Alcohol is very much a part of our lives here in the Cayman Islands. If not directly, indirectly you may know someone who has experienced the pirate’s lifestyle that is represented in today’s media. On one side we see Jack Sparrow chugging a bottle of rum while drunkenly singing around a bonfire. On the other, we see total destruction and abuse to the human spirit. Overall, Hollywood has painted a pretty serious picture of the Caribbean lifestyle relating to alcohol consumption. However, it is important to separate the truth and myths of this substance. This may help with your decisions when out for dinner or on the beach with friends.
Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, such as reducing your risk of developing and dying from heart disease. This directly relates to reducing your risk of an ischemic stroke which is when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow. As well researchers concluded that moderate drinking could possibly reduce your risk of diabetes. For both men and women, wine was seen as reducing the risk by more than 25 percent and beer by 21 percent. Clear spirits, on the other hand, were concluded to increase women’s risks of developing diabetes by 83 percent. But health experts urge caution over these findings. Diabetes UK, the British charity dedicated to supporting people suffering from the condition, say that people should not see it as an incentive to drink.
How do we define moderate consumption? Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65. Men younger than 65 should only have up to two drinks a day. Keep in mind that even moderate alcohol use isn’t risk-free. For example, even light drinkers have a tiny, but real, increased risk of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer. While moderate alcohol use may offer some health benefits, heavy drinking has no health benefits. Heavy drinking is defined as more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks a week for women and men older than the age of 65. As well more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week for men younger than 65. Binge drinking like the famous Jack Sparrow can cause serious harm and is not to be taken lightly.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can affect all aspects of a person’s life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, can damage emotional stability, finances, career, and impact one’s family, friends and community. Alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States. Up to 40 percent of all hospital beds in the US (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are directly related to the abuse of alcohol consumption. Alcoholism has little to do with what kind of alcohol one drinks. But it has a great deal to do with a person’s uncontrollable need for alcohol. Most alcoholics can’t just “use a little willpower” to stop drinking. The alcoholic is frequently in the grip of a powerful craving for alcohol, a need that can feel as strong as the need for food or water. While some people are able to recover without help, the majority of alcoholics need outside assistance to recover. Yet, with support and treatment, many are able to stop drinking and reclaim their lives.
Consider how much you are drinking on a daily or even weekly basis. We do not want to deter people from enjoying a well-deserved drink. But we wish for people to do so responsibly and understand the limits to alcohol consumption before it becomes a life altering risk. Drink in moderation and enjoy the perks that it has to offer. But more importantly, know the truth about alcoholism and understand the myths. Alcohol does not make you invincible.
The numbers are startling: More than 100 million American adults have diabetes, meaning they have poor blood sugar control, which, if untreated, often leads to type 2 diabetes within a few short years. It’s not surprising that a great deal of research is trying to work out how eating habits
Pharmacist Kevin Gipple addresses the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists about dispensing medical marijuana products. – Photo: Mark Muckenfuss
In the 16 months his pharmacies have been dispensing cannabis products, David Pellow said about 300 people have filled prescriptions for the drug, which is dispensed in the form of an oil or pill.
“It’s growing and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down,” said Mr. Pellow, a pharmacist and owner of three pharmacies on Cayman.
Medicinal cannabis in the form of oils and tinctures has been a legally prescribed drug since May 2017 in Cayman. Mr. Pellow said it is available at five pharmacies on the island.
He was speaking last Friday at the annual Caribbean Association of Pharmacists convention at the Marriott Beach Resort. His talk was preceded by a screened image of Bob Marley as the song “Jammin’” drifted through the room.
Mr. Pellow shared the results of a recent study of 166 patients using cannabis for various ailments, ranging from chronic pain, to anxiety, to nausea brought on by chemotherapy. At the time of the study, he said his pharmacy at CTMH Doctors Hospital had dispensed medical marijuana prescriptions to 136 women, 116 men and 14 dogs.
Among those questioned in the survey, Mr. Pellow said, 84 percent said that use of the drug had been beneficial.
Kevin Gipple, a clinical compounding pharmacist for the Doctors Hospital pharmacy, shared the podium with Mr. Pellow. He talked about the various cannabinoids, some of their uses, methods of administering the drug and precautions pharmacists need to take in dispensing and monitoring cannabis in their patients.
