Exercise: How Much is Enough?

Our bodies were meant to move — they actually crave exercise. As a matter of fact, regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases, and it can improve your appearance and delay the aging process. So why aren’t we all doing it?

Many say lack of time is their single biggest obstacle to fitness, but experts say you may be overestimating how much exercise you really need to get at one time. Many think exercise means you have to hit the point where you’re completely out of breath and panting after you’ve finished, and you can do that, but for the majority of health benefits, it’s not necessary.

People often assume that more is better. On the contrary; doing too much too soon or performing intense exercises on a daily basis can have harmful effects, such as muscle/tendon strains, loss of lean tissue, and fitness-level plateaus. However, if you don’t exercise at all, your muscles will become flabby and weak, your heart and lungs won’t function efficiently, and your joints will be stiff and easily injured.

If you are overweight or obese, your fitness goals probably go beyond lowering your risk for disease, but even if losing weight is your primary goal, it’s nice to know what research actually shows when it comes to how much exercise you should be doing each week for better health.

Here are a few statistics to consider:

  • 30 minutes of interval training per week (broken into 3 workouts) reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week reduces the risk of cancer.
  • 120 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week offers improvements in memory.

People seem to have heard the message that you need 30 minutes of exercise, five days a Exercise tracking device Dollarphotoclub_101019544 (2)week according to federal guidelines. If you get that, you’ll get 85% of the health benefits we talk about. However, the misconception is that it’s all or nothing. It’s also important to note that federal guidelines call for moderate-intensity exercise, which means you don’t have to be killing yourself with long runs, boot camp, or spin class five days a week in order to relish the rewards. Being consistent with exercise is probably the most important factor in achieving desired results.

If you’re obese and looking for ways to get fit and lower your risk of disease, schedule an appointment at VIP SURG. We can help you find the right treatment.

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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.

LINX: Treating GERD with Innovation

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm. The diaphragm normally has a small opening for the esophagus. This opening can become the place where part of the stomach pushes through. Small hiatal hernias often cause no symptoms, while larger ones can cause pain and heartburn, leading to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment device called the LINX Reflux Management System to offer a new approach to treating GERD, a disease that is increasing at a rate of 30 percent every decade.

Think of the stomach as a mixing bowl that allows food and digestive juices to combine to begin the digestive process. The stomach has a protective lining that prevents acid in the digestive juices from eating away at the stomach muscle and causing inflammation. Unfortunately, the esophagus does not have a similar protective lining. Instead it relies on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to act as a valve to prevent acid from refluxing from the stomach into the esophagus. In the situation of a hiatal hernia, part of the stomach pushes up through the opening allowing acid to pass into the esophagus causing symptoms may include the following:

  • heartburn
  • nausea, vomiting, or retching (dry heaves)
  • burping
  • water brash, the rapid appearance of a large amount of saliva in the mouth that is stimulated by the refluxing acid

Symptoms usually are worse after meals. These symptoms may be made worse when lying flat and may resolve with sitting up or walking.

In some patients, reflux into the lower esophagus sets off nervous reflexes that can cause a cough or even spasm of the small airways within the lungs (asthma). A few patientsanatomy-archers may reflux acid droplets into the back of their throat. This acid can be inhaled or aspirated into the lung causing coughing spasms, asthma, or repeated infections of the lung including pneumonia and bronchitis. This may occur in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.

Fortunately, the innovative LINX procedure is helping with this significant health problem. This device is a series of magnets in the form of ring that is implanted around the bottom of the esophagus during a short, 40-minute laparoscopic procedure.

The ring of magnets is designed to stay closed and prevent the reflux valve from opening thereby preventing acid from the stomach move up into the esophagus. The magnets will open up the ring when people are eating to let food in much like a person’s native reflux valve.

 

Here are some things you need to know about the LINX procedure.

  • It is focused on the underlying cause of reflux disease not the side effect. Reflux disease is a result of a damaged lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
  • It is safer than the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Studies have proven that reflux disease can progress even when PPI therapy has effectively eliminated GERD symptoms. LINX is effective at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.
  • A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked 100 patients for three years after their LINX surgery. That study found an overall decrease in stomach contents reaching the esophagus, fewer reflux symptoms, and a substantial reduction in PPI usage.
  • The side effects disappear over time in most cases. Initially, most patients experience some discomfort, but it typically dissipates over several weeks. In addition, the most commonly reported side effect is mild difficulty swallowing, which usually subsides over time.
  • The cost can be much less than a lifetime of PPI use: a 2010 study by Consumer Reports found once-a-day PPI use can range from $2,000 to $4,500 per year for brand name prescription PPIs.
  • This is minimally invasive and is performed as an out-patient procedure.
  • LINX is reversible and can be replaced.
  • Since the LINX band is placed around the LES, the device can be removed or replaced, if necessary.
  • This procedure is recommended for those with continued GERD symptoms under maximum therapy prescribed by a specialist.
  • LINX is not for everyone with advanced GERD. Today LINX is not approved for those with Barrett’s Esophagus or anyone suffering from esophageal cancer. It is important for everyone suffering from advanced stages of reflux disease to explore all available options before their disease progresses to the point where options are limited.

It is important to take your heartburn symptoms seriously because they are signals from your body that something is wrong. Since reflux disease is a progressive chronic condition, treating it early could prevent you from having to consider surgery later on.

