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Corporate Wellness | Healthy Employees Are Happy Employees

SUPERIOR WORKPLACE HEALTH SOLUTIONS

Elements Medical Fitness (“EMF”) provides superior, measurable, and customized workplace health solutions resulting in a more productive workforce and reduction in health care costs.

Elements Corporate Wellness is an integrated workplace health management solution that follows a systematic approach to deliver a results-oriented wellness program. This solution is customizable and will provide employees with evidence-based information, tools and resources needed to make sustainable healthy lifestyle changes.

COHESIVE WELLNESS WITH A GUARANTEE

Cohesive Company Wide Integrated Wellness

As your wellness partner, EMF will help fulfill organizational needs, whether for a turn-key program or individual products and services to run your customized program. We will also:

  • Provide best in class programs, services and resources
  • Save  valuable resources and or time
  • Provide quality consulting to help measure results

To request proposal, call us +60321681911 or email us info@elementsmedicalfitness.com today!

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Functional Health Screening

Do you have a health problem you cannot resolve?
Try Functional Medicine Screening.
Functional Medicine Screening looks beyond your symptoms, focuses on identifying the underlying causes and provides treatments options aimed at restoring you to optimal health.

Book your appointment with our Doctor now!

T&C apply.

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Join Us | Let’s Talk, Let’s Connect on World Mental Health Day

20160930 EMF World Mental Health Day DSS

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October, covers “psychological first aid”. Efforts in support of the day will focus on basic pragmatic psychological support by people who find themselves in a helping role whether they be health staff, teachers, firemen, community workers, or police officers.

Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both psychological and social support. Just like general health care never consists of physical first aid alone, similarly no mental health care system should consist of psychological first aid alone. Indeed, the investment in psychological first aid is part of a longer-term effort to ensure that anyone in acute distress due to a crisis is able to receive basic support, and that those who need more than psychological first aid will receive additional advanced support from health, mental health and social services.

Please join these sessions. Everyone Welcome!

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Understanding Cholesterol and Heart Disease

WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and other cells. It is also found in certain foods, like dairy products, eggs and meat.

We often undeniably, hear about cholesterol with all its negative connotations especially in regards to heart disease and strokes.

What we fail to hear though, is that cholesterol is not all bad and it has earned its rightful place in the human body as well.

The body needs cholesterol in order to function properly. It is a precursor of hormones such asprogesterone, cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, oestrogens and vitamin D. All these are very essential to a healthy functioning body.

This essential biological function of cholesterol has been forgotten by the medical world at large, instead, cholesterol has managed earn a bad reputation in the field of medicine due to its ability to form plaques on blood vessel walls, particularly in the heart and brain. 

These plaques are commonly the triggers for heart attacks and strokes.

Cholesterol traverses the blood attached to a protein – called a lipoprotein molecule.Lipoproteins have different classes. The amount of protein a cholesterol molecule contains, determines its class.

A high ratio of protein makes the molecule more dense and this is usually known as the HDL (high density lipoprotein), due to its density, it is unable to carry too much fat.

A lower ratio of protein will be less dense and carry more triglycerides (fat). This is called the LDL (Low density lipoprotein). 

These classes can be further differentiated into:

  • Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL),
  • Intermediary density lipoprotein (IDL) and
  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL)

This article intends to bring forward some very important markers of cholesterol testing with special attention to LDL or ‘bad’ Cholesterol and your underlying genes.

The specialised testing that is available, informs the individual in more detail, about their LDL cholesterol types and particle numbers in relation to their risk in developing heart disease or stroke.

WHAT IS LDL CHOLESTEROL?

LDL

Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL- C)particles are the main ones involved in carrying cholesterol and fat in the blood.

LDL delivers its cholesterol to the cells in the body by binding to a receptor on the surface of cells called the “LDL receptor”. Too much LDL cholesterol floating around in the blood stream is not desirable as it can slowly build up within the inner walls of the arteries if the endothelium is inflamed and unhealthy. Most arteries will be affected but the ones supplying blood to the heart and brain are most vulnerable.

