Register  |  Log In


August Awareness
August: Diabetes

There are currently over 30.3 million Americans living with diabetes and 1.5 million new cases diagnosed each year. There are almost 600,000 people in Louisiana with diabetes, or 15.3% of the adult population. In addition, 37.5% of the adult Louisiana population have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Prediabetes is diagnosed when someone has blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes it is crucial that you make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of becoming diabetic. There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Only 5% of the people with diabetes have type 1. This form of diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. Therefore, the body is not able to take glucose from food to the cells in the body. With the help of insulin and other treatments, those with type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form. It occurs when your body does not use insulin properly causing blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal. At first, the pancreas goes into overdrive to make extra insulin but it cannot be sustained over time. Type 2 diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes, medication, and insulin. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, usually around the 24th week. Gestational diabetes does not mean that you had diabetes before your pregnancy or that you will have it after. Doctors are unsure why gestational diabetes occurs but have made connections between the hormones given off by the placenta and insulin resistance.

If you are at risk for diabetes there are lifestyle changes you can make. Maintaining or working towards a healthy weight, making healthy food choices, exercising regularly, scheduling annual checkups with your doctor, and managing other diseases are all ways you can reduce your risk for diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please visit diabetes.org.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




July Awareness
July: Breakfast

It seems like everything these days is debatable, and breakfast is no different. However, we can cut through some of the noise and get the final verdict on it. Breakfast is a useful part of getting started and having enough energy throughout the day. Often, when people don’t want to eat breakfast, it is because they ate way too late the night prior. A breakfast filled with protein, healthy fats and carbs, and a large glass of water can go a long way to preventing headaches and fatigue and can help keep your mind sharp throughout the day.

There have been many discrepancies in the approach to breakfast. Many say that it is absolutely mandatory, and others say you should never have it. As is typical, the answer usually lies somewhere in the middle. Many of the arguments and observational epidemiology studies on the topic of skipping breakfast being bad for your health are not very reliable. A common theme unaccounted for in the studies is that the people that are more inclined to skip breakfast are less health-conscious overall than breakfast eaters. There is a correlative instead of causative nature to this argument that skipping breakfast increases all-cause mortality. A health-conscious person is more likely to live a lifestyle that is conducive to health such as exercising and eating healthier foods. This fact alone can dilute the findings of the studies from the 80s that are often cited.

Now that we know that skipping breakfast won’t cause a higher all-cause mortality risk we can try and understand what constitutes a healthy breakfast. Unfortunately, sugary cereals, pop tarts, and frozen processed meals aren’t a healthy choice. Also, be wary of drinking highly processed fruit juices as they have low nutrition factors and are typically loaded with added sugars. Lastly avoid toaster pastries as they are very low in nutrients and the calorie count can be astronomically high for only one serving.

Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years however they are healthy to eat, within reason. Bacon or sausage is fine in moderation as well as eating a piece of toast. Fruit can be good especially when paired with full fat Greek yogurt and nuts. A key point to remember is that moderation is important. Most things are not that bad when eaten in moderation. So having a morning eating a bowl of cereal one day a week will not completely derail a diet. It will only derail a diet if we allow that to carry over the next day. Consulting a dietician is an excellent way to get a grasp on foods you should avoid and ideas on how to best identify the way you should be eating.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




June Awareness
June: Sleep

Sleep is one of the absolute most important things we do for our health. On the outside we may not be doing much while we sleep but underneath the surface our bodies are working furiously. We all know sleep is amazingly important but let’s dive deeper into why.

What actually happens if we don’t get good sleep? We know that serious lack of sleep will prevent the brain from being able to make new memories. It will also increase Beta Amyloid in the brain. This is associated with Alzheimer’s disease because the ability of the brain to remove toxins is reduced. Sleeping only 5-6 hours a night has been shown in men to produce a testosterone amount of someone 10 years older. Poor sleep can compromise immune function, directly impact the effect of vaccinations, negatively impact blood pressure and is so powerful it can even increase blood sugar to near diabetic levels. These findings are incredible and can play a vital role in overall health.

