What You Need to Know about Diabetes Type 2

What You Need to Know about Diabetes Type 2

We all know someone who has it. Diabetes type 2 is common and seems like an epidemic these days, but what exactly is it, and what can we do about it?

First, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences between diabetes type 1 and 2. Type 1 diabetes is most commonly a childhood disease caused by a lack of insulin production in the pancreas. Insulin drives glucose (sugar) into the body’s organs and cells for energy. If insulin is not produced, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, which can become toxic. Patients who develop type 1 always require insulin treatment by injection. Most type 1 patients develop the disease in childhood, though some acquire it later.

Type 2 diabetes has the same outcome but by a different mechanism. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to the insulin the pancreas produces and does not normally respond to it. The pancreas may try to overcompensate by making more until it effectively becomes useless in meaningful insulin production. Oral medications have been designed to decrease insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes patients. In progressive severe cases of type 2, oral medications can become ineffective and synthetic insulin injection is required.

Both diabetes types result in similar complications. People with uncontrolled diabetes often develop cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, visual loss, blindness, and neurological issues. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure in this country. Symptoms of diabetes include increased urination, thirst and hunger, weight loss, and weakness      Severe cases, in those who do not seek medical attention when symptoms progress, can result in a diabetic coma.

Now that I may have scared you, let me tell you the good news: These problems can be significantly reduced, and risks avoided if diabetes is controlled and managed by the patient and his or her physician. As a practicing physician, I see most type 2 diabetes develop over time in the patients that come in yearly for well-checks. I find that they become pre-diabetic before diabetes occurs. For example, a person may present to the office after obtaining fasting labs (lab blood tests performed after the patient has not eaten anything for a period of time) with a recorded blood glucose level of 115.

A normal fasting blood sugar is anything less than 100 and diabetes is defined as a blood glucose level greater than 126. This person is pre-diabetic (blood glucose between 100-126) and obviously is at risk for developing diabetes at any time.

At a reported score of 115, I would immediately start the pre-diabetic patient on several lifestyle changes, including a diabetic diet and exercise program. In most cases, we would be able to reverse the disease process and at the very least, prolong the process of converting into full-blown diabetes. Even in those people who do end up developing diabetes, if they dedicate themselves to following this type of healthy diet and exercising program, I can state with a strong level of certainty as a doctor, they will at the very least require less medication, develop fewer complications from the disease and prolong the time frame whereby they may require insulin.

Most often, type 2 diabetes develops in people who are overweight. The facts are staggering today: 60% of the U.S. population is overweight, and 30% are obese. It is estimated that up to 50% of the population may develop diabetes because of the overweight and obesity epidemic. I’ve been blogging and talking about reducing sugar intake and the number of simple carbs (bread, pasta, rice, cereal), while increasing complex carbs (including various fruits and vegetables), nuts, and other naturally occurring foods in our diets. Making these diet changes will decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, reduce other weight-related disorders, help people maintain a healthy weight, and make them feel great.

If those with diabetes or those at risk for diabetes follow this advice and an exercise program, they will successfully decrease the chances of diabetic complications. They will also reduce the number of medications required to control the disease and possibly reverse the process altogether. The best part is you will save money on medications, doctor visits, and testing. True story…. I promise!

If you enjoyed learning more about this topic, you may also want to read my (Dr. Kulka) review of the Top 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise

Medical Disclaimer
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Do This in December

Do This in December

We just finished a big holiday with family and friends. I am sure most of us had healthy portions of turkey, stuffing and just a few tastes of the deserts. I hope that you used some restraint while still enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In any case, I am throwing down a challenge for you for the month of December!

December is typically a month of parties, dinners and celebrations. Many people completely blow off the month and tell themselves they will work on their diet and exercise program come January. They usually gain several pounds in December and very often don’t actually start an exercise or healthy diet program until later in the early spring if they do it at all. (Studies* have shown actually showed most people who make New Year’s resolutions to diet and exercise fail to be successful in January and actually don’t make significant healthy changes until later in the year). 

