This, Not That, Thursday – Sugary Drink Alternatives

Hi everyone! 
For this week’s “This, Not That, Thursday” we are looking at healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. Numerous studies have shown the negative health effects of drinking sugary drinks on your waistline and your teeth. It may have far more health risks than many of us may realize. Drinking sugary drinks can cause a decline in kidney function, an increase in your risk of diabetes, and can cause vascular issues. Sugary drinks also deplete your mineral levels and leave you dehydrated. Sugary drinks are also linked to dementia and cancer.

These are just a few of the negative health effects of sugary drinks. Help to cut the cola with these healthy and delicious sugary drink alternatives.

Tea – iced or hot-
With all the different ways to enjoy it hot or cold, tea is likely one of the best sugary drink substitutes on this list. Tea has an extensive variety of flavor profiles and caffeine levels. There’s a tea out there for everyone! Perfect for any season or time of day, tea is a versatile sugary drink substitute and easy way to enjoy flavored beverages with little to no calories. Herbal tea can be used to help you unwind, boost your immune system, or reduce pain or soreness.

Freshly-squeezed lemonade-
A classic summertime pick-me-up, fresh lemonade—maybe with a dash of cane sugar or agave nectar for a hint of sweetness—has enough citrusy flavor to help wash away those memories of your sugary drink guzzling days.

Sparkling water-
After decades of public health initiatives, consumers are leaving sugary drinks behind for its sleeker, healthier counterpart: flavored sparkling water. Nowadays, sparkling water makers are everywhere, from homes to offices, hotels to restaurants. Rather than buying bottles and cans, avid sparkling water drinkers often invest in carbonated water dispensers to mitigate the environmental impact of buying cases of fizzy water. Now that’s some savvy sipping!

Kombucha-
Kombucha is a recent health trend that shows no signs of fizzling out. While its poignant flavor is not for everyone, Kombucha typically contains little to no sugar and is a potential source of probiotics, which are known to promote gut health. It contains antioxidants and may protect against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Sparkling water with a splash of juice-
Perfect for brunch, sparkling water with a splash of pineapple, orange, cranberry, or mango juice is a great non-alcoholic, low-calorie alternative to sugary drinks or mimosas at brunch.

Fruit and herb infusions-
Infusions are a great way to use up any extra fruit and herbs in your fridge before they spoil. Simply chop whatever fruit and herbs you have, throw them in a pitcher or reusable water bottle, and you’ll be sipping on some fruity goodness in just a few hours. If you enjoy fruit flavors but don’t want the sugar rush of juice, infusions are the way to go!

Coconut water-
Like Kombucha, Coconut water is a health fad and popular healthy substitute for sugary drinks that’s been on the scene for a few years now. Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is a natural source of potassium and electrolytes, making it the perfect tropical alternative to plain water.

Mineral water-
Mineral water contains zero calories and has the added nutritional benefit of minerals such as calcium, magnesium sulfate, and sodium sulfate. Mineral water is an everyday sugary drink substitute that’s sold at most grocery stores and online. It can help to lower blood pressure, regulate blood circulation, strengthen bones, and promote digestive health.

-Dr. P
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Turner Syndrome – A distinctive group of woman

 

Turner syndrome

Women with Turner Syndrome (TS) are a distinctive group of women who require specialized medical and obstetrical/gynecological care. TS is found in approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies and is the result of the loss or partial loss of an X chromosome. Normally women’s chromosomes are 45XX and with TS it will be 45X. Because of this missing chromosome women with TS can look slightly different and can have an array of possible medical conditions such as:

  • cardiovascular disease which could be the result of a congenital anomaly
  • osteoporosis
  • hypothyroidism
  • abnormal lipids
  • diabetes

Pediatricians and pediatric endocrinologists usually follow these patients closely during childhood and adolescence, initiating estrogen to begin puberty and normal development. Conception and pregnancy offer unique conditions which will require individualized intense care by a team of specialists and preconception counseling is a must. Because of the higher risks for various medical conditions, TS patients need to be followed carefully throughout their lives.