Mr. Gipple said pharmacists need to be aware of potential changes in liver enzymes and the potential for overdose with oral preparations and warned against combining the drug with anti-depressants.
In addition, he said, patients need to be informed about the use of the drug while traveling, as medical marijuana is still illegal in many countries.
While Mr. Gipple’s portion of the presentation was largely cautionary, he said the rollout of the drug has so far been successful in the Cayman Islands.
“It’s gone pretty smoothly as we’ve gone along,” he said.
One of the biggest hurdles that remain is the stigma the drug carries. With all of the efforts to keep ganja from reaching Cayman’s shores, the legal use of cannabis oil still seems contradictory to some.
“When we did our follow-up [survey],” Mr. Gipple said, “stigma was one of the reasons for discontinuing the drug. People said, ‘The neighbors think badly of me.’ But I think that’s changing.”
He expects there will be more options as more is learned about various cannabinoids and how they work together or alone.
“We probably need more dosage forms,” he said. “There are various forms of cannabis and we can do more.”
The holiday season can be a really tough time to stay on top of your exercise routine. It’s cold out, and there are fun places to go and friends to see. Plus, managing your already-busy schedule can get tricky as you try to fit in holiday shopping, parties and family visits.
But considering the amount of rich and sugary food that are so common around this time of year — cookies, candies, eggnog, you name it — it’s especially important to keep moving. Here are some things I recommend this time of year to keep you going, even when all you want to do is curl up with more hot chocolate:
- Look for every opportunity to squeeze exercise in
You may feel like you don’t have time to manage your normal workout routine in between travel, shopping, family visits and friends’ parties. But you don’t necessarily need to carve out a full 30 minutes every day. Instead, take any spare moment as a chance to squeeze in a few crunches or planks. Take an extra lap around the mall on your next shopping trip, or walk home from a party with your friends instead of taking a cab. Even if you can only get a 10 minute brisk walk in twice a day, that’s better than nothing!
- Fire yourself up
This is something that I do to get me excited and motivated for the day ahead. It’s really simple — I make a checklist in the morning of the 10 things I want to accomplish that day. It’s amazing how gratifying it is to check tasks off that list as you get things done. Make your workout part of that list and don’t let yourself end the day without marking off that box.
- Follow through
Recruit others to help you stay accountable. Talk with a friend or your partner about your holiday fitness goals, and have them help you stay on track. Maybe you’ll get a workout buddy in the process, or just someone to text you reminders and motivation. Knowing that there’s someone else out there keeping tabs on your progress may spur you to keep up!
Some of my patients with diabetes ask me what’s the big deal if their blood sugar levels go up a little or they gain a few pounds over the holidays. They say they can always lose the weight afterward and get their sugar levels under control.
To an extent, that could be true. If you’re in good overall health, doing well with your diabetes control and manufacturing reasonable amounts of insulin, a day or two of indulging a bit more than usual in holiday food shouldn’t be a problem.
How long that overindulgence goes on, and how many times, though, are important factors. The holidays can easily extend well past New Year’s. If you slip into bad eating habits, you can do long-term damage, raise your blood sugars and gain weight.
You can keep your weight and blood sugar levels under control during the holidays using these tips.
- Maintain your schedule
If you overeat, trying to catch up by skipping a meal afterward may cause you to overeat when you have your next meal or if a snack is available. Even on your holiday and days away from work, try to get up, eat, exercise and take your diabetes and any other medications about the same time as you usually do.
- Check your blood sugar frequently
If you are taking insulin or medications that lower your blood sugar, check your blood sugar more frequently during the holidays, especially before driving a car or adjusting your insulin doses. Make allowances for the changes in your work and exercise schedules as well as your eating opportunities.
- Budget your sweets and treats
To keep your blood sugars from skyrocketing, include sweets and treats as part of your carbohydrate budget — not in addition to it. Choose the meat and side vegetables and salad at dinner. Your carbohydrate for dinner could be Aunt Emily’s nut roll that she only makes during the holidays.
