Copy to clipboard

Get Some Sleep

Sleep is important to your overall wellbeing. Most adults need 7 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. However, some people need more in order to function at their best. Not only is quantity of sleep important, but so is quality. Substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are sleep disrupters that interfere with your body’s ability to achieve deep sleep.

If you experience consistent poor sleep, you might have insomnia. Many people have short-term sleep concerns when they are faced with a stressful situation or significant loss. However, if for a month or longer, you have 3 or more nights per week of difficulty falling or staying asleep, wake feel unrefreshed and lethargic, and are noticing issues with work or school performance, relationship distress, and an overall decreased quality of life, you might be experiencing chronic insomnia. Visit your healthcare provider to assess the situation.

If you’d like to know more about sleep and get some tips on improving your sleep, check out our course on the subject at Elevated Health University.

Overcoming Loneliness

friends blog.jpeg

A recent report by Cigna found that nearly half of Americans feel lonely on a regular basis. For those over the age of 45, the majority of lonely individuals report feeling that way for 6 or more years. Studies have found that loneliness is associated with a reduced lifespan similar to smoking 15 cigarettes per day, and the absence of or poor social relationships increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 30%.

Humans are social creatures. We were built to be in relationships. When we are alone, we subconsciously become more aware of threats in our environment as a means of self-preservation. This vigilance triggers the stress response and results in increased cortisol levels that then negatively impact physical and psychological health.

When I speak with clients about loneliness, most are geographically far or estranged from family, and they have a difficult time making friends. In our culture of social media and online gaming, many have numerous cyber friends, but those connections lack the intimacy that in-person relationships offer.

Also, it is important to understand that loneliness is part of the human condition. The more that you grow comfortable with yourself and ease into the idea of solitude, the less being alone will hurt.  Developing a meditation practice and creating meaningful rituals can be helpful in deepening your relationship with yourself.

Here are some helpful ideas to reduce your loneliness and connect to others:

  1. Volunteer for a local organization

  2. Join a book, movie, or walking club

  3. Adopt a pet

  4. Go out for dinner or coffee

  5. Attend a yoga or art class

  6. Plan a trip to see family or friends

  7. Invite a neighbor for lunch

For the long-term, focus on developing at least one close friendship. It’s not the quantity of friendships, but the quality that make a significant difference in reducing loneliness.

If you find none of these solutions to be helpful, or you feel that you are blocking possible connections in your life, then consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist to address any underlying concerns that might be keeping you lonely.

If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Steph.

Healthy Traveling

spring.jpeg

Happy Spring! Travel season is among us.

Beautiful spring and summer weather is the perfect time to travel abroad. When you leave the country, it is important to plan ahead and keep in mind some health & safety tips.

  • Vaccines: there are certain vaccines you need before traveling to some countries to make sure you do not contract that disease as well as bring it back to the US. This includes typhoid and yellow fever, which are not common in the U.S., but are prevalent in African and South American countries. Make sure you are also up to date on tetanus, hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

  • Eat and drink safely: avoid any undercooked foods and local water. Make sure your water is bottled, and not tap water, including ice in your drinks. Contaminated water is a source for intestinal bacteria and parasites.

  • Prevent bug bites: Use insect repellent, particularly DEET, which has been shown to be effective against ticks. Ticks and mosquitos transmit disease like Lyme and Malaria. Wear protective clothing and keep in mind the peak hours of exposure and locations that you visit. Grass and vegetated areas may have higher amounts of bugs, and dawn and dusk times are when most insects are active. Bed nets are also helpful. 

  • Stay safe outdoors: make sure you wear loose clothing in the heat and warm clothing in the cold climates. If swimming, make sure you do not swallow contaminated water. Make sure you apply sunscreen if exposed to the sun for long periods of time (SPF 15 or higher with UVA + UVB protection)

  • Avoid animals: if handling animals, make sure you let your physician know. There are certain vaccines and illness only transmitted by contact with animals, like rabies.

  • Avoid germs: Practice good hand hygiene and make sure you cough or sneeze into your sleeve if you are sick to prevent others from getting sick. 

  • Avoid contact with bodily fluids: this includes from sexual activity. Make sure you use condoms with any new sexual partners. Avoid injecting drugs, and limit alcohol use. And definitely avoid getting tattoos or anything that involves needles. This is to avoid getting HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. 

  • How to seek medical care: make sure you have a plan on how to seek medical care should you need it. This includes any supplemental travel health insurance or getting extra prescriptions from your doctor to last throughout your trip.