-Dr. P

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Are you at your mental best? No? Maybe you need a cup of coffee and a nap.

Most of us have a downtime in our day approximately 7 to 8 hours after we awaken so that means between 2 and 4 pm we may not be at our mental best. The benefits of an afternoon nap are well known with 10 to 20 minutes being the most ideal. We arise from the nap with increased mental sharpness. You can increase this mental boost even greater by having a pre-nap cup of coffee. The caffeine will kick in just about the time you get up and perhaps your thinking will be even sharper. It seems there is another benefit to having that extra cup of coffee!

Another reason to encourage weight control in adolescents

kid-scale

Obesity is a known risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer. A recent study out of Israel found that obese or overweight 17- and 18-year-olds can have an increased risk of developing colon and rectal cancer, and the risk may be increased as high as 50%! We now have another reason to encourage good eating and exercise habits for our children. The earlier these healthy life style habits begin, the better.

-Dr. P

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A New Way to Decrease Alzheimer’s Disease by Larger Percentages

ink pen and watch on calendarLast week, I attended our yearly national conference on anti-aging, and as always, there was so much new and exciting information!  One of the world’s experts on brain aging gave a statistic that we should all think about carefully.

If you live to 85 in our country, there is a 50% risk of developing a mental cognitive disease, including Alzheimer’s disease.  This risk can be decreased by 5% yearly for every working year after age 65.  This may mean that if you work until 75, your chance of cognitive loss decreases to 25%.  What happens if you work to 90?  This may cause us not to accept that gold watch at 65, so starting a new business endeavor at 70 may be perfect!

-Dr. P

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Pokémon Go – What Is This Game Your Children Are Obsessed with All About?

pokemon-go-what-is-this-game-your-children-are-obsessed-with-all-about-1575834_1920As you know, Pokémon Go is a hot new game being played by countless people.  There have been mixed reviews on this augmented reality game from concerns about safety to praises about increasing physical activity.  I posted this video to give you a very detailed description about what your children are involved in, and I believe it is important to have a discussion with them about the possible dangers to look out for while playing a game like this.

For even more information about this game, the article connected to the video explains why the game is appealing, how it works, some history of the game, and how it relates to the original Pokémon craze: vox.com/2016/7/11/12129162/pokemon-go-android-ios-game

-Dr. P

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Is Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?

Are you approaching or in menopause and are concerned about its symptoms?  My office manager and I are here to help!  We discuss bio-identical hormone replacement therapy questions and answers.  You will hear an introduction about the therapy, and I will help you understand it with more depth.

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What Factors Lead You to Vaginitis?

Vaginitis - Printed Diagnosis with Blurred Text. On Background of Medicaments Composition - Red Pills, Injections and Syringe.

Let us continue our update and review of vaginitis from my last post about this topic.

To better understand why vaginitis occurs, let us look at the vaginal environment.  The lining of the vagina is made of squamous epithelial cells.  These are flat and stratified, which means that there are multiple layers of these calls.  These cells are rich in glycogen – a storage form of glucose.  Remember, glucose is the most important simple sugar, and it is used as a source of energy for all human functions.

The squamous cells are continuously being shed from the lining and the glycogen in these becomes the energy for the lactobacilli that are naturally found in the vagina.  These bacteria convert the glucose into lactic acid, which keeps the vaginal environment in an acidic state, helping to maintain the normal vaginal bacterial flora plus preventing abnormal organisms from growing.

Microscopic view of Trichomonas vaginalis
Trichomonas vaginalis

If you disrupt the normal community of organisms, vaginitis can occur.  There are many factors that can affect this natural environment:

  • Pregnancy
  • Estrogen levels, for example, a menopausal state where estrogen levels are decreased
  • Different phases of the menstrual cycle
  • Sexual activity
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Different medications such as oral contraceptives and antibiotics

-Dr. P

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How to Exercise When Your Routine Is Being Snowed On

HowExSnow57039413 2If you are on a regular walking program as part of your exercise plan, the recent snowstorms may hold you back for a while.  It may be time to revisit your stairs at home or at work to continue staying in shape.

