Getting the Flu Shot: How Early is Too Early?

With October and the cold and flu season rapidly approaching, questions about getting the seasonal flu shot at the right time in the coronavirus era still linger among healthcare consumers and patients.

Local pharmacies appear to be more ready than ever in stocking flu vaccines in August and aggressively promote them through ad campaigns, word of mouth, and in-store signage. A New York Times article published on August 25 of this year suggested an urgency in the public health matter, by giving the title “When Should I Get a Flu Shot? Now.” but became updated to “Your Flu Shot Has Never Been More Important” on September 9 [1]. And with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending “that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October” [2], there appear to be mixed answers on the best time to get the flu vaccine to prepare for the “Twindemic” and more uncertainty ahead.

This writing makes the case to support the CDC’s recommendation for getting the flu shot in October.
First of all, the flu virus is evolving such that vaccine manufacturers have to keep up with the viral makeup of the viral agent. In particular, the T-shaped projections on the surface of the flu virus pictured above is what changes and attaches to cells lining the nasal passages, throat, and deep within the lungs to replicate and cause an infection [3].

Due to the evolving nature of the flu virus, August may be a bit too early to get the flu shot assuming a six-month coverage period, which would provide immunity up to February [4]. September may be for those looking to beat the crowds potentially lining up to get the flu shot in October. With the six-month coverage in mind, the vaccine may “wear out” around March. In other words, today’s vaccine made up of inactivated flu viruses or proteins will not resemble the kinds of flu species that are circulating in March of 2021. So this brings the October as an optimal time for receiving a flu shot for protection through April when flu activity pretty much ends at that time [5].

After considering when to get the flu shot, one may wonder what kind of vaccine to get as pharmacies carry trivalent, quadrivalent, or high-dose vaccines. The “trivalent” means the vaccine stimulates immunity against three types of flu strains, the H1N1, H3N2, and the B strain, whereas the “quadrivalent” offers similar protection but also includes additional coverage against the B strain [6]. The high-dose vaccine is recommended for those above 65 years of age, which contains four times the ingredient that drives immunity against the flu, especially when the immune system becomes less effective with age.

In all, the best time to get the flu shot depends on your age and preferences for coverage. Remember, it takes two weeks after immunization for the immune system to develop antibodies needed for protection when potentially encountering the real virus. The older population would benefit waiting until October to get maximal protection in November, December, and January. This plan should also be supplemented by covering sneezes given that the flu spread by droplets and can become airborne, and handwashing after coming into contact with public touchpoints like handles, doorknobs, and tables (while also taking care not to wash too frequently that can dry out your hands – moderation is key). As always, stay prepared, and stay healthy and safe.


[1] de León, C. (2020, August 25). Your flu shot has never been more important. Retrieved from

[2] (2020). Influenza (Flu) – Who Needs a Flu Vaccine & When. Retrieved from

[3] (2019). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from

[4] Brady, V. (2019). No, really, get a flu shot: frequently asked questions about the flu vaccine. Retrieved from

[5] Advisory Board. (2020). The 2019-2020 flu season has come to an end. See it, charted. Retrieved from

[6] Kalarikkal SM, Jaishankar GB. Influenza Vaccine. [Updated 2020 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from:


A Little Bit of History on Labor Day and its Relation to Your Health

Being more or less an unofficial end of summer, Labor Day recognizes the contributions made by American workers in mining, agriculture, and manufacturing, during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, which paved the way towards economic growth and prosperity in the United States for years to come. Workers during that time have put in 60+ hours and a 6-day workweek, and collectively have harvested tons of minerals and crops, and manufactured products to sell to the market, thereby driving the creation of wealth. The long work hours and dangerous working conditions became demanding that the Pullman Strike of 1894 marked a pivotal event when railroad workers mounted a strike and protests against wage cuts without lowering housing rent [1]. Labor Day became a federal holiday that year.

