All posts in Diet & Exercise

Adult Acne. What Gives?

Young white-skinned girl with wet hair without makeup is in disbelief in front of cosmetic products. Skincare and beauty concept. Frontal portrait

Most women would say that they were happy to leave their teenage years behind them, especially the friendship dramas, the pre-cell phone lifestyle, the bad hairstyle choices (remember temporary perms?), and especially the teenage acne. Some women, however, don’t get to leave the stress and anxiety of a bad complexion in their high school lockers. Data shows that 35 percent of women in their thirties, 26 percent of women in their forties, and 15 percent of women age 50 and older are still battling the acne breakouts often thought of as only plaguing teens and tweens. If you are among those women living under layers of concealer to hide adult acne, know that there are ways to clear your complexion that don’t involve photo filters.

What Causes Adult Acne?

Hormonal Changes
Think hormones only happen when you’re 16? Think again. Anytime your body increases its production of testosterone, it also increases its production of the oils that clog pores and lead to pimples. According to one study, women over age 33 are more likely to experience premenstrual pimples than younger women. The hormonal changes experienced during menopause can also result in an increase in acne.

Stress
As if it’s not already difficult enough to manage stress in your life, high levels of cortisol that are triggered by periods of stress can trigger acne in return. You know what that means. Stress + acne = Stress = more acne. A frustrating cycle.

A High Sugar Diet
A diet high in sugar can complicate a myriad of health issues, and acne is one of them. A high level of simple carbs and sugars, such as pastas, breads, and sugary desserts, can provoke a breakout in already problematic skin.

Dairy Products
Some studies have also shown a link between adult acne and dairy products. It’s believed that dairy-triggered acne break-outs are caused by the hormones present in some products.

Reduce Sodium Intake
Sodium is another food thought to trigger acne outbreaks. Some doctors believe the iodine frequently found in table salt may exacerbate acne breakouts.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that impacts five to 10 percent of women. It causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. If your adult acne is accompanied by other, more severe side effects of imbalanced hormones, such as excessive hair growth or irregular periods, talk to your OBGYN.

Treating Adult Acne
The best way to treat your adult acne will depend on its underlying cause, however what follows is a list of trusted acne-prevention tips:

  • Decrease your overall consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars. Too much sugar can spike the hormone levels that trigger outbreaks.
  • Reduce overall dairy consumption. Some believe that fat free milk in particular, which has more sugar that higher fat versions, may be more likely to trigger an outbreak than other types of dairy products.
  • Choose low-sodium food products. Keep your overall sodium consumption below 1,500 mg per day by choosing low-sodium varieties of prepackaged foods.
  • Talk to your OBGYN about birth control pills. Depending on your family plan, birth control pills may be an effective way to help normalize the hormonal surges associated with your monthly cycle that can wreak havoc on your oil glands
  • Consider blue light therapy. Blue light therapy is a treatment that uses light rays to penetrate follicles and kill acne-causing bacteria. If your acne is severe, your doctor may recommend photodynamic therapy, which adds a topic solution to a traditional blue light therapy treatment.
  • Choose tea tree oil over benzoyl peroxide to treat pimples. Benzoyl peroxide can be drying, especially on adult skin. Tea tree oil has natural antiseptic properties to help treat mild to moderate acne outbreaks.
  • Manage your stress. Exercise regularly, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night, and balance your commitments and priorities to make sure you don’t fall victim to the skim complications that stress can cause.
  • Choose topical skin care products that include antibacterials and retinoids. Retinoids are particularly important for adult women, since retinoids stimulate collagen production, which helps to fight acne. If OTC products aren’t doing enough to clear your complexion, talk to your dermatologist.

With a healthy diet, a strategy for managing stress, and a commitment to a face cleansing routine, you don’t have to feel like you are back in high school. Instead, you can keep your face pimple-free, smooth, and radiant. Now let’s talk about those high school prom dresses you’ve been thinking you may want to wear again.

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To BMI or Not to BMI?

