The Role of Genes in Obesity

Genes influence every aspect of human development, physiology, and adaptation, and research shows that genetics also play a role in obesity. However, we still know relatively little when it comes to which specific genes contribute to obesity. Nor do we know the importance of the complex interplay between our genetic makeup and our life experiences.

Obesity Word DNA Strand Medical Research Fat HereditaryWhat we do know is that genes do not always predict one’s future health. Genes and behavior probably are both needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases, various genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors such as plentiful food supply or not enough physical activity.

It’s well established that overweight and the different forms of obesity are conditions tending to center within a family. A person with a family history has a two to eight times higher risk than a person with no family history of obesity, and even higher risk is observed in cases of severe obesity.

The most common forms of obesity are probably the result of variations within a large number of genes. Sequence variations within a pool of 56 different genes have been reported as being related to obesity; however, only ten of those genes showed positive results in at least five different studies.

Any attempt to explain the obesity epidemic has to consider both genetics and how (the environment) one lives as well. One explanation that is often cited is that the same genes that helped our ancestors survive occasional famines are now being challenged by environments in which food is plentiful year-round.

As of now, genetic tests are not useful for directing personal diet or physical activity regimens. Studies on genetic variation affecting response to changes in diet and physical activity are still at an early stage. It stands to reason that doing a better job of explaining obesity in terms of genes and environmental factors could help encourage people who are trying to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity is a serious public health problem because it is associated with some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer, but unfortunately, families can’t change their genes. They can, however, change the family environment to encourage healthier eating habits and more physical activity. Those changes can improve the health of family members and the family health history of the next generation.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are interested in weight-loss surgery, schedule a consultation at VIP Surg.

Advertisements

Sugary Beverages and Their Role in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

These days, soft drinks are the beverage of choice for millions of Americans and others around the world. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced tea, and energy and vitamin water drinks has risen across the globe. In addition to the obvious drawback of weight gain, higher consumption of SSBs is associated with the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

In the U.S. between the late 1970s and 2006, the per capita consumption of SSBs increased from 64.4 to 141.7 kcal/day, representing more than a twofold increase. Of particular concern is the rapid trajectory of increase evident in many developing countries where access to SSBs has grown right along with rising rates of urbanization. Sales figures from Coca Cola’s 2007 annual report show that during 2007, India and China experienced growths of 14 and 18%, respectively, in the volume of beverages sold, showing substantial increases in sales at the population level.

According to the World Health Association (WHO), metabolic syndrome and diabetes are responsible for 19 million deaths each year. Knowing that sugar consumption is associated with these conditions, the public should take steps to reduce their intake.

People who regularly consume 1 to 2 cans or more of sugary drinks per day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.

A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks. A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link.

People who drink a lot of sugary drinks often tend to weigh more and perhaps eat less healthfully than people who don’t drink sugary drinks. However, studies show that having an otherwise healthy diet or being at a healthy weight only slightly lessens the risks associated with drinking SSBs.

Because SSBs are often consumed in large amounts and tend to raise blood glucose and soda and computer and phoneinsulin concentrations rapidly and dramatically, they have been shown to contribute to a high dietary glycemic load. High glycemic load diets induce glucose intolerance and insulin resistance particularly among overweight individuals and can increase levels of inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein, which are linked to type 2 diabetes risk.

The exact amount of sugar intake that increases the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome is still unknown at this point. Nevertheless, medical experts agree that consuming large amounts of sugar poses a health threat. But how much sugar intake per day is considered too much? The WHO recommends no more than 9 teaspoons per day for men and 6 teaspoons per day for women.

The message is to be careful about the amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages you drink, and be mindful of sugar content. Prolonged intake of high amounts of sugar can contribute to metabolic syndrome onset with time. Lowering sugar-sweetened beverage and sugar intake should form part of a multi-pronged approach to living a healthy lifestyle which includes increased exercise, a balanced diet, and lower stress levels.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and are suffering from the problems associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, call VIP Surg at 702-487-6000. Dr. Tsuda and his team can team of experts can help.

 

Tips for Enjoying a Healthy Thanksgiving

Let’s be candid, shall we? During any holiday—especially Thanksgiving—people have a lot of food put in front of them. Many times, it is way too much food for even the best of metabolisms to handle without putting on a few pounds. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could still enjoy the holidays and yet never gain an ounce?