Still, the battle for a safer working environment continued in the 20th Century. Accidents in coal mines between 1905 to 1909 have claimed 2,640 lives, exposures to low levels of toxins and chemicals became a concern in the 1930s, and the occupational hazards among manufacturing workers have led to an estimate of over 100,000 deaths related to lung disease between 1968 to 1992 [2]. These findings have time and time again show the need for personal protective equipment, particularly respirators used to filter out airborne toxins and pollutants, to protect the health of workers.

In the modern-day work workplace, there are hazards to be on a lookout for, such as fall/slip risks, ergonomic issues, heavy equipment use, electrical hazards, and workplace violence as some examples according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [3]. For the employee working in a retail setting, best practices in lifting should be reviewed as merchandise can come in many different shapes, sizes, and weights. Loss of days due to injury can be costly to both the employee and the employer.

With the working from home movement in the coronavirus era, having an ergonomic computer workstation will be critical to prevent back pain, eye strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Having a good chair that “fits” your sitting style and body architecture “like a glove” and adjusting the computer monitor to reduce glare, all supplemented by stand up breaks to give your eyes and back a rest, are preventative measures against injury.

As we are having a restful three-day weekend by kicking back and firing up the grill, let’s pay tribute to the past and the workers that have built America to what it is today. Also, let’s think about how our day job, career, occupation, or however you may call it has a role in our health. Let’s raise our glass and say cheers to the frontline healthcare workers making contributions in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, to the essential workers in retail keeping the stores up and running for us to buy groceries and consumables, and to the doers and risk-takers looking to build a safer and brighter future for America, as our working ancestors did before.


[1] Pruitt, Sarah. (2019). How a deadly railroad strike led to the Labor Day holiday. Retrieved from

[2] Rosner, D., & Markowitz, G. (1999). Labor Day and the war on workers. American journal of public health89(9), 1319–1321.

[3] United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Hazard identification and assessment. Retrieved from


Headaches as a Sign of Homeostatic Imbalance: Why You Need Balance

Compelling advertisement slogans such as Excedrine’s “The Headache Medicine,” Aleve’s “All Day Strong, All Day Long,” and Tylenol’s “The Pain Reliever Hospitals Use Most” draw the attention of consumers seeking over-the-counter options to alleviate one of life’s annoyances: Headaches. Manufacturers of nonprescription painkillers continue to sell and enhance their products to treat something that may be a deeper issue. The human body is highly adaptive to external stressors, whether it be biological, environmental, or cultural, that any disruption can throw a person off balance. Having this balance refers to the topic of homeostasis – the tendency for stability.

In normal conditions, you have an average body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). If you are sick, you would likely have a fever with a temperature of 100.4 °F or greater, which is part of the immune response working to fight infection. In the case of headaches, if a person is continually taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications and escalating to prescription drugs, but without getting long-term relief, then this is a sign that there is possibly an underlying health issue.

First, there are many types of headaches, including migraines, tension, cluster, and medication-overuse triggered by stress, hormonal changes, head injury, substances, or unknown causes [1]. For this article, we will consider a person having a headache and focus on a self-care treatment plan depending on symptom severity and duration.

An interesting case is medication overuse headache defined as symptoms appearing for more than 15 days out of a month, treating with medications for more than three months, and worsening of symptoms with continual treatment with prescription drugs [2]. This finding provides an example of how an individual can become physically dependent on medication for relief, but that is not to say there are signs of addiction, which refers to mental dependence instead. For example, a person suffering from chronic migraine headaches depends on daily doses of powerful prescription drugs to reduce suffering. This case deserves a step back and investigation of other causes of the headache in question.

It’s easy to think up of over-the-counter or prescription medication options to treat headaches. After all, a search of medical literature on this topic predominantly results in mentionings of first-line drug therapy, recommended drug dosages, and neuroimaging for severe cases. There is one article worth mentioning that touched on methods to manage migraines through lifestyle factors, which is the crux of our topic of discussion and wellness movement. This article pointed out the following factors to avoid making a habit of [3]:

  • Skipping meals or eating irregularly
  • Having an inadequate or irregular sleep
  • Leading a life of stress
  • Consuming caffeine in excess
  • Lacking exercise

If more than one of the items above applies to you, particularly the first two lines, then you are more than halfway through with developing a self-treatment plan by realigning your habits with better health outcomes.

