OUR 2019 EXPERT GUIDE TO A HAPPIER & HEALTHIER YOU
Yes, the holiday festivities are over and now is when the work begins. But, don’t panic. Getting back to your healthy self doesn’t have to be daunting when you have some of the best experts in wellness, beauty and health a click or phone call away. We asked these professionals who specialize in everything from cardiology to healing therapies for their secret tips, best practices and favorite products for optimal wellness, and we’ve packaged it all up into a how-to on how to become the best you yet. Now, that’s something to celebrate.
In the world of wellness, health experts have long believed that less is more. Although the general population hasn’t always subscribed to this mantra, increased injuries, a rise in chronic disease, and a feeling of general exhaustion are causing many of us to take a second look at how we take care of ourselves. Our panel of experts weighed in on everything from inflammation to core fitness and made suggestions on how to improve our overall mental and physical health. Have a look at our list to see how doing a little less may make you feel a whole lot better soon.
MIX IT UP
Make sure you ease into any kind of new fitness routine,” says SUZANNE PALAZZO, owner and director of Upper Deck Fitness in Stamford and Westport. Set realistic goals. Otherwise you’re likely to feel defeated. “At Upper Deck, our philosophy is prescribed fitness and variety of workouts,” she explains, noting the classes are color coded by intensity, so you can balance your regimen and not overdo it. “People tend to gravitate towards workouts they enjoy and do them repeatedly, but over time [that can lead to] issues with repetitive use and joints and muscles suffering from too much wear and tear.” The body then becomes imbalanced, which can lead to injury. “People usually only go to low-impact or recovery workouts once they’ve been hurt, but mobility work is [also] critical to injury prevention,” she says.
Here’s Palazzo’s fitness prescription for the new year:
ALTERNATE HIGH WITH LOW
High-intensity workouts are popular, but they can cause inflammation in joints and muscles when you’re not properly balanced. The rigor of this type of exercise is encouraged only if you give your body proper time to recover. It’s best to alternate days of high- and low-impact exercise and devote only two to three days a week to high intensity workouts.
TAKE A BREAK
“One of the ways we get stronger is that exercise creates micro tears in our muscles,” explains Palazzo. If we allow these to heal properly, the muscle becomes stronger, but if you overdo it, swelling and joint pain may occur. Giving yourself a “down day” of barre, Pilates, walking, swimming or another recovery exercise in between high impact classes allows muscles adequate time to heal.
Don’t take two days off in a row, advises Palazzo, because the off-day best serves its purpose when sandwiched in between other workouts. “Realize that less can be more, and that the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality has to go. Your body is the boss, so listen to it and don’t just push through the aches and pains.”
FOCUS ON CORE
“Your core, a group of several muscles in the lower back, stomach and hips, is what generates power to the body,” she says. “When it’s strong and stable, your posture improves, you move freely and safely, you alleviate stress on other joints, and your spine doesn’t absorb all the pressure it normally does when driving or sitting at a desk.”
STRETCH IT OUT
With the new year comes a pledge to improved fitness. We hit the ground running, but are we physically prepared? “The new year should be about [awareness] of your body, its capabilities, its weaknesses,” says Michael Eaton, stretch therapist and assistant studio manager at LYMBR in Darien. LYMBR’s sessions take you through a series of progressive dynamic stretches that offer benefits that will help you relax and stick to your 2019 goals. These include:
RESTORED MUSCLE ELASTICITY + IMPROVED MOBILITY
Muscles become tense from work, exercise with little recovery and stress. Stretching helps break down collagen in muscles, allowing for better movement, alleviating soreness and improving posture. With these benefits, you’ll see increased rewards from your workout and lessen the chance of injury.
Ahealthy network of connective tissue is important for proper physiological function. LYMBR’s gentle, guided stretches help relieve tension throughout the fascia.
Gentle repetitive stretches contract muscles and improve circulation of blood to the organs and tissues, which helps speed your recovery post-workout.
Your therapist will feel for an “in-range” with each stretch and take you a little past that point, holding the stretch for two seconds with light pressure, then repeating it, ultimately helping you improve your range of motion.
It’s true that the inner body may need a detox after the holidays, and the same is true for the skin,” says SIOBHAN MCKINLEY, owner of Organachs Farm to Skin in Westport. She recommends starting 2019 with the healthy habit of dry brushing several times a week. Before getting into a hot shower, use a dry brush like Voya’s Cactus-Bristle Exfoliating Body Brush and brush upwards in a circular motion from the feet to the heart. This will improve circulation, she says, get rid of dead skin cells and prime skin for moisturizing. Dry brushing also stimulates the body’s lymphatic drainage system, which helps rid the body of toxins.
