Baby Boomers Blog

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Location: Southlake, TX

Eileen Silva, Ph.D., N.D., CTN, is a doctor of Natural Health and Naturopathy, in Southlake, Texas, with a practice in metabolic health, weight, and body balancing. She has been treating patients and teaching workshops on integrative medicine for over 18 years. Eileen has appeared on TV and radio talk shows coast-to-coast, lectured extensively, and has developed a breakthrough technology, colored bar-graph, computerized body analysis program. Her newly-released book, A HEALTHIER YOU, joins her best-selling, FAT CHANCE AT LAST! ---HOW TO GO BEYOND WILLPOWER, in offering lifestyle changes for better health results. As CEO of Hegan Center, Eileen has trained and certified medical doctors and chiropractors for almost a decade. Her innovative wellness techniques have been used to help thousands of individuals achieve weight loss and better fitness. Eileen's programs have also brought enhanced energy, weight balance, and longevity to professionals in corporate wellness programs. Eileen is an active member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Holistic Health Association, and the Health Sciences Institute.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Brain Food that Works © Dr. Eileen Silva

Forgetting where you put your keys when you are twenty is one thing…forgetting where you left them at 45 or older is another. As we reach our forties and beyond, we are all concerned about mental sharpness, and how we can positively impact mental acumen by food choices and lifestyle habits that work.

“You ate your way into this . . . now you need to eat your way out.” This motto I have often used with my clients is appropriate here. If you’ve been absent-minded, you already know that a diet of empty calorie junk food will do little to foster mental clarity, but do you know which common foods to eat that are directly linked to mental sharpness?

For starters, eggs and moderate servings of red meat--- both once frowned upon by health experts---are now recommended as an excellent source of choline. According to brain science expert Christina L. Williams, choline provides protection against senility and other brain health assaults, thus providing us “food for thought.”

And by the way, be careful not to limit your intake of fat too drastically. Fat, especially the omega-3 fatty acid type found in fish, is vital for good brain health. Other good fat sources include avocados, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil.

Another thing that may surprise you is how important sugars are to good mental function. You see, thinking really does require a lot of energy. Providing an adequate intake of carbohydrates assures that brain energy will be available as needed. It even helps to guard against neuron damage, which can be caused by chemical substances, like aspartame and MSG or flavor enhancers. By eating starchy foods like potatoes, corn, carrots, beets, and whole grain bread or cereal products, you can provide vital brain energy while avoiding a spike in your blood sugar.

Be sure that you have an adequate amount of protein each day, which not only provides you essential amino acids (there are 22 known), but also is critical to proper brain function. You will get those amino acids from dairy products, like milk and cheese. You can also get them from nuts, seeds, flax seeds, brewers yeast, soybeans, and some cereals.

The B vitamin complex is also necessary for a healthy brain (B1, B5, B6, B12, and folic acid in particular). Also, by rounding out your diet with those super-antioxidant foods like cranberries, grapes, cherries, spinach, broccoli, or raspberries, you may even slow down brain aging. Cranberries are so important for preserving brain function that they have even been shown to protect against brain cell damage after a stroke!

By the way, unless your doctor has advised you not to, feel free to follow all these foods up with a cup or two or coffee. There is clear evidence that coffee in moderation will improve mental clarity and agility. So, isn’t it time to pay attention to eating a diversified diet that will help you think more clearly again?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Caregiver's Stress © Dr. Eileen Silva

Do you, like many other Baby Boomers, now find yourself caring for older relatives or friends who have health problems or disabilities and need assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating? If so, you are part of one fourth of American families who are caring for an older family member, an adult child with disabilities, or a friend. You are one of more than 7 million Americans who are caregivers to older adults. The average amount of time these Americans spend on caregiving is about 20 hours per week with many of these hours spent in physically-demanding work.

I would like to ask you a question? How is your own personal health? One third of caregivers describe their personal health as fair to poor, and many worry that they won’t outlive the person for whom they are caring. As you and other caregivers struggle to balance caregiving with other responsibilities, including full-time jobs and caring for children, constant stress can lead to "burnout" and health problems. You may feel guilty, frustrated, and angry from time to time, suffer from depression, and become ill easily yourself.