  • Select safe transportation: According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries

  • Make a travel kit which includes medications, injectables, and supplies to prevent illness or injury. More info on what to pack from the CDC: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/travel-health-kits

The CDC is the best resource for finding out what you need for traveling, other than your doctor. Here is the link: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. As always, consult with your doctor before making any travel plans to make sure you are in perfect health to travel.

Bon Voyage!

5 Things to Know about Direct Primary Care

dr matt 1.png

Dr. Matt was recently featured in an online interview about direct primary care! Here are the five things the article shared about DPC:

  1. DPC docs foster an enduring doctor-patient relationship

    Instead of seeing up to 30 patients a day, DPC providers typically see less than 10. “A lot of medicine can be done electronically,” says Dr. Matt, who has capped his practice at 450 patients. “I know all my patients by name. I have time for them,” he says. “I probably interact with about 20 patients a day when you factor in the electronic communication.”

    The longer appointments in the DPC model allow time for discussions between a physician and patient that encompass lifestyle choices with the aim of long-term health and well-being

  2. DPC is growing and DOs are joining in

    In the past decade, the DPC model has grown from just 21 practices to over 1,000 practices in 49 states that care for an estimated 500,000 patients, according to the Direct Primary Care Coalition (DPCC), an advocacy group.

  3. Efforts are underway to enhance DPC

    The AOA supports the DPC model, and urged Congress at DO Day on Capitol Hill last week to support a Primary Care Enhancement Act (PCEA) that includes a DPC model which would allow physicians to provide health care to the full extent of their scope of practice, including providing diagnostic services and dispensing prescription drugs.

  4. DPC offers upfront pricing

    At Elevated Health in Huntington Beach, California, patients pay an average of $75 monthly. This includes same- and next-day visits, 30-60 minute appointments, and the ability to call, email, text or video chat with a physician 24/7.

    Elevated Health offers patients free diagnostic EKG and spirometry testing, as well as procedures such as laceration repair, skin lesion removal and ear lavage. Labs, medications and imaging are available to patients at contracted wholesale prices.

  5. DPC embraces the ‘quadruple aim of medicine’

    The triple aim of medicine—to enhance the patient experience, improve population health and reduce health care costs—is well-documented, says Dr. Abinante, but he and other DPC providers are focused on “the quadruple aim of medicine,” which acknowledges that improving the work-life balance of physicians is necessary in order for the other three aims to happen.

This blog post was shortened for this website. The full, original article was published here.

Heart Health & Depression

depression heart.jpg

February is Heart Health Month, and that’s a great time to talk about the link between heart disease and depression. According to the American Heart Association, one in 10 adult Americans have depression, and symptoms of depression are three times more common in people who have had a heart attack than those who have not. Interestingly, there’s a reciprocal relationship where having heart disease increases the risk of depression, and depression may increase the chance of developing heart disease. In fact, emotional distress and depression are risk factors for coronary artery disease.

So, what can you do to keep your heart and mind healthy?

• Eat healthy foods (The Mediterranean Diet is recommended for improving heart health and reducing inflammation. New research suggests it may also improve mood.)

• Exercise regularly (Just 30 minutes a day can improve both physical and mental health)

• Reduce alcohol intake (Alcohol increases blood pressure and depresses mood)

• Quit smoking (Smoking is top preventable risk factor for heart disease)

• Do deep breathing exercises

• Use medication and/or visualization to improve mood and relax

• Share your feelings with others or journal to express difficult emotions

As always, seek professional guidance if you are concerned about your heart or your mood. Counseling can be a great way to develop healthy habits to improve both heart and mind health.


February is Heart Health Month!

heart health.jpeg

February is a time for love- but how can you love without a healthy heart? It is heart health month and here are some things you should know about how to keep the old ticker ticking.

Anyone can have a heart attack at any age, but here are some risk factors for having a heart attack:

Smoking- More than 37 million adults smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease. Not only that, but also loss of limbs and lung cancer. Quitting is not easy but there are many ways to try. If you work closely with your doctor, you can become cigarette free!

Obesity- According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 Americans—and nearly 1 in 6 children ages 2 to 19—is obese. Carrying extra weight not only increases risk of heart disease but leads to chronic inflammation in the body making an inflammatory condition worse, like autoimmune disease and arthritis. You can look into some healthy weight loss tips on my previous blog post here.

