At the beginning of the New Year, many of us make resolutions to adhere to a healthier lifestyle. Man has been aware of the connection between lifestyle and health for a long time. In Ancient Greece, Hippocrates, (460 to 375 BC) the father of Western Medicine, observed that “if we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”
Alvise Cornaro (1466 to 1566) was asked in his eighties what his secret to having a healthy, long life was. At the time, life expectancy in Italy, where he was from and in Europe in general, was less than 40 years, with most deaths occurring in childhood. Amongst individuals who survived to 20, very few people lived past 50. Also, it was assumed that if you were one of the few to survive past 65, you would have a miserable life. In answer, he wrote a book called The Sure and Certain Method of Attaining a Long and Healthful Life. According to him, the secret was a restricted diet with a small amount of wine: “I have a desire that all men should attain my age, which is the most beautiful period of life." Cornaro gives lots of practical advice such as “When I am finished with my meal, I still feel that I could eat more. The food you decide not to eat when you already have taken your meal is more profitable than the one you already ate.”
Of course, we live now in a very different world. Life expectancy is much higher (78 years in the USA in 2015!) thanks to huge advances in hygiene (clean running water, proper disposal of human and animal wastes) and immunization in childhood against many deadly diseases. However, all this progress is counterbalanced by huge changes in life style—more sedentary life than before and abundant, rich in calories, sugary and salty food, leading to an epidemic of chronic diseases such as diabetes and arterial hypertension (=high Blood Pressure) in large part related to lifestyle.
So, in today’s world, what are some of the secrets to attaining a long and healthy life?
Physical Activity: the best is to start early in life with an active life style. Screen time not only has a negative effect on the developing brain of the child, but it also takes away time from active playing activities. The recommendation is to limit screen time (including TV, computer, mobile phone, video games) to no more than 2 hours a day in order to give more time for the child to participate in physical activities. It is essential to find an activity the child enjoys and is appropriate for the age of the child. For adults who have been sedentary for a long time, it is best to start slowly; let’s park our car a little farther away than our destination so we can walk a little more, let’s walk upstairs instead of taking the elevator. Nowadays, people can know exactly how many steps they take in one day using monitoring devices that are now easily available on a pedometer or an app on their mobile phone. Usually, sedentary people take less than 5000 steps in one day. The goal is to slowly get up to 10, 000 steps each day by adding 1000 steps each week. 30 minutes of walking each day can make a huge difference in our lives; it improves our emotional and physical health. The CDC offers practical tips to achieve this. While little exercise is better than no exercise, intense exercise is even better as shown in recent studies in humans and animals. It is never too late to start exercising, as shown by this 105 year old cyclist.
Diet: the information on a healthy diet can be confusing and we may hear conflicting advice. In addition, the food industry bombards us with advertising for their prepared foods or fast food restaurants. It is best to keep it simple. We should prepare the food we eat with ingredients we know and trust: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins (from beans, lean meat or fish). We must avoid animal fat (such as lard or butter) or margarine rich in trans-fat for cooking and instead use healthy vegetable oils (such as olive oil or canola oil). It is best to share the food we prepare with family and friends, taking our time eating, staying away from distractions (TV or electronic devices) during meals. Also, remember Cornaro’s advice about moderation: “The food you decide not to eat when you already have taken your meal is more profitable than the one you already ate.”
So, many of us are making a resolution for 2018 and it is often to change our lifestyle in order to improve our health. But, it is often easier to make the resolution than to keep it. What does it take to keep our resolution? We have to be SMART: Specific/Measurable/Achievable/Relevant/Time-Bound.There is a detailed description regarding this strategy in this attached article.
The team at School Health Clinics of Santa Clara County wishes you a healthy and happy New Year and—of course—we are always available to help you succeed in your effort to improve your health.
On Friday, December 22, 2017, the San Jose Barracudas held their annual Teddy Bear Toss. Fans in attendance brought stuffed animals to toss into the rink after the first Barracuda goal. Once collected, the teddies, and their friends, were loaded into vehicles and brought to the SHC Administrative Office to be sorted and given to clinics. These toys will be given to local children in need this holiday season. Below are some photos of the event and our stuffed conference room.
This year, our School Health Clinic Elves purchased gifts for 24 children nominated by our clinics. Below are some photos from our Wrapping Party.