The list above appears to have a common theme in regards to homeostasis, which has to do with having something too little, too much, or too irregularly: Physical activity, food, and rest. These are things that are necessary for our survival. We are born to move, given our physical advantage to move about the world. One may think we don’t need much exercise, but your ancestors did during the times of hunter and gather society. We have not evolved quickly enough to adapt to a highly industrialized and advanced society.

The lack of bodily movement means a sluggish flow of blood throughout. Medical literature on headaches would suggest the cause of symptoms is related to disturbances of blood flow within the skull, or lack thereof.

An article from the Nutrients journal suggests the management of migraines through proper nutrition by first eliminating triggers such as food allergens and keeping salt and alcohol intake under control [4]. Again, having too much of something, especially if it causes allergies can lead to side effects. Having healthy foods and a balanced diet will be critical to slowly health thyself from migraines and chronic headaches. It is not what you eat but also a question of when to have adequate nutrition throughout the day. Plan three meals a day: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You may snack in between in case if you get hungry between meals. Block of time in the morning, noon, and evening hours and chow down.

Lastly, with all of the modern-day hunting, gathering, and feasting, a resting period is well-deserved to rejuvenate for the next day. Without that rest, you have not charged up the energy needed to tackle another day, which results in a greater likelihood to suffer from headaches. A review article has drawn from a body of literature showing evidence of an association between sleep disturbances and migraines [5]. As discussed from our previous post on the importance of sleep, this critical vital function serves as restoration physical, physiological, and mental state. It’s hard to continue when you have not recovered from yesterday.

With all of the suggestions of exercise, a balanced diet, and sleep as remedies for headaches, more severe cases require further examination from a physician or a healthcare specialist. For the new or milder cases, it’s highly worth considering lifestyle modifications before going down the road of drug therapy, potentially leading to overtreatment and an off-balance physiological state.

We natural beings inherently maintain homeostasis. Find that balance.


[1] Steiner, T. J., & Fontebasso, M. (2002). Headache. BMJ (Clinical research ed.)325(7369), 881–886.

[2] Kristoffersen, E. S., & Lundqvist, C. (2014). Medication-overuse headache: epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment. Therapeutic advances in drug safety5(2), 87–99.

[3] Becker, W. J., Findlay, T., Moga, C., Scott, N. A., Harstall, C., & Taenzer, P. (2015). Guideline for primary care management of headache in adults. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien61(8), 670–679.

[4] Gazerani P. (2020). Migraine and Diet. Nutrients12(6), 1658.

[5] Vgontzas, A., & Pavlović, J. M. (2018). Sleep Disorders and Migraine: Review of Literature and Potential Pathophysiology Mechanisms. Headache58(7), 1030–1039.


The Importance of Getting a Good Night’s Sleep for Recovery

Whoever stated that “Sleep is for the week” may want to rethink sacrificing a vital body function. For students, there may not be enough time in a day to study for tests, write papers, and pursue extracurricular activities. For adults with jobs and a family, proper time management becomes more of a challenge where making time for self and sleep becomes stretched thin. While claiming to have 4-5 hours of sleep a night and being able to accomplish more in a day is worthy of bragging rights, making this a long-term habit may carry consequences.

Consider how sleep is critical to your recovery from the daily stressors of life. A 2017 neuroscience article sums up the function of sleep well by providing an overview of its essential role in mental performance, immunity, and inflammatory response [1]. First, most would agree that waking up from an 8-hour rest is better than rising before dawn at 4 am. The sensation of grogginess is bound to happen for the super early riser. Because the process of sleep occurs in stages, waking up very early in the morning is similar to stopping in the middle and missing out on more benefits to come.

The “third stage” of sleep is known for the growth and recovery of skeletal muscles and the immune system and also has a role in mental performance [2]. That is why we hear about professional athletes getting in their 8 to even 10 hours of sleep. It’s also commonly accepted for students to have adequate rest before taking a big test. Cramming the night before an exam hardly works.

