Five tips for staying healthy in 2019 with Natalie Ikeman

 

Natalie Ikeman PA-C outside the WCCO studios in Minneapolis

Hey what’s up Healthy Matters people!

On the Healthy Matters radio broadcast this week, my colleague Natalie Ikeman, MPAS, PA-C from Hennepin Healthcare’s Golden Valley Clinic joined us by phone to offer some tips for staying healthy in 2019.

You know what is really cool about her advice?  It is achievable even for people like me and you!  She doesn’t tell you to go to the gym 7 days a week.  Or run 10 miles.  Or eat nothing but pine cones every day. She gives advice that real people can follow.

I asked Natalie if she would be guest write this blog post and she agreed so most of this post is her words.

To listen to the podcast of the show (Healthy Matters show #523, January 20, 2019), including Natalie’s portion at time 22:05, click the logo here:

In this post you will find:

Continue reading “Five tips for staying healthy in 2019 with Natalie Ikeman”

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No amount of alcohol is safe. Oh, c’mon now.

Hi, friends!  I’ve been gone on a bit of a hiatus but am back and ready to weigh in on the health care news of the day.  Like this eye-catching headline I recently read:

“No amount of alcohol is safe, health experts warn”

A new study was recently published that pretty much came to that conclusion.  The authors did a big retrospective look at previous medical research into alcohol use and concluded that there was no amount of alcohol consumption that could be considered safe.  This really made the news all over the place, like this sobering 30-second blurb:

Due to my unending dedication to finding sound medical advice . . . and even more because I had just enjoyed a nice glass of a dry rose wine on a hot summer evening and didn’t want a bunch of egghead researchers to spoil it for me . . .  I had to investigate further.   Read on for my take on the latest alcohol brouhaha. Continue reading “No amount of alcohol is safe. Oh, c’mon now.”

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Menopause

Our Healthy Matters show last week focused on menopause. We billed the show as being about “Women’s Health” and as we all know, women’s health is more than menopause.  But I had an expert in the studio and there is so much interest in menopause!  So we focused on that specific topic.  This post recaps a few learning points from the show.

If you are looking to register to be an audience member for our Decade with Dave live radio broadcast on June 10, or for the Here 4 Health community education series, click here.

If you missed the show (Healthy Matters show #488, May 20, 2018), listen to the abbreviated podcast by clicking the banner:

In this post, you’ll read about:

  • Basics of menopause
  • What’s a hot flash and what can be done about it
  • Acupuncture in the treatment of menopause symptoms

Continue reading “Menopause”

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Women’s heart health: your questions answered

Michelle Carlson, MD & Jill Jordan, PA-C, , MMS, RD

Think men and women are just the same?  No, I didn’t think so.  But when it comes to heart disease, much of what the medical community talks about is focused on men’s heart health.  So on the Healthy Matters radio broadcast last Sunday, we focused on women’s heart health.

I was joined in the WCCO studios by two women whose careers are focused on caring for hearts.  They are Dr. Michelle Carlson, a cardiologist, and Jill Jordan, a Certified Physician Assistant with clinical practice in Cardiology.  Not only are these two really knowledgeable about cardiology in general, they are particularly tuned into the health of women.  Not only that, they do cool work with cancer and heart disease.   And I can personally vouch that they are approachable providers with a good listening ear and wise advice for their patients.

Three things you can do to learn more:

  • Listen to the podcast of the Women’s Heart Health show by clicking the logo here. It is Healthy Mattes Show #482, April 8, 2018

  • Click Dr. Carlson and Jill Jordan’s pictures here for their bio and contact information, or go to the Heart Center at Hennepin Healthcare to learn more and including info on making appointments.
Michelle Carlson, MD
Jill Jordan, MMS, PA-C, RD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Read on for brief and informative answers to listener questions that we did not have time for on the radio broadcast.  Heart attack, jaw pain, ischemia, family history, varicose veins, valves, exercise, diet, yoga.  It’s all here!  The responses are directly from Dr. Carlson and Jill Jordan.  Don’t miss the last question (scroll down!) about heart disease and cancer.   Pictures and links, too!

