1-2-3’s of Diabetic Carb Counting

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

When you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range is not only essential in keeping your diabetes under control, but it can help you feel your best. The easiest way to control your blood sugar is to watch your carbohydrate intake. This is because any carbohydrate food you eat (e.g., milk, fruit, bread, and pasta) is immediately digested into glucose (sugar), which causes your blood sugar level to increase.

In this post, I will discuss one of the more “advanced” methods of meal planning: the Carbohydrate Counting method. An easier (albeit less precise) method is the Create Your Plate method, so be sure to check out that post as well if you haven’t yet, along with the rest of the posts in the Diabetes Series!

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Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Holidays should be times of fun and enjoyment. For most people, these special days—whether it’s Christmas, Independence Day, or Thanksgiving—can seem like a perfect time to let go in order to indulge in rich foods and alcoholic drinks. But did you know that this can be harmful to your health…and possibly even life-threatening? In this post, I will discuss why and provide an overview on what you can do during these times to maintain your best health and prevent holiday illness, so that you can spend your day focusing on enjoying the occasion.

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Taking Control of Depression

Depression. One word that can mean so many things. For those who have lived with or currently live with depression, you know very well the effects it can have on your daily life. Depression can drain not only your physical energy, but also your hopes, motivation, enjoyment, and personal drive. You may be aware of all the steps to getting better, but you just cannot get yourself to take even the first one. If this sounds all too familiar to you, you are not alone. And there is hope.

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Taking Control of High Blood Pressure

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Have you ever been told that your blood pressure is high? Are you already on medications for your blood pressure? If so, you are not alone. Just in the U.S., it is estimated that half of all adults–over 100 million people–live with this condition.

In this post, I will discuss the fundamentals of high blood pressure, how to properly monitor your own blood pressure, and what you can do on a daily basis to help improve your blood pressure.

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Sleep Apnea: Are You At Risk?

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Do you often feel sleepy during the day? Do you feel exhausted in the mornings, despite the amount of sleep you get? Do you snore constantly? 

If you answered yes to these questions, you may be at risk for obstructive sleep apnea. 

In this post, I will discuss exactly what this condition is, how you can find out whether you are at risk, and what you can do about it. So let’s get started!

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Exercises for Back Pain

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Back pain. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know how debilitating it can be. In this post, I will be discussing simple exercises that you can do to strengthen your core muscles, help alleviate back pain, and prevent future injury. For a more detailed discussion on back pain, please refer to this article

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Being Empowered for Your Health

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Have you ever left one of your health appointments disappointed with your visit? Maybe you had just spoken to a health care professional, but instead of feeling like all of your concerns were addressed, you found yourself with even more questions? In this post, I will provide you practical tools that you can starting putting into use today that will empower you in your health care visits by helping you prepare for encounters you might have with the health care system–whether it is a routine doctor’s visit or an unexpected trip to the ER—and by helping you make the most out of your interactions with your health care professionals.

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Exercising with Heart Conditions

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Getting enough physical activity is important for your health and is particularly important when you have chronic conditions. However, many people with heart problems or chronic pain are often hesitant or apprehensive when it comes to exercising, as they fear that it will trigger their symptoms or make them feel worse. If you currently have concerns about exercising or have not been physically active for a long time, there is no need to worry! It is never too late to increase your physical activity. The key is knowing how to do it safely and effectively. In this post, I will equip you with the tools you need to confidently plan and achieve your personal fitness goals.

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Strengthen Your Muscles While Sitting

Do you spend a lot of time sitting? Perhaps you sit at a desk for work, or maybe you have some mobility challenges. When you sit for hours at a time, you might not only start feeling stiff and uncomfortable, but your body is also suffering from the lack of movement. The following stretches and strengthening maneuvers are designed to be done while sitting, so that even if you find yourself stuck in your seat, you can get your circulation going while toning your muscle groups. 

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Taking Control of Chronic Pain

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my last post, I discussed the cycle of chronic pain and how it works. In this post, I will focus on tools that you can incorporate into your life that will help break this cycle and empower you to take better control of your days…so that you can always look forward to each one. 

