The Unhealthiest Professions

How does someone’s job make them unhealthy? Does it force them to sit for long times? Do they have to go without easy access to a bathroom? Does it make it hard for them to exercise or get good quality sleep? What are the unhealthiest professions among my patients?

Now, I haven’t made a study of this, haven’t gone to the primary literature to find research articles or anything. And some professions, like personal trainers, physical therapists, dietitians and religious clergy seem to be very healthy in general.

But there are definitely professions that seem to have the “perfect storm” of unhealthy lifestyles.

Bus Driver

Bus drivers (whether school or city or long-distance coaches) have many lifestyle challenges that impact their health. In my experience school bus drivers have the most problems, usually because they don’t recognize how much their work is impacting their health.

If I were locked into a chair for 2-3 hours at a time and unable to access a bathroom, I would avoid drinking fluids for those hours. If I had no access to a refrigerator to keep fresh foods cold, I might feel I had to eat takeout or fast food for lunch every day.

Add to these challenges the enforced inactivity and high level of stress of being responsible for bus-loads of children and you’ve got a pretty toxic mess in many respects.

Truck Driver

Short-haul truck drivers have many of the same challenges as bus drivers do. Long-distance drivers, ironically, often have less problems because they KNOW they are behaving in ways that are unhealthy. Awareness is growing among trucking companies that prolonged sitting increases health risk, and driving hours restrictions are helping.

However, long-haul and short-distance truck drivers both have issues with prolonged sitting, unhealthy food choices and lack of exercise. It is just very hard for people in these professions to make healthy choices over the long run.

Night Shift Worker

If you work at night, you are fighting an uphill battle to stay healthy. I work in a 24-7-365 profession myself, so I know what I’m talking about. There are professions that MUST have night shift workers but working nights is incredibly hard on the body.

We are a daytime species. Our brains are hard-wired to sleep in the cool, quiet dark and to be awake in the bright, warm, noisy day. Even our livers know we should not eat at night.

Even for those of us who work in the daytime, have access to refrigerators and bathrooms and aren’t forced to sit for long periods, staying healthy is a challenge. Add work constraints and things can get really tough.

If you have a work environment that makes it difficult to practice good habits, please take stock and change what you can. Meal prepping and taking meals to work, even if you have to take a small cooler (click here to see my new lunch bag!), is worth the time and effort and saves money. Tracking your steps with a pedometer will help you be mindful of your activity level.

Drinking plenty of water helps keep your energy up. Making a point to get out in the fresh air and nature, practicing your faith, and spending time with loved ones helps to mitigate the effects of a job that is physically and mentally stressful.

YOU are important! Sacrificing your health in pursuit of money will only work for so long – eventually that will backfire. Take care of YOU, you’re the only one who can!

QUESTION: What other professions do you feel make it difficult to stay healthy? Do you have any ideas about how to make healthy choices in spite of your job?

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Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone!  Well, I’m a few days early, as it’s not until Monday, but I thought I’d talk a little about the history of Earth Day, as well as some things you can do to help protect the environment.

Earth Day was begun in 1970 in response to an oil spill off Santa Barbara, California.  It was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson who wanted a day to teach people about the impact of environmental change and educate about how our choices make an impact on the natural world.  There are Earth Day events all around the world nowadays, with the day commemorated in some way in nearly every small town and big city in America.

Many of the Earth Day events focus on the interrelatedness of humans with other species.  Everyone agrees that what happens to the Earth’s ecosystems impacts our species eventually.  It’s easy to see that overfishing will decrease our access to fish in our food supply, but subtle downstream effects may be more difficult to assess.  We all agree that using less fossil fuels is good in the abstract, but people disagree (often fairly violently) over what should be done about it.

Protecting unique ecosystems and unique species is a worthy goal, but sometimes it’s not clear what an individual can do to protect the environment.  Here’s a few things you CAN do:

1.  Reduce, reuse and recycle the packaging on products you buy.  Buy concentrated products that are later diluted with water.  Buy products that are packaged in pouches rather than bottles (less plastic) and in larger packages rather than smaller (less packaging per unit of product).  Use a tabletop water filter instead of buying bottled water.