Continue reading “Women’s heart health: your questions answered”

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The connection between weight and heart disease

We all know that being overweight is probably not good for our health.  It seems to make intuitive sense and there is ample scientific data that says losing weight is good for you in the long run.  But there are many uncertainties.  One of the unanswered questions is how best to measure body fat and how best to correlate being overweight with long-term disease.

This past week there was a big study published out of Europe that tried to address these issues.  In this post I’m going to break it down for you and see if there is anything we can learn from this study.  As always,  it is important to note that this is just one observational study, which means that it simply looks at a large population of people and attempts to observe a specific medical outcome (in this case, heart disease) with a specific condition (in this case being overweight).  It can’t prove cause and effect!

Consider this post a “mini-Medical School” in which I’ll walk you through a medical research study.  It may get a bit nerdy.  Here we go.

Continue reading “The connection between weight and heart disease”

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In case you missed it: our most popular topics

I have been writing My Healthy Matters for nearly two years, and over that time there have been over 50,000 views to the site.  To all of you who read along with me, THANK YOU!

I took a pause in writing new posts today to look at the statistics on what most of you are reading on the blog.  It is really fascinating to see what strikes your collective fancy, so I thought I’d do a little retrospective post to highlight the most popular posts of the past.  You may wish to go back and read what you missed.

I’ll rank them in order of popularity, based on number of people who viewed them in 2017, and I’ll include links to the posts in case you want to read them.

Continue reading “In case you missed it: our most popular topics”

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New blood pressure guidelines: 130 is the new 140

Dr. Marty Stillman reassures me about my blood pressure

For many years I have been telling listeners and patients that “one-third of you have high blood pressure and many of you don’t know it.”  Turns out I need to update that to “nearly one-half of you have high blood pressure and many of you don’t know it.”

That is because the American College of Cardiology / American Heart Association guidelines for hypertension – high blood pressure – were recently updated.  Like any good scientific process, the guidelines change as our knowledge of the science changes.  That is exactly what occurred this past month.

I mentioned all this on the most recent Healthy Matters radio broadcast.  I started the show off with this information, all of which you can listen to on the podcast by clicking Healthy Matters show #463, November 19,2017.

Your doctor may be . . . should be . . .  talking about this with you at some future visit.  In this post I’ll try to break the new guidelines down for you a bit.  If you read on, you’ll find:

  • New 2017 blood pressure guidelines
  • Bad effects of high blood pressure
  • A word about garden hoses and metal pipes.  Huh?
  • How to measure your own blood pressure.
  • Treatments for high blood pressure.
  • Tips about healthy living.

Let’s get to it.

Continue reading “New blood pressure guidelines: 130 is the new 140”

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Can you exercise your way to a lower weight?

Hey friends!  Back in April I had just returned from “doctor college” in San Diego and I intend to share bits of what I learned there.  Previous posts in this vein have been:

This post is about exercise and weight loss.  Specifically:  Is exercise an effective way to lose weight?

Hmmm . . . . donuts.

Anybody else have a somewhat idle piece of exercise equipment in your house?  The picture at the top of this post is my actual basement treadmill.  On the plus side, it is a terrific place to hang shirts while ironing.  On the negative side, I’m delinquent in my ironing duties.

It is a pretty rare bird indeed who doesn’t sometimes want to lose some weight.  I’m in this group.  Although I’m a rather skinny, lanky guy – I do have that bit of a gut that hangs out more than I’d like.  And I’m a runner, at least much of the time, so I’m thinking . . . WHAT GIVES?  How can I exercise as much as I do and still have weight in places I don’t want it?

I have been told it is not a dearth of exercise that is leading to a big belly, but it is an abundance of donuts.

And who am I kidding, if there is anything that ought to be in abundance, it’s donuts, I say. Continue reading “Can you exercise your way to a lower weight?”