The benefits of sleep are manifold. These benefits include strengthen the nervous system, remove toxins in the brain, improve memory retention, produce growth hormone, strengthen immune system, and so much more. The recommendation for the average adult is between 7-9 hours. This is the sweet spot between health benefit and risk. Oddly enough, some studies have found that longer sleep beyond 9 hours does not incur a health benefit.

Tips for better sleep:

  • Go to sleep at the same time each night and wake at the same time each morning
  • Keep the bedroom cool, around 65 degrees, the body needs to drop about 2 degrees to get to sleep
  • Keep the room as dark as possible, this helps releases melatonin
  • Don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon, limit alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol may help with falling asleep but actually causes less quality sleep

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




May Awareness
May: Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be a very overwhelming and frightening subject to discuss and dig into. It isn’t fully understood as much as we would like it to be and there even seems to be contradictory thoughts. What is the difference between LDL and HDL? They have different sizes? What is exogenous and endogenous? Which is “bad” and why? Hopefully we can clear a few things up and shed a bit more light on this difficult subject.

Cholesterol is, ultimately, just another organic molecule floating in our bodies. Much like proteins or oxygen molecules they are necessary. Cholesterol is vital for our existence. It is one of the main building blocks of cell membranes. It is required by all cell membranes and is needed to make steroid hormones, bile acid, synthesize vitamins and other hormones. In fact, basically every cell in the body can produce cholesterol. About 25% of the cholesterol, we utilize is exogenous, or simply from outside of the body. Typically, in the form of food. While the other 75% is endogenous, or made by the body. Interestingly enough, because of this fact and understanding the esterification of said exogenous cholesterol, eating dietary cholesterol has little impact on the cholesterol in your body.

The unfortunate downside of trying to simplify difficult biological and physiological processes is that things get lost in translation and some things that aren’t completely true become common parlance. In regard to Cholesterol, one of the biggest misconceptions is that cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol is not bad; it can cause bad outcomes when it gets in the wrong places and stays. This happens when it ends up in the walls of an artery and leads to inflammation causing obstruction of the artery while apoproteins move lipoproteins around the body so they can do other jobs.

Typically, clinicians measure the plasma cholesterol levels for standard tests but that may neglect cellular and artery cholesterol. Both very, if not more than plasma alone, important in determining atherosclerosis risk. Standard lipid panels typically only directly measure TC, TG, and HDL-C and usually just estimate LDL-C. Counting the number of particles is especially important and using the NMR lipoprofile is good as it can also measure the size of lipoprotein. Through these measurements we need to ensure that we get a complete view of the entire picture. It may be more expensive and time consuming but when health and lives are at stake it may be worth it to take a deeper look. Thus, there is a particularly good case that knowing that there is a high number of apoB particles in plasma, which are 90%-95% LDL, which increases risk for atherosclerosis. To reduce atherosclerosis, you must lower LDL particle number.

Not only is there HDL and LDL but those each have varied sizes that matter and need to be considered. It may seem that smaller LDL particles equal greater risk than with large LDL. “To address this question, however, one must look at changes in cardiovascular events or direct markers of atherosclerosis (e.g., IMT) while holding LDL-P constant and then again holding LDL size constant. Only when you do this can you see that the relationship between size and event vanishes. The only thing that matters is the number of LDL particles – large, small, or mixed.” LDL-P is the best predictor of adverse cardiac events. LDL-C is good but must be concordant with LDL-P. We also know HDL is important, and more is better than fewer. But increasing this won’t necessarily fix our issues. “In the trials which were designed to prove that a drug that raised HDL-C would provide a reduction in cardiovascular events, no benefit occurred: estrogen studies (HERS, WHI), fibrate studies (FIELD, ACCORD), niacin studies, and CETP inhibition studies (dalcetrapib and torcetrapib). But, this says nothing of what happens when you raise HDL-P.”*1