When LDL-C levels are high especially in high risk individuals, like in smokers, hypertensive or diabetic individuals, the build-up of plaques happen quicker in the arteries because they have an unhealthy endothelium. This condition is called  ATHEROSCLEROSIS. If the plaque is deemed unstable and there is a tear on the surface of the plaque, then a thrombus or clot may form, which further obstructs the flow of blood to the heart or brain, causing the dreaded heart attack or stroke.

As important as cholesterol is in causing plaque formation, they are all not the same. Instead, the focus should be on the LDL-C particle size, number, and the dangers of oxidised LDL-C rather than the total cholesterol level.
A quick way to remember LDL as the BAD Cholesterol is L for LDL, L for “Lousy Cholesterol”.

WHAT IS HDL CHOLESTEROL?

High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL-C) is responsible for transporting cholesterol from all the different parts of the body to the liver.

HDL is also responsible for removing excess cholesterol from atherosclerotic plaques in the arterial walls. This in turn slows down the growth of plaques. Here, elevated levels of HDL-C is known to be protective against heart attacks whereas low HDL-C levels confer the opposite affect and is undesirable.

HDL-C molecules also have preferential particle sizes and numbers but their impact in terms of atherosclerosis is not so critical as LDL-C.

As a rule, it is good to make sure HDL-C is never low.

A quick way to remember HDL as the GOOD cholesterol is H for HDL, H for “Healthy cholesterol”

WHAT IS VLDL AND IDL CHOLESTEROL?

LDLs

Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL-C) contains the highest amount of triglycerides and lowest amount of protein. Therefore it is the most dangerous form of LDL-C. VLDL-C eventually gets converted to LDL-C after it releases most of the triglycerides present in the molecule.

Triglycerides themselves are independent risk indicators of heart disease. Their description and role needs special attention, as excess carbohydrates in the diet play a prominent role. This is why diabetics with poor diet control are at very high risk for atherosclerosis.

High levels of VLDL cholesterol have been associated with the development of plaque deposits on artery walls, which narrow the passage and restrict blood flow.

There is no simple direct way to measure VLDL cholesterol, which is why it is normally not mentioned during a routine cholesterol screening.

Intermediate Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (IDL – C) is formed from the degradation of Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL). IDL enables fats and cholesterol to move within the water-based solution of the bloodstream.

As a rule, IDL-C falls in between VLDL-C and LDL-C. Hence it is equally atherogenic and contributes to the formation of plaques.

Collectively, LDL, IDL and VLDL are all known as non HDL-C molecules and and on your lipid profile results will just be counted as LDL-C.
The best way to lower your VLDL cholesterol is to lower your triglycerides.

I DO MY CHOLESTEROL TEST EVERY YEAR.  WHAT DOES THAT TELL ME?

The screening test that is usually performed is a blood test called a Lipid profile. Anyone in the adult age group can check their levels.

It is recommended that every individual with risk of cardio-vascular illnesses and other chronic lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension should frequently assess their lipid levels as often as twice a year.

You can test your LDL-C and HDL-C levels at annual check- ups at hospitals or clinics by doing a routine Lipid Profile Test.  From this test you can calculate two ratios that are useful.  Commonly reported is the Tot CHOL: HDL ratio, which should be less than 5:1.

Functional medicine doctors also calculate the Triglycerides : HDL which are ideal at levels of  2:1.

It is a good first-level test to determine where you stand.

However, the actual detailed testing of particle size and numbers of LDL-C is not routinely tested.

WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PARTICLE SIZE OF LDL-C?

‘Small’ LDL-C molecules that are dense and gritty will hurt the vessel walls if the endothelium /lining of the walls are already unhealthy. This embedding of cholesterol to heal the cracks on the walls is the beginning of plaque formation.

‘Large’ LDL-C molecules are big and fluffy enough to bounce off the vessels walls, and contribute less to damage and atherosclerosis. The health risk is lower for those who have large LDL-C.

Small, dense and therefore dangerous LDL-C particles may be concealed behind normal cholesterol levels. This means that although your LDL-C may be normal, there still may be some risk of coronary disease because of a predominance of small, dense, LDL-C.

Conversely, elevated LDL-C levels need not always be associated with a higher risk of plaque formation if you have the large fluffy particles of LDL-C.