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Chronic Pain & You

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Do you live with chronic pain? Does pain seem to infiltrate every area of your life, to the point that it is affecting your quality of life?

If so, you are not alone. 

In this post, I will focus on the complex condition that is chronic pain and discuss how it works. In a subsequent post, I will present a “Chronic Pain Toolbox” that will equip you with essential self-management skills, so that you can be empowered to regain the quality of life you deserve.

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Taking Control of Diabetes [part 2]

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my previous posts, I discussed both the importance of knowing your Diabetes A-B-C’s as well as how to easily meal plan your way to health. In this post, I will focus on another essential skill that everyone with diabetes needs to have: how keep your blood sugars at an optimal level. By knowing what to watch for and knowing how to react, you can be empowered to truly take control of this condition. 

So let’s get started!

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Eating Successfully with Diabetes

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my last post, I introduced one of the fundamental elements of effective diabetes management, which consists of knowing and understanding important health indicators— such as your A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Now I will discuss another important skill that will play a large role in determining whether your condition worsens or gets better in the future—and that is meal planning. 

For those who do not have diabetes, or have been told that they have pre-diabetes, you will find that this method is so simple and practical that you can easily incorporate it into your life to help you eat in a more balanced way. So let’s get started!

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Taking Control of Diabetes

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Like most chronic condition, diabetes is a disease that–while serious–should not deprive you of a long and fulfilling life. With that said, the seemingly little things that you do on a day-to-day basis can end up making a big difference in how the disease affects your health and quality of life, with what you do (or don’t do) playing an important role in determining how well your diabetes is controlled and whether or not the disease gets worse over time.

In this post—which is a part of my Taking Control of Chronic Conditions series—I will discuss what you can do to manage your diabetes, so that you will be equipped with the skills you need to take control of your health once again.

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The Ketogenic Diet: Fact or Fad?

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Over the past year, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the ketogenic diet. Not surprisingly, I have encountered many questions regarding them. What is it? Is it safe? Would I recommend it? 

Despite the recent trend, a “ketogenic diet” is actually not new at all. In the 1970’s, Dr. Atkins popularized his low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss that began with a very strict two-week ketogenic phase. Over the years, other popular diets also incorporated similar approaches for weight loss. But in medicine, we have been using this method for almost a century to treat some forms of epilepsy, especially drug-resistant types in children.

As you know, whenever something is popularized, much information goes around—some accurate, some not so accurate. The purpose of this post is to summarize for you what the medical community actually knows so far through its research on the health effects of ketogenic diets. This post is not to make a stance either for or against, because as you will see, there are both pros and potential cons (as well as some unknowns); rather, I simply want to equip you with the right information in order to empower you to make the best decision for your personal situation.

So let’s get started!

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How to Fight Fatigue

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my last article, I discussed some of the common medical causes of chronic fatigue, which may or may not apply to you. The truth is, many times, there isn’t just one single cause—rather, it’s often many different factors that wear you down and zap you of energy.

So what can you do about it? Fortunately, the answer is…a lot! Aside from ruling out or treating any medical conditions, there is a lot that you can do on a daily basis that can help improve your health and overall energy level, and I will discuss many of those things today. Keep in mind that because healthy living habits work together synergistically, the more you can incorporate into your day, the bigger the energy boost you will experience. So let’s get started!

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6 Causes of Fatigue that You Should Know

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Do you always feel tired? Do you often have difficulty getting through the day because of lack of energy? Sometimes, being tired is expected and normal (for example, after an all-nighter, after a bout of the flu, or after a busy non-stop week). However, if you find yourself always feeling worn out despite adequate rest, to the point your tiredness negatively affects your quality of life, it’s time to do something about it.

In this post, I will discuss six common health conditions that can lead to chronic fatigue. While this is by no means an exhaustive guide, these are conditions that frequently affect people and (for the most part) are easily diagnosable and treatable. In a subsequent post, I will discuss practical ways in which you can effectively combat your fatigue…regardless of the cause. 