Age is a big driver of risk simply due to the length of time artery walls are exposed to apoB particles and inflammation. Lifestyles that have been linked to elevated levels of inflammation such as smoking, and obesity all lend themselves to increasing risk. As to what is the best thing that science has shown diet wise, we unfortunately don’t have the best study done yet. We would have to have two groups, one eating the Standard American Diet and the other group eating a very low carbohydrate diet. They would have to have complete adherence to the diets, and this also has the assumption that risk markers at certain levels would affect everyone the same when they don’t. However, we can see that reducing carbs and minimizing sugars in particular insulin resistance can improve. Increasing insulin resistance, we can be less likely to have metabolic syndrome. Which means we reduce our risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

It may be a difficult to pin down subject and there may be some disagreement as to the approach and measurements. But we can all agree that increasing exercise, regardless of age or demographic will definitely help increase healthiness. Never smoking things or consuming tobacco are best practices. Minimizing added sugars and avoiding overeating help. Finally, when getting tests, asking doctors about comprehensive tests that include all aspects of cholesterol may help increase awareness and understanding of cholesterol.

*1 - Peterattiamd.com

Terms

  • LDL-C = Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol
  • LDL-P = Low Density Lipoprotein Particle Number
  • VLDL = Very Low Density Lipoprotein
  • HDL-C = High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol
  • HDL-P = High Density Lipoprotein Particle Number
  • apoB = Apoprotein B
  • IDL = Intermediate Density Lipoprotein
  • TC = Total Cholesterol
  • TG = Triglycerides
  • NMR = Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • CVD = Cardiovascular Disease

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




April Awareness
April: Snacking

Snacks can be one of the best parts of getting through the workday. A little comforting boost to give you the energy to carry on. However, some snacks can have a negative long-term affect. Snacks that are high in sugar, saturated fat, and calories lend to overall increases in weight gain and the health issues that come along with that.

One culprit of unhealthy snacking often is due to a lack of pre-planning. An aspect of pre-planning we can use is adequate meal intake prior to typical snacking periods. Eating breakfast is an often-neglected opportunity to prevent unnecessary snacking. Taking the time to wake up a little early to get a satisfying and healthy breakfast of low glycemic carbs, adequate protein, and healthy fats can nip that 10 o’clock crash in the bud. If you still feel that you cannot eat breakfast, then packing healthy snacks that morning or the night before can take away the stress of preparing a meal but ensure a good meal or brunch is consumed.

A second friction point would be the convenience and addiction of candy bars and soft drinks. We often underestimate the caloric load of candy bars and chips. One innocent Snickers bar a day can add almost 1500 calories a week. If you changed nothing else in your life but refrained from eating that Snickers bar every day for two work weeks, you could lose a pound of fat and keep it off! After candy bars we have drinking soft drinks and other sugar heavy drinks to include some fruit juice. Studies have shown that just by putting down sodas you can reduce the likelihood of a heart attack, reduce risk of Alzheimer’s, as well as reducing the speed of oxidative stress and insulin resistance that can lead to Diabetes. These are not the only culprits in poor health and weight gain and are not the end all be all but removing soft drinks and candy bars entirely from your life will have a drastic effect.

The final issue is not knowing or having access to alternatives. As stated, before the convenience of a coke and snickers cannot be overstated. But the benefits of choosing to snack on vegetables or fruits, yogurt, and healthy snack packs with low to no added sugar. If we take the time to research the options, we see that there are far more alternatives than previously thought. Also, as we said prior, taking a few extra minutes in the morning to throw some baby carrots or yogurt in your bag could help to not only cut those calories but improve overall health as well.

If snacking is something you struggle with, check out our list of alternatives as well as find more information on Snacking at Vantagewellness.com.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




March Awareness
March: COPD

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This is a disease that causes inflammation in the lungs that reduces airflow to and from the lungs. It makes it tough to breath and can cause coughing and wheezing. Our lungs are very elastic and stretch and move naturally with each breath. COPD can cause the bronchial tubes and sacs to lose their elasticity and stay expanded beyond their natural state. Typically, this disease is caused by smoking cigarettes as well as fumes in poorly ventilated homes. Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis are both also commonly associated with contributing to COPD. Unfortunately, this condition can increase risk of heart disease and cancer.