Next, use a granular body scrub with essential oils to hydrate skin and improve texture. McKinley likes Bath Soak and Scrub by Kanya, made of Dead Sea salts, Epsom salts, shea butter and lavender oil.
Hydrate next. “Using body oils is the best way to do this, as they penetrate the skin and there are no emulsifiers and barriers,” notes McKinley. Try Voya’s Angelicus Serratus Nourishing Body Oil or Organic Bath Company’s Body Butter. These nourishing products offer long-lasting hydration, a must for our long winters in Fairfield County.
HAPPY HANDS AND FEET
Post-holiday is a time when people forget about their nails, [but] winter is a great time to revive the hands and feet and prep them for spring,” says HENRI HELANDER, who owns To and From nail salon in Darien with JEANNE BLOOM. “We approach nails like you would your skin or hair: You have to take care of them,” he says. At To and From, every skin and nail product is nontoxic. Their polishes (Habit, LVX and Deborah Lippmann) are at least “5 free,” which means they don’t contain DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin or camphor. So start the new year with a few changes. Here are Helander and Bloom’s suggestions.
Often lost in the shuffle of good intentions is detoxifying your personal care and cleaning products. The new year is a great time, though, to rid your routine of products that contain harmful ingredients and try an eco-based alternative. “Green products, especially makeup and skincare, are really high quality and perform beautifully, says RHONDA SHERWOOD, whose new natural beauty store Sherwood Green Life opened recently in Greenwich. The beauty products in her store are plant-based, free of petroleum-based ingredients and nourishing to your skin. “We’re like scientific detectives, constantly researching product ingredients to make sure they aren’t harsh, allergenic or harmful to people, especially pregnant moms and their unborn babies,” she says. Sherwood recommends these swaps to achieve the most noticeable positive effects.
January is a great time to add something to your self-care routine that you may not have done consistently in the past,” says KELLY INGRAHAM, owner of Inner Light in Darien and Fairfield. According to Ingraham, the saunas at Inner Light provide heat therapy intended to help relax and detoxify the body. When all wellness experts tell us we need to find ways to cope with stress, perhaps an Inner Light session is in order for 2019. According to Ingraham, benefits include:
DETOX AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL
Infrared light, a wavelength that is perceived as heat by the body, not only feels great when it’s cold outside. It also penetrates the body up to three inches—much deeper than traditional saunas—to make your skin glow and help with cell regeneration.
IMPROVED CIRCULATION & DECREASED INFLAMMATION
Our bodies are designed to detoxify, but our environment is so laden with chemicals that sometimes we build up harmful toxins and become chronically inflamed. The far-, mid-, and near-infrared light are designed to help relieve inflammation-inspired conditions such as chronic lower back pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
BENEFICIAL TO AUTOIMMUNE SUFFERERS
People with Crohn’s disease, Lyme disease, chronic pain and chronic fatigue have reported feeling better after infrared sessions. According to Ingraham, doctors in Japan use it to treat heart conditions. Other conditions that respond positively to this therapy include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, digestion issues and depression, she adds.
Infrared heats your body deeply and as a result, boosts levels of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical that is effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
“The high heat will make you feel rejuvenated, and each Inner Light private sauna comes with a selection of music and a tablet so you can watch Netflix or Hulu during your thirty-minute or one-hour session.”
“Reducing stress should be number one on your list of priorities this year,” says Arianne O’Donnell Schuck, owner of Salt Cave in Darien, a 450-square-foot “cave” encrusted with Himalayan salt, which has a high mineral content. According to Schuck, inhaling the vapor of this medical-grade salt has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help to clear the respiratory system for easier breathing. It also contains eighty-four essential minerals and negative ions, which are believed to offset the bad side effects that positive ions (which come from stress) have on our bodies. The cave is a calming oasis where you can relax, meditate or socialize. Check out their Coffee/Tea Chatter Session, where you can sit in the cave for up to fifty minutes and do double duty catching up with friends.
Beauty’s Most Wanted
Technology’s influence on the beauty industry is producing impressive results, especially for 2019. According to our experts, here we have a few cutting-edge options you’ll want to check out: Topicals that brighten and repair skin, an array of top-performing cosmetics and skincare products made without harmful ingredients, injectable hormone replacement therapy that offers continual dosing, and a fat-burning device that actually builds muscle. With all these options available, how will you choose to beautify this new year?