Try to vary your ascent by speed and the number of steps taken.  Before you begin each climb at home, you may want to add stretching and doing a plank or push-ups.  Before your descent, consider 10 jumping jacks.  Also, always remember to speak to your health care provider before beginning any exercise program!

-Dr. P

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What Are the New Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines for Average-Risk Women?

Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing MammogramThe American Cancer Society (ACS) recently updated their breast cancer screening guidelines for women who are at an average risk of developing the disease.  It was published in the October 20, 2015 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Society).

Here are the recommendations:

  • Women with an average risk of breast cancer should undergo regular screening mammograms starting at age 45
  • Starting at 40, have annual screenings if the woman desires
  • For women aged 45 to 54, the screenings must be annual
  • For women over 55, mammograms every 2 years or annually if the women desires
  • Screen as long as the overall health of the women is good or if her life expectancy is 10 years or greater
  • For average-risk women at any age, ACS does not recommend clinical breast exams for breast cancer screening

These recommendations have refueled the debate over what are the best guidelines, and these differ from the other major health organizations.  It can be confusing, but I think it opens more discussions between women and their health care providers concerning the best way to screen for breast cancer for each individual.  Please continue to speak to your health care provider about your breast health and come up with a plan best suited for you.

-Dr. P

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What Could Your Frequent Hot Flashes Indicate?

Mature Woman Experiencing Hot Flush From Menopause
Frequent hot flashes may indicate an increased risk of developing heart disease.

A recent small study of menopausal women with frequent hot flashes may show a relationship between these flashes and an increased chance of developing heart disease. Frequent hot flashes meant that the women experienced these flashes 5-6 times per day.

In the study, changes were seen in the vessels of the cardiovascular system.  This again points to the importance of menopausal women having regular visits with their health care professionals to assess their cardiovascular health!

-Dr. P

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These Missed Signs Could Be Why Women Are More Likely to Die of Heart Disease

Electrocardiogram - Concept of healthcare, heartbeat shown on monitor - pink

The risk of suffering from a heart attack increases for women after going through menopause.  It seems that estrogen is heart protective, and after the menses stops, estrogen production greatly decreases.  Therefore, heart problems become more of a concern.

It is important to remember that more women die of heart disease each year than men.  This may be attributed to the fact that women do not seek medical attention as quickly as men when possible heart concerns develop.  When suffering a heart attack, most men will describe crushing or squeezing chest pain while women will have no chest pain or simply a fullness feeling in the chest.  Many women during a heart attack may complain of dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and weakness.woman hugging her husband

Please be alert for a woman’s special signs of a heart attack, and do not delay a trip to the ER.  Your family and close ones need you!

-Dr. P

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Why Are Colonoscopies Crucial for You and When?

I would like to introduce you to my son, Dr. Michael Polcino III!  He is a board certified colorectal surgeon and surgical oncologist.  Today, he is discussing colorectal cancer and indications for a colonoscopy.  Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer for both men and women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.  My son’s website is: colorectalsurgeryoflongisland.com  His blog: colorectalsurgeryoflongisland.com/blog

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Are You Prepared for This Summer’s Tiniest Villains?

I was working in my garden, and guess what I discovered yesterday, once again?  I spotted another tick on myself!  Because of this, I thought it would be a great time to discuss ticks all over again – what they do, what you should do if you find one on yourself, and all about Lyme disease.

Are You Prepared for This Summer’s Tiniest Villains-742474_1280Over 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each summer, and 90% occur in 10 states.  New York is one of those states.  This disease is an infection caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which enters the body from an infected deer tick’s bite.

While the tick is attached, it begins to suck blood from the victim, and at this time, it regurgitates the bacteria back into the person’s system.  Most of the infections in humans are caused from the bites of immature ticks called nymphs, which are the size of poppy seeds.  The disease can also be transmitted from the bite of an adult deer tick, but because they are larger, they are more likely to be discovered before having time to transmit the disease.