High Blood Pressure- This affects millions of Americans, and the majority have it uncontrolled. Normal BP is 120/80 and if it goes above 140/90, that’s a red flag. Chronic high blood pressure puts stress on the heart leading it to increase in size (congestive heart failure), which increases your risk of having a heart attack. In addition to the heart damage it causes, high BP can damage the vessels in the brain leading to stroke.

High Cholesterol- Smoking, diabetes, low physical activity and unhealthy eating can all contribute to high cholesterol. Cholesterol sticks to artery walls and narrows the space for blood to flow. When this happens in the heart arteries, the result is a heart attack.

Diabetes- 1 in 10 people have this “sweet” disease. I consider it a silent killer, since symptoms of late complications are not evident until it is further in the disease. Sugar damages the blood vessels of the heart, eyes, kidneys and brain.

Family History of Heart Disease- If you have anyone in the family that has had a heart attack, it is important to let your doctor know. Heart genetics get passed down and the younger your family member is with the problem, the more likely that you will also be at high risk.

Age- Even though young people are at risk for heart issues as well, the older you get the more likely it is for your heart to stop functioning, especially if combined with the other risk factors mentioned above.

It’s never too late to take control of your heart health! Eat foods low in trans-fat, saturated fat, less added sugars and low sodium. Make move not excuses; Stay Active- get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. And as always, get regular check-ups with your doctor and stay up to date on your health!


The Flu Is Here!

The flu virus has arrived! This week we have had several patients calling and texting us with clear flu symptoms. We have even had patients come in and test positive with our nasal swab. Anyone that has had the flu knows that it can be very miserable.

So what do you do when you have the flu? I will breakdown the things that I recommend to my patients that have the flu. Really, the short answer is that there isn’t much we can do except for contain the spread of the vaccine and symptomatic treatment. Please, use these as a guideline. Please consult your doctor!

  1. Sharing is not caring - Please, please, please….do not share your illness! The flu virus specifically is spread through droplets. Meaning, that when someone sneezes, coughs or even talks that has been infected with the flu virus….you are susceptible to contract the virus. Someone that has been in contact with the flu can be contagious up to SEVEN DAYS!

    • Please stay home if you are sick. You don’t have to go to school. You don’t have to go to work. You don’t have to go to the store (Instacart, Prime Now, Etc.).

    • Please cover your cough! Droplets are spread through coughing, sneezing and talking. Please wear a mask (I like this one…looks nice and you can cover the cough for patient zero).

    • Wash your hands! - Sing “Happy Birthday” while you wash to make sure you kill off/wash off any virus that may be on your hands.

  2. Medications - There are some prescription medications now that can help to reduce the duration of the flu. These medications are most effective if started within 48 hours of symptom onset and the sooner the better! You can read more about it here. The medications are not for everyone….but it is an option.

    At our practice, here at Elevated Health, we can run these medications through your pharmacy and use your insurance benefits or these medications are rather inexpensive and dispensed from our office! (Tamiflu around $35, 5 day course. Xofluza is around $80-160, depending on weight, 1 day course)

  3. Elderberry - There have been some studies that this natural OTC supplement may be helpful (and unlikely to hurt) in helping relieve symptoms of the flu. It should be started within 48 hours of symptom onset. My wife recently purchased these gummies for herself and for my kids…and they tasted great!

  4. Rest, fluids, OTC meds - This is the best time to get some R&R. Water has been shown to be one fo the best mucolytics (works to break up the mucous). Your body needs lots of rest during this time! Pick up a good book (can I recommend this one…Not too expensive, quick read, and it explains our wonderful model of revolutionary healthcare)

  5. Vitamin C - There have been mixed studies about Vitamin C and the flu….Again, the way I see it, it may help…and it is unlikely to hurt.

If you have any concerns and something seems “out of the ordinary” (more information here) be sure to text or call your doctor (or find a practice like ours near your home here). With the widespread adoption of telemedicine, a lot of straightforward flu cases can be handled remotely.

Be well! The flu can be really nasty, just look at the flowchart doctors use to diagnose the flu. You may want to consider obtaining the flu vaccine for the following flu season. Most places have this available as early as September/October.

New Year, New Resolutions

Exercise.png

It’s 2019, a new year and the time when so many people make new year’s resolutions. But how likely are you to stick to those goals? Research shows that only 20% of people will continue to get to their resolutions. One of the most common resolutions is weight loss. Gym memberships increase and the gyms are sweaty and filled.

