PSYCHIATRIST DEMYSTIFIES COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ALCOHOL

PHOTO CREDIT | Elizabeth French

PHOTO CREDIT | Elizabeth French

It is not uncommon for people to hold familiar myths as fact. Many people regard old college proverbs about partying and alcohol as tried and true. But facts are facts, people! We wanted to find out what science had to say about some common alcohol myths that might have no scientific basis to them. Dr. Duy Nguyen, a psychiatrist and addiction treatment specialist at Beachway Therapy Center in Boynton Beach, Florida offers his expertise on the topic.

Myth #1: Eating After a Night of Heavy Drinking will reduce your Hangover the Next Day

It’s hard to find a group of friends that hasn’t made a junk food trip after a night of drinking and partying. The general belief is that food will sober you up by helping absorb the alcohol you’ve consumed throughout the night. However, our expert suggests that by the time you eat that corner store donut, it might be too late. “Alcohol hits the bloodstream almost immediately after consumption. By the time you eat the junk food you crave, your system has already absorbed the alcohol,” says Dr. Nguyen. “Instead make a mindful decision to eat something before you begin to drink and then party and drink with moderation to avoid the negative effects of alcohol. Remember that food prior to a night of drinks only delays the absorption of alcohol but it doesn’t clear you from the consequences of too much drinking,” warns Dr. Nguyen.

Myth #2: A Cold Shower will Sober You Right Up

Many people think this is an effective way to get over the strain under which they put their body the night prior. The truth is though the cold shower can make you more alert because of the shock of the cold water it won’t change what is going on in your body. Your liver is dealing with the alcohol you subjected it to and your body is dealing with the fatigue. “ The standard notion is that your liver metabolizes 1 to 1.5 ounces of liquor in an hour. That is one standard drink. If you drank more than that then it piles up in the blood and body tissue until the liver has time to process it. The system has to run its course in processing the alcohol and a cold shower wouldn’t change what is already inside your system waiting to be metabolized,” explains Dr. Nguyen.

Myth #3: Liquor prior to Beer is safe but Beer prior to liquor can make you… sicker

The myth originates from the misconception that one standard beer has less liquor than a shot of hard liquor like vodka or whiskey. This is not true. Basically, the idea is that you start with the “stronger” liquor in order to get inebriated quickly and then the “lighter” alcohol to keep the buzz going. One standard shot of vodka has the same about of liquor as a 12 ounce of beer. So the only thing you are affecting is the volume at which you start. In any case drinking too much alcohol to quickly, regardless of what you are drinking will make you sick. “Pacing yourself is the key to not being sick. Anything in excess can be dangerous and that is especially true for alcohol,” says Dr. Duy Nguyen who practices his specialty at Beachway Therapy Center, a dual diagnosis treatment facility in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Myth #4: “I can sober up quickly if I had to”

It’s surprising how many people believe in their own ability to sober up if a serious enough situation arises. This belief is dangerous because aside from being scientifically inaccurate, it leads to poor decision making. “Drunk drivers often believe that they can sober up once they have to drive and they can end up causing accidents, hurting other people or themselves and getting into major trouble with the authorities,” explains Dr. Nguyen. There is no change to the blood alcohol level in your body caused by the need to sober up. You may feel some adrenaline that makes you more alert or awoken momentarily but your perception will still be impaired and brain functions dealing with decision making and operations will still be under the influence.

Myth #5: Puking will sober you right up

Puking can only relieve you of a very small amount of alcohol if done immediately after drinking. The system begins absorbing the alcohol almost immediately and it is likely that by the time you begin to feel nausea there is too much alcohol in your system already. “The brain has a system in place for detecting and receiving signals from the body that toxins have reached a dangerous level and that the body must puke to survive,” explains Dr. Nguyen. “The process of emesis (vomiting) takes place in a few steps. The central nervous system detects the excess of alcohol through the Chemoreceptor trigger zone. This part of the brain then sends signals to the Integrated Vomiting Centre of the brain stimulating the body’s function to expulse the excess toxins from the body.”

 Though the body tries it’s best to survive the puking does not sober you up right away and if you get to that level of intoxication, puking will surely not prevent a hangover the next morning.

