Our Sickly, Separated Culture

So last night my wife, Silvia, and I sat out on our driveway enjoying some wine as we often do on Friday evenings.  It’s kind of a ritual/tradition for us when the weather is cooperative.  Usually, even in summer, it’s breezy and comfortable around then, even if we are in hot humid Houston (or Humble more specifically).  We enjoy those evenings chatting, sometimes listening to music, waving at people as they drive by, listening to the cicadas singing their summer song and just spending time together.  Occasionally, we are blessed by the presence of a neighbor or two that stop by and we share wine together and visit.  Last night was no exception as our neighbor Kevin, and his parents, Wayne and Linnye, who are also friends of ours came over to hang out with us at what we lovingly call “Driveway Du Guillory”.  (It’s a happening little spot with great owners and service haha)

This morning, my wife and I went on an early morning walk (not quite as early as I’d have liked since the sun was peaking over the trees already and making it a bit more uncomfortable temp-wise than I wish for on my walkabouts).  I was thinking about last night, and noticed a walker/runner going by us with earphones on as she exercised.  I totally get having music playing in our ears when we walk/run on our own.  I like to do that too.  The music inspires and energizes me (and, truth be told, distracts me from any of the discomfort of exercise).  But I commented on how often I see people in grocery stores wearing their earbuds, or kids wearing them as they walk around with their friends.  My wife (a high school educator) often sees kids wearing them in the hallways for the 7 minutes of changeover in between classes.  I know how frustrating it can be when my now grown kids want to wear earbuds in the car on the ever rarer occasion when we’re going somewhere together.  I admit we allowed probably too much of that as they grew up.

It brought to mind last night and how awesome it was to just sit outside and visit with friends at Driveway Du Guillory and have great fellowship.  I remember how my parents would sit on their driveway in the evenings in Galena Park and how several of our neighbors (Mr. Jack, Ms. Bea, the Flynns, Ms. Etta Mae…..man the memories are flooding back of those special times and people) would gather with them in community.  Now in our current culture, it’s much more common to see people pull up to their homes in their cars, punch a button to open the garage, pull in and close the door behind them, rarely to be seen again.  We have so many things to entertain ourselves inside our castles now that we don’t have to venture out for simple neighborly conversations.  How many of us don’t even know our neighbor’s names?  All of that easily accessed entertainment is nice to some degree.  I admit I love being able to see EVERY Astros game if I want to.  But I posit that it’s detrimental to our health in many ways.

The most commonly thought of way it’s detrimental to us is the lack of movement that it causes. That’s a whole other topic unto itself.  We’re all aware of that.  What I am focusing on here is the lack of healthy, regular interaction we get with others because of these habits we’ve developed, and how that impacts our health.  Did you know that mice that are kept isolated and are injected with cancerous tumors have a significantly higher chance of dying of cancer than those mice that live in a more natural, innate habitat socializing with other mice?  Animals that are kept in cages, with less interaction with their species, are generally sicker and less able to fight off illness.  In other words, isolation contributes to a breeding ground for illness.

Even if we’re not the “party animal” type of personality, we still need, and are genetically wired to have social interaction.  When we close ourselves off from society with all the distractions available to us, we’re kept from being the healthiest version of ourselves.  We also limit the amount of joy and fulfillment we could experience in life.  We feel less of a sense of community and belonging.  In short, we’re ill, even if we aren’t currently expressing symptoms of that sickness.

Friends, never before has a super species (the human species) become so ill in such a short amount of time.  There are many contributing factors to this issue of our sick culture, but lack of community is one of them.  To live congruently with our genome, we need to shut off the distractions around us and focus on people more, the relationships we can develop with them, and the life that can be creating along side them.

So today, decide to do something counter cultural.  Take off your earbuds (yes I know the wireless bluetooth ones are so cool and trendy), shut off your TV, call a neighbor and visit with them.  Set up a time to do a bbq together or go out to eat.  Turn off the TV with all it’s channels and netflix, put down your phones, and have a real conversation with them.  They need you, and believe it or not, you need them.

Until next time…Be Well!

Dr. Bruce

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Are You Exercising? Or Are You Moving Well?

What?  Isn’t moving well exercising?  Or vice versa?  What does this question mean?

I hope you really ARE wondering that right now, because there IS a difference!  Really.  Let me explain.

The fact is we all need to exercise.  No one would deny that fact.  We all hear how important it is to exercise for our heart, our weight etc.  But does exercising, even if it’s one solid hour 5x weekly, constitute moving well?  (Remember that move well is part of our “Eat Well Move Well Think Well Rest Well” mantra for wellness)

I contend that it (exercising as described above) isn’t enough.  Now you’re just mad at me.  After all, don’t I understand how hard it is to get 5 hours a week in?

The short answer is yes, I do understand.  But stay with me here.  If you drive 30 minutes or so to work as most people do (some in the Houston area WISH they only drove for 30 minutes to work), and you work at a job that has you sitting 8-10 hours, and you spend 30 minutes heading home, only to sit on your couch watching the TV or staring at phone/computer screens the rest of the evening, then NO.  You are NOT moving well.  You are sedentary, with the exception of that 5 hours/week.

