Eating Your Way to Healthy Blood Pressure

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects 1 in 3 American adults and can lead to significant health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart or kidney failure, and more. Most doctors prescribe medication along with a healthy diet and exercise for this condition, but researchers are finding that some foods are better than others at helping control blood pressure.

You may know that excessive salt in your diet can raise blood pressure, but are you aware of the benefits of having enough potassium, magnesium, and fiber in your diet? Fruits and vegetables are high in these beneficial minerals and fiber and are naturally low in sodium. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people with hypertension may especially benefit from upping the amount of potassium in their diet. Adults should get at least 4,700 milligrams a day. A few good sources: bananas (422 milligrams each), a baked potato with skin (738 milligrams), orange juice (496 milligrams per cup), and nonfat or low-fat yogurt (531–579 milligrams per 8 ounces).

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In addition to being a low salt (or low sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, with whole grains. It is a high fiber, low to moderate fat diet, rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Some delicious choices for increasing these beneficial minerals and fiber include apples, bananas, carrots, grapes, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tuna, and yogurt. 

Dr. Tsuda and Dr. Ryan can provide you with nutritional guidance if necessary. They can help you find the right treatment to reduce the health risks of high blood pressure and other dangerous metabolic disorders that often accompany obesity. Call 702-487-6000 for a consultation.

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Healthy Strategies for the Holiday Weekend

Labor Day barbeques and picnics may seem exciting enough to forgo healthy eating; after all, the traditional end-of-summer weekend comes but once a year. In the long run, those celebrations aren’t as exciting as sticking to your eating plan and living a longer, healthier life. Work these tips into your party routine so that you can stick to your plan without missing a thing.

There are plenty of party foods that are naturally low in calories and seem equally festive. Go for crudités, lean grilled meats, chicken kebabs, salsa, grilled asparagus, boiled shrimp, and fruit. On a cheese tray, go for lower-calorie selections such as soft goat cheese and feta, and consider skipping the cracker when eating hard cheeses.

Before you even leave home, it’s a good idea to have a strategy:

  • Eat your calories – An easy way to cut calories without thinking is to watch the liquid calories. Each glass of wine or can of beer can be over 100 calories, and that’s not to mention the sugary drinks you may be tempted with on the side. Determine exactly how many glasses you want to enjoy before heading into the party so that you can plan accordingly. A pre-party workout can help you counterbalance a glass or two with little to no damage.
  • Balance is key – Try to balance out your plate with enough vegetables, protein, and whole grains. It helps to load the veggies on your plate first, then protein, so that you’re guaranteed to get enough nutrients without splurging on the first plate of carbohydrates you see. Remember that you can always go back for more.
  • Slow down – Being at a party can actually help slow the pace of your eating because of all the excitement going on. Think about enjoying the flavors as well as your company with every bite.
  • Don’t save up – A lot of people will try to save their appetite before big outings so that they can enjoy more of the delicious food that’s being offered. This is not a good strategy. Waiting too long to eat will not only send your body into starvation mode, but it will also shrink your stomach so that you feel full sooner when you do start to indulge. Eating throughout the day will maintain insulin levels and combat a binge, so try to digest something every three hours.

At VIPSurg, Dr. Tsuda and his team can help if you are considering bariatric surgery in the Las Vegas area. Schedule an appointment to find the right treatment for you.

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Weight-loss Surgery or Diet and Exercise? Long-term Results Can Save Your Life

To maintain a healthy weight medical professionals emphasize that diet and exercise are key. If you want to lose weight, you must control calories and expend more by exercising. This has been the standard approach for decades. Recent research is telling a different story.

A growing number of studies, including one published in Medical News Today, are finding that for those who are obese, weight-loss/bariatric surgery may be more effective at reducing body weight than the old idea of changing habits and watching what you eat. The findings also suggested that bariatric surgery also increased remission rates in obese patients with Type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.

 Bariatric surgery helps you lose weight and lowers your overall risk of associated medical problems in one of two ways:

  • Restriction. Surgery is used to physically limit the amount of food the stomach can hold, which limits the number of calories you can eat.
  • Limiting the absorption of nutrients including calories. Surgery is used to shorten or bypass part of the small intestine, reducing the amount of nutrients and number of calories the body absorbs.

Some of the more popular weight-loss surgeries are:

  • Gastric bypass – involves the creation of a small pouch in the top of the stomach. The pouch is the only part of the stomach that receives food. The small intestine is then cut a short distance below the main stomach and connected to the new pouch. Because food now bypasses a portion of the small intestines, absorption and calories are reduced.
  • Gastric banding – involves placing an inflatable balloon (band) around the top part of the stomach; this creates a small stomach pouch above the band with a narrow opening to the rest of the stomach. A port is then installed under the skin. By injecting or removing fluid, the band/balloon can be inflated or deflated, controlling the amount of food the stomach can hold.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy – In this approach, part of the stomach is separated and removed. The remaining section is formed into a tube-like structure; the smaller stomach cannot hold as much food. It also affects the production of hormones that produce hunger.