The Infectious Disease Society of America does not recommend antibiotics for everyone who has been bitten by a tick.  If the rash of Lyme disease develops, then antibiotics are advised.

The rash is the easily noticed circular “bull’s eye” target-like rash.  This rash can begin anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks after the bite.  It starts out being the size of a quarter and can widen to 6 to 9 inches as the bacteria spread out.  If your anxiety of developing the disease is great, many doctors will treat you with doxycycline if you do not have an allergy to the medication.

You Found a Tick on Yourself – What Are the Next Steps?

Once you have discovered that a tick is on your body, you remove it with tweezers.  Try to detach it at the base of the tick’s attachment.  If it is removed within 24 to 48 hours, it is unlikely that it has infected you withTick Removal Display Image Lyme disease.  Also, it is important to remember that only 1 in 20 people bitten with an infected tick will develop the disease.  Not every deer tick carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, with usually 1 in 5 being carriers in high risk areas.

An Alternate Way to Remove Those Ticks!

I recently learned about a different way to help remove a tick.  Take a cotton ball and put liquid soap on it.  Cover the discovered tick with the cotton ball and rub the soap on the tick for a few seconds.  Usually the tick will dislodge on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball as you take it away.  Hopefully you will not need to try this method but keep it in the back of your mind.

What Is Most Likely to Happen if You Are Diagnosed with Lyme Disease?

When Lyme disease has been diagnosed because you have the “bull’s eye” rash from a tick bite or a positive blood test, your medical team will usually prescribe an antibiotic regimen.  Depending upon your history of allergies, two of the most common treatments are amoxicillin (500 mg three times a day for 14 to 21 days) or doxycycline (100 mg twice a day for 14 to 21 days).

Bull's Eye Rash (Tick)

Intravenous antibiotic treatments are not often needed, but they are needed when the Lyme infections are more serious.  These would include infections around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or heart (carditis).

I would like to leave you with two interesting facts about Lyme disease.  If for some reason you get the infection and do not obtain treatment with an antibiotic, you have about a 10-15% risk of developing Lyme arthritis, and this needs to be treated with a different antibiotic plan.

Even after treating Lyme disease and having no blood tests pointing to an active disease, about 10-20% of people will not feel well for months, having complaints of being exhausted and joint pain.  Antibiotics do not seem to be the answer for this frustrating condition.  The passage of time is the ultimate treatment.

Enjoy your summer and always check your clothes and body for ticks after working or playing outdoors in a grassy area.  Then take a shower, which removes the ticks off your body and prevents those troublesome bites!

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-Dr. P

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What Could Happen if You Smoke During Pregnancy?

We all know that cigarette smoking is a health hazard.  In pregnancy, smoking spreads that hazard to the baby as well as the mom.  The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides us with the following information:

  • It is reported that 10% of women smoke during the last 3 months of pregnancy
  • 50% of women who smoke before a pregnancy will quit during the pregnancy
  • 50% of women who stopped smoking during a pregnancy will go back to smoking after their baby is born
  • Smoking increases the difficulty to become pregnant
  • Smoking increases the risk of spontaneous miscarriages
  • Smoking also increases the risk of a premature birth
  • This action increases nicotine and decreases oxygen to the developing fetus
  • The baby’s placenta may not work as well in mothers who smoke
  • Smoking increases the risk of certain birth defects, including cleft lip and cleft palate

If you smoke, please try to stop for your health and the health of your baby.

Cigarette Blog

-Dr. P

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An Alternate Way to Remove Those Ticks!

…..Last weekend, I was reminded that we are deep into another summer that is full of the problems with ticks.  At the end of a great summer day, I watched as my daughter checked her little ones for ticks.  She keeps them away from the bushy areas, but at bath time the checking takes place.

…..I recently learned about a different way to help remove a Ticks 4 Green Cotton Ballstick.  Take a cotton ball and put liquid soap on it.  Cover the discovered tick with the cotton ball and rub the soap on the tick for a few seconds.  Usually the tick will dislodge on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball as you take it away.