(* see https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11920693/ and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2980864/ for examples of studies about New Year’s resolution-based goals.)

The Challenge

I challenge you to take a step in the right direction now by exercising every day in the month of December. You will prevent falling into the fat trap and you will definitely feel great about your healthy steps while also getting to celebrate with family, friends, and co-workers during all the festivities throughout the month. 

I bet that if you exercise every day you will also make better choices when it comes to your diet. I want you to set the goal for yourself to exercise for a minimum of 20- 30 minutes every single day. Your exercise can be as simple as walking each morning, at lunch or after work. You can exercise by using a treadmill, an elliptical machine, using resistance bands, weights, going to the gym, playing tennis or using an exercise video program(many free ones on YouTube etc). Any one or a combination of these exercises will work just fine. The minimum you need to get started is a few bucks for a pair of sneakers!

Always Have a Plan

Make a plan for the time you will exercise every day so it will actually happen. You need to think of exercise as a necessity in your life just like eating, working, and sleeping. I guarantee you will feel great about your commitment. Healthy in body = healthy in mind. When you take care of yourself, you tend to improve the way you care for other people and commitments in your life too. Now go exercise!

For more healthy tips for the holiday season: Check out my previous article on tips for eating healthily this holiday season.

Medical Disclaimer

The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Dr. Kulka’s Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

This is the time of year to eat! It starts next week with Thanksgiving and doesn’t seem to end until the new year begins, and then you start to regret all that you ate over the holidays. I want to tell you about ways to avoid that feeling of overeating and over-indulging before the holidays begin so perhaps this year you won’t feel like you have to go into significant diet or detox mode come January 1st. Here are some healthy tips to start you out this holiday season and help you get through this Thanksgiving:

Don’t starve yourself before the big meal: Some people think that if they don’t eat all day and then indulge in the big Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, they will be healthier, but the opposite is true. If you don’t eat all day, you will be that much hungrier when the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pies come out, and you will surely overeat. Plus, your body will be craving all those calories, storing them as fat because you haven’t eaten all day.

Portion size is critical: It’s Thanksgiving. It happens once a year, so eating the sweet potato casserole that your mother makes or your favorite cornbread stuffing is okay, but remember not to overeat even your favorites. Instead, look at your plate and options and figure out a way to put reasonable amounts of food on your plate. And when you start to feel full, stop eating! This sounds pretty basic, but sometimes you can’t help yourself because you are looking at some of your favorite foods that you don’t get to eat all the time. Still, no matter how much you want to, try not to go back for seconds if you feel full.

Everything in moderation: As I said, trying a little bit of everything is fine. I would encourage it.

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine about the benefits of nut consumption revealed that a handful of nuts a day could decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and help you live longer. A serving size of nuts is just 1 ounce. The information came from two extensive studies following more than 120,000 people over multiple decades. The studies showed that those who eat nuts at least once every day had a 20% lower death rate than those who did not. The nut type was insignificant, and benefits were noted in those who ate peanuts or assorted tree nuts.

While many people may believe that consuming nuts could lead to obesity, studies have shown the opposite to be true. Those who consume more nuts daily had a lower rate of obesity, less weight gain, and reduced waist circumferences. Some of the health benefits of eating nuts are likely due to the nutrients that nuts contain. They have unsaturated fatty acids, high levels of protein, and vitamins including Folate, Niacin, and Vitamin E. Phytochemicals stored in nuts may also provide beneficial anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties. Macadamia nuts contain Omega 3 and Omega 7 fatty acids, and the benefits of these fatty acids. In addition, some reports have associated those who consume them with improved cholesterol levels, beneficial cardiac effects, and lower levels of inflammation.

It’s better to eat a well-balanced meal consisting of turkey, vegetables, grains and cranberry sauce rather than eat an entire plate full of stuffing followed by pie. Variety is the key here.

