The Sugar/Obesity Connection

In ancient times, sugar was regarded not as something to be avoided but rather as a cure-all for anything that ailed you. In every culture, sweetness has a symbolism related to goodness. It was valued so highly partly because it was so rare, obtainable mostly in tiny quantities as honey. Now, we demonize it, and yet we can’t seem to stop gorging on it. Few plants have caused more human misery than sugar cane — through obesity, tooth decay, and Type 2 diabetes. Yet despite everything we now know about the harm caused by sugar and other modern sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup, it never stops being something we seem to delight in.

There’s no doubt that sugar adds to the prevalence of obesity in America. Therefore, every food product that includes sugar may be contributing to the scope and costs of the obesity epidemic, accelerating the volume of premature deaths among millions of people in the United States.

Obesity and overweight rates have steadily grown. Type 2 diabetes, once unheard of among kids or even young adults, now is an increasingly common diagnosis among children. Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become the world’s leading killer.

Fortunately, sugar affects all of us differently, and for many people it is neither addictive or deadly. Just like many other substances that carry inherent risk, sugar can be safely used in moderation by most people without wreaking havoc on their lives or contributing to their premature deaths.

While calories from any food have the potential to increase the risk of obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, nutrition researchers agree that sugar-sweetened beverages play a unique role in chronic health problems. The disease risk increases even when the beverages are consumed within diets that do not result in weight gain.

Doctors have long suspected sugar is not simply a source of excess calories but a fundamental cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. But until recently, fat consumption and total energy balance have dominated the debate about obesity and the nature of a healthy diet.

Official estimates are that one in 11 people in the United States has diabetes, and latest diabetes-1724617__340estimates suggest that obesity and diabetes may now cost the US healthcare system as much as 1 billion dollars per day. In 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Margaret Chan described the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes worldwide as a “slow-motion disaster” — and suggested that the likelihood of preventing the current “bad situation” from getting “much worse” was “virtually zero.”

The past decade has seen a renewed interest in the possibility that calorific sweeteners — particularly sugar and high fructose syrups — have major roles in causing obesity and diabetes, and major public health organizations are now recommending strict limits to the consumption of these sugars. Much of the current discussion about sugar focuses on the effects of excess energy intake and weight gain, and the subsequent risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and some forms of dementia. But while being overweight or obese increases your risk of these diseases, excess weight is not a prerequisite.

While the development of diseases is no doubt also based on genes and lifestyle factors other than diet, the evidence of the potential harms of high-sugar diets is accumulating. It’s certainly compelling enough for many to consider limiting how much sugar we eat and drink. Whether or not the sugar itself is the culprit, sugary foods are linked to health problems, and that should be reason enough to cut down.

If you’re looking for ways to treat severe obesity, schedule an appointment with VIPSurg. Drs. Tsuda and Ryan and their team of experts can help find the right treatment for you.

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High Blood Pressure AKA Hypertension: What You Need to Know

High blood pressure (aka hypertension) 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. 

If you have high blood pressure, you and your health care provider need to work together as a team to reduce it. The two of you need to agree on goals and make a plan and timetable for reaching your goals. 

Blood pressure is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded blood pressureas two numbers—systolic pressure (as the heart beats) “over” diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats)—for example, 130/80 mmHg. Monitoring your blood pressure at home between visits to your doctor can be helpful. 

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.

Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. All you need is 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity on most days of the week. Examples of such activities are brisk walking, bicycling, raking leaves, and gardening. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. 

What you eat affects your chances of getting high 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. For an overall eating plan, consider the DASH diet, which stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” You can reduce your blood pressure by eating foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. The DASH eating plan includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and has low amounts of fats, red meats, sweets, and sugared beverages. It is also high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. Eating foods lower in salt and sodium also can reduce blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, unfortunately the lifestyle habits noted above may not be enough to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level. In addition to eating healthy and staying active, you may need to take medication. There are many drugs available to lower blood pressure. They work in various ways. Often patients need to use two or more drugs to bring their blood pressure down enough to be healthy.

If you are suffering from obesity, and diet and exercise alone aren’t working to lower your weight, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our experts can help you find a treatment to fits your unique situation. Call (702) 487-6000 to schedule an appointment.

Plastic Surgery After Dramatic Weight Loss

Weight loss whether through bariatric surgery or diet and exercise is truly a life changing event and a major achievement. You look and feel better and are healthier. And while most of the changes that accompany weight loss are positive, loose skin is a concern for many patients. Hanging skin can affect both comfort and self-confidence and can be a daily reminder of past obesity. 

