We spend roughly one-third of our lives asleep. Proper sleep contributes to our ability to focus, maintain a healthy weight, stay energized, and function optimally throughout the day. It’s essential to our survival as a species and as individuals. Concentration, coordination, memory, and mood are all impacted by sleep. During sleep cycles, our bodies have time to “reset” and rest up for the following day. When that cycle is disrupted on a regular basis, whether through a serious condition like insomnia or just too little sleep most nights, our waking hours are impacted. Specifically, our brains suffer.
Have you ever wondered if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity? If so, you’re not alone. The notion of consuming a gluten-free diet was hardly in existence 25 years ago, but as of 10 years ago, people all over the U.S. have jumped on the gluten-free train.
When dual income families have a baby, either one spouse stays home or they hire childcare. But what happens when they now also have to care for aging parents? For the first time in America’s sprawling history, we are facing a caregiving crisis for an entire generation. Men and women are waiting longer to start their families and their elderly parents are running out of pensions and savings.
If you have ever been caught off guard by the flu, you know how much it can wreak havoc on your life. The flu virus changes every year and there is no way to know in advance how brutal the strain will be. Massive flu epidemics cause large outbreaks with many casualties, as was the case with the bird flu in the late 1990s and SARS in 2003. To prevent infection, the best plan is to get an annual flu shot. The CDC estimates that the 2015-2016 flu vaccine prevented 5-million cases of the flu and 71,000 hospitalizations. With that in mind, we urge you to get your flu shot.
People in cultures all over the world have been fasting for years. Almost every religion encourages fasting as part of its ritual practice, and the use of modified fasting, like a juice cleanse or a temporary raw diet, are part of many conventional diets. But what are the long-term effects of fasting on the average person? If you restrict your caloric intake, are your body and brain able to get the nutrients they need to flourish? And will you someday regret that week off of traditional foods?
Are you a coffee drinker? Do you have more than one cup every day? Do you get a headache if you wait too long for your fix in the morning? If so, rest easy; you’re not alone. Approximately 54% of Americans drink coffee every day, and the average person drinks 3.1 cups per day.
When you were a kid, did teachers or other adults tell you that you were gifted in math? Maybe you were on the other side of the coin and teachers said you didn’t have a knack for it? This notion that some kids have natural math abilities and others don’t is one of the most widespread myths about education, and it’s a myth that has been passed down for generations.
In the movie Legally Blonde, Elle Woods is tasked with defending Brooke Wyndham. Upon learning that Mrs. Windham owns a successful fitness empire, Ms. Woods jumps to her defense, saying, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands…they just don’t.” Logic of motive and evidence aside, Elle had a point. After all, how many times have you heard the phrase, “endorphins make you happy”?
When you go to the grocery store and start checking things off your list, you probably don’t think of all the secret ingredients you’re adding to your cart. Unless you’re counting calories, you may not even look at the ingredients at all. The food industry is hoping you’ll continue ignoring these labels, because it allows them to add salt to almost everything you eat. Even if you never add salt to your food, you are still likely consuming more than is recommended by the FDA.
When you go grocery shopping and wander through the produce section, do you stop to consider the organic options, or do you head straight for the non-organic items? Do you think about the extra dollar or so you’d spend on each item and wonder if the cost is actually worth it?
The ancient art of meditation has been practiced by different cultures and religions all over the world for centuries. Archaeologists have found wall art depicting meditation dating back to 5,000-3,500 BCE. While the way people meditate varies in different cultures, the act of meditation is universally acknowledged for its ability to reduce stress and assist with mindfulness and relaxation.
Are you the kind of person who stays up late into the night reading, writing, working on your computer or tinkering? Are you best friends with your snooze button and secretly hate the so-called “beauty” of a sunrise? If you’re a night owl, you might have people telling you to go to bed earlier and learn to “be an adult.” You might have an angry boss who doesn’t understand why you’re never on time in the morning.
Water is obviously important. If you stop drinking water, you will die. Aside from air, there is no more pressing need that your body has than the need for water. Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to understand why water is so essential, and because of this lack of understanding, many people drink much less water than their bodies need in order to function at peak performance.
Massive rise in childhood obesity, not to mention the slew of health concerns that come directly from obesity (diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol) should make us pause before handing over that little sugar bomb
Exercise is directly tied to improved focus and performance, improved memory, and improved thinking and problem solving skills. That means that by making time for the 150 minutes of weekly exercise recommended by the CDC, you can actually train your brain to become more efficient.
Most adults believe that children lead idyllic, stress-free lives. Remembering their own childhoods with nostalgia, they say, “I remember when I was a kid, and I could just play all day. No worries about my job, health insurance, or paying the bills. Kids have it so easy.” Unfortunately, this is a fantasy. Children do experience stress, and it’s increasingly common for them to experience a lot of it. In fact, there’s a good chance that your child is just as stressed as you are – and maybe even more so.
Between work, family, and other priorities, most of us feel that we never have enough hours in a day to get everything done. We rush from one thing to the next, grabbing our meals at our desks or in the car. By the end of the day, we feel exhausted and depleted. Still, we stay up late to get a few more things finished before bed. Does this sound like your life?
Nearly everyone agrees that the current healthcare system in the U.S. isn’t working. Soaring costs haven’t led to better health outcomes, patients feel like no one listens to them or cares about them, and doctors are more overwhelmed than ever. With care fragmented, things frequently fall through the cracks, resulting in avoidable health problems. There’s almost no time for doctors to focus on preventive care and overall wellness.
“Doctor, you’re not going to leave in a year, are you?” Over the last 15 years of practicing as a primary care physician, I’ve been asked this question many times. It’s among the first questions I am asked by new patients after their doctor retires early, changes jobs, or enters a different style of practice. On their very first visit with me, they want to make sure that I’m not going anywhere.
I was drawn to medicine after watching my father, Dr. John Kroes, provide exceptional health care to our community. He has always been my inspiration. Even as a child, I strived to be just like him someday: a beloved doctor who took care of my community.