[COLUMN] Health queries

DO COVID-19 vaccines work?

More than 47 percent of the U.S. population have been fully vaccinated. More than half of Americans are not vaccinated, with almost 20 percent (60 million) refusing the vaccines, making them potential future carriers and spreaders of current and future (more severe) new strains of the virus. About 3 billion doses have been administered worldwide, approximately 27 percent of the global population of 7.9 billion. Almost all of the COVID-related deaths in the United States are among people who have NOT been vaccinated. Only about 0.8 percent of the deaths were among fully vaccinated individuals who may have been infected with a variant strain. The vaccines are definitely at least 95-99 percent effective. Those not vaccinated at a grave risk.

The current statistics as of June 28, 2021: Global cases – 181,965,114, deaths – 3,940,970; U.S. – 34,494,690, deaths – 619,424; Philippines – 1,403,588, deaths – 24,456. The cost of vaccinating the world population is between $50-$75 billion, 1 percent of the global economic output, a bargain in ending this crisis.

What is conscious brushing?

Oro-dental health parallels cardiac health. Poor oral hygiene from neglect or improper oral care does not only lead to disgusting halitosis (bad breath) and dental carries/gingivitis, but also to increased risk for heart attack and stroke. The correlation between oral health and cardiovascular health is well established.

We often see movies where a character, usually male, brushes his teeth with lightning speed and gets done in ten seconds or so. While this is better than not brushing at all, it is most insufficient and ineffective in maintaining good dental health. Performing what I term conscious brushing is vital. Conscious brushing is a method of dental care that provides the greatest chance of cleaning all the teeth, gums, tongue, and the whole mouth. The individual focuses and concentrates totally on flossing all the inter-dental (between teeth) crevices, and brushing each tooth consciously and fully, making sure no tooth is left untouched, the top and all reachable sides of each tooth, meticulously. I prefer a soft brush and toothpaste with baking soda and peroxide, but most dental pastes are acceptable. The gums and the entire mouth are brushed gently, including the throat. Using a tongue scraper, from all the way back of the throat, forward to the tip, removes bacteria-loaded thick mucus. The tongue is a great major source of halitosis. Gargling helps flush out food particles in between teeth. The final step is the use of a mouth rinse, preferably stabilized chlorine dioxide. The less expensive alternative is to add a teaspoon of salt or two tablespoonfuls of hydrogen peroxide to a glass of water and use this a mouth rinse. This ritual should be done at least twice a day. Complete the regimen with a visit to your dentist every 6 months, or more often if needed.

How do I maintain brain health?

With the scary threat of developing Alzheimer’s dementia, most everyone, if not everybody, wonders what could be done to ward off this terrible nightmare, a disease worse than any other, even cancer. The severe toll is not only on the individual but on the entire family, especially the spouse. While the Alzheimer’s syndrome is not totally known, especially on how to fully prevent it or treat it, one thing is clear: our diet affects our brain, our heart, and our whole being.

Currently, a plant-based diet (rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and other antioxidants) is the “new” evidence-based approach to disease prevention and, in many cases, to cure, and even for longevity, as stated in the book, “Let’s Stop ‘Killing’ Our Children” (link: philipSchua.com), which is listed in the U.S. Library of Congress. This is a primer on a healthy lifestyle starting from the womb and in the crib to protect DNA and thus prevent major illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s and even cancer, from ever occurring in children when they grow up. To this, add daily exercise; abstinence from tobacco, vaping, illegal drugs; adhering to a disciplined approach to alcohol; and stress management with weekend breaks and regular vacation/staycations with friends and family.

The simple strategy as far as diet is concerned is to fill up 3/4 of your plate with vegetables of various colors, some fruits and nuts, and the remaining 1/4 with fish (wild-caught, not farm raised), chicken, without the skin, and/or beef or pork (not more than 12 ounces). Abstaining from red meat and processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, sausages, etc.) is a healthier option, to reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, metabolic illnesses like T2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. Most cancers, like pancreatic, colon, breast and prostate cancers are, to various degrees, linked to eating red meat.

Is playing mahjong a mental exercise?

Playing the Chinese or American version of mahjong is mental calisthenics, a healthy way to exercise and stimulate the brain. The same is true with playing family table games like gin rummy, uno, dominoes, canasta, blackjack, indulging in crossword puzzles, and other mental activities, all of which help maintain brain health and reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s.

Are soft drinks really poison?

Soft drinks in general, cola or uncola, diet or regular, caffeinated or flavored or not, are all toxic to the body, especially to children. These beverages increase the risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of medical conditions that leads to the development of high blood pressure, T2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. The effective use of cola drinks to unplug blocked sink drains or toilets or its use to clean car carburetors illustrates the abrasiveness of this beverage. The healthiest drink is still clean, unadulterated, filtered water.

Do we need sleep?

Sometime ago, there was a fake claim that sleep was not necessary. We were mostly asleep while in the womb and as newborns and infants, which helped us grow healthy, an undisputed proof that humans (and animals in general) need restful sleep to remain healthy physically and mentally. Those who do not get a satisfying sleep feel tired, a bit confused and unfocused, are dangerous vehicular or industrial machine drivers, prone to depression, have weakened immune system and elevated risk for various illnesses. Those with sleep apnea (dangerously prolonged breath-holding while asleep, waking up gasping for breath multiple times at night because of low oxygen blood level) have high risk for heart attack, stroke, and cancer. A good sleep provides a happy countenance and a positive, cheerful, attitude when we wake up, ready to face and enjoy the wonderful day ahead of us.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com; Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com.

Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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