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Getting to – and maintaining – a healthy weight

By D. Bernard & Co, Melbourne (photographer) Adam Cuerden (restoration) via Wikimedia Commons

It is practically an expectation in health and wellness forums to talk about weight loss after the first of the year.  New Year’s resolutions being all the rage in January.  Perhaps you plan to lose a few pounds this year?

For me, it’s always around the middle where I put on a few pounds.  You know, the little beer belly.  The muffin top.  The love handles.  Begone, all of ye!

I was doing so well last fall, eating right, exercising more and so forth.  Then winter in Minnesota hit.  Now it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.  The perpetual ice slick on the sidewalks turn running or walking outside into a potentially bone-shattering experience.  I mean, literally, bone-shattering as in broken hips and wrists.  It has been so cold outside that your teeth hurt the minute you leave the house.

So I tend to hibernate a bit.  Evenings on the couch reading next to a warm fire, although evoking images of Norman Rockwell, are not the way to shed pounds.  Especially if I’m eating unhealthy foods all evening and maybe having a glass of wine with my chocolates.  Wow that is starting to sound good:  warm fire, wine chocolates, a good book . . . ah, but I digress.  I’m supposed to be talking about diet and exercise here.

 

Reminds me of a post I did about the challenges of staying active in northern climates. Check it out here.

To show you the depth of my dedication to the cause of fitness, I included a recent photo of me above.  Yup, that’s me all right.

Healthy life choices

So we talked weight loss and healthy livin’ on the show this week.

Natalie IkemanTo help me out, I invited a repeat guest to last Sunday’s Healthy Matters broadcast.  Joining me on the radio show was Natalie Ikeman, who is a Physician Assistant HCMC’s Golden Valley Clinic.  She runs “The Great Slim Down” weight loss program which you can check out here.

 

 

If you missed the show, you can to the podcast by clicking the “Play” arrow here: Healthy Matters logo alternate

 

Tips for losing weight and keeping it off

Natalie gave us some great tips from her work with patients trying to lose weight.  I’ll review some of them here.

Make goals.  

With her patients, Natalie meets monthly to set goals.  The good news is that they don’t have to be huge undertakings.  The goals can be small changes in your daily lifestyle which you continually adjust, a process which Natalie refers to as “turning up the dial” on your goals.

Just a few examples of achievable goals are:

  • Stress management tactics
  • Better food choices
  • Portion control when eating
  • Finding time for daily movement, like taking small walks on your lunch hour

Nothing big, nothing huge, just small changes to your daily routine.

People who are successful at weight loss have some common characteristics:

Natalie’s patients in the Great Slim Down have lost an average of about 16 pounds.  That is not only impressive but it is a sustainable amount of loss.  She points out a few characteristics of these patients:

  • They keep a daily record of their food intake.  The simple act of recording what you eat – whether on paper or using one of the many apps for your mobile device – makes a person aware and less likely to fool themselves into thinking they are eating healthier than they really are.  People usually eat more calories than they realize!
  • They are active often in their daily lives.  They find a way to move throughout the day.
  • They are striving to meet their own goals, not goals set by someone else.
  • They hold themselves accountable by sticking with it.

Pop (soda for those of you not from Minnesota) is not a healthy choice.

The sugar in soft drinks has virtually no nutritional value, and in fact, it probably leads to weight gain.  For more on that, see my previous blog post, “Just a spoonful of sugar . . . is really not good for you.”

After Natalie and I suggested that we ought to avoid so much sugary soft drinks, a few listeners asked if diet pop is healthier.  In a word, no.  Although diet soft drinks are probably better than sugary drinks, they also contain ingredients that lack much nutritional value.  Maybe stick to water!

So how about water?

For years, decades really, people have been taught to drink more water.  Most of us probably remember the “8 glasses a day” advice.  That is, in fact, what I told patients for years.  But the reality is that there is not a lot of scientific evidence that otherwise healthy people need to drink more water than they already do.  In other words, if you are thirsty you get a drink and if you are not, you don’t.

Photo: Jean Fortunet
Photo: Jean Fortunet

So that’s it?  Is that all there is to the water story – that it doesn’t matter?