Setting up a sleep schedule and a habit will take commitment. Because sleep occurs in stages and cycles, it’s best to have a regular sleep pattern. It starts with sleep hygiene, which refers to your daily habit and sleep environment that may affect the quality of your night’s rest. You would want good sleep hygiene for better quality. The following is a list of recommendations to promote sleep hygiene according to the Sleep Medicine Reviews journal [3]:

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages a few hours before sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine
  • Exercise (may get you tired and more likely to sleep better at night)
  • Avoid napping during day time
  • Control stress
  • Go to bed in a quiet and dark environment

Additionally, log your sleep hours daily so you can track how well you’re sleeping over time and make adjustments in habits and sleep environment accordingly. In this age of digital devices and the smartphone, wean off Internet use as you approach bedtime. If you follow these recommendations consistently, you will likely benefit the most from good sleep through better cognitive and physical performance to conquer the day.


[1] Zielinski, M. R., McKenna, J. T., & McCarley, R. W. (2016). Functions and Mechanisms of Sleep. AIMS Neuroscience3(1), 67–104.

[2] Patel AK, Reddy V, Araujo JF. Physiology, Sleep Stages. [Updated 2020 Apr 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from:

[3] Irish, L. A., Kline, C. E., Gunn, H. E., Buysse, D. J., & Hall, M. H. (2015). The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep medicine reviews22, 23–36.


Brace Yourself for the Coming Cold and Flu Season

With September rapidly approaching, followed by autumn and winter, we continue to face uncertainty in what this year can bring us. One can bet that the return of students in high school and college campuses across America might cause another spike of coronavirus cases. The coinciding cold and flu season may foster an environment of more sickness and confusion among the public. How can a person without a healthcare background differentiate the common cold, the flu, and the coronavirus?

The rising cost of healthcare may partly be an obstacle for adults in making regular visits to the doctor’s office, according to NPR [1]. Health problems can go undetected, leading to illness progression and worsening of chronic disease. As discussed before, it’s hard to ‘feel’ high blood pressure until heart disease delivers its first blow, and it’s hard to ‘feel’ high cholesterol until the major arteries are clogged up, leading to cardiovascular complications like stroke. In current times, people may avoid visiting the doctor’s office due to possibly catching illnesses from others in the waiting room.

A start is knowing and recognizing the signs and symptoms of the cold, influenza, and coronavirus. Telling the flu apart from the common cold is less complicated. The telltale signs of the flu are fever lasting for 3-4 days, body aches, and chills. In contrast, the cold symptoms appear gradually with coughing, sneezing, and a sore throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2]. Now the hard part: How to tell if you have the coronavirus?*** Without testing, you won’t get confirmation. Paying attention to symptoms will be one call to action. The coronavirus shares some similarities in symptoms with the common cold and the flu to complicate matters (Examples: runny nose, congestion, sore throat, fever, cough, and body aches); however, symptoms of the coronavirus can also include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea [3].

In the event you get sick, please refer to this link for more guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Website -> A bit of notable advice in seeking medical care is through the growing telemedicine industry, which is convenient in times of social distancing. In the comfort of your own home, you can have access to a physician or healthcare provider through videoconferencing. You can give the following telemedicine providers a try: Teledoc (, Amwell (, or Doctor On Demand (

With the knowledge and tools available at your disposal, we hope that you navigate the coming months with more of a peace of mind.

***Medical Disclaimer: The information written on this post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions regarding your health.


[1] NPR. (2020). As out-of-pocket health costs rise, insured adults are seeking less primary care. Retrieved from

[2] CDC. (2020). Influenza (flu) – flu symptoms and complications. Retrieved from

[3] CDC. (2020). Symptoms of coronavirus. Retrieved from


And the Award for the Freest Form of Exercising Goes To -> Running

This year’s lockdown and social distancing recommendations in America has impacted how individuals exercise in public. Visiting a gym has become a risky proposition with concerns about the spread of COVID-19 despite the six-feet apart and face-covering guidelines [1]. Consumers have resorted to purchasing gym equipment and fitness apps for home, paving a new way of working out. However, this revolution comes at a steep price from spending on exercising equipment, such as a stationary bicycle (Peloton) or treadmill (NordicTrack), and fitness devices like the smartwatch (Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa).