For example, caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or other kinds of dementia at home can be overwhelming. The caregiver must cope with declining abilities and difficult behaviors that affect even basic activities of daily living that often become hard to manage for both the care receiver and the caregiver.

As the disease worsens, the care receiver usually needs 24-hour care. To sustain this, and other types of prolonged stress and care, you need to call upon other family members, friends, and neighbors for help. If other caregivers aren't available to fill in, respite care services may be available in the community to help you. Respite care can be a good way for you to get a break (respite) from constant caregiving.

National Women’s Health Information Center gives these recommendations to help you take care of your own health:

· Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fat. Ask your health care provider about taking a multivitamin as well.
· Try to get enough sleep and rest.
· Find time for some exercise most days of the week. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve your health in many ways.
· See your health care provider for a checkup. Talk to your provider about symptoms of depression or illness that you may be having. Get counseling if needed.
· Stay in touch with friends. Social activities can help keep you feeling connected and help with stress. Faith-based groups can offer support and help to caregivers.
· Find a support group for other caregivers in your situation (such as caring for a person with dementia). Many support groups are available online through the Internet.

If you are a caregiver, remember to care for your own health as well as that of your loved one. Seek comfort, help, time to refresh yourself, and regular exercise to ensure that you will remain able to give that care and still maintain your personal wellness.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Exercise © Dr. Eileen Silva

One of the best things you can do for your health is to find an activity that gets your body moving and stick with it.

According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, being physically active can:
lower risk of getting heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes
lower high blood pressure

help keep bones, muscles, and joints healthy
reduce anxiety and depression and improves mood
help with handling stress
help control weight protect against falling and bone fractures in older adults
help control joint swelling and pain from arthritis
improve energy levels, sleep, and appearance

People with disabilities who become physically active under their doctor’s guidance can improve their heart, lungs, muscles, and bones, while gaining improved flexibility, mobility, and coordination.

Besides these factors, increased physical activity contributes greatly to weight loss. People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, breathing problems, arthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), osteoarthritis, and some cancers.

If a strenuous workout is not for you, take comfort in knowing that even 30 minutes of moderately-intensity and above-usual daily physical activity at work or home lowers the risk of chronic disease.

Be sure to start with small sessions and work up, warming up for 5 to 10 minutes. Wear proper shoes and clothing and drink water before, during, and after exercise. At the end of your physical activity, cool down by decreasing the intensity of your activity so your heartbeat returns to normal and be sure to stretch muscles. If your chest feels tight or painful, or you feel faint or have trouble breathing at any time, stop the activity right away and talk to your health care provider.

If your feet or joints hurt when you stand, non-weight-bearing activities may be best for you. Such activities include swimming or water workouts, and they put less stress on joints because you don't have to lift or push your own weight. Pat yourself on the back for trying, even if you can't complete the workout the first time. It may be easier the next time-so try again! Remember, moving any part of your body --- even for a short time --- can make you healthier.

Choose a variety of fun activities, so that you don't get bored. Even housework, gardening, doing yard work, or walking the dog gets you moving. If you can't set aside one block of time, do short activities during the day, such as three, 10-minute walks.

Create opportunities for activity, such as parking your car farther away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking down the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of using e-mail. Don't let cold weather keep you on the couch, but do exercise to a workout video, join a sports league, or get a head start on your spring cleaning by channeling your workout energy into cleaning out closets or washing windows. Vary your walking route to stave off boredom and exercise with a friend or family member for company. If you have children, make time to play with them outside. Set a positive example!

Make activities into social occasions --- have dinner after you and a friend work out. Set specific, short-term goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them. Don't feel badly if you don't notice body changes right away. Make activity a regular part of your day, so it becomes a habit. Read books or magazines to inspire you.

Talk to your health care provider before you start any physical activity if you have heart disease or have had a stroke or are at high risk for them, have diabetes or are at high risk for it, are obese (body mass index of 30 or greater), have an injury (like a knee injury), at pregnant, or older than age 50.

Remember, don’t just sit around waiting to feel or look better, get moving and pursue your goals. Adding even a small amount of exercise to your normal day’s activities moves you another step closer to looking and feeling your best.