Body Mass IndexIf you care about your personal fitness, then you probably closely monitor certain data factors. You document your PRs, you track distance on your GPS, and you measure your bike speed in MPHs. You also likely monitor your BMI, or body mass index, especially if you are monitoring your weight as part of your fitness plan. While tracking and measuring various fitness measurements can help you accomplish your goals, before you start to monitor your fitness progress using BMI as your sole benchmark, understand what BMI really means, and why it may not be a fair indicator of fitness.

What is BMI?
BMI, or body mass index, is a simple mathematical formula that uses a person’s height and weight to determine his obesity. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, then multiply the results by 703. The resulting BMI numbers are grouped into categories to determine whether your weight is normal, or if you are under or overweight:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5 – 24.9
  • Overweight = 25 – 29.9
  • Obese = BMI of 30 or greater

BMI as a National Benchmark
BMI became a nationally-recognized standard measurement in June 1998 when the National Institutes of Health announced that BMI was to become their obesity measurement standard. The issue that many have identified with relying on a single BMI number as an indication of obesity is that the BMI calculation methodology skews a limited set of data factors and could falsely indicate that a fit, healthy person with little fat is overweight, when in reality, they are healthy and fit.

BMI as a Faulty Measure of Fitness
While BMI takes into consideration height and weight in calculating potential obesity, it is not a diagnostic tool. BMI fails to take into consideration several key factors of fitness, such as age, gender, waist size, and proper proportions of bone to muscle to fat. For example, since bone is denser than muscle, and twice as dense as fat, BMI does not properly account for those who have strong bones, dense muscle tone, and low levels of fat. Such individuals could calculate for themselves a BMI in the overweight range when truly, they are not at a high risk of the conditions complicated by obesity.

A Fair Measure of Fitness
If you are looking for a more accurate fitness calculation, many experts agree that waist circumference is a better indication of obesity than BMI. A waist circumference that is greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women has been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and heart disease when BMI is 25 to 34.9.

Of course, if you are looking for the most reliable source of weight advice, you can always rely on guidance from your physician. To truly calculate your obesity risk, or to determine your level of “fitness,” a health care professional will assess a variety of factors, such as body fat percentage, diet, exercise patterns, and family history.

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Stay Cool in Buffalo This Summer: The Importance of Hydration During the Summer Months

girl with bottle of mineral waterAs Buffalonians, we’ve all been there. You’re chatting with a new acquaintance from out of state, and no matter what time of the year it is, when you tell them you live in Buffalo they ask, “So is it snowing there now?” There is a national misperception that Western New York does not benefit from a wide range of seasons. In reality, the average temperature in Buffalo during the month of July is 80 degrees. During summer months, it is important that all women, regardless of age or activity level, stay hydrated. As we enjoy the dog days of summer, understand the signs of dehydration, and how you can stay cool and hydrated in Buffalo.

H20 How Tos
We need to continually replace the water in our bodies that we lose urinating, perspiring, and even breathing. Our bodies use water to flush toxins, transport nutrients, and protect the sensitive tissues of the nose and mouth. Women need approximately 11 cups of water per day. If you’re wondering how you can possibly drink that much water, you should know that not all of your fluid intake needs to come directly from cups of water. About 20 percent of your daily fluid intake will come from food, and that percentage will increase if you choose water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes and oranges.

The Heat Factor
While it is important to consume an ample amount of water daily, special consideration should be taken during warm weather months. On hot days increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until the first signs of thirst to reach for the water pitcher. Follow these tips to stay hydrated during the summer:

  • Hydrate early and often. It’s easier to maintain your fluid balance if you start out in a well-hydrated state.
  • Keep a water bottle on hand, and full, so you can frequently consume water throughout your day.
  • Drink extra fluids after exercising.
  • Do not try to over-compensate for periods without hydrating by drinking large amounts of water all at once. Doing so could lead to hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low.

