Sunscreen and skin cancer prevention: 9 common mistakes

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Uncategorized, Women

Women applying sunscreen while at the beach

For many of us, summertime means time outdoors by the pool or at the beach. But while you probably already know to use sunscreen to help protect your family fromskin cancer, including melanoma, it turns out that many of us aren’t using sunscreencorrectly.

That’s the word from Dennis Hughes, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Pediatrics. Below, he shares nine things about sunscreen and skin cancer that may surprise you.
1. Your family probably isn’t using enough sunscreen.
The biggest trouble people get into with sunscreen is not using enough and missing spots. You should be covering every part of your body exposed to the sun with sunscreen, including your ears, back of your neck and toes.
The average adult should use one ounce of sunscreen per application. That means the bottle should be gone within a few applications.
A family of four should use one bottle of sunscreen on vacation in two days. But most only use 1.5 bottles of sunscreen per year.
2. Sunscreen doesn’t start working until 30 minutes after you apply it.
Most sunscreens don’t hit their maximum protection until 30 minutes after you apply them.
I tell my patients and families to put on the first coating of sunscreen before they put on their swimsuits. My school-aged kids get their sunscreen applied in the parking lot before they’re dropped off for school.
3. Spray sunscreens may not provide enough protection.
When using a spray, many people don’t apply enough sunscreen. The skin you wish to protect must get wet. Just spraying likely isn’t enough.
It’s best to rub in the sunscreen into your skin after spraying it on. If you spray and don’t rub in it, it won’t work very effectively.
4. Applying sunscreen should be a daily habit. 
Developing a habit of daily sunscreen use is far more effective than using sunscreen only when it’s sunny outside or when you’re expecting sun exposure. The sun’s UV rays can still cause skin damage or burns even on a cloudy day.
So, make applying sunscreen each morning a habit — just like brushing your teeth.
5. Sunscreen doesn’t protect all day.
Even if you’re wearing a high SPF sunscreen, you need to reapply it every two hours. If you’re swimming or sweating, reapply sunscreen even more often. No sunscreen is truly waterproof.
If you’ve got kids, involve them in applying sunscreen. They’ll be more likely to want to apply it and to remember to do so themselves. We learn sun safety in childhood, so it’s important to teach our kids the importance of protecting their skin at a young age.
6. Higher SPF doesn’t mean more protection.
No sunscreen provides 100% protection from the sun. SPF 30 provides 97% protection, SPF 50 provides 98% and SPF 100 provides 99%. In other words, you’re not really benefiting from using anything over SPF 30.
The more effective way to protect yourself is to also seek shade, wear sun-protective clothing (including a hat that covers year ears) and sunglasses with UV protection and avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are most harmful.
7. Your sunscreen can go bad.
The FDA requires that sunscreens retain their original effectiveness for at least three years. Anything past that isn’t guaranteed. So, check the expiration date, and throw out anything over three years old.
Also, don’t leave your sunscreen in a hot environment like your car. The chemicals will degrade at high heat, making it ineffective.
8. Even dark-skinned people need sunscreen and sun protection.
No skin type is completely safe from sun damage and skin cancer. In Houston, we see plenty of Hispanics with melanoma. Anyone can get skin cancer, no matter your age or skin color.
9. The best type of sunscreen is one you’ll actually use.
There’s lots of talk about what ingredients to look for or avoid in sunscreens. But ultimately, you should first findsunscreens that have been approved by the FDA and then find one that feels good and that you’ll actually use and reapply often.

What are Adrenal Glands?

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Uncategorized, Women

 

Adrenal Health In Womenadrenal glands

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

We’re all familiar with stress — it’s a constant element in women’s busy lives. But what we aren’t so familiar with is the body’s response to stress and the ways in which the stress we face today goes far beyond the kind of stress we faced as we evolved — and ends up depleting our energy and health.

When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies rely on the adrenal glands sitting atop our kidneys to monitor our “fight or flight” response. For the most part, our stress response evolved from short-term events — crises that came and went. If we had to run from a predator, for example, our healthy adrenal glands responded by releasing adrenaline, which makes us more alert and focused, and cortisol, which converts protein to energy and releases our stored sugar, glycogen, so our bodies have the fuel needed to respond quickly. In concert, the adrenal response rapidly increases our heart and respiratory rates and blood pressure while releasing energy, tensing our muscles, sharpening our senses, and slowing our digestion so we are primed to escape or fight back, whichever is needed. When the threat is gone, the body returns to normal — quickly with respect to adrenaline levels, less quickly with respect to cortisol.