Crowd out the high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-fat foods without eliminating them: Yes, eat the turkey, and have some gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.  How do you do this without stuffing yourself like your favorite though very round overeating couch-napping football glancing uncle on Thursday?  Overload your plate with veggies and salad,  then add the other goodies! Add a large serving of fruit with a very slim piece of the pie. Follow these seriously simple steps to enjoy your favorite holiday and foods without the tomorrow blues.  

Put the leftovers away and keep them there: You’d be amazed to realize how much you eat after the meal is over and you are just sitting around watching the football game or helping to clean up in the kitchen. Somehow you don’t think that the extra piece of turkey dipped in gravy counts when you are just picking at it as you walk by it, but it does! So remember to put the food away after the meal and keep it out until the next day. Turkey sandwiches are always an excellent day-after-Thanksgiving treat, but the key is to wait until the day after to eat them!

Happy Thanksgiving! And check back soon, as I will have tips on finding time to work out during the busy holiday season.

Medical Disclaimer

The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Nuts about Nuts

Nuts about Nuts

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine about the benefits of nut consumption revealed that a handful of nuts a day could decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and help you live longer. A serving size of nuts is just 1 ounce. The information came from two extensive studies following more than 120,000 people over multiple decades. The studies showed that those who eat nuts at least once every day had a 20% lower death rate than those who did not. The nut type was insignificant, and benefits were noted in those who ate peanuts or assorted tree nuts.

While many people may believe that consuming nuts could lead to obesity, studies have shown the opposite to be true. Those who consume more nuts daily had a lower rate of obesity, less weight gain, and reduced waist circumferences. Some of the health benefits of eating nuts are likely due to the nutrients that nuts contain. They have unsaturated fatty acids, high levels of protein, and vitamins including Folate, Niacin, and Vitamin E. Phytochemicals stored in nuts may also provide beneficial anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties. Macadamia nuts contain Omega 3 and Omega 7 fatty acids, and the benefits of these fatty acids. In addition, some reports have associated those who consume them with improved cholesterol levels, beneficial cardiac effects, and lower levels of inflammation.

Some of the reasons that nut consumers may also experience better health comes from the findings that nut eaters were also more likely to exercise, consume more vitamins, fruits and vegetables.

Eating nuts may not be the cure for obesity or the fountain of youth, but I would recommend having a handful as a snack each day as I do. They help curb your appetite, supply you with a large number of beneficial vitamins and minerals as mentioned above, and they may, in fact, help control your weight. The best part is they may also help you live longer and healthier. So now it’s time to do the obvious and go nuts for nuts!

If you liked reading this article, you may also enjoy my experience with testing vegetarian diets: Confessions of a Former Vegetarian.

Medical Disclaimer
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.

If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Confessions of a Former Vegetarian

Confessions of a Former Vegetarian

A few years back, I decided to try a vegetarian diet for a week. One week turned into six months of a primarily vegan diet (no meat, no fish, no milk products.) Then I followed that up with a year as a pescatarian (a vegetarian diet that allows for fish and milk products.) Why did I experiment with these diets? I was introduced to a vegetarian lifestyle diet by a dietician I had worked with, and I was also inspired by several books I had read on the topic.

The diets I learned about clearly made health and medical sense, with the added benefit of scientific studies backing them up. Multiple medical and community studies (*please see below for a partial list of studies supporting these statements) have reported that people who consume primarily fruits and vegetables live longer, have less heart disease, and lower cancer rates. There are also reports of people feeling better when they cut out simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, and cookies) and meat. These people report less arthritic pain, aches, and fatigue. In addition, vegetarians who consume high amounts of greens and vegetables consume countless vitamins and minerals that make us feel good and healthy. Why take a multivitamin when you eat like this? Another benefit…have you heard of anyone gaining weight on carrots, apples, and tomatoes? After learning about these types of diets, I started recommending them to some patients. Since I was recommending these diets, I thought I better try to follow them – at least for a finite amount of time.