Dehydration Signs and Symptoms
If you experience any of the following, you may already be dehydrated:

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Headaches or fuzzy-headedness
  • Reduced urine output or urine that is dark yellow in color
  • Sunken or dry eyes

An Important Note about the Elderly
While it is important for everyone, regardless of age or activity level, to remain hydrated, the hottest days of the year can be especially dangerous for the elderly, sick, and frail. As we age, our bodies’ water content decreases. In addition, certain medications that may be taken by the elderly may make them more susceptible to dehydration. To further complicate matters for the elderly, some conditions that impact comprehension, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, can impact one’s ability to remember to stay hydrated. Dehydration, especially for the elderly, can cause serious sickness, and in the worst cases, even death. If you are caring for an elderly loved one, make sure they consume eight ounces of water every time they take medication. Make sure water is easily accessible to them throughout the day, and check-in with your loved one frequently to make sure they are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of dehydration.

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The Truth About the Juice Diet Craze

4 types of JuicesWith fad diet and celebrity endorsers promising “get slim quick” benefits of all liquid and juice-based diets, it sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately for those counting down the weeks until their next bikini-necessary vacation, the juice diet trend may actually be TGTBT. All juice diet programs claim to offer such benefits as detoxification, weight-loss, and overall wellness, but research shows that such extreme diets may cause more harm than good.

Typically, on an all juice diet, a person limits themselves to only fruit juices, water, and fresh vegetables for any length of time from a few days to a few weeks. On average, the diet may restrict a person’s calories to only 1,000 to 1,200 per day. If cutting calories is the recipe for losing weight, how can all juice diets not produce results, and what other dangers might they pose?

You may exercise less. When you consume fewer calories, you have less energy, leaving you without the stamina needed to get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise three to five days per week, which is needed for heart, lung, muscle, and mental health.

They won’t satisfy hunger cravings. Without the fiber present in whole fruits and vegetables, an all-juice diet won’t keep hunger at bay, which leaves many people tempted to break their diet by snaking on unhealthy foods, and sabotaging their weight-loss goals.

Despite popular claims, they are not substitutes for whole fruits and vegetables. Juicing removes many nutrients available in whole produce, and despite their claims, scientists have not been able to prove that juicing is healthier than consuming whole foods.

You may consume too many calories. It can be difficult to measure liquid calories. With the average juice beverage offering anywhere from 100 to 350 calories per 16-ounce serving, consuming too much juice could actually increase your overall calorie consumption and sabotage your weight-loss goals.

They deprive you of essential nutrients. By only consuming juices, you eliminate critical nutrients from your body, especially fiber, protein, and fat (yes, you need fat in your diet!)

You may experience side effects. Some liquid dieters report experiencing such side effects as dizziness, nausea, constipation, fatigue and irritability.

You don’t really need to “detox” your system. Your body is able to filter out unwanted substances on its own, which means there really isn’t a need to “cleanse” your system.

They can spike blood sugar levels. Without the fiber found in whole produce, your body will absorb fructose more readily, which can raise blood sugar to unsafe levels.

You may lower your metabolism. When your body doesn’t receive the amount of food it needs for a prolonged period of time, it will adjust by lowering your metabolism to accommodate for the difference – maybe permanently.

It may exposure you to dangerous pathogens. Most juice diets suggest consuming unpasteurized juice, which could increase the chances of exposure to pathogens.

It could deplete your muscles. Depending on your age, size, and weight loss goals, remaining on a diet that is too calorically restrictive may result in your body using muscle tissue instead of fat for energy.

It’s not a proven cure for diseases. While some cleanses claim such miracle benefits as curing cancer, the reality is that no scientific evidence exists that proves an all-liquid diet can cure cancer or other diseases.

It is not a long-term diet solution. Will you lose weight by drastically reducing your calories for a period of time? Most likely yes, but what happens when you revert back to a non-all-juice diet? It is not feasible to remain on an all-liquid meal plan indefinitely, and when you revert back to eating higher calorie foods, you will likely gain back some of the weight you lost.

It can be dangerous for those with compromised immune systems. All juice diets are not healthy options for those women undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, people with nutritional deficiencies, and people with kidney disease due to the high levels of sugar and potassium in most juices.

Instead of attempting a long-term fad diet, speak with your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight. He/she can help you to devise a weight-loss plan that suits your health goals and your lifestyle. And if you are looking for a new OB-Gyn and are in the Western New York area, we are accepting new patients.

