Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is Paula Deen's Diagnosis Adding to the Southern Trend?

I am sure you have all been following the headlines surrounding Paula Deen's announcement that she has Type 2 Diabetes. Turns out she has been Diabetic for 3 years now. Why did she choose to come out in the open now? Probably because she has an endorsement deal with one of the biggest diabetes healthcare companies, Novo Nordisk.

Whether Paula Deen decides to change the concept of her show is up to her. Personally though, I think we should all leave her alone. She is not forcing any of us to eat her food; we are all able to make our decisions about what we put in our mouthes. We all know the consequences of poor eating choices. Despite all of this, Paula has launched a website (sponsered by Novo Nordisk) called Diabetes In A New Light ( It discusses her opinions about cooking and health. Her belief is "everything in moderation" and claims the way she cooks on her show is not how she lives her lifestyle.

The CDC indicates that Type 2 Diabetes has had a dramatic rise in our country for the past 20 years. Now, 36 out of 50 states have a prevalence of 25% or more. Eight of these states are in the south: Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas; they have a prevalence of 30% or more. So even though Paula Deen's diagnosis is not a big shocker, it does add to the trend that many people in the south have habits that are putting them at the lower end of the health curve. This is probably because of our poor food choices, large portions, and lack of focus on physical activity. In the south we are known for our bar-b-que, sweet tea, soul food, gravies, fried foods and anything cheesy, meaty, or greasy. So while Paula Deen doesn't necessarily have to change her show she did just became a southern statistic.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Little Goes a Long Way...

This morning as I was walking into work, I saw the usual volunteer on the golf cart cruising through the parking lot finding people to shuttle to the hospital. Knowing that I usually walk to the distance, he just paused for a second making sure I didn't have a change of plans. The distance from my car to the hospital entrance was probably no more than 200 yards. So not really something I would "need a ride to." However, as soon as I refused the shuttle a lady pulls up in her car and asks the volunteer to meet her at her parking spot so he can drive her to the entrance. I thought to myself, "You know honey you could lose a few or a lot."  The golf cart is there for patients that actually need assistance to the hospital. This lady seemed fairly healthy despite her weight. Who am I to judge though.

Even if I might only burn 2 Calories walking from my car to the entrance, it makes me feel good knowing that I actually walked (something we need to do more of in South Texas). My colleague and I always take the flight of stairs when we go up to see patients. That's about 4 flights of stairs at least 4 times a day (only counting going up). One day we were curious so we counted all the stairs to find out how many Calories we burn on a daily basis. We counted 60 stairs which is about 40-70 Calories a day (depending on which website we used). Even though this doesn't sound like much, a little does go a long way. 40-70 Calories times 5 days a week= 200-350 Calories burned a week just from taking the stairs. So that extra donut you just had just got taken care

Many people always claim they don't have time to exercise or hit the gym. Well if you can't commit to regular exercise, it is important to fit little bits of physical activity throughout your day. Here are some ideas:
- Take the stairs whenever possible
- Park your car furthest from the entrance and walk
- If you have a desk job take a 5-10 minute break every hour to stand up, stretch, squat, or walk around
  the office (it will be good for your circulation too)
- While you are at the mall or out running errands just spend 10 extra minutes walking around window
  shopping or browsing up and down the aisles.
- If you carry a bag, use it like a dumbbell to tone your arms
- While waiting for your car wash, oil change, etc. walk around the parking lot a few times
- When you drop off your kid's at practice walk around the fields as you watch them

There are so many ways to squeeze in physical activity into your day. Just remember, a little goes a long way! =)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How fatty are your organs? My experience watching bariatric surgery

Today I had the opportunity to watch a gastric bypass and sleeve operation. It was so fascinating to be in the OR and see everything being done laparoscopically. I wasn't grossed out in any way to see blood or bodily organs. In fact it was quite remarkable to see a real life heart beating. The disgusting part was actually seeing the loads and loads of fat surrounding all of the organs. There are two types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is located within the abdominal cavity, surrounding organs. Subcutaneous fat is found just below the skin. Visceral fat is related to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases brought on by central obesity.

All of the excess fat made it harder to actually find the organs in order to perform the surgery. About half of the surgery is just spent separating the stomach from the visceral fat present. Once the surgeon stapled the stomach, he pulled it out through a tiny incision above the belly button. This person's stomach had stretched over years and years of excessive eating. What is even more remarkable is after having gastric bypass, patients are usually able to get off all of their medication including hypertension and diabetic medication.

Seeing all of that fat "hugging" onto the vital organs really put healthy eating and exercise into perspective for me. I thought to myself, "If only everyone could watch a bariatric surgery; then they would be motivated to stay at a healthy weight." Now every time I'm tempted with eating another cookie or sitting out on my workout I'm going to think of that fat sticking to my organs...