Only one week into my vegan diet, I noticed my post-lunch fatigue (which usually lasted about 1-2 hours) had disappeared entirely. I also had an impressive increase in my energy level and felt better. I was awake and sharp early in the morning, and this feeling lasted all day. While I previously lived on chicken, turkey, and tuna, I finally learned to appreciate salads, nuts, greens, and fruits, greatly expanding my diet choices. I realized I could have large quantities of these healthy natural foods without eating meat. You are mistaken if you are worried that you will not have enough protein in your diet without meat. That notion is a fallacy. Dark greens such as spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce have large amounts of protein. Nuts, beans, lentils, and seeds also have large amounts of protein. I realized that before going on these diets, I had been an extremely picky eater, only having 2-3 varieties of foods for 90% of my meals. After six months, I learned to make meals out of at least 20 other healthy combinations without the chicken!

I was actually eating multiple snacks of fruits, nuts and veggies during the day, and noticed I was less hungry and even lost a few pounds.

So now it’s time to come clean. After one and a half years without chicken, turkey, and red meat, I have added them back into my diet in small quantities. I was craving these foods and felt that I should add these foods back in moderation but not as the substance of my diet. My diet is still considerably healthier, with large amounts of greens and fruits though I indulge in a piece of chicken or burger when I crave it. I highly suggest trying to eat a diet based on naturally occurring growing foods such as greens and fruits with less processed carbs and meats. I am not trying to convert you into a vegetarian, nor do I have a personal vendetta against the meat industry. I do, however, want you to consider a diet that is healthier, based on natural foods, and may very well offer you the benefit of a healthier life while feeling better at the same time. If you are interested in learning more about these diets, please consider reading “Eat To Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman or “Undo It” by Dr. Dean Ornish.

*Study Citations

  1. Cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer incidence in vegetarians: a meta-analysis and systematic review https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22677895/
  2. Plant‐Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease… https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.119.012865
  3. New study finds lower risks of cancer for vegetarians, pescatarians and low meat-eaters https://www.ndph.ox.ac.uk/news/new-study-finds-lower-risks-of-cancer-for-vegetarians-pescatarians-and-low-meat-eaters
  4. Reduced cancer risk in vegetarians: an analysis of recent reports https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048091/
  5. Eat more plant-based proteins to boost longevity https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/eat-more-plant-based-proteins-to-boost-longevity –
  6. Estimating impact of food choices on life expectancy: A modeling study https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003889

Medical Disclaimer
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.

If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

What is the big deal with GMOs?

What is the big deal with GMOs?

GMOS or genetically modified organisms are living organisms or things that have been genetically altered for specific purposes and used in the food, pharmaceutical and other scientific based industries. I mostly refer to GMOs here in regards to those that have been used in our food sources such as plants, fruits, vegetables and seeds.

Agricultural scientists have modified seeds, which enable farmers to grow corn that is more resistant to larvae that have traditionally threatened to destroy large crops. In turn, the farmer can reduce the amount of pesticides they use to ward off larva and other insects. Another example of a genetically modified organism for agricultural purposes is golden rice. Golden rice has been genetically modified to carry a higher amount of Beta Carotene, a substance that your body converts to Vitamin A during ingestion. This rice was created due to the lack of Vitamin A in millions of people living in third world countries and supplies these populations with the much-needed vitamin. Vitamin A deficiency is the most common cause of blindness in children in third world countries. The deficiency can also lead to anemia and increase the risk of multiple lethal infections.

There are many other examples of GMOs in agriculture that were designed to keep produce ripe longer, increase the size, brighten the color, as well as increase the resistance of the plant to insects and other animal threats. Another potential benefit of using GMOs to protect our food supply is in corn and other produce that has been genetically modified to grow with less water. This is important to maintain the food supply in times of drought and will serve to keep the price of foods somewhat stable for consumers. We cannot completely ignore the beneficial effects of GMOs as they have been used for decades without findings of deleterious effects.

