You are here

Welcoming 2018 with Health at the Forefront


In the New Year, physical activity and what we eat are key.


As we approach 2018, let’s make a plan to increase our activity level.  There is strong evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, so implementing and following an exercise regimen can be just as important as taking medication for high blood pressure.  In a study of a half a million people recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that total physical activity, regardless of the source, was associated with lower short-term risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  So remember, the more exercise completed, the lower the risk.


Are you stressed at work?  Do you find that you don’t have enough time to exercise?  Carrying out some simple things, such as getting up every half an hour and walking for 2 minutes, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking further from your destination can help! If you don’t exercise, then start with one day a week.  If you exercise 3 days a week, then try 4.  Start small and as you go, increase your level of activity.


Ideally, one should complete 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (e.g. 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week) or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.  Brisk walking, doubles Tennis, water aerobics, bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour and general gardening are examples of moderate intensity activity; Race walking, jumping rope, hiking uphill, or swimming laps are considered vigorous intensity exercise.  Doing so can lower the risk of premature death by 20%!  


Just as important as eating low fat or healthier fats, is eating good carbohydrates in place of bad carbohydrates, and eating good protein in place of bad protein.  Also, count your calories: how many calories are you consuming per day?  In a recent study in the British Medical Journal, it was reaffirmed that added sugars drive coronary heart disease via insulin resistance and elevated insulin levels.  Insulin is a hormone in the body that processes sugar.  Bad Carbohydrates include refined products, sugar, concentrated sweeteners, white flour and white rice.  Good fats, no more than 10% of daily calorie intake, include Fish Oil, Flax Seed oil, Plankton based omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds.  Healthy protein includes protein such as egg whites, tofu, beans, legumes, non-fat yogurt and non-fat cheese.  And of course, more than occasional red meat consumption is discouraged.


Ah, the healthiest meal of the day! Another goal for the New Year should be to incorporate an idea from a recent study in the Journal of Physiology.  Skipping meals is not the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Many think that foregoing a meal is great because it means eating less calories and eating for less hours throughout the day.  However, it was shown in the study that routinely eating breakfast could benefit the body by increasing the amount of sugar taken up by fat cells in response to Insulin (i.e. improve sensitivity to Insulin).  So, make sure to eat breakfast each morning!


After a recent high-quality large study of a “healthy American diet” vs. the Mediterranean diet, it’s clear that the Mediterranean diet takes the cake!  The Mediterranean diet is high in intake of fruits and vegetables and includes whole grains, low fat (avoid saturated fat), olive oil over tropical oil, daily legumes (e.g. chickpeas, peas, lentils and kidney beans), weekly nuts and eggs, less red meat, and more lean chicken and oily fish. 

What's more, a recent study published in the Lancet found that a weight management program for adults with Type 2 Diabetes who are not taking Insulin could achieve a 50% remission rate over a 12-month period by losing 10-15kg.


  • Consume a fruit or vegetable with every meal. 
  • Don’t eat for more than 12 hours of the day. 
  • Stay away from processed food and artificial substances. 
  • Use herbs in place of salt. 
  • Stay away from soda and high calorie beverages.  
  • Increase consumption of water or seltzer.  You can even consider adding a fruit slice to your water or seltzer for added flavor.  
  • Hot tea is a good alternative to high sugar content drinks. 
  • Pay attention to food labels and labeling on food packages that may be misleading. 
  • Keep track of about how many calories you consume per day.

Lastly, make sure you make 2018 your healthiest year yet!

Jonathan S. Katz, MD, FACC, is a Cardiologist at Crystal Run Healthcare and is seeing patients in the practice's West Nyack facility.