This partially explains why some individuals with high LDL-C do not succumb to coronary plaques while some others with normal levels do.

WHEN SHOULD I TEST FOR THE LDL SUB-FRACTIONS?

It is increasingly useful to do additional tests when assessing risk in people who have the following high risk factors:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Hypertension (BP > 140/90 mmHg or on antihypertensive medication)
  • High LDL cholesterol (>2.58mmol)
  • Low HDL cholesterol (< 1mmol)
  • Family history of premature chronic heart disease (CHD). Specifically: CHD in first-degree male relative < 55 years; or CHD in first-degree female relative < 65 years.
  • men > 44 years; or women > 54 years
  • Clinical coronary heart disease, symptomatic carotid artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, or abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The LDL-C Sub-Fraction Test also known as the LDL Particle Test (LDL-P), can determine more accurately the cardiovascular risk presented by your LDL-C levels, than a regular lipid profile.

Traditional lipid profiles do not identify and determine the presence of small dense type LDL-C that causes blockage of the blood vessels.

The LDL-C Sub-fraction test actually looks in detail into the types of LDL-C molecules that are prominent in an individual and quantifies it.

This test is not routinely ordered, but its use is important as it has the potential to predict the development of coronary vessel disease, so that preventive steps can be put in place much earlier than they otherwise may have.

HOW WILL GENETIC TESTING GIVE ME MORE INFORMATION?

Genetic testing can be done to identify your genetic susceptibility to cardiac related diseases and conditions.

Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited condition characterised by higher than normal levels of LDL blood cholesterol. Individuals with this inherited condition usually have very high cholesterol levels and fall prey to the disease at a much younger age, usually before 50 years.

These people can benefit from specialised testing as aggressive strategies may be needed to control the dangerous LDL-C sub-fractions.

There are also other genes involved in cholesterol regulation, found in Asian and Western populations. The presence of these genetic mutations can say a lot about their heart health risk. These gene mutations also give more insight into why some of us are at risk to have the more dense and dangerous LDL-C.   Some of these genes are:

LDLss

  • APOE (Apolipoprotein E),
  • CETP (Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein)
  • SELE (selectin E)

Understanding the above genes explains why certain individuals will benefit from dietary strategies, whilst others do better on exercise.  They also tell us why some of us respond to statins (cholesterol lowering agents) in a negative way while some of us respond well.

If you have a family history of heart disease, you most probably would have inherited at least some high risk genes. Therefore it is crucial to know exactly where your weaknesses are, so that personalised targeted interventions can be put in place.

HOW CAN FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE HELP ME?

Everyone is biochemically unique – this is the very essence of Functional Medicine.  Because of that, the same treatment strategies cannot be successfully used be everyone, rather strategies need to be tailored to the individual.

Elements Medical Fitness uses the Functional Medicine model of healthcare in approaching all chronic health problems. If you have a strong family history of heart disease or if you feel that you are at risk for heart disease because of your current state of health and lifestyle, then Functional Medicine can help you understand your personal risk.

Come in for a discussion with our practitioners and Functional Medicine doctors.  Our practitioner team will ensure that the ‘RIGHT’ Cholesterol tests are done, so that you get the answers that you need.

Remember: It is not just about having lower cholesterol; it is about having the right type of cholesterol.

“The INTERHEART study, published in the Lancet in 2004, followed 30, 000 people and found that changing lifestyle could prevent at least 90% of all heart disease.”

 

 

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Why Functional Medicine?

Society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as a heart attack or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.

Unfortunately, the acute-care approach to medicine is ill equipped to address complex, chronic disease. In most cases, the model does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual and does not allow time for exploring the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease; critical environmental factors such as stress, diet, and exposure to toxins. As a result, most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease, nor to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet, and exercise to both treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients.

Functional Medicine is a different approach, with methodology and tools that are specifically designed to prevent and treat chronic diseases.

When people ask to see the evidence for Functional Medicine, they often mean, “Where are your research trials, comparing Functional Medicine to conventional medicine in a clinical setting?” Unfortunately, current research models do not have a way to test each individualized, patient-centered therapeutic plan that is tailored to a person with a unique combination of existing conditions, genetic influences, environmental exposures, and lifestyle choices. Clinical trials do play a significant role in evaluating and comparing the efficacy of new pharmaceutical treatments, especially when it is important to rule out placebo effects, but they have many inherent limitations which constrain their ability to inform clinical decision making.

