The Elite 8 – Summertime Edition

elite-eight_waterBernadette Keefe MD

Introduction

In U.S. collegiate sports, “The Elite Eight“, are the final eight teams in the national tournament; two from each region. The outcome of those four games becomes, “The Final Four”. However, for this summer time edition of The Elite Eight, we’re talking about the revered “eight glasses of plain water per day” health dictum.

While optimal hydration is essential for health, and water is considered the “gold standard” of hydration, we do not need 64 ounces of plain water a day. We do, however, need 64 ounces or 1.9 liters of total fluid obtained via drinks and food for optimal functioning and health, especially during the warm weather and exercise.

Furthermore, what makes the eight glasses of water per day advice “elite”/special is that consuming a zero calorie beverage might just be the antidote to the current epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Americans typically satisfy their thirst with sugary beverages. Shockingly, these drinks contribute the majority of our daily ingestion of sugar! Continue reading

Health Literacy – Not “Feeling” It?

health-literacy

Bernadette Keefe MD

Health Literacy – It’s still not catching on.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines health literacy as

“the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions”.

 As a believer in improved general literacy for citizens, I have assumed that health literacy, achieved through quality health information, having been easily accessed and well understood, would be akin to the process of general literacy. But just as education involves more than the conveyance of information, it is similar for achieving health literacy.

Although considerable efforts have been made regarding the formulation and dissemination of health and self-care information, we are seeing little effect on health outcomes. All parameters of health and wellness in the U.S. remain stubbornly poor, including the high incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental health, and addiction. Healthcare systems and healthcare professionals continue to tout patient engagement strategies and the importance of health literacy, but as Michael Friedman states in his excellent piece on the topic:

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Got Sleep?

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Bernadette Keefe MD

Introduction

The most recent data is that 20-40% of the U.S. adult population is sleep deprived: meaning they are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The consequences of inadequate sleep on both the individual and society as a whole, are significant. The worst of these include increased obesity, decreased attention and learning, increase in mood disorders, and an increase in accidents. Working against our desire for optimal sleep are our fast paced lives, inevitable work/life stressors, and 24/7 online media, entertainment, and socializing. Although these are formidable obstacles, we must make strides towards the holy grail of a “great night’s sleep” . 
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{Ultra}Processed Food: Too Sexy for Our Own Good?

FrenchFries

Bernadette Keefe MD

“If we are what we do and what we eat, we’re potatoes: couched and fried.” – Ellen Goodman, Wall Street Journal

Introduction

Fast Food has a rich and storied history. In Roman times, through the middle ages, fast food, sold by venders, was a necessity, as many dwellings had no kitchen.

The British “Fish ‘N Chips” was popularized in the mid-1800s by coastal towns that needed to service the large trawling industry. The undisputed King of the Fast Food Industry, however, is the United States. With the introduction of the automobile in the early 1900s, there was ever greater access to fast-cook restaurant fare. America fell in love with “White Castle” hamburgers; the rest is history. America has the largest fast food industry, and, has peppered the world’s landscape with Subway, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Wendy’s among others, whose outlets can be found in over 100 countries.

Due to its worldwide dominance of the Fast Food Industry, U.S. citizens are particularly immersed in the fast food culture, and sadly have “drunk the cool-aid”. While this essay addresses the effects of fast food and other ultra-processed food in America, similar consequences are occurring around the globe.

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Time to Decouple Fear and Health

FearBlog?

Bernadette Keefe M.D.

“Pseudo-dangers represent further opportunities to avoid problems we do not wish to confront….” – Barry Glassner, The Culture of Fear

Introduction

For a while now, I’ve been concerned about the increasing role that fear has played as a tactic in persuading patients to choose certain treatments in healthcare, and to adopt certain habits. Fear is also, often a dominant driver for patients in their health decision-making process.

Fear, however, is an unwanted distraction when making decisions. In contrast to a calm state of mind, it creates added anxiety and stress, in a citizenry already burdened with increasing stressors. How can adding to this be constructive, or further, even moral? How can healthcare decisions, made from fear, be in any way conducive to optimal health outcomes, or conducive to sustainable well-being throughout our lifespans? 
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Popping Pills: A Drugged Nation

 pill-bottle-bannerBernadette Keefe MD

Excerpts from ‘Limitless’ The Movie (Trailer)

You (can) access 100 % your brain

A tablet a day and I was limitless

What’s your secret? Medication

A perfect version of ourselves…..power…..

What would you do???


The ‘Limitless” Trailer  

Introduction: A pill for every ill.

From teenagers to granny, to the pro-athlete, and everyone in between, the United States is the most drugged nation in the world. A staggering:

70 Million Americans are taking legal mind-altering drugs

Nearly 70% of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug and 20% are on at least five prescription drugs Continue reading

Boomers, Got Fit (bit)?

Boomers – Got Fit (bit)?

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Bernadette Keefe MD

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”                              

 (credited to by not said by W. Edwards Deming)

 Introduction

If you are 50 years of age or older you are a baby boomer, that means by 2030, there will be 77 Million people over the age of 65 in the U.S. alone. The U.S. National Institute of Aging has designated September as a Go-4-Life month: a national exercise and physical activity campaign for people 50+. The goal is to empower older adults to become more physically active. The last week in September marks the beginning of Active Aging Week (September 27 – October 3) for the United States, Canada and Australia. Each day is devoted to a specific healthy life habit: from walking to nutrition to social connection.

The importance of our lifestyle/behaviors, to overall health is now undeniable. It is thought that 70% of chronic disease is caused directly or indirectly by the poor lifestyle choices we make. Now we can seamlessly measure our daily behaviors through fitness trackers. Continue reading