food, junk food and unhealthy restaurant fare are quick and convenient.  Some of us overindulge in alcohol if we don’t have to drive or get up for work the next day.  And often if you’re going to be trapped in an airplane seat you don’t want to drink as much water as you should.  Trust me, I get it!  Airplane lavatories are NOT where I want to spend my whole plane flight.

If you’re honest with yourself, you have to admit that you don’t FEEL well when you don’t EAT well.  And it’s not hard nowadays to find healthy alternatives.  Even at O’Hare I have been able to find a grilled portabello mushroom sandwich (without cheese!) at a little Mediterranean place.  Salads, whole-grain breads, and unprocessed foods are not too hard to find, you just have to look for them.

Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, make sure to adjust your water intake accordingly.  The climate is very dry in Nevada which of course means I need to pay more attention to my fluid intake.  If I were going on a hike or doing something physically challenging I would be sure to get advice from a local about how much water I would need.  Dehydration contributes to fatigue, can make motion sickness (like seasickness on cruise ships) worse, and can make you prone to mistakes.

Take supplements

This is not nearly as important as the other two!  However, even though it is a distant third I felt I should mention it because it.  This can definitely contribute to feeling well and keeping your immune system strong.

You should pack and take your high-quality multivitamins, of course.  You wouldn’t leave home without your prescription medication, right?  Well you should bring along your normal supplement regimen too.  Vitamin C and echinacea are two supplements that help to support the immune system.

Here are some examples of immune-support supplements you might consider.  I brought my Vitalized Immunity with me, along with all the other supplements I take daily!

It’s easy to get out of your routine when traveling.  Burning the candle at both ends with fun activities, not sleeping enough, eating the wrong foods, overindulging in alcohol, skimping on water, and forgetting your supplements are common enough and can put you and your family at risk of getting sick.  With a little discipline and foresight, though, you can arrive back home after your trip with only great memories and WITHOUT any unwanted souvenirs!

QUESTION:  Is there anything else you do to stay healthy while traveling?

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How To Talk To Your Doctor

Have you ever had the feeling that you just weren’t communicating with someone?  Have you felt like you were talking but the message wasn’t getting through?

Sometimes it feels like that with my patients, and I’m sure they sometimes feel like that with me.  Today I’d like to go over how to talk to your doctor.

First of all, it seems to go without saying, but you must be honest and forthright with your doctor.  We need to know what’s REALLY going on.  We need to know what, where, when, how long, what makes it worse, what makes it better, and what you’ve tried for whatever symptom you’re having.  The more information, the better, and if we ask specific, detailed questions, answer as completely and honestly as you can.

Believe me, we’re not being nosy.  (Well, I’m not.  I can’t really speak for EVERYONE, LOL.)  If I ask if you have pain in your vagina when having sex, or if you lose your erection during sex, there’s a reason for my question.  If I ask about your sexual history and past partners, it’s because it impacts your health in a big way.

When talking about a chronic condition, we need to know what you’re doing at home to take care of yourself.  Are you exercising, are you smoking (and WHAT are you smoking?), do you check your blood sugar or blood pressure and how often.  Please don’t tell me what you think I want to hear.  I want to know the truth, because it impacts the advice I will give you.

One more thing to be aware of when talking with your doctor is that if we ask you to do something you are NOT willing or able to do, you have to speak up.  I have had patients seem to agree with me, then just never come back.  There is always something we can do to move closer to your goals.  If you can’t do one thing, we can do something else.

For instance, if you have a medical condition that is not under control, and I want to change your medication to X and you’re not comfortable with that, that’s fine.  We can change it to Y instead.  Not doing ANYTHING isn’t really an option, but there are a variety of things we can do.  We need to decide together.  And if medication X causes a problem, I definitely need to hear about it ASAP!

You and your doctor are a team.  If you don’t think your doctor is listening to you, call them on it.  If they aren’t helping you, make sure they understand clearly what the problem is and what your expectation is.  Don’t lose a good doctor because of communication problems!

It all comes down to trust.  You need to trust that I hear you and have your best possible health as my goal.  I need to trust that you will tell me the truth, both when I ask for it and when I haven’t asked but need to hear it anyway.  Especially if you think I won’t like it.

QUESTION: Do you feel like you can talk to your doctor?  Why or why not?

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How To Help A Friend With Cancer

These are three of the most frightening words in the English language.  “You have cancer.”

My dear friend was just diagnosed with cancer.  As you can imagine, this is overwhelming and confusing.  In most situations, friends and family desperately want to help but it’s hard to find the balance between helping and hovering.

