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Live in the Moment

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Most of us juggle multiple responsibilities. We are constantly shifting from one role to another within our career, family, and community commitments. As we move through our day, we tend to worry about the past, or plan for the future, which leaves us not fully living in the present moment. Additionally, with the popularity of smartphones, we tend to spend our free moments staring at our devices, accessing more information. The chronic avoidance of the present, often results in unfulfilled and stressed lives.

Research indicates that spending more time fully aware in the present moment leads to many health benefits, such as improved mood and less stress, as well as lower levels of anxiety and depression and overall improved well-being. The improvements we experiencing are due not only to the experience of being in the moment, but also to the increase in coping self-efficacy that we develop. Coping self-efficacy is when you start believing you can handle whatever life brings your way. When you learn to be fully present in positive moments, you truly experience the joy, and you feel more capable of handling the stressors that may arise in the future.

One of the easiest ways to shift your attention to the present moment is focusing on your 5 senses. What do you see, smell, taste, touch, and hear? The next time you step outside, stop for a moment. Look around you, and notice the the sky, trees, ground. Notice the smells in the air. What do you hear? Taste? Reach out and touch something nearby and notice the texture. By doing this, you shift your focus to all that is right in front of you.

If you want to begin practicing these mindful moments more often, then link them to certain activities. During your shower, really notice the feel of the water, scent of the soap, sounds that are present. When you eat lunch, connect with each of your 5 senses as you slowly enjoy each bite. At every red light, take inventory of all that you see, hear, and smell around you.

Even brief moments of being fully present will improve your overall wellbeing.


Updated Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines

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The American Cancer Society recently updated its colorectal cancer screening guideline recommending that colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 for patients at average risk. This was due to the fact that colon cancer in young people seems to be rising.

A recent study from the American Cancer Society found that adults born around 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer compared with adults born around 1950.  

The chief cancer control officer for the ACS stated in an interview that colorectal cancer incidents have declined steadily during the past two decades in patients 55 and older because of effective colorectal cancer screening that results in removal of polyps. The new recommendation is based on the hope that earlier screenings will prevent more colorectal cancer cases and death.

It is important to note that according to the guideline, the initial test does not have to be a colonoscopy. It could be one of three stool based tests, which look for hidden blood or DNA in stool that could indicate potential for colorectal cancer.  

It should also be noted that the US Preventive Services Task Force, which is the other major panel in the United States that develops recommendations for clinical preventive services, has stood by its recommendation in 2016 to begin screening at age 50, primarily because this would result in an increase of the number of lifetime colonoscopies and the associated potential harms. 

At Elevated Health, we offer stool based testing and work with a number of gastroenterologists that perform colonoscopies. If you have insurance, a colonoscopy may be covered as a preventive screening test. If it is not covered, or if you do not have insurance, we have negotiated competitive cash rates for our members.  

Please contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment to discuss further!

Expanded Psychological Services

We are SO pleased to announce Dr. Stephanie Jacobs (read her bio here) has accepted our invitation to join our practice! She has been working with us in an independent contractor role for nearly one year now and we have been very impressed with her. 

By bringing Dr. Steph on as an employee our patients are going to have much more access to her AMAZING services:

  • She will have expanded office hours (currently Mondays and Thursdays).
  • She will be able to do more tele-counseling.
  • She is creating online content so that you can access self-help materials from home.

We are also happy to announce that her service is now just $80/hour, billed in 15 minute increments. While other therapists in the area are charging 2-3 times more than this, we want her services to be accessible – and affordable – to you!

One of the most common comments I have about counseling and behavioral health is "I don't need that." There is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about counseling. Most people would benefit from talking to a counselor at some point in their life. It's great to have an objective perspective to help with difficult life situations, or to improve your overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Dr. Steph is a psychologist with extensive experience working with a variety of people with minor concerns from adjusting to a new job to more significant concerns like panic attacks and chronic depression.

Here are just some of the things Dr. Steph can help you with:

  • Anxiety - General, Social, Public Speaking, Flight, PTSD, OCD
  • Depression
  • Stress Management and Relaxation
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Healing Trauma
  • End-of-life concerns and Grief
  • Managing Chronic Pain and Chronic Health Issues
  • Performance Enhancement (Set goals, make positive changes)
  • Navigating Major Life Transitions (Moves, Job change, Marriage, Divorce, Medical Diagnosis, etc.)

As you can see, everyone could benefit from meeting with Dr. Steph (she treats patients 16+). If you would like to speak with Dr. Steph, we offer free 15 minute consultations in person or over the phone where you can see what help she can offer you and if it feels like a good fit!

This is just another amazing perk to our members at Elevated Health where our aim is to deliver Amazing, Affordable, Accessible HealthCARE. 

 

Get Out in Nature!

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Written by Dr. Paul

Want to know one of the best things you can do for your health this summer? This one thing can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate, and at the same time improve your mood, increase your energy levels, and make you more creative. This amazing thing is nature!

Today, the majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and technology is constantly controlling our attention. People are spending more time indoors, online, and isolated. Multiple recent studies are showing the benefit of nature on our brains and our bodies:

  • A 2009 Dutch study found a lower incidence of 15 diseases including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and migraines in people who lived within about a half mile of a park or green space.  