Permission to nurture yourself: Granted!

Stress can help create hormonal imbalance. Nurturing self-care can help restore that balance. If, like many women, you spend a lot of your time taking care of everyone else, it’s more important than ever to make time for yourself. Do something to care for your body, your mind and your soul — like getting a massage, a reiki treatment, even taking a nap or hot bath.

But in today’s society, women are inundated with stress — stress that doesn’t let up. And when chronic stress repeatedly forces the adrenal glands to sustain high levels of cortisol, two things happen: first, the adrenals can’t attend to their broader role in hormonal regulation because the same resources they use to make hormones like estrogen are required to make cortisol, and second, cortisol starts to damage healthy tissues. Eventually,adrenal fatigue sets in, and many women experience symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, depression, cravings and mood swings. Once the adrenals become depleted, it can lead to adrenal exhaustion and much more serious health concerns.

There are many ways to replenish adrenal health naturally. One thing I can promise you is that when you heal your adrenal glands, you’ll see results on every physical and emotional level, and your whole body will thank you for it!

Symptoms of adrenal imbalance — an “aggravating pattern”

Symptoms are your body’s way of informing you that it’s not receiving the support it needs. While none of these features has a direct causal relationship with adrenal dysfunction on its own, a distinct “aggravating pattern” emerges when all these factors are taken into consideration. See if you recognize these tendencies in yourself:

Symptoms to look for:

  • Blood pressure:  High or low blood pressure are signs to be aware of. Low blood pressure can often have the symptom of lightheadedness associated with it.
  • Food cravings and weight changes:  Abnormal weight gain in the abdomen and thighs. Do you have cravings for salty or sugary foods, sometimes feeling uncontrollable?
  • Energy:  Unable to stop, always on speed forward, ongoing fatigue, lack of stamina, feeling tired and wired much of the time. Lack of get up and go.
  • Emotions and coping ability:  Inability to deal with day to day stress, feeling overwhelmed much of the time, struggling to get through the day, driven, having a very “short fuse”, anxiety attacks, and/or unable to reframe ones thinking.
  • Thinking:  Mentally foggy, fuzzy thinking, inability to stay focused on one task, chronic racing thoughts.
  • Immune response:  Frequent infections, taking a longer time than others to recover from illness or infections or trauma.
  • Sleep:  Inability to fall asleep or falling asleep well but waking up nightly. Sleeping soundly but waking up exhausted.

Many other conditions can overlap the above noted signs and a symptom, so know that adrenal imbalance is not always the root cause.

If you feel you have any of these symptoms please call our office today and we will get you on track to becoming a better YOU!

256-350-9880

The Importance of H2O

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Uncategorized, Women

water

When the temperatures rise, getting enough to drink is important whether you’re playing sports, traveling or just sitting in the sun.

And it’s critical for your heart health.

Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.

“If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard,” said John Batson, M.D, a sports medicine physician with Lowcountry Spine & Sport in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and an American Heart Association volunteer.

Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.

How much water do you need?

What does being well hydrated mean? The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration, Batson said.

A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more water. People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration. And some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.

Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink. “If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” Batson said.

Batson said the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.

If you want to know exactly how much fluid you need, Batson recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. It’s a particular good guide for athletes training in the hot summer months.

“For every pound of sweat you lose, that’s a pint of water you’ll need to replenish,” Batson said, adding that it’s not unusual for a high school football player, wearing pads and running through drills, to lose 5 pounds or more of sweat during a summer practice.

Not sweating during vigorous physical activity can be a red flag that you’re dehydrated to the point of developing heat exhaustion.

Water is best.

For most people, water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. Sources of water also include foods, such fruits and vegetables which contain a high percentage of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes, may be useful for people doing high intensity, vigorous exercise in very hot weather, though they tend to be high in added sugars and calories.

“It’s healthier to drink water while you’re exercising, and then when you’re done, eat a healthy snack like orange slices, bananas or a small handful of unsalted nuts ,” Batson said.

He cautioned against fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda. “They can be hard on your stomach if you’re dehydrated,” he said.