When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, I was asked over and over, “How can I help?”  It’s difficult to know how to help a friend with cancer.

For those with cancer and their loved ones, it’s important to remember that they are too busy with doctor’s appointments, treatment options, financial worries and sleepless nights to think “Hey, I can ask Karen to bring dinner over,” or “I wonder if Tom could pick up the kids from practice tonight.”

No one WANTS to need help.   Most of us resist asking for help fiercely.  So if you have a friend that’s newly diagnosed with cancer, they need YOU to reach out and offer.  Here are a few suggestions from our experience.

FOOD

If your friend is undergoing chemo, healthy nutritious food is often just too much trouble.  Offering to bring dinner is an incredibly kind way to take a small weight off.

For a cancer patient undergoing chemo, the sense of taste is often disrupted.  Food doesn’t taste good and nausea can be a big problem.  Simple nutritious foods, lightly flavored and spiced, are the best.

If you know your friend well and understand his or her food preferences, feel free to choose for him.  Otherwise it’s best to offer a small number of options.  “Hey Sharon, I’m going to bring dinner over for you tomorrow night.  I know chemo sucks and I’m not sure how your stomach is feeling.  Would you like some of my black bean soup and a salad, or maybe a pasta dish with chicken?”

ERRANDS AND HOUSEHOLD CHORES

All the little things that go into running a household are ten times harder to accomplish while undergoing cancer treatment.  Everyone can use help with cleaning, laundry, shopping and running the kids to and from their activities.

Again, remember that your friend is not likely to reach out and ask for help.  It’s up to you to offer.

PRAYER

One of the most important services you can provide for any cancer patient is prayer.  Studies have shown that third-party prayer improves health care outcomes.  No matter what your faith, prayer works and will help.

Encourage the cancer patient to stay active in their faith.  Offer to pick them up for services or reach out to the clergy at their congregation and ask for in-home ministry.  If your friend is hospitalized be sure to notify their congregation and let the nursing staff know to alert the hospital’s pastoral ministry department.  I know from personal experience how comforting it is to have a visit from a clergy member or lay minister while hospitalized.

If your family member or friend is diagnosed with cancer, it can be overwhelming to know what to do to help.  There are a number of simple, concrete things you can do to help a friend with cancer.  And remember to stay in touch.  Short phone calls can help reduce the isolation that cancer patients feel and remind them that they are loved.

QUESTION: Have you had trouble knowing how to help a loved one with cancer?  What was your experience?

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Meditation For Stress Relief

I’m happy (I think) to report that a major milestone has been reached in my family.  My older son is 15 1/2 years old and yesterday got his temporary driver’s permit.  So it begins!  I may never draw a stress-and-anxiety-free breath again!  He hasn’t had his first lesson and already I’m worried…

In the stress and anxiety department I know I’m not alone.  Would it be fair to say that all of my readers are under some stress?  Yep, pretty much.  Stress is a way of life nowadays.

For those of us who are parents, stress makes our tempers short and tolerance low.  It makes us snap at our kids and keeps us from enjoying our time with them.  It also can lead us to overeat and indulge in other activities that aren’t good for us OR our families.

There are many ways to reduce stress.  Learning time and task management skills, decreasing commitments, and practicing gratitude are some ways.  Some people choose  to take medication.

There is also very good evidence that meditation for stress relief is effective.  Why would meditation be helpful when under stress?

First I want to review a little physiology.  Bear with me, it will help you understand why meditation is helpful.  There is a component of your nervous system that is called the autonomic nervous system.  Its job is to control all of the things that happen in your body without you thinking about them, like breathing, heart rate, circulation, digestion, sweating, bowel and bladder function and sexual activity (once triggered by conscious thought).

The autonomic nervous system also is divided into two components: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.  The sympathetic nervous system is activated with stress, and brings out the “fight or flight” response.  Blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate go up, pupils dilate, circulation is directed away from the digestive tract and towards the brain and muscles (preparing to fight or flee from a threat).  The adrenal glands dump adrenaline into the blood stream.  If stress lasts awhile the adrenals also make cortisol to increase blood sugar production by the liver.

Can you see why chronic sympthetic activation is a bad thing?  Having the blood pressure and heart rate high is really hard on the circulatory system.  Adrenaline itself seems over time to be poisonous to the heart.  Chronic stress is hard on the digestive tract, leading to irritable bowel syndrome.  High cortisol levels can lead to weight gain and diabetes.