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Simple Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

Woman on scaleDiabetes is a dangerous health condition in which blood glucose levels rise higher than normal, a state known as hyperglycemia. For those suffering from type II diabetes, since their bodies do not properly use insulin, excess levels of the hormone are produced by the pancreas. Over time, the pancreas cannot create enough insulin to manage glucose levels, resulting in dangerous side effects.

Type II diabetes is the most common form of the disease, representing about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases. It is estimated that 29.1 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes, 8.1 million of who may be undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. As if these statistics aren’t great enough cause for concern, experts predict that the number of cases of type II diabetes is on the rise. The good news is that many of the risk factors for type II diabetes are preventable. By making conscious choices to lead a healthy lifestyle, you can help to reduce or even eliminate the likelihood for being diagnosed with the type II diabetes. If you fear that you or someone you love may be at risk for the disease, read these healthy tips that will help you lower your odds of being diagnosed with this painful, and potentially deadly condition.

Manage Your Weight.
An overweight or obese body mass index (BMI) is one of the greatest risk factors for developing type II diabetes. In a recent study, individuals who lose only seven percent of their initial body weight and exercising regularly reduced their risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.

Get Active.
The first step toward diabetes prevention is getting out and getting active. Regular physical activity can help you to lower your weight and blood sugar levels, and increase your sensitivity to insulin, all things that will help you to lower your risk of developing type II diabetes.

Quit Smoking.
As if you didn’t need another reason, if you are a smoker, it’s time to kick the smoking habit. Tobacco use can increase blood sugar levels that lead to insulin resistance. Studies show that individuals who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day almost double their risk of developing diabetes compared to nonsmokers.

Eat Foods High in Fiber.
This simple ingredient can make a significant difference in lowering your risk of developing diabetes. Fiber helps to improve blood sugar control, lower the risk of heart disease, and promote weight loss. In addition, when you eat fiber, you are likely to feel fuller, for longer, reducing your desire to snack on sugary, calorically-dense foods. Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, seeds, and nuts are all foods high in fiber. Incorporate more of these healthy foods into your diet to help manage your diabetes risk factors.

Choose Whole Grains.
There are many benefits of incorporating whole grains into your diet, including reducing your risk for type II diabetes. The mighty whole grain can help you to maintain proper blood sugar levels. When browsing the aisles of the grocery store, choose whole grain product options whenever possible, especially when choosing pastas, breads, and cereals.

Eat Smaller Meals.
When you eat only one or two large meals per day that are high in calories, fat, sugar, and/or sodium, your glucose levels spike. Eating more small, well-balanced meals throughout the day can lower your chances of experiencing unsafe spikes in blood glucose levels, and can ultimately lower your risk of diabetes.

Reducing your risk of diabetes is as simple as maintaining a healthy diet and being active every day. If you have questions or need help adopting healthy lifestyle habits, contact your doctor today. And if you are in Western New York and looking for a new Ob-gyn, please consider our practice.

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Your Vagina Needs Exercise Too

We crunch our abs, curl our biceps, and do countless squats to obtain a perfectly rounded butt, so why do we neglect our vaginal muscles? As women, our vaginas are incredibly important and versatile. The vagina acts as the birth canal, an outflow track for menstrual blood, and an in-flow track for sperm. The vaginal muscles can weaken over time, however, due to age, childbirth, and even smoking, resulting in issues such as incontinence. By making an effort to keep the vagina strong over time, women can experience more comfort and confidence as they age.

Signs of Weakened Vaginal Muscles
The signs of weakening vaginal muscles may include:

  • Leaking urine when coughing or sneezing, or difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Passing gas unintentionally
  • Posterior prolapse, a soft bulge of tissue in the vagina that may or may not protrude through the vaginal opening
  • A constant sensation of pressure in the pelvic region

How to Strengthen Vaginal Muscles
The secret to stronger vaginal muscles lies in a simple exercise known as the Kegel.

Kegel exercises are clench-and-release movements that can strengthen the pelvic floor — a series of muscles and tissues that forms a sling at the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic muscles are essential, as they hold our organs in place. Kegels are not difficult, but in order for them to be the most effective, they must be done using the proper technique. As an added bonus, regular Kegel exercises can help women to be more in touch with their bodies, helping them to isolate sensations during sex and enhance their sexual satisfaction.