Fortunately, there is a vast array of evidence supporting the Functional Medicine approach to care. The scientific community has made incredible strides in helping practitioners understand how environmental and lifestyle influences, moving continuously through an individual’s genetic heritage, psychosocial experiences, and personal beliefs, can impair basic biological functions. Using that knowledge to find the sources of each patient’s problems is powerful science!

Scientific support for the Functional Medicine approach to treatment can be found in a large and rapidly expanding evidence base concerning the therapeutic effects of nutrition (including both dietary choices and the clinical use of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients such as fish oils); botanicals; exercise (aerobics, strength training, flexibility); stress management; detoxification; acupuncture; manual medicine (massage, manipulation); and mind/body techniques such as meditation, guided imagery, and biofeedback.

Medical science has recently provided strong evidence that the relationship between patient and clinician has a powerful effect on patient health outcomes. The Functional Medicine focus on the therapeutic partnership is clearly an important part of how patients heal.

Making effective healthcare choices involves the Functional Medicine clinician and patient in a relationship where information and belief, attention and insight, communication and trust all have value. Functional Medicine practitioners are taught how to craft a personalized, systems-oriented therapeutic plan for each unique patient using evidence and insight, art and science.

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Do blue views beat green ones for stress relief?

Being able to see the ocean from your home may reduce stress, new research finds.

“Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” says Amber L. Pearson, assistant professor of health geography and a member of Michigan State University’s Water Science Network. “However, we did not find that with green space.”

Using various topography data, the researchers studied the visibility of blue and green spaces from residential locations in Wellington, New Zealand, an urban capital city surrounded by the Tasman Sea on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south. Green space includes forests and grassy parks.

ocean through sunglasses
(Credit: Forsaken Fotos/Flickr)

To gauge psychological distress, the researchers analyzed data from the New Zealand Health Survey. The national survey used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, or K10, which has proven to be an accurate predictor of anxiety and mood disorders. Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Even after taking into account residents’ wealth, age, sex, and other neighborhood factors, the study found that having a view of the ocean was associated with improved mental health.

Pearson says that visibility of green space did not show the same calming effect. That could be because the study did not distinguish between types of green space.

[90 minutes in nature really change the brain]

“It could be because the blue space was all natural, while the green space included human-made areas, such as sports fields and playgrounds, as well as natural areas such as native forests,” Pearson says. “Perhaps if we only looked at native forests we might find something different.”

Like most wealthy countries, New Zealand is highly urbanized, meaning effective city planning is increasingly important, Pearson says. Designating a proportion of high-rise buildings or affordable homes in locations with ocean views could potentially promote mental health.

Pearson says future research could investigate whether the findings hold true for large fresh bodies of water such as the Great Lakes.

The study appears in the journal Health & Place.

Source: Michigan State University

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Obese humans now outnumber the underweight

For the first time in history, the number of obese people around the world now is greater than the number of undernourished, according to a new analysis of population data from a prestigious medical journal.

While the rates of obesity have leveled off in some countries where it’s already a public health concern, other places are seeing their obesity rates increase, helping to prop up the global average, according to a study published in The Lancet late Thursday.

“Over the past four decades, we have transitioned from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight, both globally and in all regions except parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia,” the researchers wrote in their study.

Indeed, parts of South Asia and Central and East Africa are among the places where excessively low bodyweight remains a public health concern. But by 2025, one-fifth of adults around the world are forecast to be obese, including 40 percent of American adults and one-third of adults in the United Kingdom.

A team of researchers from two schools in the U.K. — Imperial College, London, and the School of Social and Community Medicine, in Bristol — performed an analysis of body mass index data from around the world since 1975. The body mass index is a formula that uses weight and height to determine whether someone is underweight, obese or somewhere in between.

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Body fat ‘talks’ to the brain when we’re stressed

The brain is not the only part of the body that affects the way we respond to stress. New research shows that body fat can send a stress signal, too.

