Healthful tips

Acid reducers and their side effects

Preliminary studies suspect Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) and H2 Blockers, which reduce the secretion of stomach acid used by millions to treat gastro-esophageal reflux “heartburns,” may also have adverse effects on the kidneys when used regularly. Presently known side-effects of PPI and the H2 Blocker drugs, popular before the PPI came to the market, include: C. difficile GI infection; PPI-associated pneumonia, especially in the elderly; vitamin B-12 deficiency and poor calcium absorption leading to fractures. Consult a physician before taking any medications, even over-the-counter, non-prescription drugs.

Shaving calories

A good strategy for reducing calories is by substitution or swapping: drinking an 8-oz bottle of water instead of a can or bottle of regular soft drinks saves you at least 100 calories; chicken sandwich instead of hamburger, 290 calories; one teaspoon mustard instead of mayo, 100 calories; apples slices instead of French fries, 270 calories; swap chocolate ice cream with strawberry slices, 115 calories; mixed salad with low-fat dressing instead of pizza saves you 2 slices about 300 calories; and one bagel replaced by c slices light whole grain bread, 269 calories; high fiber cereal instead of granola, 110 calories. Brown rice is certainly healthier than white rice and cutting the amount of rice (and other carbs, sweets especially) by at least half will reduce not only weight but the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Flu and humidity

While flu vaccines and the healthy habit of frequent hand washing significantly reduces the risk of catching influenza, humidity also plays a very important role in warding off this virus infection during the flu season.  Studies have shown that in dry environment 80 percent of the flu virus survived, while only 10 percent did in a well-humidified environment. A home or room humidifier when the atmosphere is dry will certainly help in preventing the spread of flu and making us breathe more comfortably.

Electromagnetic risks

At what dose of repeated radiation exposure from medical imaging diagnostic devices, natural or artificial sunbathing, microwave oven, cell phone signals, radiofrequency (radio-TV) signals, extremely low-frequency power lines (said to be associated with childhood leukemia) can cause various forms of illnesses, including cancer, is still controversial. But we cannot simply ignore the warnings. In this current situation, the wise and prudent strategy is to minimize exposure to any of these electromagnetic forces as much as we can as we take advantage of the benefits provided by these advances in science and technology. Let’s just be more conscious and careful.

Cellphone warnings

Electrical Hypersensitivity Syndrome is truly a medical condition, characterized by fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, facial rash, digestive symptoms, following “exposure to visual display units, mobile phones, Wi-Fi equipment, and commonplace appliances, affecting about 3 percent of all people and about 33 percent of us to a lesser extent.” Cordless phones and mobile phones emit the same amount of radiation, while landline phones don’t. Use of speakerphone for cordless and mobile phones, or a hollow (preferred) wired (hands-free) earpiece is safer. Never use Bluetooth wireless headset, which is a worse emitter. Texting is safer than calling with the handset against your ear. If possible the cellphone should not be carried close to the body; if not, then the battery should be facing away from the body since this acts as the antenna, the dial pad facing the body. If not using a hands-free device, switching from one ear to the other every 15 seconds or so is a good practice. As much as possible do not use a cellphone in elevators or closed spaces, since the weak signal will make the phone maximize its signal strength (and radiation!). Children should NOT use cellphones except for emergencies, since they are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation.

Exercise wonders

The amazing wonders of physical exercise are scientifically proven to keep the body and mind healthy, strengthen the immune system, improve cardiovascular fitness and reduces heart attacks by 33 percent, lessen the risk of the development of type 2 diabetes by 91 percent, prevent, if not minimize high blood pressure by more than a third and reduces the risk for cancer — all these for doing 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. Tai Chi, Tai Bo, dancing at any speed, walking (moderate to brisk), swimming, bicycling, or any aerobic exercise. There is no age limit to doing exercises. My mother, who is 97, did daily 2-mile exercise (at a moderated pace) following the Leslie Sansone’s DVD aerobic exercise program until she was 93. And she feels great for her age. Besides a proper diet, abstinence from smoking and moderation in alcohol intake (red wine preferred), exercise is a major key to health and longevity.

Pistachio lowers cholesterol

Studies at the Pennsylvania State University shows that pistachio nuts with its monounsaturated fatty acids and high antioxidant content have beneficial effects on cholesterol, body mass index (for weight reduction) and for hypertension control. With as little as 1.5 ounces of pistachios a day for one month, cholesterol levels were reduced by 8.4 percent  and the low density (bad) lipoprotein by 11.6 percent.  Monounsaturated fats, as in pistachio nuts and green leafy vegetables, are cardio-protective and lessen the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke.


Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA,  a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email:

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