Practical health tips

Is fasting healthy?

                Fasting results in drop in blood sugar during the fast and spike of the glucose level on resumption of food intake. It is best for our blood sugar to be on even keel at most times, instead of fluctuating because other hormones in the body negatively reacts to yoyo changes. Omitting a meal a day or eating half of your usual caloric intake (depending on your target weight) is safer, unless you are a diabetic who is on a daily computed caloric intake. Another strategy is to eat nothing but vegetables and fruits 2-3 times a week (or every other day) and drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. This will also act as a colon/whole body cleansing regimen, without having to buy those unsafe and expensive pills, drinks, or enemas for colon cleansing. Reducing or eliminating rice, bread, sweets and other carbohydrates from our diet is the healthy way to go. We have enough carbohydrates in many vegetables and fruits. Low-carb (high protein) diet is in.

How to find out if you have immunity?

                People who do not know if they had been vaccinated or if they had the contagious disease in the past and want to find out if they have immunity to that particular disease, especially for travelers and those who know they would be exposed to infectious illnesses, could have their titer tested. The titer measures the antibody for specific disease (like measles, mumps, rubella, etc.). Antibodies, called immunoglobulins are Y-shaped protein molecules produced by our body to help protect us against foreign elements called antigens (like vaccines or past exposure to the disease). Antigens stimulate our immune system to manufacture antibodies, which prevent us from catching the disease.

Why B-12 and Folic acid for GERD patients?

Patients with Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), where the sphincter (a valve) between the esophagus (food pipe) and the stomach has lost its ability to “shut the valve water-tight,” and remains loose or open, allow gastric acids to go up to the food pipe causing burning mid-abdominal pain and irritation/scarring. While the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid to help in digesting food, the food pipe in unable to tolerate acid. GERD patients are prescribed Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drugs to control the acid production. With less acid, the absorption of vitamin B-12 ND Folic Acid is reduced, so physicians add B-12 and Folic Acid to the therapy for these patients.

How can a non-smoker get COPD?

                COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), is a very common condition, which afflicts cigarette smokers, those exposed to secondary smoke, and environmental and occupational toxic agents. COPD is an adaptive inflammatory immune reaction to exposure to toxic particles, fumes, gases, especially in cigarettes. All these lead to inflammation, thickening, narrowing, mucus production, and on-and-of spasms of the breathing pipes and ballooning and thinning of the air sacs (emphysema) of the lungs destroying their ability for normal gas exchange (absorbing oxygen and eliminating carbon dioxide). But COPD could also be due to constant stomach acids regurgitating (flowing up) into the breathing pipes, seen among those with GERD, especially when lay down. The acid-insult over time causes COPD.

How does bed-elevation help GERD patients?

            Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease is very common. The prevalence of GERD in North America is about 18.1 to 27.8 percent; Europe, 8.8 to 25.9 percent; East Asia, 2.5 to 7.8 percent; Middle East, 8.7 to 33.1 percent; Australia, 11.6 percent; and South America, 23 percent. Besides avoiding spicy foods and medications, one very practical and helpful strategy is elevating the head part of the bed to prevent the acid in the stomach from flowing upward to the esophagus. This could be achieved by using two bed risers (6-8 inches tall) placed under the feet at the head end of the bed, or by using a wedge pillow, or buying a bed with mechanical or motorized head-elevation feature, as in hospital beds. Using multiple pillows does not work as well, since movements during sleep could dislodge the pillows. Placing books with cardboard on top, under the mattress could also help.

Does CPAP use save lives?

                Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) was first recognized in 1965, one of the greatest advances in the history of Sleep Medicine. OSA is caused by an anatomical blockage of the airway behind the throat which also produces snoring. Not all snorers have OSA. The blockage leads to breath-holding which occurs 50-100 times or more a night, depriving the person with a normal level of oxygen. Their sleep is repeatedly interrupted by sudden awakening, gasping for breath, disturbing bed partners also. The patient feels tired during the day, sleepy, a dangerous vehicle driver and machine operator, has poor concentration, obviously sleep-deprived. Over time, this frequent lack of oxygen during sleep increases the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Some reported unexplained deaths, or heart attack, during sleep could be due to OSA. There are millions of unsuspected and undetected OSA. When the Sleep Study confirms the diagnosis of OSA, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment is the gold standard, the ONLY effective one, together bronchodilator inhalation, where needed. Early diagnosis and treatment with CPAP are a life saver. Medicare and most health insurance plans cover the services of a Pulmonologist, the Sleep Study, and the CPAP machine and its accessories. OSA, a dangerous condition, is nothing to snore about.

When should colonoscopy be done?

Cancer of the colon is a dreaded killer. It is a recommendation that screening colonoscopy be done at age 50. If this scope does not show any tumor (adenomas or cancer), the next colonoscopy should be in ten years. If low-risk adenomas are present in the colon, the follow-up scope is done in 5 years. The US Preventive Services Task Force stated that colonoscopy could be done up to age 75. If findings are normal, it is not recommended to be done after that age. If adenomas are found, the next scope is in 5 years. Eating vegetables and fruits at least 3 times a week and minimizing red read, not eating processed meats at all, quitting cigarettes, abstinence or moderation in alcohol intake, and doing low-impact physical exercise at least 5 days a week, will lower the risk for most diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.

            Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: and   Email: [email protected]