While the exact nature of those signals remains a mystery, researchers say simply knowing such a pathway exists and learning more about it could help break a vicious cycle. Stress causes a desire to eat more, which can lead to obesity. And too much extra fat can impair the body’s ability to send a signal to the brain to shut off the stress response.

“It moved our understanding of stress control to include other parts of the body. Before this, everyone thought that the regulation of stress was mainly due to the brain. It’s not just in the brain. This study suggests that stress regulation occurs on a much larger scale, including body systems controlling metabolism, such as fat,” says James Herman, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati and a coauthor of the paper published in the the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Researchers found that a glucocorticoid receptor in fat tissue can affect the way the brain controls stress and metabolism. Initially, such signals from the receptor can be lifesavers, directing the brain to regulate its energy balance and influencing stress responses in a beneficial way.

“The stress response in the short term is adaptive. It’s going to help you cope with stress,” says Eric Krause, an assistant professor in the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy and study coauthor. “The idea that fat is actually talking to the brain to dampen stress is new.”

[related]

Steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids activate their receptors within fat tissue in a way that affects a main component of the metabolic stress response. Using mouse models, the researchers found a unique connection between glucocorticoid signaling in fat tissue and the brain’s regulation of energy balance and stress response.

Because glucocorticoid signaling is crucial to regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, fat tissue can directly affect central nervous system functions that link obesity, metabolic disease, and stress-related problems, researchers conclude.

Understanding fat-to-brain signaling is a first step toward someday being able to influence the broad, complex relationship between stress, obesity, and metabolism.

“The big question is the nature of that signal to the brain. We need to learn how to go in and break that cycle of stress, eating, and weight gain,” Herman says.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Source: University of Florida

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People who obsessively check social media get less sleep

Young adults who spend a lot of time on social media during the day or check it frequently throughout the week often get less sleep than their peers who use social media less, a new study suggests.

The findings, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, indicate that doctors should consider asking young adult patients about these media habits when assessing sleep issues.

“This is one of the first pieces of evidence that social media use really can impact your sleep,” says lead author Jessica C. Levenson, a postdoctoral researcher in the psychiatry department at the University of Pittsburgh. “And it uniquely examines the association between social media use and sleep among young adults who are, arguably, the first generation to grow up with social media.”

For the study, researchers sampled 1,788 US adults ages 19 through 32, using questionnaires to determine social media use and an established measurement system to assess sleep disturbances.

[Sleepy teens wake at night to check social media]

The questionnaires asked about the 11 most popular social media platforms at the time: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and LinkedIn.

On average, the participants used social media a total of 61 minutes a day and visited various social media accounts 30 times a week. The assessment showed that nearly 30 percent of the participants had high levels of sleep disturbance.

The participants who reported most frequently checking social media throughout the week had three times the likelihood of sleep disturbances, compared with those who checked least frequently. And participants who spent the most total time on social media throughout the day had twice the risk of sleep disturbance, compared to peers who spent less time on social media.

“This may indicate that frequency of social media visits is a better predictor of sleep difficulty than overall time spent on social media,” Levenson says. “If this is the case, then interventions that counter obsessive ‘checking’ behavior may be most effective.”

[4 reasons why people can’t quite quit Facebook]

More study is needed, particularly to determine whether social media use contributes to sleep disturbance, whether sleep disturbance contributes to social media use—or both, says senior author Brian A. Primack, assistant vice chancellor for health and society.

For example, social media may disturb sleep if it is:

  • Displacing sleep, such as when a user stays up late posting photos on Instagram.
  • Promoting emotional, cognitive, or physiological arousal, such as when engaging in a contentious discussion on Facebook.
  • Disrupting circadian rhythms through the bright light emitted by the devices used to access social media accounts.

Alternatively, young adults who have difficulty sleeping may subsequently use social media as a pleasurable way to pass the time when they can’t fall asleep or return to sleep.

“It also may be that both of these hypotheses are true,” Primack says. “Difficulty sleeping may lead to increased use of social media, which may in turn lead to more problems sleeping. This cycle may be particularly problematic with social media because many forms involve interactive screen time that is stimulating and rewarding and, therefore, potentially detrimental to sleep.”

The National Institutes of Health supported the work.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

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