LOOK BETTER NOW
Come January, everyone is focused on improving health and revamping,” says AMANDA PUCCI, an aesthetic nurse practitioner with Greenwich Medical Spa in Greenwich and Westport. “For many people, a resolution to improve appearance in one area might [motivate them] to make other positive changes,” says DR. LYNNE HAVEN, a cosmetic dermatologist in Greenwich. They join LISA TOPHAM, a plastic surgical nurse and director of Split Rock Aesthetic Institute in Wilton, in sharing their favorite products and procedures.
This injectable treatment helps to shrink fat under the chin, resulting in a more streamlined, youthful profile. Winter is the optimal time to do this, as scarves and sweaters can cover up temporary swelling and bruising.
RESURFACING OR FRACTIONAL LASERS LIKE PICOSURE
These treatments eradicate skin damage in the form of brown spots, acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles. Down time for this treatment is only a few days, as opposed to weeks with other laser treatments.
PHOTO DYNAMIC THERAPY
This is a helpful treatment for acne, rosacea and precancerous cells. This procedure does, however, have a strict forty-eight-hour sun avoidance rule.
Total Eye 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy by Colorescience
This treatment hydrates, lightens and brightens skin underneath the eyes and contains a mineral base of 35 SPF. “You’ll get an instant boost as it reduces the appearance of dark circles and puffiness.”
LUMIVIVE BY SKINMEDICA
The Damage Defense Serum by day protects skin from blue light and pollution, while the night Revitalize Repair Complex regenerates mitochondria, the cells that repair skin damage we are exposed to daily.
“We focus a lot on lasers and resurfacing in winter due to their necessary downtime,” says Pucci. Results are immediate, but expect five days of downtime to accommodate swelling, redness and dryness.
Commonly known as a vampire facial, this procedure involves drawing blood, spinning it in a centrifuge to separate the plasma-rich platelets (PRP), using an additive to enhance and form a matrix (PRFM), and applying this mixture onto freshly micro-needled skin for maximum absorption. PRFM is a newer technology that releases growth factors in the blood over seven days so you have a longer exposure for collagen remodeling in areas of volume loss. Six treatments give maximum results.
There are other fat-burning devices, but this one also builds muscle. According to Pucci, this new high-intensity, focused electromagnetic technology used for fat loss on abs and buttocks stimulates motor neurons in the muscle, stimulating the effects of 20,000 ab contractions, sit ups or squats in thirty minutes. It increases muscle in the area by 16 percent and decreases fat by 19 percent. This involves four treatments over two weeks, with toned results four to six weeks later. It’s a lunchtime procedure that’s intense but non-invasive.
This popular technology for fat removal freezes and shrinks fat up to 25 percent, says Pucci. Together with healthy eating and regular exercise, it takes up to two months to see results. It can be done in conjunction with EmSculpt.
PRFM Hair Restoration
Using the same technology as The Eraser, PRFM is injected into dormant hair follicles in the scalp to stimulate growth and thicken hair.
FACE & BODY
“This treatment is a one-and-done, and uses micro-needling and temperature-controlled radiofrequency energy to stimulate production of elastin and hyaluronic acid (which produce collagen), all building blocks of the skin,” says Lisa Topham. As she explains, it’s different from similar treatments because its handpiece has ten tiny needles that penetrate the skin 1/100 of an inch, allowing you to pinpoint the exact area to which you want to deliver energy. Whether your goal is skin tightening or fat removal, two different needles are used. It is a stand-alone procedure for the neck and lower face, though it can be used on arms, stomach, buttocks, thighs or knees. You’ll see results after three to six months, and it usually lasts from eighteen to twenty-four months. Expect about five days of downtime for possible swelling and bruising.
BTL Ultra Femme 360
For this vaginal rejuvenation treatment, a wand-shaped applicator is inserted into the vagina, then emits radio frequency and ultrasound to stimulate more collagen to tighten the vaginal wall. This procedure is recommended for clients who recently had children and perimenopausal or menopausal clients who are suffering from painful sex or urinary incontinence. You’ll need three forty-five-minute treatments once a week, and there’s no downtime.