Lunchmeats are often sold in reusable plastic containers that are nice for packing lunches.  Use washable dishrags rather than paper towels, and cloth napkins rather than paper ones.  Use real silverware and china instead of paper and plastic.  Use washable water bottles rather than buying bottled water in single-serving containers.

Find out what classes of materials your local recycling center accepts (they all take glass and aluminum/steel cans, but they vary on what class of plastics are accepted).  The type of plastic (signified by a number) is stamped on the package in the triangle-shaped recycle symbol.  Choose products packaged in plastics that you can recycle, if possible.  Here’s an example:

Plastic recycling symbol2. Eat mostly or exclusively plants.  Animal agriculture is one of the biggest identifiable threats to our environment.  The vast majority of corn grown in the United States is grown to feed livestock.  It takes immense amounts of land, water and energy to raise livestock for food.  Let’s not even talk about the cruel and inhumane treatment animals raised for food suffer.  And people who eat mostly or exclusively plants are healthier than those who eat animal based foods in large amounts.  Eating plants is better for people and for the environment.

3. Buy organic foods, and spend your money in ways that support environmentally responsible solutions.  Vote with your dollars.  The more demand there is for food that is raised in a way that is gentle with our planet, the more available and less expensive it will become.  This goes for renewable energy like solar and wind power.  Unlike some, I don’t believe that fossil fuels or animal agriculture should be outlawed.  This will damage our economy and hurt those who depend on them for their livelihood.  A gradual shift away as education and innovation increases demand for other alternatives is better.

Most of you know that I’ve been working with the Shaklee Corporation for the last 10 years.  I wanted to say a few things as well about Shaklee’s efforts to help the environment.  Right from the first day, Dr. Forrest Shaklee’s motto was “Living In Harmony With Nature.”  He believed that his company’s goal should be to develop products that improve the health of both people and the planet.

In the 1960s Shaklee produced one of the very first biodegradable vegetable-based nontoxic cleaning solutions, Basic H.  It is still available today, and a 16-oz bottle costing $12.15 retail makes 48 gallons of regular-strength cleaning solution.  It will clean windows and mirrors, fruits and vegetables, cars and boats and degrease your car’s engine.  I’ve used it nearly every way you can use it, and it works great.  The whole line of Get Clean products is nontoxic and safe for you, your family and your pets.

Shaklee provides support and nontoxic cleaning (and other) products to environmental research projects such as the Cousteau Society and the Whale Conservation Institute.  The company has organized and supported the planting of over 1 million trees.  Shaklee was the first company in the world to be certified Climate Neutral in 2000, offsetting carbon emissions by using renewable energy (solar, wind, etc) and planting trees.  The company has received numerous honors and awards for its leadership in environmental activism.

I’m very proud to partner with Shaklee to improve both the lives of my patients and the health of the planet.  Shaklee is offering free shipping on orders containing a Get Clean Starter Kit from now through April 26th, and will partner with American Forests to plant one tree for every starter kit purchased!  Here is a video that talks about the Get Clean Starter Kit.

Earth Day may be April 22, but we should be conscious of our impact on our planet every day, all year long.  One person alone can’t do much, but if we all pitch in and do a little every day (like reducing, reusing, recycling, eating more plants, eating organic and choosing environmentally-friendly products) we can make a big change together!

QUESTION:  What do you do to protect our planet?

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3 Ways To Stay Healthy While Traveling

BIG doings in our house this weekend!  My older son is taking a big trip – he’s going to Europe TOMORROW for Spring Break with a school group.  This mama is excited and nervous and…  did I already say nervous?  I did, didn’t I?