Thanks to the San Jose Barracudas for another successful Gifts and Goals event this past Sunday. This is our third year teaming up with the players to provide gifts for local children in need. Below is a slideshow of photos from the event.
Thanks to everyone who came out to support School Health Clinics of Santa Clara County a few weeks ago--September 27, 2017. With your help, we raised over $300 that will support local, low-income families to receive high-quality healthcare. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our email updates for information about upcoming events.
Flu season is here! The virus runs rampant from fall to spring each year. It is always better to prevent infectious diseases than to treat them.
The most common infectious disease in our area is the Influenza Virus (Flu). Every year in the USA, it causes illnesses in millions of people. Hospitalizations due to the flue are in hundreds of thousands and deaths number in the thousands. 90% of deaths occur in older people and patients with chronic conditions such as asthma.
People with the Flu are contagious one day before showing signs of sickness. Then, the virus is contagious from 5 to 7 days from the beginning of visible symptoms. Transmission of the virus from one person to others is through the air via droplets released when people talk or cough. The Flu is best prevented by staying away from contagious people--more than 6 feet away, good hand hygiene, and yearly flu shots for all people 6 months of age and older. October is the right time to get immunized as it takes a few weeks to become effective.
All health care providers in Santa Clara County have to either receive an influenza vaccination or--for the few who cannot receive the vaccine--wear a mask at work during the influenza season, usually from November 1 to March 31.
If you are curious and want to know more about the Flu, you can go to this website.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has prepared a review to be published next month. This article—for teenagers, young adults, parents, and health care providers—will note how to safely alter one’s body appearance with tattoos, piercings, and other modifications while considering all of the consequences.
If you are interested, you can read more from the AAP at the following link. You can also read an article in the New York Times by a physician with direct experience with some of the complications encountered after such “body modifications” at this link.
You may have heard that Diabetes is a “new epidemic” related to sedentary lifestyle and obesity.
You may have diabetes, or know someone with diabetes. So you may be curious and look into it a little more. You discover that more than 30 million Americans have diabetes and 84 million more have pre-diabetes. You also learn that diabetes is often found in overweight or obese people; in fact an 11 lbs. weight gain from early to late adulthood increases your risk of diabetes by 30%.
So is diabetes a new disease?
Not so! In western medicine, the first mention of “excessive urination“--a condition that may be diabetes--is written on Egyptian papyrus dating from 1550 BC. The name “diabetes” itself originates from a Greek physician who, in 250 BC, introduces the Greek name, Diabetes--meaning siphon or passing through--to describe the frequent urination of his patients. A few centuries later, a Greek physician gave a description of the disease: “the melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine.”
The current scientific name, Diabetes Mellitus, was introduced by an English physician in the 18th century after tasting the urine of one of his diabetic patients! He noted that “it tastes like honey, so let me use the Greek translation, mellitus!” One century later, in Germany, two physicians demonstrate the role of the pancreas; “if you remove the pancreas in dogs, they start urinating sugar.” A Canadian physician and a medical student showed that by injecting extracts of pancreas in diabetic dogs, you could lower their blood sugar. Later, an English physiologist discovered a substance secreted by the “islets of Langherans" in the pancreas. He called it Insulin, this time from the Latin insula, meaning “island.”
In 1922, Insulin was introduced as a medication for the treatment of diabetes. The observation of vascular disease in diabetic patients was first described in 1948 at Harvard and the relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular disease was confirmed by subsequent epidemiological studies. Oral medications were introduced in 1955. In 1959, two types of diabetes were noted: type I due to lack of insulin, and type II due to resistance to insulin.
So, diabetes is not a new disease, but the knowledge about the mechanisms and the treatment of the disease are relatively new. However, despite all of this medical progress, diabetes was still the 7th cause of death in the USA in 2015. Moreover, the percentage of patients with diabetes in the population is increasing, not only in the USA, but around the world, including Africa and Asia.