During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to go overboard with the calories and consumption. Temptations of gooey pecan pie and dense sweet potatoes topped with crackly marshmallows make it seem impossible to be disciplined.

However, eating healthfully on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to forgo all your favorite foods. If you’ve got your eating under control for the majority of the time, go ahead and have a piece of pie — just don’t lose control entirely.

Keep your willpower and your wits about you by using these tips:

  1. Stick to healthy portions.

Just one plate of Thanksgiving food is all you get. Fill up half your plate with vegetables,fruit, and a whole wheat roll, a quarter of it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and a quarter of it with turkey or ham. The more colorful your plate, the better – so get lots of leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers, and beets in your veggie selection. If you fill up on those lower caloric density and higher nutrition things, you’re going to feel full, but not bloated and tired, because it’s a lighter far.

It’s a holiday, so indulge a bit if your diet allows it. If you’re going to eat dessert, make sure you allot for the calories elsewhere – don’t go back for that second helping of marshmallow sweet potatoes, and instead opt for the cranberry salad.

  1. Eat before you indulge.

Don’t starve yourself during the early part of Thanksgiving Day, with the idea that you’re just “saving room” for all the food, or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later.

If you’re going to a Thanksgiving lunch, be sure you eat breakfast before. If you’re going to a dinner, be sure you eat lunch or have a snack in the afternoon. You should have your normal meals because whenever we get over-hungry, we tend to overeat.

  1. Substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones.

There are plenty of ways to make Thanksgiving fare healthier. For mashed potatoes, consider mixing in chicken broth, herbs, or roasted garlic to perk up the flavor instead of adding in butter. For green bean casserole, swap out fried onions with toasted almonds for a less-oily alternative, and instead of having cranberry sauce, opt instead to make a cranberry salad. For dips, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream — the consistency is similar, but yogurt has less fat and more protein.

  1. Drink lots of water and take a walk after eating.

Many times, when people think they are hungry, they are really just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you’ll lower the risk of overeating. Keep in mind that alcohol not only has lots of calories, but it’s effects can also lower your willpower for keeping to your healthy lifestyle.

It’s also a good idea to take a walk after eating to get your metabolism going instead of laying on the couch. Ultimately, you’ll sleep much better that night if you do a little exercise after eating rather that falling into a food coma.

All of us at VIP Surg wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving! We are here to help with your bariatric and general surgery needs.

dinner-2330482_960_720

 

Rates of Obesity are on the Rise

The global obesity rate has nearly doubled since 1980, and there are now over 200Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.51.03 AM million obese men and nearly 300 million obese women, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. In the United States, more than one third of adults (or 78.6 million people) are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Obesity is usually defined by using a ratio of height to weight called body mass index (BMI), which usually correlates with a person’s level of body fat. According to the CDC, an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

At a fundamental level, obesity occurs when people regularly eat more calories than they burn, but actually a number of factors can contribute to obesity, including:

  • lack of physical activity
  • lack of sleep
  • genetics and certain medications that slow calorie burn, increase appetite, or cause water retention, such as corticosteroids, antidepressants, or some seizure medications

Modern culture, conveniences, and other environmental factors also, in part, contribute to obesity. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, environmental factors that promote obesity include:

  • oversized food portions
  • busy work schedules that don’t allow for physical activity
  • lack of access to healthy foods at supermarkets
  • lack of safe places for physical activity

Because friends share similar environments and carry out activities together that may contribute to weight gain, obesity has also been found to “spread” socially among friends according to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Certain health conditions also can lead to weight gain, including:

  • Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid gland that slows metabolism and causes fatigue and weakness
  • PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome — which affects up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age and can also lead to excess body hair and reproductive problems
  • Cushing’s syndrome — which stems from an overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands and is characterized by weight gain in the upper body, face and neck
  • Prader-Willi syndrome– a rare condition in which people never feel full, and so they want to eat constantly, according to the Mayo Clinic

Although there are lots of fad diets, such short-term dietary changes are not the best way to maintain a healthy weight, the CDC says. Instead, people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Even small amounts of weight loss — such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight – can have health benefits, the CDC says.