Several groups have used social media to take a stand against General Mills’ inclusion of GMOs in Cheerios. So much so that a few years ago this story was picked up in the news media all around the world. The pressure became so intense that General Mills followed up with a public announcement stating that they will remove GMOs from Cheerios while keeping them in other specialized Cheerios products such as the honey nut variety. General Mills did not agree or disagree with these groups in regards to the safety of GMOs, but due to consumer concern, they are making these changes, and others are following suit with voluntary labeling of GMOS in their products. This is obviously just the beginning of an ongoing discussion.

The global scientific census including The U.S. National Academy of Science, The American Medical Association, The Royal Society of Medicine and The European Commission have all come to the conclusion that food sourced from genetically engineered crops are no riskier than eating foods that are not genetically modified.

In fact a recent article in the New York Times on this subject notes that the European Commission has been “extremely anti-GMO”, but even there, the scientific community is clear that genetically modified foods are safe.

I believe that additives such as sugar, sugar substitutes, corn syrup and other chemicals put into our processed foods are the real culprits in terms of increasing the risks of obesity, inflammation, diabetes, and other preventable diseases and not the GMOs.

This latest GMO debate reminds me of the noise created by several debunked studies that claimed vaccines might be the cause of childhood autism. The fear that was created by the irresponsibility of a few misguided people caused thousands of children to go unvaccinated from Chicken Pox, Diphtheria, Polio, Measles and Meningitis just to name a few. These are all severe life threatening diseases that can be lethal if our children become infected. In fact there were multiple new cases of these infectious processes over the past few years due in part to the lack of vaccines in children. All of the studies that caused this unfortunate belief have been disproven as poor science, fabrications and simply just not accurate. It has been proven in multiple studies over several decades that there is no relation to vaccines and autism in children. It’s very easy for people to want to blame one thing for an illness, disease, or disability.

As human beings and especially Americans we like to identify causes of misfortune and assign blame. It’s a natural process and helps put our mind at ease once we come to a conclusion. It’s very stressful to think that a loved one has been harmed, and we cannot identify an appropriate answer or direct cause. We have a come a long way in science and in medicine, but we also need to understand that we do not have all the answers to many diseases, disorders and treatments. And we cannot jump to conclusions – in this case with the GMO debate.

We rely on genetically modified organisms in medicine and other industries. Vaccines are often genetically modified to deliver antibodies to viruses, bacteria, and other lethal infectious organisms that have saved millions of lives around the world. I think that people are trying to place blame on the large agricultural and food manufacturers for every day illness, disabilities, and psychological disorders, and this is just not true. There really is not one thing that we can blame for allergies, infections, learning disabilities, and obesity.

In life, there are multiple factors in disease as well as good health. While I do believe it is extremely important to monitor the science that is involved in our food sources and medications, we need to do this in a responsible way. The food and drug association is responsible for overseeing this process and we have multiple other independent organizations that are continually monitoring and studying the benefits and risks of GMOs in our food sources and in the medical community.

We should not turn a blind eye, and I think it’s important to review information from multiple sources so we can make educated decisions about our lives and bodies. I strongly believe in following a healthy lifestyle and trying to reduce our overall intake of non-organic and non-naturally grown products in our diets. I think it’s important to support your local farm community and try to buy from local producers if possible. Remember non-organic does not mean non-GMO. Agriculture communities have been cross breeding and selecting crops that grow better in particular environments as well ones that grow fresher, larger, and more colorful foods for hundreds if not thousands of years. Believe it or not these are examples of GMOs produced by agriculture that have been traditionally performed in a field instead of in a lab.

While I may not have made many friends from blogging about the GMO issue, I think it’s important to discuss and make others aware of the issues at hand. It can be dangerous to jump on the bandwagon without knowing the facts, and we do not want to pass on innovative ideas and products that may benefit populations around the world. Innovation and science have benefited us in numerous ways that all of enjoy in our everyday lives though we must also keep questioning these changes while keeping ourselves informed of the potential benefits as well as the risks.