So how do you calm down the sympathetic nervous system?

One way is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.  If sympathetic is “fight or flight,” parasympathetic is “rest and digest.”  One of the most effective ways to purposely activate the parasympathetic nervous system is to meditate.

Meditation has been shown to produce improvement in mood disorders, epilepsy, autoimmune symptoms, menopause symptoms and PMS symptoms.

There are many ways to meditate.  Some well-known techniques include Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, various types of Buddhist meditation, and Metta meditation.  All forms of meditation seek to calm the mind, go beyond the mind and enhance concentration.  The physical health benefits are very well documented.

Like many other areas of life, to get the most out of meditation you need a good teacher.  I’d like to recommend to you that, if you’re in the Cleveland area, you should consider MY teacher.  We have a beginning meditation class starting soon.

Dr. Vincent Gentiluomo is a skilled martial artist and spiritual teacher.  You can learn more about him and his background at this link.  He offers both group classes and individual teaching.  If you would like more information, you can contact him via email at docvg1@gmail.com or by phone at 440–773–4004.  He can help you choose the program that’s right for you.

If you’re finding yourself struggling with stress and its effects on your body, meditation is one effective way to reduce your stress and bring your body back into balance.

For more information about the biology of stress, check this link.

QUESTION:  Do you meditate?  How has it helped you?

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Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions! (Here’s What To Do Instead)

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a while ago.  They never last, and they are just a huge source of frustration.

Think about it.  What was your resolution last year?  Did you keep it?  Did you lose weight, start exercising, spend less, save more?

There are lots of industries that count on you NOT keeping your resolution.  The fitness industry charges an annual membership fee but lots of gym members stop going after 4-6 weeks (if that).  Failure is very lucrative for the weight loss industry, right?

Behavior change is incredibly hard.  Why set yourself up for failure?  Use these 4 suggestion to set a goal that IS doable for you!

Short term

A year is too long for a meaningful goal.  Chop that goal up into manageable, bite-sized chunks.  Remember, how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

It is fine to say “I want to lose 30 pounds by next Christmas”.  However, that is a HUGE goal and it would be easy to procrastinate.  Set a 1-month and 3-month goal so you can keep the finish line in sight and stay motivated.

Specific

Don’t set vague goals.  Be VERY specific.  In our weight loss example you might say “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of January.”

The next question is “How am I going to do that?”  Easy to say “Eat right and exercise more.”  That is WAY too vague.  A better goal would be “I’m going to sign up for Betty Rocker’s 30-day fitness challenge at makefatcrychallenge.com and commit to 15 minutes per day to get stronger and more fit.”

(BTW I’m personally planning to do the Make Fat Cry Challenge starting on New Year’s Day.  NO, I’m not posting before-and-after pics, LOL!)

Realistic

Make sure before you set a specific, short-term goal that it’s something you can ACTUALLY do.  If you have chronic foot and ankle pain, committing to run a marathon in the spring might not be realistic.

Do you have the finances to eat all-organic?  Can you commit the time to cook all your meals at home?  Or would it be better to commit to choose grilled rather than fried foods and vegetables rather than starchy sides when eating at restaurants?

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set aggressive goals.  I’m all for shooting for the moon!  Even if you don’t quite make it, you’ll still have made huge progress, right?  It’s all about balance, though.  If your goal is too aggressive you might get frustrated and give up.

Measurable

Part of making your goal specific is making it measurable.  Betty Rocker recommended we take a calendar or white-board and put a big X through each day as we complete our daily workout.  Seeing measurable progress is a great motivator!

If you have a weight loss goal make sure to NOT have all your measuring happen on the scale.  Take your tape measure and write down your inches because in those plateau periods where you’re not seeing progress on the scale, often your clothes will be fitting differently and you can see progress in your inches instead.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions anymore because I’ve seen too many people (myself included) set resolutions and fail to keep them.  Instead I set measurable, realistic, specific short-term goals and do my best to knock them out of the park!

QUESTION: What specific, measurable, realistic short-term goal will you set for yourself for the next 1 to 3 months?  Comment and tell me about it!

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I Was On The Radio!

Hi, everyone!

This week I did something new – I was invited to be a guest on my friend’s internet radio show.  She is a runner, and we talked about a number of things related to that topic.

Please click this link to check out the podcast!

Listen to find out:

  • The most common runners’ injury, and how it is treated
  • The most common nutritional problem runners face
  • What do penguins have to do with running?
  • And more!