For people who are still severely obese after attempting to lose weight through diet and exercise, other treatments, such as bariatric surgery, may be an option. Bariatric surgery is recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or more, or if they have a serious health problem related to their obesity and have a BMI of 35 or more. In many cases, people with a BMI of 30 or more are eligible for one type of bariatric surgery if they also have at least one health problem linked with obesity.

If you’re struggling with obesity and live in the Las Vegas area, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Our experts can help find the right treatment for you.

 

High Blood Pressure: Do these Things Now to Prevent Future Problems

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries, and it’s normal for it to rise and fall throughout the day. However, when blood pressure stays elevated over time, it’s called hypertension (aka high blood pressure). High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death among Americans. High blood pressure also can result in other conditions, such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. This means that even if you don’t have high blood pressure now, you are likely to develop it in the future unless you adopt a healthy lifestyle.

  • Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, your blood pressure rises as your body weight increases. Losing even 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure, and losing weight has the biggest effect on those who are overweight and already have hypertension.
  • Be physically active – Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. Try to engage in physical activity for a total of 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can do this by combining everyday chores with moderate-level sporting activities, such as walking.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan – What you eat affects your chances of getting hightape-403593__340 blood pressure. A healthy eating plan can both reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and lower a blood pressure that is already too high. An important part of healthy eating is choosing foods that are low in salt (sodium chloride) and other forms of sodium. Using less sodium is key to keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Use spices, garlic, and onions to add flavor to your meals without adding more sodium. Set up a healthy eating plan with foods low in saturated fat,total fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation – In addition to raising blood pressure, too much alcohol can add unneeded calories to your diet. If you drink alcoholic beverages, have only a moderate amount—one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men.
  • Take prescribed medications as directed – If you need drugs to help lower your
    lood pressure, you still should follow the lifestyle changes mentioned above. Use notes and other reminders to help you remember to take your meds. Ask your family to help you with reminder phone calls and messages.

These are just a few of the relatively easy things you can do to help lower or prevent hypertension. Ultimately, keeping blood pressure at healthy levels can be quite difficult – especially if you are dealing with other severe health problems such as obesity and the issues that often accompany it. If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering weight-loss surgery, schedule a consultation with VIP SURG. We can help find the right treatment for you.

The Link Between Seasonal Allergies and Reflux

While many may think of seasonal allergies happening in the spring along with blooming flowers, fall can also be a difficult time for those who are allergic. Ragweed, dust, mold, mildew, and the removal of fall crops are just some of the possible fall triggers for allergy sufferers. What many people don’t know is that allergies can be a big issue for people dealing with acid reflux disease. Separate from food allergies, seasonal allergies can also play a role in exacerbating the symptoms of acid reflux.

The link between seasonal allergies and acid reflux disease is that as allergic response becomes more active, one has more nasal drip, and more nasal drip leads to more acid, and that acid can then reflux up into the nasal passages and make the whole cycle even worse. In addition, one of the ways that seasonal allergies can aggravate acid reflux disease is the pressure from coughing or sneezing. This pressure can temporarily weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and allow stomach contents to splash into the esophagus. In order to get the added acid reflux pain under control, suffers also need to get the drainage, sneezing and coughing under control.

The first line of defense in the seasonal allergy arsenal is generally the use of antihistamines. Medications provide a way to lessen the reaction the body has to the histamines produced by allergies. These medications can help many people deal with their allergies without any further treatments.

Senior man with reflux

If you do need antihistamines in the pollen season, remember that they can dehydrate and cause constipation. The latter is also a huge reflux trigger. Be sure to drink plenty of water and gradually increase your fiber intake to counteract any unpleasant side effects. You don’t want to trade one reflux trigger for another.