Medical Disclaimer
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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Dr. Kulka

Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.

If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Probiotics: What Are They? Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Probiotics: What Are They? Should I? Shouldn’t I?

We all have bacteria and other microorganisms in our gut or gastrointestinal systems. They normally live in our stomachs and intestines. We actually could not live without them. The good bacteria help us digest food, fight off infections, and aid in our absorption of important nutrients such as Vitamin B12. We also have bad bacteria and other microorganisms in our digestive tract. The probiotics in our gut keep a healthy balance by constantly keeping our system in check.

 

PROBIOTICS WITH ANTIBIOTICS?

Sometimes the bad bacteria take over and cause illnesses such as C. difficile( C.diff) diarrhea (a very bad bacteria.) This usually occurs after a person takes an antibiotic, and the antibiotic fights off the bad bacteria as intended but also knocks out some of the good bacteria whose job is to keep the c. diff bacteria in check. The c. diff then overtakes the system causing the illness until it’s identified and treated. This is why your physician may recommend probiotics when he or she prescribes antibiotics to you. I recommend taking a probiotic during any antibiotic treatment and continuing with the probiotic for one week after the course of antibiotics is completed.

There may be other benefits of taking a probiotic though it’s still early in the game, and we need more information from clinical trials to determine the proven benefits. That being said, there have been a few small trials (*see below for study citations) that are indicating possible benefits of taking probiotics for those with irritable bowel syndrome, allergic rhinitis (hay fever,) travelers diarrhea (Montezuma’s Revenge!,) inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s Disease, preventing yeast infections in women, helping fight skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and possibly in helping to prevent the flu and colds.

Some of the studies supporting the statements above:

PROBIOTICS FOR GUT HEALTH?

Some patients have asked me about taking probiotics regularly as part of their regimen to promote good gut health. If you are planning to use probiotics for gut health  It is important to note that several types of probiotics are on the market with different microbes. You can also find healthy probiotics in live cultures, such as yogurt. Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium are the most common probiotics that aid digestion and healthy immunity. Many different strains of these species also help in different areas, so it’s important to investigate them more and always read labels. Be sure sure to look on reputable medical and health sites when doing your research.

I suggest discussing the benefits and possible risks in taking long-term probiotics with your physician before starting any regimen.

 

Medical Disclaimer
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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Enter your email below and I’ll send you delicious recipes, articles, and tips to get control of your health and simple steps to maintain it.

Dr. Kulka

Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.

If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Flu Shot ?

Flu Shot ?

These are the most common excuses people give when trying to refuse the flu shot in my office:  “I don’t need a flu shot because I don’t get sick.” and  “But, my friend got the flu from a flu shot.” Unfortunately, these are both very misleading statements demonstrating non-scientific thinking.

The influenza vaccine is made up of influenza antibodies and not the live flu. People may develop common cold-type symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and a low-grade fever, but they cannot possibly develop the flu because the vaccine is not an active flu strain. After giving thousands of vaccines over the past two decades, I have found these common cold symptoms to be seldom and mild. They are the exception and not the rule. Most people feel fine and do not develop any side effects except a mildly tender arm.

Australia is having a terrible Influenza season in 2022. What does this mean for us?

Australia is in the middle of a rough Influenza season, which came on fast and furious, according to the latest report from the Australian Department of Health.  This may indicate that we may have a similar situation.  Influenza generally migrates from the southern hemisphere to our northern hemisphere during early fall and winter. The CDC is watching closely and paying attention to signs of an early aggressive flu season in our country and recommends obtaining an influenza vaccine as soon as they become available. 

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against four influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. These include two influenza B viruses and two Influenza A viruses. Each year, two flu viruses are used to produce the seasonal influenza vaccine.

When should I get the Influenza Vaccine?

The flu season in the U.S. can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Since it generally takes several weeks to build up an adequate amount of antibodies after receiving the vaccine ,The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.  It is now available at my office and most others throughout the country. Studies have shown that the beneficial effect of the flu shot continues through the entire the influenza season so its not worth trying to time the vaccine and wait until later in the fall or winter. You may miss your window of opportunity!