The best way to fight off this disease is to never smoke or stop smoking now! Quitting smoking can be a very tough task but your health and future self will thank you. Thankfully there are many tools you can use so you don’t have to fight this battle alone. If you or someone you know smokes or deals with this, please act now. As always, look for support from friends and family in this fight. Don’t depend on your motivation. A few resources to use for smoking cessation are Smokefree.gov, the American Heart Association, and Vantage Wellness.

For more information on COPD, please visit cdc.gov/copd.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




February Awareness
February: Blood Donation

Did you know that more than 4.5 million people need blood transfusions every year in the US and Canada? Also, did you know that one pint of blood could potentially save up to three lives? Giving blood is an incredible way that you can give back and help those in need and all it would take is about an hour of your time. Find a local blood drive or contact the American Red Cross if you would like to contribute.

Currently the Red Cross is experiencing one of the worst blood shortages in over a decade. This blood is used for patients undergoing heart surgery, organ transplants, treatment for Leukemia, cancer, blood disorders, and many other medical issues. If blood is not available these patients are deferred and must wait for adequate amounts of supply to be found. Delaying could lead to death or further complications. Out of the 38% of people that are eligible to donate, less than 10% actually donate according to the Red Cross. If you fit the health criteria and are able to help, you could potentially save multiple lives with just one donation.

For more information on blood donation, please visit redcrossblood.org.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




January Awareness
January: New Year's Resolutions

As the new year approaches, so too do new opportunities to improve ourselves and our lives. New year’s resolutions are a great way to set your mind to change for the better. It is a cliché as old as time that New Year’s resolutions aren’t adhered to. Let’s change that statistic!

When making a new goal or resolution we need to make sure we don’t rely on the current burst of motivation we have. Motivation is not dependable. Discipline is the thing you need to develop. That way, whether you are motivated or not, the pursuit is a success. Habits tie directly into the development of Discipline. Finding a way to consistently do something is the number one way to accomplish larger goals. A huge majority of the things we do are based on habits. The things we eat, what we wear, what we say, think, and do are all influenced by the habits we keep. In the mornings are you in the habit of hitting the snooze or directly getting out of bed? Are you in the habit of going to the vending machine at 10 a.m. when you get “feel hungry” or bored? Is it a habit to grab your phone and scroll through social media at almost any down time you have? These habits determine who we are and dictate if we accomplish the things we want to accomplish.

Take the time to sit down and determine exactly what goals you want to achieve. Start big, huge even, and then break it down until you have a clear path from A to Z while clearly measuring progress and ensuring achievability. For example, “I want to run a marathon!”

  • Goal = Marathon (26.2 miles)
  • Half of Goal = Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
    • Can I run 26.2 miles? Y/N
    • Can I run 13.1 miles? Y/N
    • Can I run 10 miles? Y/N
    • Can I run 5 miles? Y/N
    • Can I run 1 mile? Y/N

In this example we have a clearly defined and attainable goal. The overall goal also has smaller, easier checkpoints to build up to it. If there is any portion of the goal that you can’t currently achieve, then practice half that daily until you can. NOTE: ‘Losing weight’ is not a good goal. Weight fluctuates very easily, is not a good measurement for progress, and is too arbitrary. Muscle percentage, Body Fat percentage, or clothing sizes are all better goals to use.

When making resolutions always set achievable and measurable goals and develop a habit to attain those goals. Don’t just say “I want to get fit”, say “I’m going to go the gym at least 3 days a week.” Instead of “I want to lose weight” say “I’m going to drop 2 pant sizes over the next 4 months.” Be focused and intentional in your goals and you’ll see massive improvements!

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (VantageWellness@vhpla.com).




Copyright ©     |     Privacy Policy