For Kara Kolenik, COO of Connecticut Dermatology Group, with offices in Norwalk, Stamford and Greenwich, women experiencing symptoms associated with peri-menopause and menopause should consider BHRT Pellet Therapy. “This bio-identical hormone replacement therapy in the form of pellets is a life changer for women and many men,” she says. The bio-identical hormones used in this therapy come from plants and have a similar molecular makeup to naturally occurring hormones in the body, she explains.
For the procedure, the doctor chooses a tailored combination of pellets that contain either estradiol, testosterone or progesterone to balance hormones and alleviate symptoms such as dry skin, low sex drive, brain fog, weight gain, interrupted sleep and more. After a local anesthetic is applied, a small incision is made in the hip area, and the pellets are inserted under the skin. BHRT has been around in creams, pills, patches and injections for years, but pellet therapy delivers hormones continuously into the bloodstream. This treatment and can last up to four months for women and seven months for men.
Healthy scalp and roots equals healthy hair so it’s crucial to make sure your scalp is in good condition,” says ALEXANDRE CHOUERY, owner of Maison D’Alexandre, the Greenwich salon. As such, give your scalp a “detox” this winter to remove all the buildup of styling products, sebum, pollution and sweat from months past. Maison D’Alexandre’s Scalp Therapy Treatment uses a René Furterer capilliscope (a tiny computer) that analyzes the scalp to determine if it’s dry, oily, irritated or thinning. Based on the analysis, Alexandre’s team selects René Furterer products that remove impurities and improve the health of the scalp. Other helpful therapies include a scalp cupping treatment that stimulates follicles and helps circulation, encouraging hair growth.
Here are five quick winter hair-care tips from Gary Noble, co-owner of Noble Salon in Stamford that will help revitalize your natural glow and sustain it through the cold months
Hair is often a reflection of diet, so if you’ve been overindulging, consider a quick adjustment, even a mini cleanse. A balanced diet, high in vitamins and lots of water will result in lots of shine.
LOWER THE SHOWER TEMP
A hot, steamy shower is not ideal for your hair. If a cooler temperature is not in the cards, try a cool rinse at the end to combat frizzy hair.
CUT BACK ON HEATED TOOLS
Although flat and round irons bring instant gratification, overuse—especially in winter—will lead to duller and less responsive hair. Try customized salon treatments to help you get the look instead.
HYDRATE HAIR AND SCALP
Keep hair and scalp hydrated with moisture-rich cleansing, conditioning and styling products. Double up on conditioner by adding a leave-in formula to your regimen; it will help reduce static.
USE NATURAL COMBS AND BRUSHES
Use wooden combs when detangling longer hair and only natural-bristle brushes to blow dry.
MAINTAIN A SCHEDULE
Make regular appointments at your salon for frequent cuts and shape-ups.
in perfect health
Most of us know the keystones of good health: sleeping eight hours a night, eating a diet heavy in fruit, veggies and lean protein, staying away from sugar, drinking eight glasses of water a day, and doing cardio and strengthening exercise at least four times a week. All of our experts in this area concur on these basic tenets, but they were all eager to shed some light on interesting health advice and innovations within their specialties. Read on to learn how to reach your peak health.
JUST DO IT!
The road to good health is pretty simple, says Dr. EDWARD SCHUSTER, a cardiologist at Stamford Hospital and medical director of the Sarner Health and Fitness Institute at the Tully Center. “The people who live the longest are those who are careful and conscientious,” he explains. This idea goes back to a popular longevity study started in 1921 that followed 5,000 five-year-olds in California for more than ninety years. The most telling trait that determined longevity was conscientiousness. Five-year-olds who were careful became fifteen-year-olds who didn’t smoke, twenty-year-olds who didn’t drink, forty-year-olds who exercised, and so on. “Simply put, being careful and taking care of yourself can add thirty years to your life, and doing the opposite can take thirty years away,” he says. In this new year, Dr. Schuster joins others in advising patients to quit smoking and make exercise a priority. Here are other ways you can practice preventive medicine:
FOLLOW THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Did you know that 36 percent of Americans are obese? “While all diets may help you lose weight, only one has been proven to extend your life and prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease,” says Dr. Schuster.
These should include a calcium score of the heart once you’re fifty. “This is the new cutting edge test that takes only about five minutes and measures the amount of plaque in your arteries, which can ultimately lead to heart disease, the number one killer in America.”
KNOW YOUR RISKS
Women who had complications during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, diabetes or hypertension are at greater risk of heart disease as they get older. Also, women who’ve had breast cancer and were treated with radiation or chemotherapy are also at greater risk of heart disease.