Having a personal gym can be beneficial for the fitness enthusiast, but maybe of a risk to others. People susceptible to injury or exercise-induced asthma should consult with a physician prior to engaging in intense physical activity, especially from home [2]. However, there is a lower-cost alternative, and it involves donning a pair of shoes and workout clothes, which is running.

There is nothing freer than being outdoors and unbounded to where you can set your foot on. With one foot in front of the other in a cycle of motion, the road is yours. And all of this activity is free to you and available at your convenience. No need to spend time getting to-and-fro the local gym if you have a membership, nor there is a need to partake in cleaning and maintenance if you have fitness equipment at home. You can get out the door and on the road running much quicker than driving to the gym, changing into workout clothes in the locker room, and finally hopping onto a treadmill (but then you are still bounded by the treadmill).

Running outdoors has many other perks. One is that it promotes mental well-being by better management of stress and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety for those affected [3]. This will be helpful as 2020 continues on.

Prior to these events and social distancing guidelines, there was a time a runner could participate in a road race with others, whether it be a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or the full marathon. Although there is a race-entry fee to pay, you actually get a lot of things including memorabilia, sample snacks, and a race T-shirt. Above all else, you have the running community with you, which can be therapeutic from the sharing and enjoyment of leisure time and the positive emotion in participating in the running event [4].

No matter the running background, everyone shares common ground in preparing for the race and the happiness from finishing the race. When we return to normalcy one day, and if you haven’t participated in a road race yet, you are encouraged to sign up for a road race. Start with a 5K, and move your way up in distance. You are free to level up.


[1] NPR. (2020). My gym is reopening. Is it safe to work out there? Retrieved from

[2] Nyenhuis, S. M., Greiwe, J., Zeiger, J. S., Nanda, A., & Cooke, A. (2020). Exercise and Fitness in the Age of Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice8(7), 2152–2155.

[3] Keating, L. E., Becker, S., McCabe, K., Whattam, J., Garrick, L., Sassi, R. B., Frey, B. N., & McKinnon, M. C. (2018). Effects of a 12-week running programme in youth and adults with complex mood disorders. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine4(1), e000314.

[4] Malchrowicz-Mośko, E., & Poczta, J. (2018). Running as a Form of Therapy Socio-Psychological Functions of Mass Running Events for Men and Women. International journal of environmental research and public health15(10), 2262.


Kicking Cigarettes in the Butt and Breaking the Habit of Smoking

First of all, I am not a smoker, but I can’t say I haven’t smoked a cigarette in my life. It was way back when I was a kid sitting in the back seat of the car one day, and my dad was putting out a cigarette that he had smoked. I became curious about the allure of smoking, so I waited for the moment my dad turned his head away from the center console before swiping the cigarette from the ashtray. “Oh yeah,” I thought. It was still partially lit, but it will do. I took one giant puff and then “⏤cough” before finishing what I started. I remembered that experience burned and stung the back of my throat so bad that I have never smoked again ever since!

One could say that smoking is not for kids, and a person who is a smoker would make the same argument. But if smoking could irritate a kid’s throat, couldn’t that also do the same to an adult but to a lesser extent? Even children passively exposed to tobacco smoke are likely to have sore throats and respiratory tract infections [1]. Moreover, adults who smoke are susceptible to carry Haemophilus influenzae (a bacteria and not the virus causing the flu) due to disruption of the “normal flora” – the good bacteria – that lives in the throat [1].

This finding shows that both children and adults are affected by cigarette smoke through the same biological mechanism. First, persisting smoke acts as an irritant that strips away the protective barrier covering the throat and windpipe with mucous. Second, invading smoke could reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of cellular structures responsible for sweeping micro debris out of the lungs. With chronic exposure to toxins inherent in cigarettes, a smoker’s cough could develop, or worse, the upper and lower respiratory tract becomes damaged, and the issue progresses into a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Because tobacco products contain harmful chemicals, smokers are at high risk of lung cancer.