Unfortunately, when skin has been stretched around the abdomen, arms, legs, breasts, and face, it may lose its elasticity. After significant weight loss, the skin often fails to shrink back to its former size and shape. How much this loose, saggy skin affects personal appearance can depend on age, genetics, exercise, speed of weight loss, and smoking, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

The areas of the body that most often are affected by excess skin include:

  • Abdomen
  • Breasts
  • Buttocks
  • Face
  • Groin
  • Thighs
  • Neck
  • Upper arms

For some people, weight loss might be gradual enough that skin adjusts along with weight loss. For others, the loose skin can be hidden with clothing and compression garments. But when that isn’t enough to manage the problem, plastic surgery might be a logical next step.

The best time to consider plastic surgery in when you are as close to your goal weight as possible and are weight stable. Surgeons often recommend waiting at least 18 months before having surgery to remove or reduce excess skin because the more weight you lose, the more excess or saggy skin you could have.

 The goal of plastic surgery after dramatic weight loss is to restore attractive proportions by removing the sagging skin that creates a misshapen contour. Although these procedures leave scars, most patients find them to be an acceptable tradeoff for an improved appearance.

As with all major decisions, it’s always advisable to consider the positives and negatives:

Pros

  • Gets rid of loose skin so you can fit into your clothes better.
  • Gets rid of overhanging skin that might be causing painful chafing, rashes, and infections.
  • Improves your self-esteem.

Cons

  • Surgery results may not meet your expectations.
  • You will have permanent scarring.
  • Your surgery results may be affected by weight gain, aging, and lifestyle choices.

If you are considering plastic surgery to improve your body contour, these characteristics make you a good candidate:

  • Your weight has been stable for at least six months with no further weight loss expected. 
  • You are in overall good health without chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. 
  • You have a healthy diet; problems such as protein deficiencies can interfere with healing.
  • You do not smoke; smoking slows down the healing process and increases the risk of serious complications during and after surgery. If you smoke, you must quit at least six weeks before surgery.
  • You have mental stamina; surgical contouring procedures require patience and endurance.
  • You have realistic expectations; surgery will lead to marked improvements in your shape, but it is impossible to restore the skin or body to what it would have been without the weight gain. Even after body-contouring surgery, skin continues to sag over time as part of normal aging.

If you are considering bariatric surgery in the Las Vegas area, schedule a consultation at VIPSurg. Our doctors and expert team can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

Surgeon, liposuction, body.Overweight, obesity, fat woman, fat belly, hips and excess weight. cellulite, stretching

Metabolic Syndrome: Risks and Prevention

Once known in the medical community as “syndrome X” or “insulin resistance syndrome”, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing one’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Although it sounds mysterious, Syndrome X is very common.

As is true with many medical conditions, genetics and the environment both play important roles in the development of metabolic syndrome. Genetic factors influence each individual component of the syndrome and the syndrome itself. A family history that includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and early heart disease greatly increases the chance that an individual will develop metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, environmental issues such as low activity level, sedentary lifestyle, and progressive weight gain also contribute significantly to the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

The following factors increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:

  • Age — Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age.
  • Race — In the United States, Mexican-Americans appear to be at the greatest risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
  • Obesity — Carrying too much weight, especially in your abdomen, increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Diabetes — You’re more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Other diseases — Your risk of metabolic syndrome is higher if you’ve ever had cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or polycystic ovary syndrome.

The good news is that with changes to diet and exercise, you can prevent, control, or even reverse metabolic syndrome. If you don’t, you could develop significant health risks related to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke as part of the condition. Because your risk for metabolic syndrome increases with age, it’s important to start adjusting your health habits early on.

If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes will likely be the prescription. While medication is often necessary for those with this diagnosis, changes in diet and exercise can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems related to metabolic syndrome. 

If you are looking for treatment for severe obesity and the life-threatening conditions that often accompany it, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our expert team can help find the right treatment for you. 

metabolic syndrome

GERD and Hiatal Hernia: Could LINX® Reflux Management System Be Right for You?

Acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion are all common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. This common problem afflicts over 20 million people every day here in the United States.

A hiatal hernia is when the stomach slips up into the chest. Hiatal hernias can worsen acid reflux because the typical sphincter mechanism in the lower esophagus is dysfunctional, and there is a mechanical disturbance of the natural flow of solid foods and liquids. Pregnancy, obesity, coughing, or constipation increase intra-abdominal pressure, which can worsen the symptoms of reflux and worsen a hiatal hernia.

Generally, hiatal hernias occur more often for patients who are overweight, women, and over 50 years old. Hiatal hernias can be diagnosed with upper endoscopy (EGD), an esophagram or upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series.

The LINX® Reflux Management System is a small and flexible band of interlined titanium beads with magnetic cores. To select the right size, the esophagus is measured with a specialized tool for all patients undergoing placement of a LINX device. First, a necklace-like tool is placed around the lower esophagus at the level of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to get the best fit for the LINX device. The measurement tool is then removed, and the LINX device is implanted, making sure the ends of the band are aligned and securely linked.