Myth #6: Painkillers while drinking will prevent a Hangover

Medications are not to be taken with alcohol. Period. Pills like aspirin or ibuprofen are popular for headaches and people disregard the detrimental effects of taking these medications while drinking. Alcohol is a toxin that irritates the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. It can also affect the liver and the central nervous system when taken in excess.  Ibuprofen and aspirin can make this worse. “Long term use of this combo of substances can cause damage to your liver and kidneys and deteriorate the lining of your digestive system,” says Dr. Nguyen 

Myth #7: Once you break the seal you can stop running to the restroom

Many people will drink heavily and party hard but will hold urine all night because of the ubiquitous belief that breaking your seal and going to the restroom will have you peeing all night. This is an erroneous and problematic says Dr. Nguyen. “Our bodies have a hormone that helps your system reabsorb water from urine and helps dictate the amount of time it takes your bladder to fill up. Alcohol suppresses that hormone and as a result, your bladder fills up quicker because it is not receiving signals to reabsorb water already in your system.  Leaving you, aside from dehydrated, with the need to go to the restroom regardless of how long you hold it in.”

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BELLY BLOATING: DOC SHARES WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO AVOID

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Regardless of weight or body type, it’s common to see some belly bloat. The foods we choose, how we’re digesting and simply the air we’re swallowing, can all add up to feeling and looking bloated. To help us keep our bellies as bloat free as possible, is Dr. Niket Sonpal, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Board Certified in Internal Medicine specializing in gastroenterology, digestive health and nutrition, who shares what to eat and what to avoid and why.

“It’s really important to pay attention to bloat, especially when it either comes on suddenly or is prolonged with pain. It is possible to develop an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine which gives that distended belly and full feeling,” explains Dr. Sonpal.

The discomfort caused by bloating is a fixable issue. Watching the choices you are making and the way your body is reacting to them is key.

According to Dr. Sonpal, here are some foods to steer clear of when it comes to banishing the bloat.

 1.     Simple Carbs 

The general population is aware that foods like soft drinks, sweets, desserts, and white bread are not conducive to a healthy diet. Simple carbs are processed into the bloodstream very quickly and have little nutritional value other than the energy they add to your body. When there is an overflow of energy being stored in your body versus what you are burning you begin to gain weight and feel bloated.

2. Processed starches

Limiting pasta or bread to a once per week treat can really make an impact when addressing bloat. These foods are like sponges when it comes to water.

When you cut starches, you’ll notice bloat minimizes pretty quickly.

3. Sugar substitutes and faux sweeteners

Here’s the catch, you may think you’re doing the right thing by opting for “fat-free” or “sugar-free” food options that say they are “derived from real sugar.” Dr. Sonpal clarifies that these kinds of sugars are actually low-digestible carbohydrates. Our bodies metabolize them differently due to their chemical structure leaving them hanging around in our small intestine leading to bloat.

4. Raw cauliflower (and other uncooked cruciferous vegetables).

Cauliflower has become the “it” vegetable because it takes on the flavor of anything it’s mixed with. We see recipes for cauliflower mashed, cauliflower pizza, fried “rice,” and even mac and cheese; all created with cauliflower as the main ingredient. When cooked, these vegetables are great sources of nutrition and fine side dish substitutes for pasta, rice, and potatoes. However, when cauliflower is chopped up and eaten raw along with kale, broccoli and brussels sprouts you can expect bloating to occur. Cooking is key!

5. Salt

If you want to reduce water retention which always leads to a bloated stomach, cut out the salt. In fact, if you have a lunchtime meal you can significantly reduce the bloat and puffiness simply by avoiding salty foods for the remainder of the day. People who are mindful of their salt intake, prepare their own foods and avoid things like canned soups, chips, bacon, sausage, lunch meats will look and feel leaner.

What not to fear:

1. Ripe Bananas!

What’s not to love about bananas. You can grab one on the go, they are high in potassium which is another thing that rids water retention.

2. Cucumbers

They’re known to reduce swelling and given they contain the flavonoid antioxidant, quercetin. Cool crisp and delicious they’re common to salads and they can also be eaten solo as a snack. You can also add them to water.

3. Watermelon

Chunks of watermelon are low calorie and filled with water (over 90%) and very low sugar.

Watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — but this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There's even a modest amount of potassium.

4. Fermented Foods

Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha. These high probiotic, bacteria-friendly fermented foods are key to maximizing digestion and maintaining a healthy gut.

5. Drink water and green tea! 

Since carbonated beverages contribute to bloat stick to water and flavored teas. Sipping on these beverages throughout the day keeps the digestive system moving. When you are water deprived your body will hold on to the water already in your body without excretion leading to appearing bloated.