How do you solve this?  Well you can’t usually change up your drive time much.  I guess you could stop every now and then on the side of the road and exercise, but I wouldn’t recommend that.  I do recommend that you find ways to move throughout the day.  Set a timer on your phone.  Use a fitness band that can tell when you’ve been sedentary (Fitbit lets you know if you’ve not gotten at least 250 steps in an hour).  Get up and bust out a few steps.  Head to the water fountain and bathroom.  Get up and do a set of jumping jacks. I know one person who works from home in front of a computer all day, and every hour he does 10 burpees (that’s pretty radical, but he’s very fit).

At home, because I like to watch some sports on TV, I use the commercials for movement.  I get up and walk to the kitchen, clean up a few things (my wife loves that), or walk to the bathroom and back etc.  There are many ways to get your body moving more.  You just have to get a bit creative.

By the way, I highly recommend fitness bands like the Fitbit.  They are a motivator and great at tracking how much movement you get  on a day in day out basis.  Set goals and see if you can hit them.  Have fun with it.  Do what it takes to move well!

Until next time, be well! (by moving well)

Dr. Bruce

The Perfect Storm For Illness

Look around.

You’re in it right now as we speak.

The perfect storm for getting sick.

Scared yet?

Don’t be.

This time of year begins to set us all up for increased odds of illness.  You know it as the “cold and flu season”.  Newsflash:  There’s no “season” for colds and flu.  Do you honestly think that the cold and flu viruses are like the birds that fly south for the winter?  Do they have an innate timer that says it’s time to go to North America for the next 3-4 months?  Then where do they go after that?

What’s more likely is that we are in that perfect storm of illness, or more correctly, the perfect storm of lowered immune response.  Why?  Good question.  Read on for that and how to beat it.

  1.  Vitamin D.  This time of year we get exposed to less and less sunshine, which equates to lower and lower vitamin D levels.  Vitamin D levels are directly related to immune response.  Supplement with a solid Vitamin D3 to combat it.  I personally take about 4000 IU a day.
  2. Stress.  Especially this month, during the Christmas season, we are exposed to more stress.  Holiday parties, shopping, extra cooking, hosting gatherings, dealing with family members that rub you wrong etc.  All of this adds to your stress levels, releasing more cortisone in your body, thus reducing your immune systems ability to recognize and fight off bacteria and viruses.  Take time to slow down, sit back and enjoy the season.  Watch a good Christmas movie with the family.  Maybe go to the mall just to watch the people and enjoy the decorations.  Take time to relax
  3. Exercise.  The less than ideal weather for being outside tends to make us less active.  Sitting on our backsides leads to decreased immune response and exercise has been shown to improve immunity.  And, linking back to the stress issue, exercise reduces the effects of stress on your body.  So move it regularly!
  4. Sugar.  Sugar.  Sugar.  There’s just so much more of it available during the holidays.  There’s definitive links between sugar and the immune system..  Unfortunately, every time we turn around this season there’s more chance to consume more sugar.  So, when NOT at a holiday event, be sure to fuel yourself smartly!  Eat plenty of raw fruits and veggies, drink hot teas, plain coffees, lots of water (yes we can be well underhydrated in the winter) and avoid too many sugar or processed treats!  Focus on planning out your meals to reduces unhealthy binging!

So, that’s why we have this “season”, and how to battle it out while it’s here. Pick two of these to work on, then once those are part of your lifestyle, work on some more!

Until next time….Be well!

Dr. Bruce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Exactly Is Health About, And Why Is It So Hard To Attain?

We live in a wealthy country, with some of the best hospitals, cancer treatment centers, doctors etc. around.  We spend more money in our health care system than most developed countries.  Yet we remain in a race for dead last in overall health compared to other developed countries.  We have more drugs and surgeries available than we had 50 years ago, yet we are much less healthy than we were 50 years ago.  Cardiovascular disease is being found in younger and younger people.  Cancer rates are rising  Type II diabetes is becoming so rampant that it expected that 1 in 3 kids born this year (2015) will develop it in their lifetime (note the word “develop”).  Why?  Why are we in such sad shape?

Partly it’s because we have developed a culture that says “for every ill there is a pill”.  Our medical doctors, the largest purveyors of health care in our country, have but two tools with which to work:  drugs and surgery.  While those are great at helping out in crisis situations, they are horrible for helping people attain optimum health.  All drugs and surgery have side effects that are negative.  Neither of them have anything to do with improving health, only helping out in emergencies.

Instead we need to look at our lifestyles. If our genes haven’t changed that drastically in the last generation or so (and they haven’t), but our health as a nation has declined significantly (and it has) then the only option we have for attaining optimum health is to look at our lifestyles.  At HealthSource of Atascocita, we have a tool called the Health Risk Assessment that evaluates our lifestyle habits.  We then teach our patients to eat well, move well, think well and rest well.  Think about this:  Which of the major causes of death (ie cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer) wouldn’t be decreased or erased if we all ate, moved, thought and rested the way we’re designed to?  Answer:  NONE.

Thomas Edison said it best:  The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.  At HealthSource of Atascocita, we concur.

Welcome!

So here it is, my blog.  What will it be like?  Will people find it among all the other blogs and sites out there?  Who knows?  Who cares? (hopefully someone).

I plan on making this fun, education with regards to living your best life.  I give personal stories, important studies, advice, common sense, and challenging thoughts on living life in a way that allows us to show up as our highest and best at all times.  Are you game?  I hope so.

Until next time….

Be well!

Dr. Bruce