But by March, people wave the white flag. Why is that? People expect too much and don’t see quick results. If you gained 10-15 pounds, it doesn’t mean you will lose them in only a week. We make unrealistic goals for ourselves, and to be honest, change of our behavior doesn’t just happen overnight.
Let’s explore a realistic approach to weight loss; one that gives satisfying results and you can stick to it for longer than a few months.

  • Set REAL SHORT TERM goals. Expect 1-2 pounds per week weight loss. This is a healthy way to lose weight. Slow and steady wins the race. The slower you lose, the more likely you are to keep it off longer.

  • Calories in, calories out. Calorie counting is one of the best diets. This way you can focus on eating a variety of foods and not guilt yourself on eating too many carbs one day or too much fat on another. It’s all about finding the right balance with a given amount of calories per day.

  • Money! Think of calories like cash. What’s going to give you the best bang for your buck. A $300 slice of chocolate cake or a $400 salad with grilled chicken and rice on the side? What’s going to keep you fuller longer and add health benefits? You be the judge there.

  • Water weight? Yes this is a real thing. Many people see a quick decrease of weight after stopping carbs. Carbs turn to glycogen which is stored in the liver with water. So when you cut back on your carbs, you also lose some water.

  • It’s been 2 weeks, why haven’t I lost any weight? Most people will start to retain water in the initial phase of cutting back on calories. Some will even see some weight gain. This is because fat cells hold onto water for a while until they shrink. Fat cells never really go away, but after a period of holding on to water, they begin to shrink. It can take days to weeks to experience a good steady weight loss. Don’t rush, be patient, and give your body some time.

  • Exercise! To gain some extra calories, exercise. But don’t spend too much on gym membership. Studies have shown that people with diet alone without exercise were more successful than those who did diet plus exercise. Exercise is still important in maintaining health but not an absolute in weight loss. It does help give you some more calories for the day.

At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for yourself. Set easy-to-reach short term goals. Don’t be hard on yourself. There is no magic pill or magic diet for weight loss. Keep trying and, in time, the results will be real.

Managing Your Mental Health During the Holidays

woman-1814968_1920.jpg

The holidays often bring the happiness of gathering with close family and friends. We imagine exchanging gifts, delicious meals, and lots of time spent connecting with others. However, for some people this time of year can be challenging, especially if there are difficult relationships to manage, recent losses, and/or financial concerns. Additionally, many people spend the holidays alone and experience isolation and sadness. Therefore, managing mood and anxiety becomes an important endeavor to make sure you survive the holidays and find moments of joy.

If you find yourself struggling with the holidays or know of someone who is, here are some tips to help.  

Go for a walk

o   If large gatherings are overwhelming for you, step outside and go for a walk. The fresh air, open space, and movement all help to improve your mood and/or reduce anxiety.

o   If you are alone for the holiday, getting outside and connecting with nature on a walk can help alleviate loneliness.

o   If you have mobility issues, breathing fresh air and notice your surroundings can be helpful.

Volunteer

o   Helping others in need connects you to the generosity of the holidays. It will also help you feel less alone and isolated.

Practice Gratitude

o   Focus on all the people and things for which you are grateful. Research has shown that practicing gratitude increases happiness and life satisfaction, decreases materialism, and improves physical health.

Increase self-care

o   Self-care might mean saying no to holiday events that you do not want to attend or saying yes to the ones that will bring happiness and connection.

o   Do kind things for yourself like buy a healthy dinner instead of cooking, ask friends or family for help with big tasks, set limits on how you spend your time and money, and take time out of your day for an extra-long hot shower, short walk, or time playing with kids or pets.

o   If you’ve had a loss that makes enjoying the holidays difficult, take time to grieve as a form of self-care. Allowing yourself the time and space to grieve honors the loss and is important in your bereavement process.  The holidays are not always “merry and bright,” and it’s alright that you feel sadness at this time of year.

Set healthy boundaries

o   The holidays sometimes result in us having to connect with people with whom we do not have a positive relationship, or whom drain our energy, lower mood, and increase anxiety. If you can avoid distressful situations, that is best. However, if you find yourself near a person such as this, do your best to set healthy boundaries in a direct, calm, and simple way.

o   Be clear in what your needs are going into each situation, and then work to either meet those needs yourself, or ask for assistance from others.

o   Say No. You do not owe anyone an explanation for your actions. If they push the issue, state “no” again and add, “thank you for understanding.”

o   Create physical space between you and the person. Say no to interactions with him/her by excusing yourself for a trip to the restroom or outside.

In general, take notice of your needs, and do your best to meet them. The more you take care of yourself, the more likely you will find some moments of joy. Wishing you well at the holidays and always!