Magnetic attraction between the beads helps the lower sphincter resist opening to gastric pressures, preventing reflux of the acidic content in the stomach into the esophagus. The device is designed so that normal swallowing pressures temporarily break the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach. Due to the magnetic attraction, the device will assist in closing the lower sphincter immediately after swallowing, augmenting the lower esophageal sphincter and restoring the body’s natural barrier to reflux.

If you suffer from GERD and would like to decrease, or in some cases, completely stop taking medication for this problem, the LINX® Reflux Management System could be the perfect solution for you. Schedule an appointment at VIPSurg to learn more.

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Stats Don’t Lie: Learn How Bariatric Surgery is Helping Hundreds of Thousands of People Regain Their Health

In the early nineties, fewer than twenty thousand bariatric surgeries were performed in the U.S. each year. Now the number is around two hundred thousand. Only in the past few years has what was once considered a high-risk and extreme measure been transformed into a relatively standard, safe, and straightforward one. There is strong consensus that bariatric surgery is effective, and Medicaid now covers it in forty-eight states. 

Research into conventional weight-loss methods has repeatedly pointed to an overwhelmingly dispiriting conclusion—that diet and exercise alone, no matter how disciplined the individual, fail all too often. Still, only about one per cent of those who medically qualify for bariatric surgery get it. 

Over the centuries, suggested strategies for losing weight have included bitter tonics, bleeding, sea air, amphetamines, Turkish baths, tapeworms, purgatives, low-fat diets, high-fat diets, cinnamon, more sleep, less sleep, and the “vigorous massage of the body with pea-flour.” Surgery is an old idea, too. One of the earliest surgical approaches to weight loss, dating back at least a millennium, was simple: the jaw was wired mostly shut. Another story from pre-anesthesia days tells of a rabbi “being given a sleeping potion and taken into a marble chamber, where his abdomen was opened, and many baskets of fat were removed.”

But the health risks associated with obesity have become apparent—higher rates of stroke and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, infertility, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and an increased risk of certain cancers. In addition, bariatric procedures have improved dramatically. 

Robotic surgery and laparoscopy, which became the norm in the past decade, result in fewer complications like hernias. Physicians now have a better sense of how to prevent and treat the complications of surgery. 

As recently as seventeen years ago, there was a one-per-cent chance of dying from a bariatric procedure—a relatively high risk. Now it is 0.15 percent, which is less than that for a knee replacement, a procedure commonly recommended to people who have developed joint problems from carrying around excessive weight.

Around seventy-five per cent of bariatric patients have sustained weight loss five years after their surgery, and that percentage is higher if you don’t include lap-band patients in the analysis. Weight loss through diet and exercise rarely leads to more than short-term changes—a quite small percentage of patients see sustained weight loss. 

Today, obesity is second only to tobacco as a killer in this country. If you live in the Las Vegas area and are seeking long-term weight loss and health benefits, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. We will help you find the best treatment for your unique situation.

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Life After Bariatric Surgery

For many who think weight-loss surgery may be the only way to be healthy and live longer, the fear of how life might be after the procedure keeps them from taking life-saving measures. Be informed so that you can make educated decisions about your health. These facts can help you on the way to knowing what’s best for you and give you a glimpse into what one can usually expect after surgery.

Your recovery will depend on which procedure you choose (gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, lap-band, and duodenal switch surgery). For example:

  • Average Hospital Stay: Ranges from outpatient (return home same-day) to 2-3 days
  • Average Time Until Back to Work: Ranges from 3 days to 2 weeks
  • Average Time to Full Recovery: Ranges from 3 days to 6 weeks
  • Pain: Ranges from mild discomfort to manageable with pain medication
  • Diet: Ranges from a few limited foods to a strict and slow transition from clear liquids to solid foods
  • Back-to-Normal Activity: Ranges from 3 days to 4-6 weeks

Life after weight loss surgery includes (depending on your chosen procedure):

  • Full recovery in 1 to 6 weeks
  • Excess weight loss between 25% and 90+%
  • Many obesity-related health problems cured or improved
  • Significant diet and exercise changes
  • Good and bad changes in how friends, family, and strangers treat you
  • Challenges such as sagging skin, digestion issues, and weight regain

Improvements to your physical health can be as impressive as your rapid weight loss family-eating-at-the-table-619142_1920after bariatric surgery. Conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, GERD, and other issues related to metabolic syndrome have been shown to get better or completely go away following gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, lap-band, and duodenal switch surgery.

It is important to emphasize making healthy food and lifestyle choices even before weight-loss surgical procedures. Bariatric surgery is a tool. Use it to make changes for a long, healthy, productive, and happy life.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our team can help find the perfect treatment for you!