Thanks so much Alanna, Karen and Laz for the fun time 🙂

QUESTION: Do you want to hear me do more podcasts? Do you like video blogs?  Or do you prefer text (written) blogs?

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Boo! Healthy Halloween Treats For You!

Happy Halloween everybody!  I LOVE Halloween 🙂  Costumes and boisterous kids and, yes, treats.  If you come in to the office on Halloween you’ll see that my office really gets into the spirit.  Nope, I’m not going to tell you what my costume is.  Maybe I’ll post a pic on my Facebook page on Tuesday 🙂

The downside of Halloween is that it starts the snack-food feeding frenzy that doesn’t end until New Year’s Day.  It’s a constant parade of sweets and treats for the next two months.  VERY difficult for those of us who are conscious of our weight and our health.

Fear not!  There are plenty of healthy Halloween treats available!  Here are a few ideas of how to help your kids (and your neighbors) have a happy healthy Halloween!

1.  Dark chocolate:  Dark chocolate is MUCH better for you than milk chocolate.  It has more antioxidants and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

2.  Portion-packs of apple slices, pretzels, raisins, trail mix or nuts.  Make sure to ask if nuts are OK, some children are allergic.

3.  Dried fruit:  Banana chips, freeze-dried strawberries, pineapple, raisins, so many possibilities!  Sweet and MUCH healthier than candy!

4.  Carrot sticks:  Sweet and crunchy, and oh so good for you!  Full of fiber and vitamin A for healthy skin and eyesight.

5.  Popcorn balls:  Also high in fiber, popcorn balls are available at this time of year in factory-sealed packages for trick-or-treaters.

I found an awesome YouTube video from The Vegan View with four different awesome idea for healthy Halloween-themed treats.  These would be great to make with kids.  Check it out!  (And their costumes are so cute!)

Here’s a photo of the most adorable Halloween treats I’ve seen this fall, courtesy of Pinterest!a8947aaa1fb9b9debe8a096ef0561147Make sure you set aside some time to stay active, and eat a healthy meal with the kids before they head out trick-or-treating.  Send the kids out with a SMALL bag and encourage them to take only one piece of candy at each house.  After they get home, consider having them choose their favorites to keep and then have a “candy buy-back” for cash, a gift card, or a special privilege.

Have fun, stay safe, and be healthy!

Question:  Are you planning to take any steps to “limit the damage” to your health this Halloween?  Please share your ideas below!

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How To Take Care Of A Cancer Patient

Most of you know that my husband Russ has been battling multiple myeloma for the last 6 1/2 years.  What you may not know is that although he was in remission without treatment for over 3 years, this summer the cancer unfortunately relapsed.

Of course, as his wife, my focus is doing everything I can to keep him healthy and make this next leg of the journey as successful as possible.  What can I do to help him?  I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned about how to take care of a cancer patient.

The sad reality is that we will all, at some point in our lives have a close friend or family member struggle with a life-threatening illness.  Knowing how to help them is a useful skill and can make us caregivers feel less helpless.

Make sure they eat, drink, get fresh air and rest

Whether you feel like a bully or not is irrelevant.  Cancer patients need to eat.  Simple, fresh, nutritious food that is easy to grab and go should be available all the time.  Keep in mind that cancer treatment often changes the sense of taste.  The patient’s favorite foods may not taste good to them, and they may get weird cravings.  Stay flexible.

Sandwiches, soups, fresh fruit and veggies, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and calorie-dense foods like nuts and nut butters are good choices.  Good fats like avocado hide easily in blender smoothies.  Protein smoothies (non-GMO soy is better than when as a protein source) are a good protein source.  Be careful with meat, it’s hard to digest and may make nausea worse.

Staying hydrated is important.  Water is the best way to hydrate but iced tea is good too and adding lemon or lime juice can make plain water less boring.  Don’t rely on soda because neither added sugar nor artificial sweeteners are healthy choices.  Sports hydration drinks are OK if the patient has diarrhea but choose one that doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or colors (Shaklee Hydrate is my choice!).

Sleep is tough.  Many cancer patients don’t sleep well, because of symptoms, treatment effects and stress.  Talk to their doctor if they’re having trouble sleeping, medications can help.

Also don’t underestimate the importance of getting outside.  Nature is healing and too much hibernation is not good.  Russ’s first outing after being in the hospital in 2011 was to the Yankee Peddler Festival.  Granted, he spent a lot of time holding down benches and tree stumps, and we didn’t stay long, but he was in the fresh air and sunshine, and we were together as a family.