There are a few things that you can do this time of year to help lessen your increased acid reflux symptoms due to allergies:

  • Even though the weather this time of year can be gorgeous, keep the windows closed in at least one room of your house. Spending time in this room throughout the day will give your entire bodily system a break from the environmental stress being placed on it.
  • Shower and change clothes after working or being outside. Most aller
    gens cannot be seen. Especially on a windy day, just assume that if you have been outside, you are wearing allergens when you come inside.
  • Be proactive with your reflux medication and your allergy medication this time of year. Reflux comes in waves. One of the best ways to manage reflux is to understand ahead of time when your reflux may be troublesome and manage accordingly. An antihistamine can be helpful. It works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. This medication can also slow down your runny nose and nasal drip whichin turn can help your reflux symptoms.
  • Do not experiment with new foods. Keep your eating very simple and reflux friendly until at least the first frost in your area.
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. Allergens can be found in our environment and also in raw fruits and some vegetables. These same foods can often be better tolerated cooked. When foods are heated, the proteins are distorted and the immune system no longer recognizes the food as a problem.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are suffering from acid reflux. Schedule a consultation at VIP Surg. We can help find the right treatment for you.

 

Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease

Some people think of their gallbladder as being “expendable”. Not that anybody wants any of their organs to be removed, but since many people live a seemingly normal life after getting their gallbladder removed, many people don’t think their gallbladder plays an important role in their overall health. After all, how important can your gallbladder be if you can do just fine after it’s surgically removed? The gallbladder actually plays a very important role in your body. It is an essential part of the digestive system.

In the United States, about a million new cases of gallstone disease are diagnosed each year, and some 800,000 operations are performed to treat gallstones, making it the most common gastrointestinal disorder requiring hospitalization. Gallstones or gallbladder disease can quickly turn a great meal into a period of misery.

Gallstone disease is the most common disorder affecting the body’s biliary system, the network of organs and ducts that create, transport, store, and release bile. Bile is a thick fluid, made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, which acts in the small intestine to digest fat. Bile contains cholesterol, water, proteins, bilirubin (a breakdown product from blood cells), bile salts (the chemicals necessary to digest fat), and small amounts of copper or other materials. If the chemical balance of bile contains too much of any of these components, particularly of cholesterol, crystals form and can harden into stones.

Bile is stored in the Gallbladder and is concentrated up to five times by the removal of water. Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Bile contains water, cholesterol, bilirubin and other substances. Ideally these minerals remain in liquid form until they are passed out of the body. However, excessive amounts of these minerals in bile can cause them to crystallize.

These small crystals that form out of the saturated bile may begin to clump together. Any existing crystals makes it easier for other crystals to form. If they stay in the gallbladder too long, the crystals gradually grow larger until they become a gallstone so large that it cannot pass through the biliary ducts.

In terms of size, gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. A person can form one large stone in his or her gallbladder, or hundreds! About 10 percent of the population has gallstones, but the vast majority experiences no symptoms and need no treatment. However, in 1 percent to 2 percent of these people, gallstones can cause problems by lodging in bile ducts, stopping the flow of bile or digestive enzymes, and leading to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, inflammation, and even life-threatening infection.

Gallstone attack has some classic symptoms:

The most agonizing pain is experienced in the upper right part of the abdomen under the ribs. Usually it appears suddenly, sometimes an hour or two after eating a fatty meal. The pain may get worse quickly, and then last for several hours. Many times the pain may radiate to the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. Inhaling deeply, or moving, often makes the pain worse. The primary therapy for gallstones that are causing pain, inflammation, or infection is removal of the gallbladder.

A number of factors put people at higher risk of gallstones:

  • Gender: Women between the ages of 20 and 60 are 3 times more likely to develop gallstones than are men in the same age group. By age 60, 20 percent of American women have gallstones.
  • Age: The incidence of gallstone disease increases with age.
  • Genetics: Family history and ethnicity are critical risk factors in development of gallstones, though no gene responsible for gallstone formation has yet been discovered. African-Americans seem to have lower rates of gallstone disease than American Indians, whites, or Hispanics.
  • Obesity: Obesity is a significant risk factor, particularly for women. Obesity also slows down the emptying of the gallbladder.
  • Location of body fat: Belly fat, that spare tire around the middle, dramatically increases the chance of developing stones.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes often have high levels of triglycerides in their blood, and these fatty acids tend to increase the risk of gallstones.

Even if you’re not at risk for gallstones, it is wise to maintain a healthy body weight, by among other things, sticking to a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and suffering with gallstones or gallbladder disease, schedule a consultation with Dr. Shawn Tsuda.

Gallbladder Disease - Doctor with chalkboard on white background