As the first LINX trained surgeons in Las Vegas, Dr. Shawn Tsuda and Dr. Heidi Ryan at VIP SURG are ready to help you fight back against gastroesophageal reflux disease. Schedule a consultation to learn more.

 

 

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.

 

Eating in Moderation: What Does that Really Mean?

“Everything in moderation,” says a co-worker, dipping the tines of her fork into her low-fat salad dressing.

“Everything in moderation,” says a friend helping himself to a third scoop of ice cream.

What is moderation? If this concept of moderation confuses you, you’re not alone. Everyone appears to define it differently. Eating in moderation is a subjective term, meaning something slightly different depending on your perspective. Individual perception of reasonable limits opens the door to a wide variety of complex answers for a seemingly simple question.

On one end of the spectrum, there are those who don’t put much thought into eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. Convenience and taste are the main factors influencing their dietary decisions.

On the opposite end, one may find those who label food as either wholesome and pure or downright evil, with seldom anything in between. Typical “bad” foods such as sugar, carbs, dairy, and processed or refined foods are avoided at all costs.

Both extremes can have detrimental effects on health. Eating calorie-dense foods high in sugar, fat, and salt on a regular basis, combined with a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

However, cutting out entire food groups without replacing missing nutrients can also pose problems. While “clean eating” might come in an attractive package, severe restrictions can lead to cycles of binge eating, feelings of guilt and shame, and further restriction.

Toward which end of the spectrum do you tend to lean? Where is the fine middle ground?

Eating in moderation means you do not consume more calories than your body needs to function properly. A person who does not eat a moderate number of calories gains weight, risking obesity and its associated illnesses.

The quality of the food is also an important factor when talking about eating in moderation. Consuming food your body does not need or want, such as excess sugar and fat has a detrimental effect on your body.

Eating in moderation means consuming nutritionally dense food so your body gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs without harmful or needless substances. According to the MyPlate scheme from the USDA, a healthy dinner plate contains lean protein, whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables.

Plan your plate to ensure you are eating the proper foods in moderation. Draw an imaginary line down the middle of your plate. Fill the left half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Draw another imaginary line to cut the right half of your plate into two quarters. Fill one section with lean meat and put whole-grain products in the other section.

Moderation is about a healthy relationship with food – balancing the pleasure of eating with our basic need for sustenance. It is realizing that eating one piece of cake a week probably won’t kill you, but that doing so everyday just might.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are fighting obesity and metabolic disease, schedule a consultation at VIP SURG. We can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

The True Size of the American Obesity Epidemic

To understand the true magnitude of the American obesity epidemic, we first need to understand what it really means to be overweight. Doctors and nutritionists classify people as either underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. These different classifications are determined by body mass index (BMI), or a measure of body fat based on your height and weight.

To get a basic idea, this chart from the CDC approximates what that means for someone who is 5’9” tall.

Height Weight Range BMI Considered
Source: CDC      
5′ 9″ 124 lbs or less Below 18.5 Underweight
  125 lbs to 168 lbs 18.5 to 24.9 Healthy weight
  169 lbs to 202 lbs 25.0 to 29.9 Overweight
  203 lbs or more 30 or higher Obese

As for what is driving America’s chronic weight problem, there are no definite answers. Scientific studies often reach conflicting conclusions. Many theories are out there, but the preponderance of evidence points to the two causes most people already suspect: too much food and too little exercise.

Bigger portions, confusing “diet” for “nutrition,” and lack of exercise are a deadly combination. Today, each American puts away an average of 195lbs of meat every year, compared to just 138lbs in the 1950’s. Consumption of added fats also shot up by around two thirds over the same period, and grain consumption rose 45% since 1970.

Research published by the World Health Organization found that a rise in fast food sales correlated to a rise in body mass index, and Americans are notorious for their fast-food consumption. It is not just how much we eat, but what we eat.

The role of diet in the obesity epidemic is obviously major, but it’s also complex. Consumers are sent mixed messages when it comes to what to eat and how much. Larger portions, processed packaged food, and drive-thru meals are branded as almost classically American — fast, cheap, filling, and delicious, but yet we spend billions of dollars annually on weight loss schemes.

Lack of exercise is also a major culprit in the obesity epidemic. A far greater majority of us are sitting throughout our workday. According to one study, only 20% of today’s jobs require at least moderate physical activity, as opposed to 50% of jobs in 1960. Other research suggests Americans burn 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than they did 50 years ago. Add this to the higher number of calories we are packing in, and we get a perfect recipe for weight gain.

A number of other factors are thought to play a role in the obesity epidemic, such as the in- utero effects of smoking and excessive weight gain in pregnant mothers. Poor sleep, stress, and lower rates of breastfeeding are also thought to contribute to a child’s long-term obesity risk. Of course, these factors are not explicit or solitary causes of obesity, but they are reliable indicators of the kinds of systemic problems contributing to this crisis.

In the end, though, we can’t lose sight of the big picture. Over the past years, diet fads have come and gone, with people rushing to blame red meat, dairy, wheat, fat, sugar, etc. for making them fat, but in reality, the problem is much simpler. Genetics and age do strongly influence metabolism, but as the CDC points out, weight gain and loss is primarily a formula of total calories consumed versus total calories used.

If you are looking for answers to debilitating obesity and the health issues that often accompany the extra weight, contact VIP Surg at (702) 487-6006. We can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

A pair of female feet on a bathroom scale

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