Things to avoid when dealing with belly bloat include:

 1.    Drinking from a straw

The mechanisms of straws make it so that you suck air in to take sips of your drink. An excess of this can fill you up with air and cause bloating. 

2.    Sleeping right after eating

Many people get drowsy right after a meal. The best course of action is to go for a walk or do something that gives you a bit of energy and helps your body process your meal. Going to bed right after eating cripples your digestive process, slowing down the breakdown of your food.

3.    Eating Too Rapidly

If you find yourself struggling with bloating observing the pace at which you eat can help reduce the amount of air you intake while consuming the foods you love. Generally taking more time to enjoy your meal.

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IT'S ALL ABOUT NAIL HEALTH

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Celebrity Manicurist and Owner of As U Wish Nail Spa, Skyy Hadley has a few tips on what we need to know about Nail Health especially for those of us that enjoy getting gel manicures!

  • If getting a gel or acrylic set is inevitable, take proper care of your nails prior to the treatment to reduce damage post-removal. Use a nail hardener so nails will become stronger and less prone to damage.

  • Avoid keeping gel or acrylics on for longer than two weeks, with three-week wear being the absolute max. Nails need to breath in order to be healthy, and these heavy polishes suffocate the nail beds and cuticles.

  • Once your polish is removed, it’s instrumental to begin the repair process immediately to minimize long-term damage. The Sally Hansen Gel Rehab Overnight Nail Mask is the perfect remedy because after applying, drying and going to bed, all you have to do is wash off the treatment to reveal healthier nails. For nails that are super damaged, apply the treatment three consecutive nights in a row.

  • In addition to the Overnight Nail Mask, moisturizing and taking vitamins will help to strengthen your nails between manicures, and helps to achieve strong, healthy nails for the long-run.

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HOLISTIC HEALTH, OR WHY MEN SHOULD SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

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No man is an island, and the same principle rings true for each system of your body. It’s all too easy to compartmentalize health and well being into sections – exercise, diet, and so on – but research shows you need to look at the whole, not the individual. Take this study published in 2018 by the American College of Cardiology; they found that simply being optimistic is enough to reduce heart disease mortality by 38%. Being positive seems like a small change, but clearly has big results – and the pathway to understanding this is through your hormones.

The hormonal system

Your hormonal system is your internal messaging system and probably one of the most integrated parts of the body, with multiple different mechanisms working through it. It can be easy to overlook, given how they work very much in the background. Having your hormones in balance and in check is important, and is relatively easily achieved through proper sleeping schedules, eating at regular intervals, and engaging in physical activity. It can’t be overstated how important this is, and a 2011 study published by the National Institute for Health noted that decreased sleep is linked heavily to obesity. For some, there may be medical reasons for a hormone deficiency; this is common in both men and women, with it not uncommon for men to experience testosterone shortages. In these cases, it’s absolutely fine, and likely important, to look for hormone replacement therapy.

The power of breathing

Meditation, yoga, and measured breathing – these are buzzwords for a new generation of holistic health practices in the modern day, and are sometimes burdened with being seen as hippy-ish. However, deep breathing has been practiced for thousands of years by yoga, tai chi and other meditation practitioners. What’s interesting is that science backs up the powerful effect of deep breathing – tests on mice have shown deep breathing to directly reduce signals of stress in the brain, according to The Verge. Stress produces hormones of its own that can be unhelpful, flooding the body and causing strain; regular deep breathing and meditation helps to countenance that. 

Stretching your muscles

Stretching was probably discarded along with your school gym lessons, and was often an annoying precursor to having fun on the field. It really shouldn’t be disregarded, as it has a wide range of health effects that benefit more than just your bones and muscles. According to an article by UC Davis, stretching also helps to increase energy levels and release tension. Once again, this helps your body hormonally; it provides an impetus, assisting your metabolism, and makes you feel more full of vitality.

Through understanding your hormones, learning to take a deep breath and looking to stretch out, you can improve your life in subtle but powerful ways. Your hormones come together to be stronger than the sum of their parts, and that can be of immeasurable help in your day to day life. For the modern man, taking stock and addressing shortages in their daily routines is a must.