WATCH CHOLESTEROL AND BLOOD PRESSURE
LDL (bad cholesterol) should be under 80. For blood pressure, the top number (systolic blood pressure) should be 120 if you’re young, and 140 between ages seventy and eighty.
TAKE IT EASY
“Minimizing stress in your life is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself,” says Dr. Shara Israel, a primary care physician with Stamford Health Medical Group. “Chronic stress can bring on and intensify certain illnesses, [and] learning to decrease stress has been shown in recent studies to be even more important than we thought twenty years ago.” Here are her guidelines for improving relaxation:
STAVE OFF STRESS
Figure out your favorite way to relax and rejuvenate. Some suggestions include yoga, prayer, meditation and practicing spirituality.
FOCUS ON DOWNTIME
A recent study on physician burnout showed that having outlets outside of work to reduce stress, including socializing, was essential to improving quality
PRIORITIZE REGULAR MEDICAL TESTS
See your primary care physician to make sure you stay up to speed on tests and health measures relevant to your age and medical history. Consider genetic testing for any diseases that are part of your family history.
FEED YOUR GUT
“The future of medicine is in gut health, so it’s important to know that your gut microbiome—the flora in your digestive system—is filled with bacteria that can either keep you healthy or make you sick,” explains nutritionist Abby Greenspun of Westport. “The health of your digestive system is also responsible for brain health and your immune system, so in the new year—any time of year— focus on feeding the good gut bacteria with a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds,” she says. While you can take a probiotic, “real food is always better.” Here are her must-dos for the year ahead:
Good bacteria feeds on fiber so make nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies and whole grains part of your daily diet.
Make fruits and veggies part of every meal. Check out Greenspun’s Pinterest page (search “Abby Greenspun nutrition”) for her favorite healthy recipes.
Be a role model for your family. Try to eat healthy, and with your kids as often as possible. Always look for whole foods or those with few ingredients, and avoid additives and added sweeteners.
Don’t be a short-order cook. Make one meal for everyone. This is how kids get used to eating a variety of foods. Some meal ideas include:
[If you tend to skip this meal], try protein bars (Greenspun likes Lara or RX bars) or a handful of nuts.
Protein-packed like roasted chick peas, apples or bananas with nut butter, a quesadilla on a whole wheat tortilla.
Salad with grilled chicken, fish and roasted veggies, a turkey avocado burger, spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs.
Dr. Joshua Hurwitz,
a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at RMA of Connecticut, with offices in Norwalk and Stamford, knows how to be proactive about fertility. Here’s his checklist if you’re thinking about growing your family.
ATTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
“A moderate weight is ideal for pregnancy,” Dr. Hurwitz says. Being underweight means the baby may not get enough nutrients, and being overweight can hamper fertility and increase the chance of miscarriage and gestational diabetes. Aim for a body mass index of 19 to 26.
TAKE PRENATAL VITAMINS
Folic acid, which can prevent birth defects, is most important before conception. Whether over-the-counter or prescription, vitamins should include iron, Vitamin D, calcium and folic acid.
TRACK YOUR CYCLE
Use ovulation tracker apps to learn when your most optimal fertile times are.
Talk to your doctors about medicines you’re taking and create a pregnancy-friendly regimen.
LEARN FAMILY HISTORY
Be aware of genetic conditions or cancer syndromes that may run in your family. Common ones include cystic fibrosis, SMA, Fragile-X, thalassemia and sickle cell disease trait. The same is true for familial breast, ovarian and colon cancers.
GET THE FLU SHOT
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the flu shot for anyone trying to conceive.
Cigarette and marijuana smoke (even second-hand) strongly decreases sperm count and increases pregnancy complications for women.
DECREASE ALCOHOL INTAKE
Clean healthy living for both the male and female gives you your best shot at conceiving.
FORMULATE A PLAN
If you’re under thirty-five and don’t become pregnant after six to twelve months, see a doctor. For patients thirty-five and older, check in with your doctor after six months.
“Up to 80 percent of men don’t visit a doctor until convinced by a spouse or partner.”
Dr. Steven V. Kardos, a Fairfield-based urologist with the Northeast Medical Group at Yale New Haven Health, says that many men’s health issues are common but go untreated. “As urologists, we often see patients for erectile dysfunction, yet they often have other underlying issues including cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes,” he says. Education, outreach and direction are critical for men to understand and address health risks.