With all the whats and about on the impact of smoking on respiratory health discussed, let’s talk about preventive measures and plan of actions to kick the smoking habit.

For starters, nicotine replacement therapy in the form of gum or patches can help reduce cravings. Stop by a local pharmacy and talk to your local pharmacist about a good starting dose of nicotine-containing products like Nicoderm or generic alternatives. Those smoking more than ten cigarettes a day start with a higher dose of nicotine compared to those who smoke less [2].

Another preventive measure against smoking may prove to be difficult but doable, and that is getting into the mindset of quitting. It involves avoiding things that drive you to light up a cigarette, whether it be stress or being in a bar, and delaying instant gratification by waiting and distracting yourself before caving in [3]. If stress and social gatherings are part of the smoking problem, then finding a way to de-stress will be critical towards making progress. Examples of ways to wind down include going for a walk, pursuing hobbies, getting things done in your personal life.

The idea of kicking the smoking habit to the curb is a decision for you to make. If you have fallen off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Hold yourself accountable, and try again. Recruiting a support group will also be helpful. Find a family member or a friend cheer you on in your journey to quit smoking. Make them a source of encouragement. Seek for online support groups, and helpful resources (Here’s one you can try:

You do not have to go at it alone.


[1] Murthy, P., & Laing, M. R. (1995). Cigarette smoking and sore throats in adults. Postgraduate medical journal71(838), 510.

[2] Mayo Clinic. (2015). Mayo Clinic NDC Tobacco Dependence Treatment Medication Summary. Retrieved from

[3] Mayo Clinic. (2020). Quitting smoking: 10 ways to resist tobacco cravings. Retrieved from


August, Back-To-School, and the Fall Season Ahead of Us

We’ve heard it once, and then many times over that the year 2020 has been unanticipated and unprecedented. It felt like yesterday when we were officially facing a pandemic, and here we are now finishing up the summer season and with students across America going back to school. There’s an option for going to school in-person or virtually, but whichever the case, a lot of people will face adjusting to working routines and look forward to more unknowns as the Fall season arrives.

What does this observation have to do with our health? For starters, self-care is an ongoing thing and a habit. Similar to how students are developing their systems of waking up earlier in the morning and keeping focused in class, everyone should have their daily habits in place to nourish their bodies, have adequate rest, and adhere to advise from their healthcare providers. Engaging in physical activity should not be a cyclical habit occurring in New Year Resolution January, as we time and time again see every year with a spike in gym membership enrollments [1]. You can beat the crowds by keeping a consistent habit of walking and running outdoors and lifting at the comforts in your own home year-round.

Eating healthy is another important and vital habit that should be routine. Self offers wonderful advice on making your own meal plans: (1) Don’t skip meals, (2) Hydrate throughout the day, (3) Have whole foods that grow from the ground, (4) Read the nutrition label to be informed of food content, (6) Beware of added sugars, and (7) Don’t forget to treat yourself once in a while [2]. Having whole foods is particularly important because fruits and vegetables typically require you to chew before you ingest.

Notice how fast-food restaurants prepare foods such as burgers, fries, sandwiches, and pizza that are soft and easy to chew that you can literally breathe in your food. Even the hard tacos are not that “hard” at all. This is one of the food properties that can leave you feeling wanting more, and the “full” feeling may not be triggered. Healthful alternatives include whole-grain pasta mixed with vegetables like broccoli and lettuce with a piece of fruit that can do wonders to your health when made consistently over time.

Finally, as you go about your day and might schedule a visit with your doctor once or twice a year, know that your health and outcomes really depends on you. There really is no quick fix or silver bullet as we allude to the previous post on vitamins. The valuable pieces of information that you could gain from your healthcare provider are where your health status stands at the time of visit. What happens beyond the walls of the clinic is really up to you. Strive to commit to an exercise and diet plan every day, and you will likely see results.