Why does bariatric surgery appear to be the preferred option over other weight loss options for those considered obese?

It appears to all come down to the success rates of changing old habits. Unfortunately, only slightly more than 5 percent of people are successful in changing their lifestyles on a long-term basis. Health experts claim that the overall risks associated with obesity which include heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and other life threatening conditions, outweigh the risks and complications of surgery.

Weight-loss surgery isn’t a magic bullet or an easy fix by any means, but research shows it may be the best answer for many people suffering from severe obesity and the deadly health conditions that often accompany it. If you’re considering bariatric surgery in the Las Vegas area, Dr. Tsuda and his expert team are ready to help you find the best treatment for your unique situation.

Doctor measuring obese man waist body fat. Obesity and weight loss.

When GERD is the Word – What to Consider when Diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Many people experience acid reflux from time to time – that feeling commonly thought of as heartburn or acid indigestion. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week. While most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, some people with GERD may need stronger medications or surgery to ease symptoms.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you:

  • Experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms
  • Take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice a week

When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach. Then the sphincter closes again.

If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus. This constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, often causing it to become inflamed.

Conditions that can increase your risk of GERD include:

  • Obesity
  • Bulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
  • Pregnancy
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
  • Delayed stomach emptying

Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:

  • Smoking
  • Eating large meals or eating late at night
  • Eating certain foods (triggers) such as fatty or fried foods
  • Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol or coffee
  • Taking certain medications, such as aspirin

Your doctor is likely to recommend that you first try lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. If you don’t experience relief within a few weeks, your doctor might recommend prescription medication or surgery.

The options include:

  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid 
  • Medications to reduce acid production known as H-2-receptor blockers
  • Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus known as proton pump inhibitors
  • Medication that helps strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. 

GERD can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, but if these don’t help or you wish to avoid long-term medication use, consider the revolutionary LINX device. This device consists of a ring of tiny magnetic beads which is wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus. The magnetic attraction between the beads is strong enough to keep the junction closed to refluxing acid but weak enough to allow food to pass through when swallowing. The LINX device can be implanted using minimally invasive surgery.

As the first LINX-trained surgeons in Las Vegas and as the first digestive institute in the area to offer the only FDA-approved treatment for GERD, Dr. Shawn Tsuda and Dr. Heidi Ryan at VIPSurg are ready to help you fight back against gastroesophageal reflux disease. Call  702-487-6000 to schedule an appointment. 

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5 Steps to Lead a Healthier Lifestyle

Do you think that you are living a healthy lifestyle? It’s easy to put off healthy living habits, but if you feel that you need to make improvements to your lifestyle for your health, you’re not alone. Although it’s hard to get out of old habits, a healthy lifestyle can give you more energy, improved mental health, and can increase your chances of defeating illnesses.

Here are five steps you can take to managing a healthier lifestyle:

1. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet

Adding fruits and vegetables is a perfect foundation for starting a healthy routine. Vegetables and fruits contain plentiful amounts of nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidants that help boost your immune system and fight off disease. Antioxidants help fight eye disease, promote healthy skin, and overall health. The World Health Organization recommends eating fruits and veggies as a regular part of your diet, so you’ll have a better chance of fighting some cancers, diseases, and heart disease. Make sure to eat five to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

2. Drink water

You can save money and improve your health by drinking water throughout the day. This natural liquid offers the benefits of hydration, nourishment, and improved wellbeing. Water can cleanse toxins from the body, improve brain function, energize muscles, control weight gain, and balance body temperature and fluids. It’s recommended to drink about 8 glasses, or 64 ounces, of water per day.

3. Manage your mental health

When it comes to building a healthy lifestyle, it’s easy to concentrate on the physical aspects of health and ignore the mental upkeep. Remember that your mental health is a foundation of your overall health. It’s important to manage and asses your feelings on a day-to-day basis. If you feel negative towards others, you could cause more unhappiness at work, school, or in your social life. Some ways you can improve your mental health include:

  • Exercise
  • Socialize with loved ones
  • Join a club
  • Sleep 7-9 hours every night
  • Do something creative

If you continue to feel unhappy or even depressed, consult your physician or talk to a professional about ways you can improve your mental health.

4. De-stress

Sometimes it’s beneficial to stop, take a deep breath, and relax. You can help maintain your physical and mental health by decompressing from a long, stressful school or work week. Try some relaxing activities to help you relieve stress. Take advantage of meditation, listening to music, reading, watching a comedy, or exercising. These activities can help you unwind, and they cause feelings of happiness and clam.

5. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to stimulate your health, and studies show that physical activity photo-1527247737617-ca8e5f18e4f6helps improve longevity and overall health. Try to exercise up to three times a week. The American Heart Association advises for 150 minutes of exercise each week or an hour at least three times a week. Remember to keep your workouts fun. You should enjoy your workout and not feel like it’s a chore. Some fun physical activities include:

  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Aerobics
  • Running
  • Hiking

These lifestyle tips can help you maintain healthy and happier habits. Talk to your healthcare professionals about ways to improve your health. We are here for you at VIPSurg if you are interested in weight-loss/bariatric surgery in the Las Vegas area. Call (702) 487-6000 for all your general and bariatric surgery needs. 

Don’t Let Travel Derail Your Healthy Lifestyle

It’s summer, and for many, that means travel and vacation. While fun and exciting, leaving home takes one out of usual routines, places temptations in the way that aren’t usually there, and often makes it difficult to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan. Do travel and living a healthy lifestyle have to be mutually exclusive? NO! Fortunately, having a wonderful vacation doesn’t have to mean sabotaging all your hard-earned diet and fitness progress. 

With a little planning and these helpful tips, you can come home from vacation feeling healthier than when you left. Preparation is key!

  • If you’re on the road, bring a cooler filled with delicious, healthy food, such as vegetables with hummus, fresh fruit, and grilled chicken. Pack water to keep you hydrated. Road trip picnics provide a great opportunity to add some activity and stretch those legs. Plan to find some place with a short walking trail or playground for a little respite from the car. 
  • Choose wisely when making quick food stops. Fast food restaurants fall short when you’re looking for a variety of healthy options. On the other hand, if you stop at a grocery store, you will find many whole foods like rotisserie chicken, whole-grain breads, fruits, and vegetables. If you happen to find one with a salad bar, you can find a delicious, healthy meal already prepared right in the supermarket.
  • If you are staying at a hotel, find a grocery store on the way to pick up healthy, appealing items to have in your room for when you need a snack. Otherwise, you might be tempted to hit the over-priced mini bar or vending machines for something you wouldn’t even want if you were home. 
  • Even though breakfast may come with your hotel room, use your best judgment at the buffet. Avoid pastries and baked goods. Choose simple, whole-food options. Fresh fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal are good ways to start your day. A little egg for a protein source can benefit you as well.
  • Travel offers many opportunities to be just as active, if not more so, than when you’re home. Walking on the beach, hiking in the mountains, swimming, touring new areas, and even shopping can all be counted toward your daily physical activities.
  • Keep in mind that rest and relaxation are healthy “activities” too. 

Treat yourself kindly while vacationing. If there are some foods that make your experience more special, you should indulge yourself. However, if you eat healthier and make wise food choices, you will have more energy to enjoy your vacation time and return home recharged and ready to continue your healthy lifestyle journey.

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Weight-Loss Methods to Avoid

We live in a society today where everyone wants to stay trim and thin. Unfortunately, fighting off the bulge can range from following a sensible and healthy diet to making ill-guided efforts that can have serious consequences for your health. With more than half the American population considered overweight, everyone is looking for a magic trick to make tummies trimmer and thighs smaller. Unfortunately, there is no easy, quick fix.

Here are a few weight-loss methods you should avoid at all costs because they could cause serious health problems, and they won’t be the magic solution you desire:

  • All Forms of Purging — Purging includes making yourself vomit, chewing food and spitting it out, and abusing laxatives. These habits pose serious health issues and are the first step towards the development of eating disorders. Extremely acidic vomit can cause erosion in the esophagus, mouth, and tooth enamel. This can increase the risk of certain cancers and tooth decay.

Over-the-counter laxatives have become popular for those who want to lose weight     fast. The theory is that the laxative will accelerate the movement of food through the   digestive tract, giving your body less time to absorb high or low calories in the food you eat. Laxatives don’t do this. By the time food waste reaches the colon, the body has gotten all the nutrients from it, so you simply end up eliminating your food waste faster. A side effect of laxative use is dehydration, so you may shed some water weight when using a laxative. Other side effects also include nausea, mental fogginess, muscle weakness, even death.

  • Starvation, Fasting, or Very Low-Calorie Diets — Just like cutting out certain food groups, fasting does more harm than good if you are attempting to lose weight. Long term starvation tells your body to hold on to as much of the energy and fat reserves that is must survive—not to mention the lack of food can lead to extremely unpleasant side effects.

Fasting may lead to weight loss, but the lost weight includes precious muscle and lowers metabolism. Drastic calorie restriction also causes a shift towards a higher percentage of body fat, which increases the risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Skipping even a single meal can lead to nausea, headaches, and fatigue. The hunger from fasting can also lead to dangerous binge eating later, which can set you back in your weight loss goals.

The best tactic is to choose a diet that works well for your lifestyle. The best diet is one that you can stick to long-term. Use common sense, listen to your body, be mindful of what you eat, and ignore expensive, risky, and worthless weight-loss strategies or products that are unproven.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are looking for treatments for extreme obesity, schedule a consultation at VIPSurg. Drs. Tsuda and Ryan can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

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