One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is how it’s well known that preschool-age children who go to day care centers have more respiratory illnesses than those children who stay home. A study of nearly 1,000 children was recently performed to compare soap and water with hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, blowing noses, before and after lunch, after outside play and before going home. There were fewer respiratory illnesses and less antibiotic use in the hand sanitizer group. The message is to use hand sanitizer liberally and often, and you will be less likely to get sick.
I’ve been thinking about some other random things lately, too.
• One of the greatest risks of diabetes is an increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack, stroke and congestive heart failure. New medications have become available that are effective at not only treating diabetes but also at reducing cardiovascular risk. They are called sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. If you already have heart disease they will likely provide even more benefit. Since these medicines were launched, rare serious side effects have been observed. Ask your doctor to help you weigh the risks and benefits of using these agents if you have diabetes. The downside is that despite multiple SGLT2 inhibitors being released to the market, they are all brand name and tend to be quite expensive unless you have good insurance coverage. Don’t forget that the best treatment for Type 2 diabetes is actually free — weight loss.
• A very recent article in the respected publication Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a study that took about a decade to complete. The investigators looked at sleep habits of women. They compared those who slept in pitch-black settings or wore a sleep mask, versus those who had significant exposure to light during the night. Sources of light included a television left on, a night light, a bright alarm clock, or a computer left on emitting light through the night. The scientists found that those women with light exposure during the night were more likely to be overweight. This study adds to the data we already know — not getting a good night’s sleep is correlated with obesity. The bottom line is get enough sleep, and sleep in pitch-black conditions.
• I recently saw a 97-year-old whom I have had the honor to take care of for over three decades. He had bypass surgery 32 years ago. One of his sons lives on the same property to keep a close eye on him and usually comes with him to his appointments. I asked how active he was. He proceeded to tell me he was trimming bushes the week before and lost his balance falling backwards into the bush, becoming now stuck. He calmly and cleverly got his flip phone off his belt and called his son. The son confirmed that the conversation went like this: “Son, are you doing anything right now?” “No Dad, I’m not really doing anything.” “Do you think you could come outside and get me out of the bushes?” You can’t make this stuff up! I am entertained by my patients every day.
• Obesity across our country is growing (pun intended). Insulin resistance occurs as people become overweight causing high insulin levels. These high insulin levels block the burning of fat, and cause storage of fat, promoting more obesity. Research has shown that fat burning and weight loss is difficult unless you drive your insulin levels down. The most effective way to do this is thru intermittent fasting. If you are near normal weight, a 12-hour fast can accomplish this. In the substantially overweight group your goal is in the 16-24 hour range. I suggest picking one day a week, stop eating after 6 p.m. and then wait till lunch the following day before you consume any calories. You just did an 18-hour fast! And, we all know that fasting is an integral part of Christian discipline and worshipping our Lord.
Allow me to close with a favorite Bible verse, Matthew 6:16-18: “When you fast, you are not to look glum as the hypocrites do. They change the appearance of their faces so that others may see they are fasting. I assure you, they are already repaid. When you fast, see to it that you groom your hair and wash your face. In that way no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden; and your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
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