To help keep the children healthy, “make sure they get enough sleep, get their flu shot and wash their hands repeatedly, especially in winter,” says DR. JAY D’ORSO, an internal medicine specialist with Ridgefield Primary Care, a family practice. According to Dr. D’Orso, all children should eat three healthy meals a day with fruit and vegetables, be active every day, and follow a doctor’s recommended well-child visit schedule to ensure they’re current with immunizations, on track for growth and development, and having regular psycho-social and safety counseling. Optimizing a child’s sleep and stress management is also key to good health. Here’s why.
QUALITY OF SLEEP
According to the CDC, 58 percent of middle school kids, and 73 percent of high school students, aren’t getting enough sleep. Regular sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, obesity, headaches and depression. To ensure quality slumber, do the following:
Turn off electronic devices thirty to sixty minutes before sleeping. Research shows that the UV light interferes with neuro-hormones that regulate circadian rhythms, which determine sleep and wake cycles and quality of sleep.
Unwind after homework and before going to sleep in a dimly lit, cool, quiet room.
Make sure children are active enough during the day to feel tired once in bed.
Limit coffee, soda and chocolate, which
have caffeine and can interfere with sleep.
Use the bed for sleeping only, not doing homework.
Kids are stressed out these days, and if this pressure is intense and long-lasting, it can disrupt their sleep, affect healthy eating habits, and lead to depression and physical ailments like diabetes and high blood pressure. What can you do?
Make sure they have adequate sleep, three healthy meals a day and regular exercise.
Create a safe space to talk to your child about what might be causing stress.
Seek professional help when stress causes a persistent change in behavior, serious anxiety, or significant issues at school or home.
Create a loving environment that fosters resilience and gives kids structure and expectations with reasonable consequences so they can solve problems themselves.
Consider cutting back on after-school activities, stay in touch with other parents and teachers, and offer stress-free outlets like art or reading.
KNOW YOUR RISKS
AGE & AGING
As we get older, we’re more susceptible to infection and chronic illness, which come from a combination of genetics and how one lives his or her life,” says DR. DONNA PHANUMAS, a geriatrician with Greenwich Hospital’s Center for Healthy Aging. No matter your age, there are positive steps you can take towards optimal health. Here is her top advice:
Because women are prone to osteoporosis, they should incorporate dairy into their diet.
ADOPT HEALTHY HABITS
If you’re on medication for a condition, use it in conjunction with healthy habits. For patients with high blood pressure, for example, follow a
SEE YOUR DOCTOR
Plan an annual appointment, especially if you’re over sixty-five.
CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL
It puts you at a higher risk for developing liver problems such as cirrhosis and liver failure; and because alcohol is a toxin to the brain, it can put you at a higher risk for cognitive issues like dementia.
GET YOUR SHOTS
Because immunity wanes, stay up-to-date on all your shots, including the flu and shingles vaccines. Diabetics, smokers and those with respiratory illnesses should also get the pneumonia vaccine.
THE ‘C’ WORD
“The cancer incidence rate is predicted to be 1.7 million [in 2018],” explains Dr. Sheena Sahota, a medical oncologist with the Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital. Part of this can be attributed to genetics, but there are some behaviors people can adopt to lessen their risk. Here’s what you should know:
Obesity increases the risk of endometrial cancer, and studies show that regular exercise can decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (brisk walking), or seventy-five minutes of vigorous exercise a week (running or spinning), at minimum. Spreading activity out during the week is preferable.
Staying at a moderate weight can reduce the risk of endometrial, breast and pancreatic cancers. Reduce intake of processed foods and red meat (red meat has been linked to colon cancer). Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and foods loaded with fiber.
Tobacco exposure is related to one in five deaths in the U.S. Oral, esophageal and bladder cancers have all been linked to smoking. Vaping smoke contains chemicals, including known carcinogens.
It has been shown to increase your risk of breast, throat, esophageal and liver cancers.
It is crucial to maintain a regular schedule of Pap smears, pelvic exams, mammograms and colonoscopies. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S. Because of a recent uptrend in patients younger than fifty-five who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society now recommends colonoscopies starting at age forty-five.
HPV AND ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES
Since some HPV viruses can cause cervical cancer and genital warts, Gardasil 9, the HPV vaccine, was recently approved for men and women up to age forty-five (up from prior recommendations of ages nine to twenty-six). Ovarian cancer often presents without symptoms but women who have taken oral contraceptive pills have at least a 30 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer, with the protective effects extending past the time they were on the pill.