Take care of yourself too

As I’ve written before, one of the first orders of business when you are a caregiver is to take care of yourself.  If you are exhausted you won’t be able to take good care of your loved one.  You can’t pour from an empty cup!

Eat and drink as you should.  Get enough rest.  Get outside, with or without your loved one.  Exercise.  Recharge your batteries by doing what you enjoy as often as you can.

Vent OUT, not IN

Not long ago, I read a really good article that was sort of about the etiquette of being around someone struggling with a serious illness.  I can’t find the article right now, but the gist of it is this.

Imagine a bull’s eye target with the patient in the middle.  Everyone they know is arranged in the rings around them.  Those closest to them, physically and emotionally, are in the smallest rings and as you get farther away you find distant family members, casual acquaintances and those they see in passing.

Their spouse and children are on the smallest ring.  Grown children may be a step out, depending on the relationship.

When you interact with others in relation to the cancer patient, remember that you are on the RECEIVING end from those who are farther in than you are.  For instance, when my mom was sick with breast cancer I had my own fears and anxieties.  My sister and I were terrified we were going to lose our mom.  I didn’t unload on her or my dad about that, though.  My husband or my close friends were my resource to deal with my own fears.  I vented OUT, not IN.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t tell a cancer patient that you’re afraid for them.  You don’t have to be relentlessly cheerful and optimistic all the time.  Just be careful not to add stress to their already overwhelming burden.  When dealing with a cancer patient, your goal is to relieve stress, not increase it.  Let them vent out, take pressure off, don’t increase the pressure.  It’s about them right now, not about you.

Cancer patients have a lot to deal with.  They are juggling treatment schedules, financial worries, physical symptoms and side effects, fears and anxieties.  Some may be continuing to work, like my husband.  They have family responsibilities as well.

There is a lot we can do to support a cancer patient in their journey back to wellness.  Support their health, take care of yourself and find your own support system to help you keep your feet under you.

QUESTION: Did I forget anything?  What has helped you in taking care of person struggling with a serious illness?

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Are Multivitamins Dangerous?

I’ve done a TON of physicals this week, and when I see a patient for a well visit, we always talk about diet.  For most (if not all) humans, the best diet is one full of whole fresh unprocessed plant foods, the more colorful the better.  Limiting meats and other animal-based foods is wise if your goal is to decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Even if you eat healthy, it’s hard to get all the nutrients you need from your food.  I always recommend a good quality multivitamin to my patients.  This week a few people have asked me, are multivitamins dangerous?

It’s common to see reports on the news that vitamin use increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other problems.  If you follow my blog (or talk to me for a few minutes) you know I believe strongly in good nutrition.  So when people are asking if multivitamins are dangerous, I want to reassure them.

Here on my blog I try not to lean on my own opinion too much.  So I went off to the research database, and found a great article published recently that reviewed recent research about the safety of multivitamin supplements.  You can read the article yourself at this link.

So are multivitamins dangerous?  Here are my 3 take-home points from this article:

  • Nutrition should come from food, but our diet is stupid, so taking a multivitamin is a smart harm-reduction method.

There is no multivitamin or supplement that can overcome a bad diet.  Too much processed food, food full of added sugar and fat, and food with artificial ingredients will damage your health.

With that being said, we live in the real world and there are times when we can’t eat a perfect diet all the time.  Even though we live in a country with fresh healthy food available, often it is grown and stored and transported in such a way that the nutrients degrade.  It’s been reported that our food is much less nutritious than it was 50 years ago.

In this day and age, a multivitamin can be sort of like the seatbelt in your car.  You should eat healthy (like you should drive safely) but your daily multivitamin can be a just-in-case safety measure for those crazy days when you just don’t get all the nutrients you need from your food.

  • Comprehensive multi-nutrient supplements (like a good quality multivitamin) are better and safer than single-nutrient supplement

Some research shows that single-nutrient supplements like calcium and vitamin E are associated with higher risk of some diseases.  I don’t recommend people take single-nutrient supplements.  You’re best off taking a comprehensive nutritional supplement program tailored to your specific needs.

For instance, a woman over 60 would need a good quality multivitamin that doesn’t contain iron.  A younger woman of childbearing age would need more iron, more iodine, and more folic acid in her multivitamin.  Someone with migraines or anxiety may need to add a B complex supplement and extra magnesium.  Someone concerned about heart health may want to add fish oil, coenzyme Q10 and extra magnesium.

People are different, and what works for someone else may not work as well for you.