Protect your family & friends!

Why is it so crucial for even healthy people who say they never get sick to get the flu shot? One reason is that if a healthy person is vaccinated, they will automatically protect family, friends, coworkers, and their community from getting the flu.

A healthy person can be infected with the flu but not know it because they don’t develop classic flu-like symptoms. Then this person could be contagious and infect a high-risk person such as a child, older adult, or a chronically ill person in their community without ever knowing they were a carrier. So the more people get vaccinated, the safer the community becomes. That’s why all health care workers and those working with children and the elderly should get vaccinated first, often mandated by their employers. 

Healthy people should get vaccinated too! An otherwise healthy person could develop mild flu, pneumonia, or secondary bacterial infection that can lead to bad outcomes. In addition, if you have the flu, it can make you more susceptible to other circulating viruses! You know the one I am alluding to.  You do not want a double wallop! 

The CDC estimates that flu may have resulted in up to 41 million illnesses, 710,000 hospitalizations, and 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020.

The Good News!

Now it’s time for the good news. We can significantly reduce the number of people who develop the flu! Those who developed the flu and were previously vaccinated generally recover faster and with a less severe case.

Get your flu shot soon to protect you and others too. I did!

Medical Disclaimer
The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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Dr. Kulka

Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.

If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Sugar = Heart Disease

Sugar = Heart Disease

A Study Finds Adding Simple Carbs/Sugars to Your Diet Increases Risk of Heart Disease

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study showing that added sugar in diets causes an increased risk of heart disease and mortality. The study followed close to 12,000 individuals over the last decade and found that added sugar is an independent risk factor for heart disease. This means sugar added in during the manufacturing process, and this occurs in products such as soda, fruit drinks, candy, and grain/carbohydrate based desserts (cookies/cakes).

This is the first study to show the direct link between excess sugar intake and illness. Previous studies showed that sugar causes weight gain, obesity and diabetes. But now this direct link shows that sugar intake is connected to the number one cause of death in the U.S. – heart disease.

How much added sugar increases your risk?

The study showed that once added sugar reached 15% of an individual’s daily caloric intake, that person’s cardiovascular risk became elevated.

15% of an average U.S. diet generally represents about 150 calories or one can of soda. Think about that – Drinking just one can of soda a day increases your risk of heart disease! From that point on the more sugar a person consumes, the higher the risk becomes. Those that consume over 24% of their calories from sugar may find that their risks for heart disease and death could triple over time.

 

At the moment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not set a recommended limit for added sugars in our diets. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of fewer than 150 calories for men and 100 calories for women. The World Health Organization recommends that less that 100 calories or 10% of a person’s dietary intake should come from added sugars.

 

My thought is that we should follow the American Heart Association guidelines as stated above or more importantly we should strive to follow a plant-based diet. Consider limiting your meat intake to less than 10% of your diet and added sugar to less than 10% of your diet as well. At the same time, you can fill up on plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes in larger volumes.  

 

A patient of mine recently followed up in the office after six months of sticking to this type of plant-based diet. He lost 25 pounds without counting calories. He ate a higher quantity of food than ever and never felt like he walked away from a snack or meal hungry. You can do this too! Just remember that you will need to plan ahead by preparing theses types of healthier foods for snacks and meals to have on hand.  

 

 

Dr. Kulka

Dr. Kulka is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of clinical experience. Placing an emphasis on improving wellness and avoiding illness, Dr. Kulka has a passion for educating people about their health, weight loss options, and specific medical concerns in an easy-to-understand way.

If you, like so many people, struggle to be consistent with your healthy diet and exercise routine, or feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, check out our Seriously Simple Steps to Health and Wellness program.

Healthy Tips and Tricks Delivered to your Inbox

Enter your email below and I’ll send you delicious recipes, articles, and tips to get control of your health and simple steps to maintain it.