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Action Planning for Health

Have you ever thought of something you either wanted to do (“I want to lose weight“) or felt like you should do (“I should eat healthier“), but you just cannot get yourself to take the first step, because the task seems too overwhelming or out of reach? Or maybe you start making changes, but then after a while start to feel discouraged at your apparent lack of progress?

If so, you are not alone.

Starting today, I want you to begin incorporating something into your life—a type of goal-setting called Action Planning. Many of you may already be familiar with this. The purpose of an Action Plan is to set you on the road towards your personal goals by breaking them down into small, actionable steps. So let’s get started!

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How to Stay Motivated

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Do you ever find yourself losing interest in something you know is good for you? Maybe you took a healthy living course and for a while you were gung ho to make changes in your life…but then the determination faded — and you found yourself going back to your old, bad health habits.

If you do…you are not alone.

The key to continuing down the path towards better health and wellness (or whatever goal you have set for yourself) is to keep a positive mindset and to not allow yourself to get discouraged–even when you experience a setback. Not sure how to maintain your motivation? Read on–this guide will give you some practical tips on how to do just that.

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Complete Relaxation Techniques

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

For many, relaxation means zoning out in front of the TV or staring at the phone at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging health effects of stress. To effectively combat stress, it is necessary to activate your body’s natural relaxation response. One way to do this is by practicing effective relaxation techniques. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress, boost your energy and mood, and improve your mental and physical health. When combined with effective stress management skills, you end up with a powerful, stress-busting combo. 

This guide provides relaxation techniques that are best performed when you have 15 minutes and a comfortable environment, but which are extremely effective at countering your body’s stress response (by eliciting the “Relaxation Response”)….as a result leading to calming effects that can linger for days. 

Don’t have 15 minutes? Then you need these quick relaxation techniques. 

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Instant Relaxation Techniques

Even when equipped with effective Stress Management skills, sometimes one just needs a break from the stresses of a busy day—in the middle of the day.

These mini-relaxation techniques are powerful stress busters that you can reach for anytime. Whether you’re preparing for an important meeting, stuck in traffic, or in the middle of an uncomfortable situation—these exercises can be a fast and effective tool to help you achieve a relaxed state so that you can confidently face the stresses of the day. So go ahead—take some time to try them all to see which ones work best for you.

Have 15 minutes to spare? Try a full relaxation session for a total de-stressing experience.

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Taking Control of Stress (part II)

In my last post, I discussed Stress Management in terms of practicing the “4 A’s.” In this post, I will be discussing the other essential components of stress management (if you missed the initial post on the effects of chronic stress on your health, I encourage you to glance at that when you get the chance).

Need immediate de-stressing? This article will show you some instant ways to relax.

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Taking Control of Stress

Now that I’ve discussed how harmful chronic stress is to your health…what can you do about it? The very necessary next step (after recognizing what is causing your stress) is to make the decision to take control of it. To decide to take control means that you are determined to start making positive, proactive changes in your life to effectively manage your stress—as opposed to allowing yourself to feel like a victim to it and merely trying to cope with it. This difference in mindset can make a significant difference—the difference between feeling like you’re keeping pace while staying ahead in a race as opposed to lagging behind trying to catch up.

So really, what does this all mean? This post will introduce the most practical way to start taking control of your stress: by practicing the “4 A’s.”

Feeling stressed out right now? Take a few seconds to do one of these quick relaxation techniques.

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Stress and Your Health

Do you often feel stressed out? Do you have things in your life that frequently cause you high levels of stress? Do you find that you have little time for self-care, or you spend most of your time caring for others? Do you just feel burned out?

If you do, you are not alone. 

In this post, I will talk about the effects of stress on your body—both short and long term (chronic) stress—and then introduce the most fundamental aspect of Stress Management: the identification of the causes of your stress and the identification of unhealthy coping mechanisms. In subsequent posts, I will discuss tried and true Stress Management techniques that have been proven to work in both lowering stress and decreasing the harmful effects of it on your health.