[1] Poon, L. (2019). The rise and fall of new year’s fitness resolutions, in 5 charts. Retrieved from

[2] Cohen, M. (2018). How to eat healthy: 25 easy ways to eat healthier every day. Retrieved from


Going Nuts on Health – The Good Fats and Others to Avoid

Cholesterol is too broad of a healthcare lingo that it oversimplifies the other kinds of fats that people should know. For most patients and consumers, having a general sense of what is HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides is enough to make plans for health progress and improvement, if any. 

There is ‘good’ cholesterol known as HDL, which carries anti-inflammatory properties and prevent the build-up of plaques on the arteries, and removes free-flowing cholesterol from the bloodstream for removal from the liver; Therefore, lowers amounts of HDL translates to a higher risk for heart disease [1].

LDL is the measure that you want to keep low because high levels over time can restrict blood flow and carry a future risk for strokes or heart attacks. Consider a mixture of oil and water. Well, both of these liquids don’t mix well at all together. Now consider that happening within narrow tubes such as blood vessels, and it becomes clear blockage could occur. LDL and further worsen this blockage by recruiting inflammatory cells, which can lead to the hardening of the artery walls and the formation of plaques [2]. We have just described an overview of atherosclerosis – a medical term reduced blood flow and risk for clots.

Triglycerides could also join the mix in the inflammation process and the development of atherosclerosis. Additionally, high triglycerides carry the risk for pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas of causes unknown. A possible reason is the high fatty acid content contributing to an acidic environment conducive to pancreatitis [3].

With an overview of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides, now here are the levels which are considered healthy [4]:

  • HDL: Above 40 mg/dL in men or above 50 mg/dL in women
  • LDL: Less than 130 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL [5]
  • Total cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL

Revisit these numbers as references the next time you get a blood test done at your annual health physical. If any of your results are not at healthy levels, check if any of the following applies [4]:

  • Are you a smoker?
  • Does your typical diet contain high amounts of saturated fats?
  • Do you make time for exercise?
  • Are you overweight?

If so, consider talking with your doctor or healthcare provider on quitting tobacco, committing to an exercise plan, or planning a healthier diet. Dieticians are helpful and available healthcare resources at your service. For another overview of healthy and safe dieting, portion control will take willpower, but it does well for health. There’s a lot of antagonism against red meat, but having a piece of steak larger than the size of a deck of card puts you above the allowed limits of saturated fat.

Fiber is known for being “heart-healthy,” and the media would be right since brown rice, oatmeal, and fiber-rich vegetables prevent the absorption of saturate fats and cholesterol [6]. Finally, having nuts in your diet is associated with the lowering of LDL by 4.8 mg/dL in 4 weeks on average [7]. So if you want to munch on something, consider snack on a bag of peanuts, almonds, pistachios, or walnuts. Have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

A diet made up of fiber, antioxidants, fruits, vegetables, and nuts is a source of a healthy diet. Go nuts on your health!


[1] Elshourbagy, N. A., Meyers, H. V., & Abdel-Meguid, S. S. (2014). Cholesterol: the good, the bad, and the ugly – therapeutic targets for the treatment of dyslipidemia. Medical principles and practice : international journal of the Kuwait University, Health Science Centre23(2), 99–111.

[2] Huff T, Boyd B, Jialal I. Physiology, Cholesterol. [Updated 2020 Apr 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from:

[3] Laufs, U., Parhofer, K. G., Ginsberg, H. N., & Hegele, R. A. (2020). Clinical review on triglycerides. European heart journal41(1), 99–109c.

[4] [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. High cholesterol: Overview. 2013 Aug 14 [Updated 2017 Sep 7]. Available from:

[5] MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[6] Rosenthal R. L. (2000). Effectiveness of altering serum cholesterol levels without drugs. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center)13(4), 351–355.

[7] Chen, G. C., Wan, Z. X., & Qin, L. Q. (2016). Nut consumption, lipid profile, and health outcomes. The American journal of clinical nutrition103(4), 1185–1186.


