What is Circadian Rhythm and How Does it Impact Our Health?

I’ve mentioned in several of my blogs about the importance of maintaining a good circadian rhythm for optimal sleep and wakefulness. In this blog, I’ll describe how this master clock in our body influences our daily pattern and its importance in keeping this internal rhythm balanced and healthy.

Your circadian rhythm is your 24-hour cycle that is part of your body’s internal clock that carries out essential functions and processes. It is controlled by your hypothalamus and translates signals from the environment to your body. Your rhythm is influenced by external factors like light and your body can regulate temperature and metabolism to keep you alert or help you fall asleep.

Your sleep-wake cycle is part of your circadian rhythm and during the day, light exposure sends signals to your brain to be awake, alert and active. When your brain detects darkness at night, it stimulates the production of melatonin which is a hormone that promotes deep sleep. And it is this alignm...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: educating healthcare personnel

Investment in educational projects is one of the steps that public and private organizations in Latin America must take to boost the benefits of virtual health and telemedicine.An opinion paper written by Dr. Walter Curioso, from the University of Washington, in the United States, states that e-learning is probably the most viable option for providing fast and efficient knowledge to future healthcare professionals.Isabel Lobos, executive director of Tula Salud, an NGO that trains doctors and nurses virtually in Guatemala, agrees. For her, virtual programs can have a greater impact than face-to-face education in a country where there are 0.4 healthcare professionals per 1,000 people.“Educational processes usually reach the same people. We are talking about the institutional heads, the directors, or chiefs, those who are in a middle ground within the staff. Very rarely they can reach the grassroots, those who give care in less favorable conditions, much more solitary. These people should...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: invest to expand

In certain parts of Latin America, virtual health begins to take steps to meet the challenges and provide digital services to the population. One of the first is to design and execute investment projects in this new industry that gained momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the private (green) and public (blue) expenditure on health in Latin American and Caribbean countries. (Source: WHO, Global Health Expenditure Database, 2016)According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), resources for telemedicine should be included in plans to improve infrastructure and equipment in healthcare centers. Its experts assure that it is necessary to overcome the inequality gaps that exist in Latin America in the 21st century. These are reflected, for example, in the 2018 Broadband Development Index, which revealed that the region lags the most advanced member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).One of the Latin Americ...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: the pending digital divide

Despite the benefits they generate during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual health and telemedicine need to overcome challenges to grow in Latin America. One of the most prevalent is the digital divide that marginalizes those who live in the lowest socioeconomic strata and lack access to internet services.In 2017, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimated that there are more than 200 million people of working age who are digitally excluded in the region. A year later, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reported that 56% of people used the internet, but only 45.5% of households had a broadband connection.These differences in Latin America are of concern to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which states that "digital inclusion is a crucial element [...] in the region, where internet services [...] are considered essential to ensure the well-being of citizens".Entrepreneur Marcel Roehrs witnessed the backlog when he founded ...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: in search of trained personnel

The success of digital health and telemedicine depends on people with the training and experience to deliver top-caliber care. It is a visible reality in any territory, especially in Latin America, where more trained healthcare professionals are needed to provide services to the population.

According to 2017 statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Latin American region registers one of the largest shortages of healthcare personnel in the world. On average there are 2.28 medical doctors per thousand inhabitants, a figure below the minimum level, which is 2.3 professionals per thousand people.

The need for human resources is most urgent in countries such as Haiti, Guyana, Honduras, and Guatemala, where there is less than one doctor per thousand inhabitants.
The relevance of nurses
The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of having nurses in healthcare services. Susan Groenwald, former president of Chamberlain University in the United States, explains: “They are th...

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Telemedicine in Latin America: an introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic broke paradigms of human work and, as expected, changed the medical industry. It triggered the practice of telemedicine and digital health. Patients stopped visiting clinics and started scheduling appointments and receiving care through their laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

This medical revolution seems to be growing every day in a world where more than half of the population uses the Internet. According to an article on medicaleconomics.com, the adoption of telehealth by patients in early 2020 increased by 33% over 2019. In addition, the market is expected to reach $185.6 billion by 2026.

