“You are walking down a cool mountain pathway…”
Wondering what that title has to do with medical care?! I’ll give you a hint: hot flashes…
I recently came across a new study about a very different approach to menopausal hot flashes that I thought was very interesting. For those women that get them, hot flashes can be an uncomfortable and frustrating problem. I’ve had many conversations with women who want to lessen their hot flashes, but don’t really want to take medication. Unfortunately the treatment options that fit that description are not always as efficacious.
However there may be a new option on the horizon: hypnosis. At last month’s meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, a study was presented that showed a dramatic 70-80% drop in hot flash frequency and severity! (For those people interested it was a randomized, controlled study.) There also seemed to be beneficial effects on sleep and depression.
Hopefully more study will occur to confirm it, but these findings seem promising, and there isn’t much of a downside to trying it. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more.
Want an easy way to get more attractive skin?
Earlier this month researchers from Scotland published the results of a study that demonstrated a simple way to make your skin healthier and more attractive appearing in just 6 weeks. They found that when study participants ate about 3 servings more of fruits and vegetables a day, their skin coloration became healthier-appearing and measurably more attractive! Looks like fruits and veggies are good for you–inside and out!
Want to read more? Click here.
Cornerstone – In the News Again! Featured in the Health Journal!
Did you see who was featured in February’s edition of the Health Journal? Our very own, Dr. Christopher Dowd, was interviewed in a discussion about some home remedies that can be effective versus those that are better left alone. Even if home remedies might do the trick, all of the doctors interviewed agreed that it was important to include your doctor in what’s going on and which home remedies you plan to use to treat a problem. To read the article online, click here.
Not all Fat is Created Equal
Ever wondered why it sometimes seems that thin, fit people don’t have to watch what they eat as much and are better able to keep exercising? This month Harvard & Dana Farber researchers report on a newly discovered hormone, Irisin, that may play a role in this seemingly unfair phenomenon. Irisin, created when people exercise, seems to turn white fat cells into brown fat cells. White fat? Brown fat? What difference does it make–fat is fat, right? Actually no, not all fat is created equal.
White fat just stores calories, whereas brown fat actually burns calories. We used to think that only babies had brown fat. It was thought that they used it to help keep themselves warm until they were old enough to move around and generate their own heat, and then-no longer needing the brown fat’s heat-the brown fat was replaced by white fat. In 2009 we learned that some adults still seem to have some brown fat, but we didn’t know how or why. This new study seems to have revealed one possible mechanism. In brief, exercising muscles release a hormone called PGC1-alpha which in turn leads to the creation of Irisin. Irisin then travels to white fat and seems to signal the white fat to become brown.
Now these guys aren’t the only reasons fit people are more toned than sedentary individuals, but the study does demonstrate that the more you exercise, the more of these hormones you release, and the more brown fat you develop – ergo, burning calories for you and increasing your metabolism!
You can read more in this NY Times article.
Yoga = Apple?
You know the old saying about an apple a day? Well maybe we should be eating that apple and then spending some time practicing yoga….
There are increasing numbers of studies pointing to potential benefits from yoga in a variety of conditions. At the American College of Cardiology conference this month a study was presented that showed several beneifts of yoga in patients with a common irregular heart rhythm called Atrial Fibrillation. These included a 45% reduction in episodes of arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) as well as significant reduction in anxiety level. This adds to recent studies showing positive effects of yoga on in Heart Failure, in Coronary Heart Disease (heart blockages), in High Blood Pressure and in various types of Arthritis. Yoga can improve strength and flexibility, can be “anti-stress” and promote calmness & a sense of well-being, and may help relieve asthma symptoms. There is more research about yoga in progress including studies looking at insomnia and multiple sclerosis.
So is yoga a panacea? No probably not, but it does seem to have wide-ranging positive effects and is probably under-utilized in conditions in which it could help. If you’re suffering from one of the problems I mentioned, consider talking to your doctor about whether yoga might play a role in your care. If you’re not suffering from one of these problems, consider yoga as one way to incorporate regular exercise into your life.
What’s the best exercise?
Take a look at this article and you’ll see a few different opinions about the strengths & weaknesses (pun intended) of various exercises. In my opinion though, the best exercises are the exercises you’ll do and do enough to build your health. For example, note Dr. Church’s comments about how a lot of the benefit of exercising occurs with just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Check out the full article here and remember that at Cornerstone all of our patients get a fitness evaluation and exercise plan tailored to their specific needs.
How to live long and remember it
Recently there were a couple of interesting reports on NPR dealing with secrets to living a long life, and ways to maintain memory. One key to living long is something that geriatric research has labeled, Adaptive Competence–think of it as viewing and dealing with the stresses and problems that come our way with a “glass half-full” attitude.
Memory preservation and avoidence of dementia is incompletely understood, but research is identifying things we can do to decrease our risk of developing dementia. We’ve addressed other ways to reduce this risk in this blog on the past, but this brief story dealt nicely with the concept of Cognitive Reserve. Think of Cognitive Reserve as part of the brain held in reserve and used to make up for damage that accumulates over the years from things like vascular disease, high blood pressure, alcohol, lack of sleep, and others. It appears that we can influence how much Cognitive Reserve we have by doing 2 important things: exercising and having a social network. This is yet another reason why joining Cornerstone includes a Fitness evaluation and the creation of an exercise regimen tailored to individual needs. And before some of you get too excited, by social network I don’t mean how many friends you have on Facebook, I mean how many friends you have in “real life.” So if you’ve been thinking about joining a group, volunteering, being more active at church or school, etc., do it!
Yoga and Fibromyalgia
An impressive 90% of women with fibromyalgia reported feeling at least some improvement after an 8 week yoga program that involved yoga postures, meditation and breathing exercises according to a recent pilot study. You can read more about it at http://www.internalmedicinenews.com/index.php?id=495&cHash=071010&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=17720