  • A 2014 study in Japan had people walk for 15 minutes in different forests or in a city center. The forest walkers had a 16% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a 2% drop in blood pressure, and a 4% drop in heart rate.

  • A 2015 Stanford study looked at functional MRIs of participants’ brains after 90 minute walks in both nature and urban settings. The people that walked in nature as opposed to those that walked in an urban setting showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with depression and depressive thoughts.  

  • A 2012 study showed that hikers on a 4 day backpacking trip could solve 47% more puzzles requiring creativity compared to a control group prior to taking the same hike. Other things may have accounted for this, but similar studies have also shown improvement in attention and cognitive function after time in nature.

A recent National Geographic article highlights how nature exerts its beneficial effects. Researchers believe that being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command center, to slow down and rest, like an overworked muscle. Nature essentially works by lowering stress. Compared with people who have lousy window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behavior. As seen in some of the above studies, measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart rate, and sweating have shown that even short doses of nature can calm people down and sharpen their performance.  

Make the most of this summer and your vacations, and do one of the best things you can do for your health – get out in nature!

Why do Men Avoid the Doctor?

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June is men’s health month, so we at Elevated Health figured this is a great opportunity to encourage our male patients to drop in for a visit and discuss how we approach men and their health differently.

It’s pretty well established that men tend to die earlier than women, but men are also only half as likely to go to the doctor over a two-year period of time, and twice as likely to say they’ve never had contact with a doctor or health professional.

A recent survey suggested why men are reluctant to see a doctor. These were their top three excuses:

  • They are too busy.
  • They are afraid of finding out something might be wrong with them.

  • They fear uncomfortable body exams (i.e. prostate or rectal exams).  

At Elevated Health we practice what is called relationship based medicine. Our goal is to get to know all of our patients personally and build a relationship with them over time. Because of this approach, our male patients tend to feel more at ease with us. We don’t use pressure tactics or guilt to convince them they need to do something or have something. As we develop a relationship with them and earn their trust, they know we care, have their best interests at heart, and would only advise them to do something we truly felt necessary.    

We also aim to make ourselves easily available and accessible to our patients. If you’re too busy to come in for a visit you can schedule a phone or a video visit from the comfort of your home or office. If you send us a text or an email with questions about your health, we’ll get back to you the same day. We can even order your lab work remotely. If we feel we need to see you face to face, we’ll schedule you at your convenience with little to no wait time.

Most importantly, we love what we do and take pride in changing people’s health care experience – especially those who have had bad experiences in the past or have usually been nervous to go the doctor.

Now that we’ve covered all of your excuses, if you are a man and do not have a relationship like this with your physician, join us at elevatedhealth.md to see how your health care can be better, easier, and more personal. See you soon!

How Much Exercise Does Your Heart Need?

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New research suggests that to keep your heart in the best shape, you should try to exercise for 30 minutes four to five times a week. Although it’s well established that exercise is important to prevent heart disease, there has been debate over how much is necessary. As we age, our arteries become stiffer which can lead to heart disease or stroke.

In this new study, researchers found that people who exercised two to three times a week for 30 minutes a session had healthier medium sized arteries which are important for blood flow to the head, neck, and extremities. People who exercised four to five times a week for 30 minutes or more, had healthier large sized arteries which are important for blood flow in the chest and abdomen, as well as healthier medium sized arteries.

Exercising four to five times a week seems to be the optimal amount of exercise for arterial health. Remember however, that any amount of exercise is beneficial to reduce your risk of heart disease, and that exercise or physical activity can be cumulative over the course of the day and doesn’t have to be done in one block of time.

Welcome to our newest doctor!

 Dr. Paul is empathetic and understands the value of DPC in restoring the patient-doctor relationship.

Dr. Paul is empathetic and understands the value of DPC in restoring the patient-doctor relationship.

This National Doctor's Day we are proud to welcome Dr. Paul McKinley! We have heard nothing but wonderful feedback about him and look forward to you meeting him! 

"Dr. Paul, a native of Southern California, returns to Orange County after serving as a
medical director in Chicago for Iora Health, an innovative, nationwide, direct primary
care organization. Prior to his time in Chicago, he spent 13 years in private practice at
Valley View Wellness Medical Center in Orange County.

Dr. Paul practices the full spectrum of primary care medicine taking care of patients of
all ages and as a former college basketball player and athlete enjoys sports medicine as
well. He also completed a fellowship in preventive and integrative medicine and has a special interest in strategies to optimize health and prevent chronic diseases of aging using nutrition, lifestyle change, supplements, and hormone replacement if necessary to
achieve this goal.

Dr. Paul loves practicing in the direct primary care model where he can spend time with
patients, develop relationships with them, and have the opportunity to help them live
healthier and more vibrant lives.

Dr. Paul lives in Long Beach with his wife, Kate and son. In his spare time he loves
being in the outdoors. He especially enjoys the mountains, where he has climbed Mt.
Rainier twice, and can be found snowboarding every winter."

Flu Shot

According to the Australia's Department of Health, they are currently experiencing two and a half times the amount of flu cases as this time last year. This could prove as a warning sign of things to come here in the United States. The most prevalent strain is H3N2 and can put those that are older or with weakened immune systems at risk.

With that being said, our flu shots are in! Flu shots are $12 for members and $20 for non-members. If Australia is any indication, we could be see a particularly rough flu season this year. If you have any family members or young children with compromised immune systems, please send them our way!