Earlier this week I had asked myself what I should write about this weekend.  Since my guy will be on the road I thought I would write about ways to stay healthy while traveling.  It’s not easy to keep your routines up while on vacation!  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.  Especially when we’re on a sightseeing trip, trying to cram as much as possible into a short time, we skimp on the downtime.  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 Europe makes me think a little about jetlag.  Europe is too far to try to stay on home time, especially with tour activities.  After arriving home, getting extra sleep is very important to catch up.

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.  (Not a problem for Chris and his fellow teenage tour mates!)  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 airports it is possible to find healthy foods to eat.  Salads, fruit, whole-grain breads, and unprocessed foods are not too hard to find, you just have to look for them, and ask if you don’t see them.

Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, make sure to adjust your water intake accordingly.  If I were going on a hike, walking a lot or doing something physically challenging I would be sure to drink more water.  Dehydration contributes to fatigue, can make motion sickness (like seasickness on cruise ships) worse, and can make you prone to mistakes.  Making avoidable errors while in a foreign country with unfamiliar customs and language is NOT ideal!

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.

There are a number of supplements I use to stay healthy while traveling, and will send along with Chris.  Of course he will take his Vitalizer daily, and Vitalized Immunity will help support his immune system.

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!

Fun fact – “souvenir” is the French word for memory.  I’m praying hard for Chris to only bring home GOOD memories of his first trip to Europe!

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

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Fatty Liver Disease And Dietary Factors

I have a LOT of patients who have fatty liver disease. It is a huge epidemic in the USA and is the number-one cause of liver transplant now that hepatitis C has such successful treatments available.

New research is shedding more light on the causes of fatty liver disease, and giving clues to dietary factors that may be protective. I found a recent article with some very exciting findings that will help me guide my patients who are dealing with fatty liver disease.

Credit: indigobiosciences.com

It is becoming increasingly clear that fatty liver disease is a consequence of diets high in saturated fat and sucrose, fructose and other simple sugars. (Fruit doesn’t seem to carry the same risk; it is thought that the fiber in fruit is protective. Also most fruits don’t impact the blood sugar and raise insulin the way processed sweets and simple sugars do.)

When people eat diets high in saturated fat (like that found in meat, dairy, coconut oil and palm oil) and sugar, it causes hormonal changes that damage the liver and cause droplets of fat to accumulate in the liver cells. It can progress to permanent liver damage and even to cirrhosis and liver failure, requiring transplant.

Turns out two different foods have been found to be protective against the development of fatty liver disease. They are even powerful enough to reverse it once it has set in. I have NO medication to do this. Food is medicine!

Soy

β-Conglycinin, a protein that makes up about 30% of the protein in soybeans, has been shown to reduce intra-abdominal obesity and serum triglycerides and lower insulin levels. It took a LOT of this protein, 5 grams daily, to produce this effect, which corresponds to 15-20 grams of soy protein daily.

In both mice and humans, β-Conglycinin was shown to prevent the development of fatty liver disease and to improve the condition once it is present.

I have known soy to be a healthy food for a long time. Soy protein supplementation helps me maintain my weight and provides a lot of my protein needs, since I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. Want a safe, non-GMO, delicious soy protein shake to use for breakfast or lunch? Check out Shaklee’s Life Shake – you’ll love it, I guarantee it 🙂

Fish Oil

Fish oil has been a bit controversial in the treatment of fatty liver disease. It has been shown, in doses equivalent to 1000-4000 mg daily in humans, to prevent the development of fatty liver disease in mice and to improve fatty liver disease in humans.

I advise people who choose to take fish oil to take one that provides at least 300 mg EPA per gram of fish oil. This ensures you are getting the “good stuff” as EPA and DHA are the omega-3 fats responsible for fish oil’s good effects. Shaklee’s OmegaGuard is highly concentrated and free of contaminants. It’s the one I trust for my and my family’s use.

If you have been told you have fatty liver disease, please take steps to reduce your intake of added sugar and saturated fat. Consider adding soy to your diet, preferably as a protein shake or smoothie as it takes a LOT of soy protein to affect this disease. Also consider adding a high quality fish oil supplement.

QUESTION: Do you know anyone with fatty liver disease?

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