It’s also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluids.

Batson says drinking water before you exercise or go out into the sun is an important first step.

“Drinking water before is much more important,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re playing catch-up and your heart is straining.”

Not just for athletes or exercise.

Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids.

 

People who have a heart condition, are older than 50 or overweight may also have to take extra precautions.

It’s also a good thing to keep tabs on your hydration if you’re traveling.

“You might sweat differently if you’re in a different climate,” Batson said.

The Truth About Coconut Oil: 10 Facts You Need To Know

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Women

coconut oilCoconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood.” Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health. This includes fat loss, better brain function and various other amazing benefits.

Here are the top 10 health benefits of coconut oil that have been experimentally confirmed in human studies.

1.Coconut Oil Contains a Unique Combination of Fatty Acids With Powerful Medicinal Properties

Coconut oil has been demonized in the past because it contains saturated fat. In fact, coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat known to man, with almost 90% of the fatty acids in it being saturated (1).

However, new data is showing that saturated fats are harmless. Many massive studies that include hundreds of thousands of people prove that the whole “artery-clogging” idea was a myth (2).

Additionally, coconut oil doesn’t contain your average run-of-the-mill saturated fats like you would find in cheese or steak.

No, they contain so-called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length.

Most of the fatty acids in the diet are so-called long-chain fatty acids, but the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently.

They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source energy or turned into so-called ketone bodies, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.

Bottom Line: Coconut oil contains a lot of medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently and can have therapeutic effects on several brain disorders.

2. Populations That Eat a LOT of Coconut Are Among The Healthiest People on The Planet

Coconut is kind of an “exotic” food in the Western world, primarily consumed by health conscious people.

However, in some parts of the world, coconut is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for many generations.

The best example of such a population is the Tokelauans, which live in the South Pacific.

They eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts and are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world.

These people are in excellent health, with no evidence of heart disease (3).

Another example of a population that eats a lot of coconut and remains in excellent health is the Kitavans (4).

Bottom Line: Plenty of populations around the world have thrived for multiple generations eating massive amounts of coconut.

3. Coconut Oil Can Increase Your Energy Expenditure, Helping You Burn More Fat

Obesity is currently one of the biggest health problems in the world.

While some people think obesity is only a matter of calories, others (myself included) believe that the sources of those calories are critical too.

It is a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. In this regard, a calorie is NOT a calorie.

The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure compared to the same amount of calories from longer chain fats (56).

One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%, totalling about 120 calories per day (7).

Bottom Line: The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term.

4. The Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil Can Kill Bacteria, Viruses and Fungi, Helping to Stave Off Infections

Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric Acid.

When coconut oil is enzymatically digested, it also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin.

Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi (8).

 

For example, these substances have been shown to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus (a very dangerous pathogen) and the yeast Candida Albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans (910).

Bottom Line: The fatty acids and breakdown products in coconut oil can kill harmful pathogens, potentially helping to prevent infections.

5. Coconut Oil Can Kill Your Hunger, Making You Eat Less Without Even Trying

One interesting feature of coconut oil is that it can reduce your hunger.

This may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized, because ketone bodies can have an appetite reducing effect (11).

In one study, varying amounts of medium and long chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men.

The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average (12).

Another study in 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch (13).

These studies were small and only done for a short period of time. If this effect were to persist over the long term, it could have a dramatic influence on body weight over a period of several years.

Bottom Line: The fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly reduce appetite, which may positively affect body weight over the long term.

6. The Fatty Acids in Coconut Oil Are Turned into Ketones, Which Can Reduce Seizures

A so-called ketogenic (very low carb, very high fat) diet is currently being studied to treat various disorders.

The best known therapeutic application of this diet is treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children (14).

This diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood.

For some reason, this diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children, even those who haven’t had success with multiple different types of drugs.

Because the MCTs in coconut oil get shipped to the liver and turned into ketone bodies, they are often used in epileptic patients to induce ketosis while allowing for a bit more carbs in the diet (1516).

Bottom Line: The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in epileptic children.

7. Coconut Oil Can Improve Blood Cholesterol Levels and May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Coconut oil is loaded with saturated fats, which actually do not harm the blood lipid profile like previously thought.

Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL cholesterol to a benign subtype (1718).