…..Hopefully you will not need to try this method but keep it in the back of your mind.  Enjoy the summer!

concept

…..For my instructions on removing a tick with tweezers: You Found a Tick on Yourself – What Are the Next Steps?

-Dr. P

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Rejuvenate Your Life with This Simple Exercise

Everyone is always telling us to exercise, and we all know that the simplest program of all is walking.  There are many studies that confirm the substantial benefits of walking, and these include heart health, weight loss, stronger bones, and just feeling happier.  I have often advised my patients to try to walk about a half hour per day and explained that the distance at first is not important.

Young Woman Standing with Arms Stretched OutAs your conditioning improves, the distance over that time will increase and you will be surprised at how much better you feel.  Some helpful tips:

  • Start with a warm-up for the first few minutes to get the muscles going.
  • Like our mothers always told us, try to stand up straight and gently move those arms.
  • The proper shoes and socks are important.  I have always asked for the advice of the professionals at our local runner’s store.
  • Take those long steady steps so that the senior shuffle stays away from our door.

As always, if there are any questions about your health, speak to your health professional before beginning a program.  I am looking forward to saying hi as we pass on the streets of our neighborhood!

-Dr. P

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Are You at a High Risk for Lung Cancer?

Last week, I spent the day attending a conference at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.  It was called Lung Cancer Screening: A Paradigm Shift in Primary Care.  The main focus was on the changing thoughts and new protocols for screening for lung cancer in high risk patients.  Of course I looked at the course through my OB/GYN glasses, and here are some of the points I took home:lungs brown and pink

  • Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the United States, and it is now found as often in women as it is in men.
  • Therefore, for women in the United States, lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer, and its numbers are greater than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer combined.
  • Smoking and exposure to passive smoke are the main causes of lung cancer.
  • Finding lung cancer at an early stage and having it removed can give an overall cure rate of 80% at the Stage 1 level.
  • Low-dose lung screening CAT scans can pick up these early cancers, and the radiation exposure can be low, thus decreasing the radiation exposure risks.
  • With the new thoracic laparoscopic surgical techniques, post-op pain and recovery time have been greatly reduced.

The questions that need to be resolved are many.  When do you start the screening process?  In the high risk patient, do you screen yearly?  How do you define who is the high risk patient?  How are the scans paid for?

I left the conference more determined than ever to try to help my patients stop smoking and to help the younger ones not to start.  If you do smoke and have been smoking for a while, please speak to your health care providers to see if these new developments may be of help for you.  The lung cancer screening protocols are evolving so keep your eyes and ears open!

-Dr. P

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One Possible Way to Decrease Your Chance of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease

One Possible Way Decrease Alzheimer’s Smaller BlogI recently came upon an article which touched upon a walking program that could decrease the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Some studies have suggested that by walking about a mile each day, you can dramatically decrease your risk.

It seems that this decreases the mental losses by improving Reduce Alzheimer's Diseasethe blood flow to the brain and therefore keeping the brain cells healthier.  So one of the easiest exercises available to all, again shows great benefit.

Let us then begin a review of this exercise!

  • There are very few medical conditions that prevent us from walking.  Of course, always check with your medical professional before starting a new program.  Beginning at a slow pace in a safe area is a perfect way to start.
  • Good walking footwear is important, and replacement every 6 months or when the cushion of the heal wears is a must.
  • You should start with a few minutes of a mild warm-up with mild stretching.

-Dr. P

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Add Vitamin D to Your New Year’s Resolutions

…..The new year comes with all the resolutions we promise to keep.  Weight loss is
always the one we want to accomplish.  I wish to remind you again to continue your vitamin D supplements if you were found to be needing them.  Every day I read about theNew Year importance of this vitamin and appreciate its newer roles we have discovered.  Remember that it has an important place with our immune system, cancers, diabetes, and heart health; so speak to your family doctor or me at your next visit.

-Dr. P

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