Medical pearls

Losing weight on a diet that is high in fat is dangerous for overall health. The risk of coronary heart disease has been found to increase significantly among those individuals who stayed on a high protein red meat diet to lose weight. While these subjects became slimmer, their cholesterol levels were high, leading to a higher rate of heart attacks. The object of dieting is not only to maintain a normal weight but also to be healthier all around.

Nothing beats abstinence from red meat and eggs (eating only fish, vegetable, fruit, high-fiber), combined with daily exercise and abstinence from tobacco as the best formula for maintaining good health.

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Persons getting a flu shot to prevent influenza may even experience an added benefit from it. Studies have shown that flu vaccination appears to be associated with a reduced risk of stroke, especially among those who are 60-75 years old.

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Forget all old worries and past problems, if you want your blood pressure not to shoot up. It is a medical fact that recalling previous sad or morbid events, or emotional trauma, raises the blood pressure during the moment of recollection. If these spikes in blood pressure happen often, they could adversely affect the heart.  All of us should let go of these painful experiences of the past and not dwell on them. Anything not within our control should be left to God. Life ahead of us is so precious we ought to leave our miserable baggage behind and have a more positive outlook, at the same time protect our heart and health as a whole.

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If you love tuna, which is a good fish, it is better to eat canned light tuna because its mercury content is much lower than fresh or frozen tuna, especially large albacore tuna, which is higher in mercury content. Short-lived and younger tuna is used for canning.

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You do not really have to run or jog for health. Jogging is actually no longer encouraged because of the damages it causes on the spine, hip, knee, and ankle joints. Brisk walking can lower the incidence of heart disease by 18 percent, as effectively as any of those more vigorous exercises, minus the injuries to the various joints.

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Oil of oregano: an “antibiotic”? It seems so, to a certain extent, anyway. It has been found that oil of oregano, which is used in salad dressing and for cooking, reduces harmful food pathogens. This oil has been found to inhibit e.coli and listeria monocytogenes.

Hydrogen peroxide (H202), which splits into water (H20) and an extra “H’ ion, is good for washing (rinsing) food items, like fruits and vegetables, etc., and effective in inducing root formation when plant branch cuttings are soaked in it for about 30 seconds before planting them for propagation. Rooting hormone powder also speeds up rooting.

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Mustard is a popular condiment, used in a variety ways, especially with hotdogs. The compound that imparts yellow color in mustard is curcumin, component of tumeric spice, and curcumin has been found to slow down the progression of cancer.

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Also a cancer inhibitor is raspberry because of its content, ellagic acid, a cancer-inhibitor.  All vegetables and berry fruits are great anti-oxidants. Also with oats, grains, nuts, and spices in general.

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Which cooking oil is the best for us? Here is a list of the most commonly found ones on the grocery shelves, including the calories (Cal), fat contents in grams (F), saturated fat in grams (SF), cholesterol (Ch), per tablespoonful: Canola: Cal-121, F-13.6, SF-1; coconut: Cal-118, F-13.6, SF-11.8; corn: Cal-121, F-13.6, SF-1.7; olive: Cal-119, F-13.5, SF-1.8; peanut: Cal-119, F- 13.5, SF- 2.3; soybean: 121, F- 13.6, SF-2.0; palm: Cal-121, F-13.6, SF-6.7.

All of these have zero cholesterol and sodium. Coconut has the highest saturated fat content. One coconut has about 1349 calories and 127.7 grams of fat, 113 saturated fats and 76 mg of sodium. Eating a lot of coconut oil or food items made of, or with, coconut, is not really healthy. Our choice is, of course, virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, proven for centuries to be a healthy oil.

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While imbibing alcoholic beverage (one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) was considered “healthy,” new studies have shown that there is no safe limit for alcohol intake. Any amount of alcohol, even a shot or a can of beer has a deleterious effect on health, no matter how subtle or unobvious it is.

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Homocysteine is a substance within our body that is implicated in the development of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the artery), leading to blockages in the carotid (causing stroke) and coronary arteries (causing heart attack), including the aorta in the chest and abdomen (causing aneurysm/ rupture and bleeding), and arteries in the legs (causing gangrene). The Framingham studies showed that the more elevated the level of homocysteine in the patient, the higher the finding of blockages in carotid and coronary arteries. Those with low folate (folic acid) to metabolize the harmful homocysteine have 3 times higher risk of developing heart attack. Folic acid in B complex vitamin is prescribed to these patients. This substance is found in green leafy vegetables, like spinach, lettuce, chard, whole grains, yeast, peanuts, wheat germ and dry beans.

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Is genetic a more important factor than diet in the development of coronary heart disease/heart attack?  Familial hyperlipidemia (super high serum cholesterol due to a genetic defect) is seen in one in 500 persons. Except for this type of individuals, and all “unhealthy habits” (smoking, inadequate, or lack of, daily exercise) remaining equal, diet is a very significant factor in the causation of coronary heart disease.  It has been shown that even if the parents had coronary heart disease, the children did not necessarily develop the disease, if these offsprings lived a healthier lifestyle than their elders. Keeping the cholesterol level low by not eating red meat and eggs, and concentrating on fish, vegetables, fruits, hi-fiber diet, coupled with abstinence from cigarettes, doing daily exercises, properly treating high blood pressure and or diabetes, if present, is the best strategy to ward off coronary heart disease/heart attack and stroke.

The caveat: simply because we cannot choose our parents, does not mean we are trapped in this genetic dilemma, and, therefore, are hopeless. Far from it. If we are disciplined enough to live a healthier lifestyle than our parents did, we can outsmart those particular defective genes they gave us.

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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. Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

Dr. Philip S. Chua
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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