Well, maybe not so fast. . . as we talked about on the radio program, there are some studies from this past year that suggest that there really is a benefit to drinking more water.  One study found that more water was associated with less obesity.  You can read about that one here.  Another study found that drinking more water made people consume fewer calories, – check out this article about that one from the Atlantic.

I should caution that no single study can be used to definitely prove anything.  Truth with a capital “T” is hard to come by in medical science!  So whenever I refer you to studies like these, I do so to get you thinking about your own situation and not to imply that one study is proof of anything.  Replication is the key in scientific studies (the findings of one study must be confirmed with separate studies).

But the water studies are at least thought-provoking.  It makes sense to me that if you are focusing your liquid intake on water, you will be less likely to drink soft drinks and fruit juices that are loaded with calories and sugar.  That has to be a good thing.

As Natalie said on the show, none of us should be “drinking our meals.”  Amen to that.

Move more

One half of the healthy equation is Eat Less.  The other half is Move More.  But how?  Most of us are not about to lace up our running shoes and hit the pavement for a long run.  Most of us can’t get to the gym for a run on the treadmill or an exercise class.  If you can do those things – great!

But lots of us have physical limitations that prevent vigorous work outs.  And gym memberships ain’t cheap!  So what can we do?

Let’s turn to Natalie again.  As a companion to “The Great Slim Down” program, she has produced a series of short videos to give you ideas for exercise that may be right for you.  Some are low intensity, others more vigorous.  Some require standing and moving while others can be done by people from a seated position.

Here’s an example of one of Natalie’s videos:

To see the rest of them, go to the HCMC YouTube channel.  If the link doesn’t work, simply search online for “HCMC YouTube channel” and click Playlists.  You’ll find them there.

Housework is good for you

Listen to the show podcast (the player is above in this post).  We talked about housework as a form of exercise.  And you know what?  It works.  One listener to the show moved nearly 10,000 steps in one day simply doing housework.  I complained that now I really have no excuse not to vacuum the house.  Rats.

The Great Slim Down

I’ll close with one last word about the Great Slim Down.  If you are in the Minneapolis area and struggling to lose some weight, maybe you should see Natalie.  Simply call 612-873-6963 or check out the Golden Valley Clinic site here.  No better time than now!

Thanks for reading.  Hope you are all having a good day, a good week, a good winter where ever you are!

David

 

 

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Apple cider vinegar: a Healthy Matters investigative report!

On a recent “Open Lines” radio broadcast (in which we have no topic and I simply answer the sundry questions from listeners) somebody asked about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.  Fair enough.

Well as a highly educated medical professional I am here to firmly and unequivocally state after my extensive exposure to the best in medical science that I know nothing about apple cider vinegar, whether it be the health benefits or culinary benefits or counter top cleaning benefits.

abby-and-acvBut happily, I’m not 100% ignorant about apple cider vinegar any longer.  Just about 90% ignorant. That’s since my daughter introduced me to the stuff while I was visiting her far from home at college.  Here’s how it all went down.  I was having some queasiness in my belly or some such thing and she goes to the cupboard and pulls down a giant bottle of ACV (apple cider vinegar = ACV).  Then she starts telling me all about how ACV improves everything from colds to upset tummy to sunburn and cancer and everything in between.  But she does live in Los Angeles so I naturally wondered what the crazy Californians are teaching my level-headed Midwest-raised daughter.

But I was game to give it a try.  So  we poured some ACV into a glass of water, I held my nose, and drank it all down.  It wasn’t too horrible to drink so that was a plus.  And dang if my stomach queasiness didn’t get a little better!

So I chalk up my rapid improvement to one of two possibilities:

Placebo effect – I convinced myself that it helped because I wanted it to help.

OR

Apple cider vinegar really does help upset tummies.

Which is it?

So in the spirit of hard-hitting investigative journalism and to be true to my medical credentials and only stick to the best science, I’ve done some looking into ACV as a health option.  Here’s what I found: Continue reading “Apple cider vinegar: a Healthy Matters investigative report!”

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