According to Talía Wegman-Ostrosky, an oncogenetician at Mexico's National Cancer Institute, the advance of telemedicine responds to the facilities it offers compared to face-to-face services. For example, according to Forbes, it saves patients more than 100 minutes of their time compared to an in-person consultation.

"It's here to stay. [...] It avoids travel expenses, wai...

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How your snoring affects your well-being – “Healthy Attitude” podcast review

Bedtime may be the favorite time of the day for thousands of people, but it does not always represent rest time for everyone. Has the snoring of your relative or partner ever kept you awake at night? Yes, it has happened to all of us. But we must be aware of a reality: in addition to causing annoying noises, snoring can be an indicator that our companions are suffering from more than just a stuffy nose.Dr. Ana Carolina Bassol, a graduate of Mexico's National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, knows about this firsthand. The pulmonologist works at the Galenia Hospital in Cancun, in the south of her country, and has treated dozens of cases of sleep apnea, a condition related to snoring.This sleep disorder, known in the medical community for being underdiagnosed by professionals and neglected by patients, affects a significant number of Latin Americans in the 21st century. According to this study (in Spanish), 20% of middle-aged adults have at least mild sleep apnea and 80% of cases remai...

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Kicking off the New Year With Intent – Sleep

We spend a third of our life in bed (or should aim to). Sleep affects everything from energy and mood to chronic conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s. It has an impact on our metabolism, immunity and physical performance. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 35% of adults don’t get the recommended dose of at least seven hours of sleep. And we live in an espresso-buzzed, screen-fixated, shut-eye deprived world where it’s considered a badge of honor to function on less sleep. Did you know that in a meta-analyses of almost 13,000 studies conducted on sleep, subjects who had sleep disturbances had a higher risk of dementia?

The National Sleep Foundation released the key indicators of good sleep and they include:

Sleeping at least 85% of the time when in bedFalling asleep in 30 minutes or lessWaking up no more than once per nightGoing back to sleep within 20 minutes of waking up at night

If you are like most adults and struggle to meet...

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Top 10 Essential Oils for Stress and Anxiety

In this blog, I’d like to discuss the use of essential oils for managing stress, anxiety and mood. Aromatherapy stimulates the receptors in the nose and sends messages to our nervous system which impacts the body’s energy systems. This fragrant modality has been used for centuries to maintain and improve well-being.

Here’s my list of recommendations.

1. Chamomile Chamomile has a wonderful scent and is used widely in oil and tea form for general relaxation. This study showed the effectiveness of chamomile for treating generalized anxiety disorders (chronic anxiety and neurosis).

Here’s one that’s blended with jojoba and ready to use out of the bottle:

2. FennelThis delicious anise spice is more commonly known for its digestive properties but this study highlighted the use of fennel in reducing depression and anxiety in post-menopausal women.

Here’s one to try:

3. FrankincenseFrankincense oil is extracted from the resin of the Boswellia tree and it means ‘quality ince...

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Hacking Your Heart & Preventing Diabetes – Dr. Rocky Patel Podcast Review

I’ve always been a fan of Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Podcasts – he is probably the most famous biohacker that’s out there. On one of his earlier podcasts, his guest was Dr. Rocky Patel, a family physician who focuses on prevention and early detection and treatment of diabetes and heart attacks. He practices what he preaches and lost over 85 pounds following the program that he now advocates for his patients. Here are some of the highlights from the show:

Current food recommendations are not based on science but on US policy – we’ve been vilifying saturated fats but science shows that saturated fats and cholesterol are not the culprits.Eating quality fats and saturated meat is actually good for you and will raise HDL cholesterol and make the brain work better.  There are now prescription drugs based on medium chain triglycerides (MCT) oils.Dr. Patel follows a Paleo-type diet with the right amount of quality protein and good fats to maintain his health and weight.Diabetes is a disea...

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