This post is the first in a series on Stress Management. The other articles are listed below for your convenience:

Taking Control of Stress (part I)
Taking Control of Stress (part II)
Instant Relaxation Techniques
Complete Relaxation Techniques

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Taking Control Over Salt

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Do you enjoy salty snacks? Or find yourself reaching for the salt shaker at the dinner table?

If you do, you are not alone.

In general, people in the U.S. eat much more sodium (salt) than they should. But why is it important to watch the amount of sodium you eat? It is because the more sodium you consume, the higher your blood pressure becomes. Some conditions, such as certain heart and kidney problems, cause the body to hold onto sodium, which causes extra fluid to build up in the body. This extra fluid forces the heart to work harder. Therefore, if you live with chronic conditions, it is especially important to control the amount of sodium you eat.

So how much sodium should you be consuming in a day? While for most people it is recommended to not go over 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium, for those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney problems, the daily limit for sodium is even lower– 1,500 mg ideally, but no more than 2,000 mg.

Pop quiz: How many milligrams of sodium are in one small teaspoon of salt?

Answer: 2,300 milligrams!

1 teaspoon of salt
=
2,300 mg of sodium

Surprised? What this means is that adding any salt to your meals can cause you to go over the recommended limit. So is it even possible to stay within this recommended limit? Yes–it is possible! And today I will discuss exactly how.

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Eating for Heart Health

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Your diet, as most people know, is a big component of healthy living. There’s even much truth to the idiom, “You are what you eat!” However, when it comes to living with chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, having the right diet becomes even more important, as the foods you eat can make a huge difference not only in the symptoms you experience day to day, but also in the way your chronic conditions progress over time.

What this means is that with the right diet, when incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, you can take control of your health by helping to slow or even reverse your chronic conditions. When it comes to heart disease, being on a heart-healthy diet can protect you against further narrowing of your heart’s blood vessels and in turn help prevent further complications such as heart attack and strokes.

In this post we will discuss what types of foods make up a heart healthy diet. In a subsequent post, we will cover the essentials of a specific component of heart healthy eating–the low salt diet.

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Cold & Flu Medicine Guide

If you have ever browsed the Cold Medicine aisle of your local drug store, you know that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. With so many products available and each containing different combinations of active ingredients, how do you know which one is right for you? Perhaps you mainly have a stuffed-up nose and cough and would like to select the most appropriate product so you don’t end up taking unnecessary medications. Which one should you choose?

If you have ever wondered this, this fundamental guide to cold medications is for you. Read on, and shop like a pro the next time you need one.

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Heartburn: What You Should Know

By Phoebe Chi, MD

Heartburn. It’s something that hardly needs an introduction. Most people have experienced it at least once in their lifetime. For some, it’s an occasional annoyance; for others, a serious medical problem. But what discerns one from the other? When and why should it be treated? And what exactly can be done about it? These are the questions that will be addressed today. 

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Anti-Inflammatory Diets: Fact or Fad?

By Phoebe Chi, MD

Inflammation. Foods that fight inflammation. Anti-inflammatory diets. It has no doubt become a buzzword in the world of nutrition and health these days. But while there’s little question that the food we eat is an important part of staying healthy, some of these diets are being promoted with very big health claims, among them the assertion that they can cure serious diseases. But does the actual science match up to these claims? And should you follow these dietary guidelines? And what exactly do these diets consist of? These are the questions that will be addressed in this post. 

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9 Simple Moves for Low Back Pain

By Phoebe Chi, MD

The human back. That complex arrangement of overlapping muscles, tendons, and ligaments all surrounding an adjoined column of bones encasing a half-meter-long bundle of delicate nerves that serves as the essential link between the brain and the rest of the body. Add to this the constant twisting, bending, and other stresses wreaked on this crucial structure, and it is no surprise why back pain is one of the most common medical problems plaguing adults, with over 80% having experienced it at least once in their life…with many enduring it on a chronic basis.

Fortunately, for many people, there are things that can be done to reduce low back pain and to prevent it from reoccurring in the future. This article will focus on one of the most effective ways—physical conditioning of the back—by guiding you through nine easy, low-impact moves that will improve its strength and flexibility.

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