The best way to learn how to isolate the pelvic muscles is to Kegel during urination. When you start to urinate, clench your muscle to stop the flow of urine, and hold for 10 seconds. This technique will help you to identify how it feels to properly engage the pelvic floor muscles. Once you can easily identify and contract your pelvic muscles, try to incorporate Kegel exercises into your daily routine, ideally doing 50 Kegel contractions that are held for 10 seconds each, every day. Since no equipment is needed, you can Kegel anywhere, at any time. Try to Kegel during stoplights, during TV commercial breaks, or while reading.

With routine Kegeling, most women see improvement in the strength of their pelvic floor muscles within six weeks. If you Kegel regularly but do not see the desired results, talk to your GYN. You may benefit from more intense, dedicated work with a pelvic physical therapist — a specialist who is trained to help women improve the strength of their pelvic floor muscles. If you still aren’t feeling the results you want, your GYN may want to test you for pelvic floor dysfunction, a disorder that occurs when pelvic floor muscles are weak or tight, or when there is an impairment of the sacroiliac joint, lower back, coccyx, or hip joints. The majority of women though, will feel improvement through the simple addition of Kegel exercises into a daily routine, and as a bonus, will finally feel productive during television commercial breaks.

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Turkey. Gravy. Pie. Oh My!

Thanksgiving Turkey RunningHow to Enjoy the Holidays without Adding to Your Waistline

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and quality time spent together. They are also a time for mashed potatoes, stuffing, and hot apple pie. If you are one of the millions of Americans who finds themselves gaining even a few pounds during the holiday season, know that this year, you can maintain, and not gain weight by simply making small sacrifices, smart choices, and staying active. Before you pledge an oath to skip all of your favorite holiday fare, review the seven tips below. You can still enjoy all of your most-loved foods this holiday season, without compromising on your health.

  1. Don’t starve yourself before a holiday meal. While you may think that skipping lunch will help balance out an extra-large dinner, understand that arriving to a holiday meal hungry may encourage you to eat even more than you would have if you had eaten a sensible lunch. If you do arrive hungry to an event, drink a glass of water before you start to nosh on appetizers to try to curb your initial hunger pangs.
  2. Weigh yourself twice a week. Bi-weekly check-ins with the bathroom scale will help you make sure that you are maintaining, and not gaining during the holiday season. Be sure to weigh yourself at the same time of the day, preferably first thing in the morning before you eat anything, to make sure you get the most accurate readings.
  3. Pace yourself through happy hour. It may be tempting to overeat when you are surrounded by trays of delicious appetizers, but try to keep in mind that every holiday event is a marathon, not a sprint. Sample just a few of the appetizers that are most appealing to you, and then save the rest of your appetite for the main meal.
  4. Don’t give-up your exercise routine. The holidays are often packed with events, parties, shopping, and more social obligations than any other time of the year. Don’t skip your exercise routine during the holidays to accommodate your busy schedule. Make sure to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week.
  5. Plate your food responsibly. Whether you are at a buffet or eating family style, curb the temptation to pile your plate with teetering towers of food doused in a layer of gravy. Take the smallest plate available and select reasonable portion sizes of just those items you want the most.
  6. Don’t skip desserts – but limit your portion sizes. You don’t have to skip your Mom’s famous, once-a-year apple pie, but practice the three-bite rule. Savor the first taste, a second satisfying bite, and a lingering third forkful – that’s it.
  7. Chew slowly and savor the taste of your food. During this most decadent and activity-packed time of the year, make sure that you are enjoying every meal, and not simply rushing through them and over-eating in the process. Eating too fast can result in extra pounds.

This holiday season, don’t deny yourself your favorite annual indulgences, but do monitor your overall consumption and stay active. With proper awareness and attention paid to your meals this holiday season, you can slip into the New Year without having gained an ounce.


For more ideas on how to stay healthy this holiday season, you might find the following articles helpful:

How to Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

Stay Trim with these Healthy Eating Tips

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