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5 KEY HEALTH EXAMS MILLENNIALS TO GET THIS YEAR

PHOTO COURTESY | Branden Harvey

PHOTO COURTESY | Branden Harvey

With more and more millennials skipping out on annual health exams in favor of a quick as needed, visit to an urgent care facility, doctors fear the largest generation in America, may overlook serious health issues. There are 83 million Americans between age 22 and 37 and according to a November 2018 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45% of those 18-29 and 28% of those age 30-39 do not have a primary care physician. The issue is that health conditions that can be caught early may slip through the cracks. Dr. Niket Sonpal, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City, offers 5 health exams millennials should get this year.

Dr. Sonpal, who at age 36 is a millennial himself, has compassion and understanding when it comes to millennials. “You’re looking at a generation with incredible debt and many don’t have jobs with health insurance,” he says. 

In addition to the financial aspect, Dr. Sonpal adds that this is a generation raised on the internet. “When we got sick as kids, our mom searched for answers online. If we went to the doctor, it was a day of missed school and boring waiting rooms. Now as adults, millennials want, fast affordable solutions and often take a DIY approach to health.”

He goes on to say that healthcare has become an expensive hassle millennials choose to avoid. They would much rather facetime or text a doctor as opposed to miss work hours. They prefer to just walk into an urgent care clinic, pay $40 and be done with it, fast. “The problem though is that while this approach may be ok for treating a sore throat or flu, millennials might be missing an opportunity to nip a bigger problem early on.”

I want to urge all millennials women to get women’s wellness exams which is a PAP Smear and breast exam as well as a screening for STD’s and bloodwork. HPV, can lead to cervical cancer so it’s important to monitor dysplasia.

Dr. Sonpal encourages millennials to get these exams out of the at either the start of the year or their birthday month so they can easily remember when they last went to the doctor for these exams.

1. Blood Pressure Screenings

You want to get blood pressure checked out at least once every 2 years and ever year if the top number is 120 to 139 and bottom between 80 to 89. High blood pressure is linked to diabetes which is really hitting millennials hard. According to the CDC, between 2001 and 2015 teen obesity rates rose 30%. “As kids, millennials were part of a supersize culture. Millennials also didn’t spend a lot of time going outside to play until the streetlights came on as Gen X’ers did. This all adds up to diabetes and heart disease if not monitored,” he says.

2. Eye Exams

Millennials were raised on technology and their eyes are reaping the cost of this. It’s estimated that millennials spend over 12 hours per day consuming media with a majority of it on mobile devices on screens held closer to the eye. This leads to “nearsightedness” or “shortsightedness” where the eye weakens and can’t see clearly at a distance. A lot of millennials will find themselves squinting to see things that are further away, they may have dull headaches and find themselves rubbing their eyes frequently. “A lot of millennials are popping ibuprofen for headache associated with eye strain and neck ache from prolonged computer jobs. This then leads to stomach issues,” cautions Dr. Sonpal.

3. IBS and Digestive Screenings

We also need to consider that the food we eat today is full of antibiotics and hormones. Millennials are a generation whose diet was primarily full of processed foods. We see a lot of Celiac Disease (intolerance of gluten). A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that from the mid-80s to 2013, the incidence of colon cancer has been rising fastest for people between the ages of 20 and 29, by 2.4 percent per year. “The issue here is that we have millennials self-treating stomach issues that can be the start of something serious. If you’re experiencing chronic stomach pain, see a doctor. Gut health is incredibly important for overall wellbeing,” advises Dr. Sonpal.

4. Mental Health Screening

Millennials are one stressed out generation. According to Psychology Today, suicide rates among young adults have tripled since the 50’s with millennials are reporting a sense of “faking it until they make it.” The problem is they feel disconnected from themselves and wrong for the life they are living. They feel as if they are not enough and then they scroll on their Instagram feeds and see people their age with luxury watches, travel to the Maldives and Dubai and they feel hopeless, stressed and depressed.  They’re popping Xanax and smoking marijuana to take the edge off. The good news is that millennials are willing to discuss their feelings and studies show that this is the first generation who doesn’t see any stigma about seeing a therapist or mentor coach. Sometimes a break up or a layoff can trigger a downward spiral into depression or even drug or alcohol addiction.

5. Annual Exam and Immunizations

It’s recommended that you get the flu shot every year. Another important vaccine is for HPV which was mentioned earlier. Dr. Sonpal points out that the HPV vaccine has expanded coverage and is important to prevent certain types of cancer. Other vaccines may also be recommended depending on your health history. The only way you know is by having a yearly physical.

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