Dr. Willie Ong, cardiologist
Please be careful with your heart, etc.
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2020 - 12:00am

That’s the advice of Dr. Willie Ong, the cardiologist who writes a column for STAR, for everybody to mind their heart in this time of COVID-19 when many people on home quarantine lead sedentary lives.

Two weeks after home quarantine was imposed, Jeannie Goulbourn of Hopeline Philippines (that helps those suffering from mental health issues) talked about how to keep one’s sanity in the time of COVID-19 — among other things, lack of sleep and sunlight as well as poor nutrition can move anxiety to depression. (Check out the March 25 issue of Funfare in philstar.com. Need help? Call Hopeline at 02-88044673, Globe 0917-5584673, Smart 0918-8734673 or Globe/TM subscribers 2919. Hopeline is open 24/7, ready to listen.)

Then two weeks ago, A-list hair stylist Ricky Reyes reminded inexperienced people to avoid messing up their top by self-cutting their hair and just leave the job to the knowledgeable, or simply let their hair grow and restyle it until barber shops or spas are allowed to open.

This time, Funfare asked Dr. Willie and other doctors for advice on how to mind our physical health during the extended lockdown.

Dr. Willie Ong

Are you worried about your heart? Don’t feel blue. Go red, and eat red foods for your heart.

This novel idea comes from the American Heart Association, which advocated that men and women eat red-colored foods to protect their hearts.

Apples are rich in quercetins, a substance known to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and many cancers. Studies show that people who eat an apple a day have lower chances of getting lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease when compared to non-fruit eaters. Even smokers who often eat apples can somehow minimize the risk of getting cancer.

Apple skins contain pectin, which some studies show can lower bad cholesterol by as much as 16 percent. Apples may also prevent diabetes and childhood asthma. Eating the fiber-rich skin of the apple also has additional health benefits of having better skin, more regular bowel movement and lower risk for colon cancer.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, watermelon may be beneficial for the heart and blood vessels. Researchers report that eating watermelons increases our body’s arginine levels, an important amino acid (Journal of Nutrition, March 2007). Arginine is a component needed to produce nitric oxide, a substance that relaxes the blood vessels, improves blood flow and may protect us from a heart attack and stroke.

The deep-red watermelon variety contains the pigment lycopene, which may help prevent cancer and slow down aging. Lycopene helps counter the bad effects of free radicals circulating in the body, which cause our bodies to age.

Red grapes contain extremely beneficial compounds, such as your flavonoids, quercetin and resveratrol (found in red grape skin). Grapes also have lots of potassium, vitamin C and the B vitamins. Some studies show that grapes can help boost your good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) and prevent blood platelets from clumping together and forming a deadly blood clot.

Experts believe that the red and black varieties of grapes are more beneficial than the white and green varieties. Red grapes, in particular, have been found to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties when tested in the lab.

Don’t eat too much grapes though, because they can pack in the calories. One serving of grapes is equivalent to around 10 pieces only, which is the recommended amount you can eat per meal.

Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids like lycopene and beta-carotene. Some experts believe that lycopene is the most powerful antioxidant among the carotenoids. It’s also the secret ingredient that gives fruits and vegetables the orange-red color.

Several studies have shown that eating tomato-based products is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer, heart problems and diseases of the digestive tract. Since lycopene is not produced by our bodies, we should get this by eating lycopene-rich foods.

Tomatoes are likewise valuable sources of vitamin C, E and potassium, too. According to Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, we should consume at least 10 tablespoons of tomato sauce a week or approximately 150 ml. a week.

And, of course, exercising regularly (walking is the most beneficial) helps keep one’s heart beating vigorously.

Dr. Pia Achacoso, periodontist

Dr. Pia Achacoso, periodontist

Because of the current situation, it is most important to take extra care of oral health. “Gentle” brushing and flossing are still the best way to prevent dental complications such as trauma on gum tissues and getting new cavities.

Follow the two-minute rule in brushing and daily flossing. Also, drink lots of water, especially during this warm weather. It benefits our oral cavity by keeping it moist and helps sustain the microbial balance.

People who tend to clench their teeth when stressed may cause micro fractures on teeth or even probable jaw pain.

Dr. Cynthia Ho, diabetologist

Dr. Cynthia Ho, diabetologist

Everyone needs to be careful to avoid COVID-19. If you are diabetic, you should be even more cautious.

If you are a well-controlled diabetic, your risk of getting infected is not higher than any normal person. But you could have severe complications if you do get sick. This is especially true if your blood sugar is uncontrolled.

To decrease your chance of getting infected:

• Keep your distance from other people.

• Observe rigorous hygiene such as washing hands and cleaning injection/finger prick sites with soap and water or alcohol.

• Keep your blood sugar under control.

Managing diabetes in this time of coronavirus is indeed challenging — restricted movements, limited space, food and medical supply logistics can be stressful. But always bear in mind that diabetes management during COVID days is basically the same as pre-COVID days, especially for diabetics with good glycemic control.

Here are some guidelines that will help you manage your diabetes:

• Follow your medicine schedule as prescribed by your doctor.

• Make sure to keep enough stocks of medicine and supplies. Take your medicines for diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and other health problems even when you feel good.

• Test your blood sugar regularly.

• Try to keep your blood glucose level at your recommended range. The general recommended target for non-pregnant adults is to keep blood sugar level before meals between 80-130 mg/dl (4.4-7.2 mmol/L) and after meal blood sugar to less than 180 mg/dl (10mmol/L). Blood sugar goals may be different in elderly diabetics, diabetics with heart disease or those who are prone to hypoglycemia.

• Observe the healthy meal plan. Making smart food choices and portion size mindfulness are essential for keeping blood sugar in a healthy range. Diabetes diet refers to eating nutrient-rich, low-fat, low-calorie food in moderation at regular mealtimes. Key components of healthy foods include vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, low-fat dairy and lean meat. Avoid high-calorie snacks and salty foods. Drink water instead of juice and soda.

• Be physically active. Being physically active helps improve blood sugar and immunity.

• Practice good foot and skin care. If you have any signs of infection, contact your doctor or health care provider.

• Do not smoke.

(Continue learning about your diabetes to maintain and improve your health. Very helpful educational materials on self-management of diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic are made available online by The Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism [PSEDM]. Visit the website at https://endo-society.org.ph.)

Dr. Vivian Sarabia (during a courtesy call on Manila Mayor Isko Moreno), optometrist

Dr. Vivian Sarabia, optometrist

While we are on home quarantine, we find ourselves gazing at screens all day. Screen time is a big issue these days and can lead to eye strain or eye fatigue. I suggest the 20-20-20 rule practice. Every 20 minutes spent using the screen, you should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds. It takes about 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax. While resting your eyes, drink water to keep yourself hydrated.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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