  • There is no consistent evidence that taking a multivitamin increases the risk of cancer, heart disease or stroke.  There ARE suggestions that taking a multivitamin may reduce the risk of health problems in certain populations.  This is really exciting!

Multivitamins have been studied extensively to see if taking them is associated with lots of different medical problems. The research has been pretty neutral in general, with no association with higher OR lower risk of major medical problems.  This may be because multivitamin preparations vary so widely in quality and in what nutrients are contained in them.

A few consistent trends do seem to be present though.  Multivitamins are not associated with a higher risk of cancer.  Some studies have, in fact, shown a lower risk of cancer in people taking a multivitamin.  Researchers are doing more studies to see if they can show lower cancer risk consistently in those taking multivitamins.

Multivitamins also seem to not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, age-related eye disease, mental health and cognitive problems in the elderly, or overall mortality.

So what’s the overall point?  Take your multivitamin every day!  Even if you have a really healthy diet, a multivitamin will help fill in any gaps.  After all, these nutrients affect every cell in your body.  Every cell needs them, every day.

Need help choosing a multivitamin?  I recently wrote about how to choose a multivitamin, so click this link and read up!

You probably already know I use and recommend supplements from the Shaklee Corporation.  Want to see what products would be best for you?  Click this link and answer the questions to get your HealthPrint personalized nutrition assessment.

QUESTION: Do you take a multivitamin?  Do you feel it makes a difference in your health?

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What Is Physician Burnout?

Dr. Sadd is a colleague of mine that I’ve been worrying about for a while.  He comes to the office and constantly complains about EVERYTHING.  Dr. Sadd snaps at the office staff, makes negative comments about his patients, and has no tolerance at all when things don’t run smoothly.  He doesn’t really have “good days” and never seems to be happy.

Dr. Sadd is burned out.

What is physician burnout?  Burnout doesn’t just happen to doctors but is very prevalent in the medical field.  Because of this, research on burnout is often done on doctors and nurses and other medical professionals.

Physician burnout happens when the emotional and energetic toll of practicing medicine becomes overwhelming.  Burned out doctors and nurses are exhausted.  They are cynical and have a hard time connecting with others.  They doubt they are really making a difference.  Those of us in the health professions generally chose the field BECAUSE we want to make a difference.

If not addressed, burnout can drive doctors and nurses out of medicine.  Worse, burnout can cause depression and lead to suicide.  And physician burnout is very common.  Recent studies suggest that over half of American doctors are suffering from burnout.

What are the causes of physician burnout?  Recent changes in the American medical landscape with increased regulation and government reporting requirements are contributing to burnout.  We aren’t secretaries.  When we have to spend more and more time staring into the computer screen instead of interacting with patients, it adds more stress.

Doctors and nurses often feel they have less and less control over the way they practice medicine.  They often feel as though their training and expertise aren’t valued.   Checklists and paperwork, financial pressures and rules that don’t make sense all contribute.  If we don’t have enough support with the clerical side of things we can feel overwhelmed.

In addition, some doctors don’t have a good work-home integration.  Long work hours are hard on the family.  We neglect activities that we enjoy and put more and more energy into work.  Eventually the tank is empty and we have nothing more to give to our patients.

If you have lost the joy you used to take in your work, you might be burned out. You might be burned out if you are dreading going to work tomorrow,   If you find it really hard to finish tasks at work that used to be easy, or if you find yourself procrastinating, you might be burned out.

Unfortunately, if you are a doctor or nurse and you’re burned out, you might actually be dangerous.  Burnout increases the risk of medical errors.  In addition, patients who see a burned-out doctor are less satisfied with their care and may be more likely to sue if something goes wrong.  Interestingly, burned-out doctors seem to be more prone to car accidents.

What can you do about it if you are a doctor or nurse and you think you might be burned out?  First of all, be honest with yourself about the situation.  Talk with your supervisor and find out what resources are available at work.  Think about whether you’re taking steps to take care of yourself and enjoy your life NOW.  Too many of us focus on the future at the expense of the present!

After this process, it’s time to reconnect with the joy of your career.  Why did you choose a career in medicine in the first place?  What are the biggest stressors?  Are there ways to reduce the stress while maximizing the rewarding parts of your career?

Physician burnout (and nursing burnout) is a big problem in medicine and more and more organizations are recognizing it.  While your organization may offer tools to decrease burnout, it’s first up to you to recognize that you are losing your joy.

After all, the first step to fixing a problem is recognizing it exists in the first place.

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