Mondays: Welcoming, Embracing, and Beating the New Week

In this post today, we’ll pay tribute to the returning Monday and examine how our physical, mental, and spiritual health revolves around the first day of the week. For most persons, the weekends are a time of relaxation and enjoyment, whether it be getting extra Z’s, catching a flick, or being with friends and family. As Saturday winds down, you’ll soon realize how the same will happen the next day. Time will usher in Monday through its sheer speed, leading one to wonder where the weekend has gone and whether there’s an end in sight.

Granted, everyone has differences in mindset, drive, and motivation in regards to Monday, such that we have a person looking forward to beginning the week and the other dreading its swift return. No matter the scenario, we are all affected, and it takes a health strategy to maintain sanity as we progress through life.

It may be no coincidence that health issues occur at higher rates on Mondays, namely heart attacks (Barnett and Dobson, 2005), and increased heart rate and blood pressure (Kimura et al., 2017) due to binge drinking or work-related stress. Another scholarly article suggests the lower level of mood from having the ‘Monday Blues’ and attribute to absenteeism or not showing up to appointments (Ellis, Wiseman, and Jenkins, 2015). These literature sources all point out the role of work as potential stressors of life. Knowing that you have to go another week again may feel draining for a demanding job or routine.

Sure, we have obligations to meet and exceed job requirements, please our boss and clients, pay our bills, and fulfill life’s commitments, but there is no self-care if you don’t put the care in yourself. You see, you are the best asset to yourself. What’s the good in arriving at the office (if you are currently employed) or at the job interview (if you are searching for a job) when you are feeling sick? In both scenarios, you either give less than your best or don’t show up at all. This article will show how you can take preventive care measures to function at peak health when Monday rolls around again.

“I think, therefore I am,” written by French philosopher of the 17th Century, René Descartes, in the book Discourse on the Method. Maybe the ‘method’ refers to the thinking through of one’s life and the acquiring of knowledge and truth. In other words, you are what you think, especially about Mondays in our present discussion. Behavior and state of mind can be predicted according to authors who’ve identified factors driving one’s psyche. Remembering significant events, repeating personal thoughts, and forming stable beliefs are the key elements for influencing behavior (Glasman and Albarracín, 2006). Reassuring one’s own thoughts becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. How do you break the cycle?

It’s not as easy as welcoming Monday’s without planning and establishing short-term and long-term goals. Consider working on to improve your situation, if any, in these life aspects: (1) Your workplace, (2) Your relationships with others, and (3) Your health. Assuming a full-time and even a part-time schedule factoring the commute, most would spend a significant portion of their lives doing something work-related. It helps to identify the top stressors in what you do and see if there’s anything to make the job go smoother. Establish a to-do list of tasks to work on for the week and pick something that you want to get done. Recruit help from others if you can. We’re social beings and there’s a great chance you’ll find others willing to help. You’ll also realize that others are on the same boat as you, and that you’re not alone.

Finally, make it a habit to take care of your health by providing yourself good nutrition through a healthy diet, and getting a good stretch in and a walk or run outdoors. Being outdoors can lift one’s mood. If you’ve been indoors, give nature a try. Fifteen to thirty minutes to enjoy the fresh air may be what it takes to re-energize and re-focus for the day. This new habit may be what it takes to move forward and look forward to another self-care session with yourself, the outdoors, and the weekdays. Make peace with time, no matter what the day is.


Barnett, A. G., & Dobson, A. J. (2005). Excess in cardiovascular events on Mondays: a meta-analysis and prospective study. Journal of epidemiology and community health59(2), 109–114.

Ellis, D. A., Wiseman, R., & Jenkins, R. (2015). Mental Representations of Weekdays. PloS one10(8), e0134555.

Glasman, L. R., & Albarracín, D. (2006). Forming attitudes that predict future behavior: a meta-analysis of the attitude-behavior relation. Psychological bulletin132(5), 778–822.

Kimura, G., Inoue, N., Mizuno, H., Izumi, M., Nagatoya, K., Ohtahara, A., Munakata, M., & Workplace Hypertension Co-operative Study by 29 Rosai Hospitals belonging to the Japan Organization of Occupational Health and Safety (2017). Increased double product on Monday morning during work. Hypertension research: official journal of the Japanese Society of Hypertension40(7), 671–674.