In one study in 40 women, coconut oil reduced Total and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL compared to soybean oil (19).

There are also rat studies showing that coconut oil reduces triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, increases HDL and improves blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status (2021).

This improvement in cardiovascular risk factors should theoretically lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.

Bottom Line: Studies in both humans and rats show that coconut oil improves important risk factors like Total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, which may translate to a reduced risk of heart disease.

8. Coconut Oil Can Protect Hair Against Damage, Moisturize Skin and Function as Sunscreen

Coconut oil can serve various purposes that have nothing to do with eating it.

Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes and to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.

Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of the skin (22).

Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage and one study shows effectiveness as sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays (2324)

Another application is using it like mouthwash in a process called oil pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath (252627).

Bottom Line: Coconut oil can be applied topically as well, studies showing it to be effective as a skin moisturizer and protecting against hair damage. It can also be used as a mild form of sunscreen and as mouthwash.

9. The Fatty Acids in Coconut Oil Can Boost Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia worldwide and occurs primarily in elderly individuals.

In Alzheimer’s patients, there appears to be a reduced ability to use glucose for energy in certain parts of the brain.

Ketone bodies can supply energy for the brain and researchers have speculated that ketones can provide an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning cells and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s (28).

In one 2006 study, consumption of medium chain triglycerides lead to an immediate improvement in brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s (29).

Other studies support these findings and medium chain triglycerides are being intensively studied as potential therapeutic agents in Alzheimer’s disease (3031).

Bottom Line: Studies show that the fatty acids in coconut oil can increase blood levels of ketone bodies, supplying energy for the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients and relieving symptoms.

10. Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Fat, Especially The Dangerous Fat in Your Abdominal Cavity

Given that coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight.

Coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, which lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs.

This is the most dangerous fat of all and is highly associated with many Western diseases.

Waist circumference is easily measured and is a great marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.

A study in 40 women with abdominal obesity, supplementing with 30 mL (1 ounce) of coconut oil per day lead to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in a period of 12 weeks (19).

Another study in 20 obese males noted a reduction in waist circumference of 2.86 cm (1.1 inches) after 4 weeks of 30 mL (1 ounce) of coconut oil per day (32).

This number may not seem too impressive on the surface, but be aware that these people aren’t adding exercise or restricting calories. They’re losing significant amounts of abdominal fat simply by adding coconut oil to their diet.

11. Anything Else?

If you want to enjoy the immense health benefits of coconut oil, then make sure to choose organic, virgin coconut oil… NOT the refined stuff.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. People are using coconut oil for all sorts of things with incredible success

 

What Is Vitamin D?

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Women

vitamin DYour mom always said sunshine was good for you, but it turns out mom was even more prescient than we thought (as if that was even possible).  Science is continuing to find that vitamin D plays an ever more important role in our overall health. And there’s no greater source of it than that big ball of yellow energy that goes into hiding 6-8 months out of the year during fall and winter.

Studies have shown that a deficiency in vitamin D cancontribute to a poor immune system, dementia, high blood pressure, depression, and even muscle loss.

So, what is vitamin D?

When we talk about vitamin D from the sun, we’re really talking about vitamin D3, which the human body needs for a whole host of essential functions. Since we don’t actually produce the stuff, we need an external source, and our bodies are so amazing that we can synthesize vitamin D from sunrays that penetrate our skin. We need direct sunlight in order to do this, which means no barriers like windows can be between us and the sun, for about 10 to 15 minutes on our arms and legs each day, which is very difficult to get the farther you are from the equator, and especially during the fall and winter months when we see even less sun.

Since vitamin D contributes to your immune system, deficient sunlight has been linked as a major cause of the cold & flu season that springs up each winter.

Why do I need vitamin D?

     Vitamin D is not only crucial to activating your immune system, recent studies show that it lowers risk to depression, is associated with a decrease in dementia, aids in muscle repair post-workouts, and can help control blood pressure and weight gain.

But just because the sun is saying “sayonara”, it doesn’t mean you can’t get your daily dose of the good stuff. Supplements can be taken to ensure that you’re getting the right amount for you.

Since vitamin D is so integral to good health, don’t put off finding out whether you’re deficient. Your well being may depend on it.

Call our office today to set up appointment!  256-350-9880

Fill out my online form.

Get Directions