In our clinics, at School Health Clinics of Santa Clara County, our first priority is prevention. When we see overweight children or adults, we recommend a healthy lifestyle: lots of physical activities and a well-balanced diet. We screen our patients for pre-diabetes and diabetes on a regular basis. If diabetes is detected, our medical team will help the patients manage it. Our physicians--especially Dr. Bymaster in Family Medicine and Dr. Misra, Pediatric Endocrinologist and a specialist in type I diabetes--are the leaders of our team, which includes Nurse Practitioners, a Chronic Care Coordinator, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Medical Assistants. Medications used to control diabetes are selected according to the unique needs of each patient. In addition, the medical team treating the diabetic patient recommends quitting smoking and taking specific medications for the prevention of the most serious complications of diabetes: heart attack and stroke. Patients with diabetes must have regular monitoring of their kidneys, eyes, feet and neurological functions--all organs that can be affected by the condition.
In conclusion, diabetes is not a new disease, but it is more frequent than before. However, it is not as devastating as it used to be, thanks to a better understanding of the causes along with the medications introduced within the last decades. Many diabetic patients can now have a healthy and complication-free life.
Loriaux, D Lynn MD, PhD
Diabetes and The Ebers Papyrus: 1552 B.C.
Endocrinologist: March/April 2006 - Volume 16 - Issue 2 - pp 55-56
World Health Organization
School Health Clinics of Santa Clara County wants to thank everyone who stopped by our booth at the Celebrate Cambrian Resource Fair this past Sunday, August 27th. We know it was a hot one! Even Frenzy, the San Jose Barracuda mascot, came by the booth!
We look forward to seeing you next time.
The brain is an amazing organ. Most of us are unaware, but the brain constantly regulates our body functions: our breathing, our heart rate, our digestive system, etc. Of course, the brain processes and helps us make sense of our sensations (touch, smell, taste, vision, hearing) and allows us to use all of our body parts to move and exercise. The brain stores lots of information in our memory and it allows us to communicate with the world using language and artistic expressions.
Until recently, it was assumed that the brain develops quickly in utero and into early childhood then slower in childhood until reaching its peak development in early adulthood. Then it faced a slow decline until our death. Recent studies suggest that the brain has the capacity of regenerating and replacing dying cells and connections throughout life. Therefore, it is essential to make sure we are providing the right environment for the growing brains of our children before and after birth and that we all learn how to keep our brains in the best possible condition.
Here are a few tips:
Before birth - the fetal brain is developing quickly. It is essential for pregnant women to have a well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and an adequate amount of protein. As a rule, it is always better to avoid processed food. The obstetrician or other health providers monitoring a woman’s pregnancy will usually advise pregnant women to take a number of vitamins and supplements that are recommended during pregnancy. The USDA's website can help you tracking your diet:
Also, it is essential in pregnancy to prevent infections that can be transmitted by the food we eat. These conditions can have serious consequences for the developing brain. Toxoplasmosis, listeria, and brucellosis are some examples. It is crucial to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly , to avoid eating unpasteurized milk products, and to fully cook any types of meat or fish. For more information you can check out the CDC's website.
Pregnant women should avoid toxic materials that may negatively impact the fetal brain development. Tobacco, alcohol, pesticides, bisphenol A (found in plastic containers and lining of food cans), mercury and other heavy metals are some examples to abstain from. For more information, visit the FDA’s website.
After birth - the infant brain develops quickly. Interaction with parents and others is essential during this period of life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for parents the “5 R’s:
Read. Read together every day with your child.
Rhyme. Rhyme play and cuddle with your child every day.
Routines. Develop Routines, particularly around meals, sleep, and family fun.
Reward. Reward your child with praise for successes to build self-esteem and promote positive behavior.
Relationship. Develop a strong and nurturing Relationship with your child as the foundation for their healthy development.
Many of the families we serve at School Health Clinics of Santa Clara Country come from a foreign country and speak a different language other than English. It is helpful for children to become bilingual as it has positive effects on brain development. Learning a language is interacting with others that are speaking the language (screen time does not count!). Click here for the link to this New York Times article.
Childhood and Adolescence - it is essential for individuals to establish a healthy lifestyle during this period, complete with a well-balanced diet and lots of exercise. In fact, children and adolescents who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol (most often related to poor diet and lack of exercise), and smoke have worse midlife cognitive performance, especially involving memory and learning. For more information, click on the link to the article.
Adulthood - this stage requires the same general nutritional, active and intellectually stimulating lifestyle mentioned before help maintain good brain function.
In conclusion, our brain is one of our more precious organs and we need to do everything we can to allow it to develop to its full capacity from conception to the time of our death--hopefully in very old age!