- Watch your alcohol intake
Moderate alcohol intake can have a blood sugar-lowering effect, so don’t drink on an empty stomach. The amounts of calories and sugars vary significantly among drinks so it can be useful to search nutrition information about your favorite drinks. Recommendations for alcohol for those with diabetes are no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men. (One drink equals 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 1 ounce of distilled spirits.
- Download mobile tools
You can download mobile apps to your phone, including apps that help you count carbohydrates of certain dishes, and let you know how much insulin you need to take (if you use it before meals).
- Order smart in restaurants
You’d be pleasantly surprised how many restaurants offer healthy options not mentioned on the menu. Ask for options with less saturated fat, fried food and sugars. Substitute olive oil with fresh pepper for butter. You can also substitute sides. Ask for a baked or boiled potato (skin on) or fresh, steamed or stir-fried veggies instead of mashed potatoes.
- Cook light, healthy dishes to take with you to parties.
If you’re going to a holiday dinner, ask if you can bring a dish — one lower in calories and fat — such as a vegetable tray or vegetable-based appetizer. There are many delicious, diabetes-friendly recipes, like low-sugar pumpkin mousse parfait, that you can bring to holiday parties. You can find low-sugar recipes from the American Diabetes Association.
- Be ‘party smart’
At the party, enjoy some of the vegetable-based appetizers first, then the meat or cheese appetizers. Place your appetizers on your napkin instead of a plate and you’ll be less likely to overfill it. Another tip: don’t stand near the buffet table or food when talking at a party. It’s also important to stay hydrated. Drink water or club soda with a lime or lemon twist. Keep a calorie-free drink in your hand to keep your hands busy.
- Stay active
If you can’t stick to your usual exercise program during this busy time, do some fun activity with family or friends. If 40 minutes a day at one time isn’t possible, break your exercise up into 10- to 15-minute segments, two or three times a day.
- Remember the reason for the season
Put the focus on family and friends and not on food. Enjoy what you do eat. Savor each bite! Most important, remember to include time for exercise, meals and relaxation. The holidays will only be great if you’re in good health to enjoy them.
Follow these simple tips to keep your heart healthy during the holiday season.
Bring out the fruits and vegetables
Focus on pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes or other orange vitamin-packed vegetables. Greens such as broccoli, spinach and collard greens all pack vitamin power too. Serve colorful raw veggies with low-fat dip as an appetizer.
Make smart substitutions
Use fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth to moisten dressing. Use olive oil in place of butter or margarine. Mash potatoes with nonfat sour cream and low-fat milk. Use fat-free non-dairy creamers or evaporated skim milk instead of cream when you bake.
Don’t starve yourself until your holiday dinner
Have a healthy breakfast so you don’t load up at the big meal. When you sit down to eat, try just a little bit of everything and go easy on second helpings and dessert.
The benefits of exercise
Take a walk after dinner, or exercise sometime during the day to offset meal calories. Several studies have shown that moderate exercise after a fatty meal helps prevent fat from affecting your arteries. Take a 45-minute walk two hours after a high-fat meal, or three 10-minute walks over a three-hour period. But always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level, especially if you have medical problems or have been inactive. So, enjoy your meal, but prepare it with less fat and walk it off afterwards. Your arteries and your waistline will thank you.
The Cayman Islands Government has arranged Hurricane Relief for our Caribbean neighbors in Anguilla who experienced extensive damage during Hurricane Irma. CTMH | Doctors Hospital Pharmacy was contacted by HSA asking to contribute medical supplies and medication for the people of Anguilla. Our materials management team (Naomi Clery & Damion Tomlin) stepped into action arranging medical supplies that were essential to Hurricane Relief. Our Home Healthcare Advisor Jocelyn McLeod also stepped up to support Anguilla with braces and support products. Maureen Gipple & Simone Davis also acted as leading Pharmacists in arranging crucial medications for the Anguilla communities. read more →
Grand Cayman’s Cayman Pharmacy Group and CTMH | Doctors Hospital have made a groundbreaking medical introduction by acquiring an initial quantity of Medical Cannabis for the treatment of physician selected patients who are resident to the Cayman Islands.
The newly approved Government Legislated process, which takes advantage of importing pharmaceutical grade cannabis extracts from a Health Canada authorized licensed producer of cannabis for medical purposes is now available in Grand Cayman. The oils extracted, containing measurable combinations of active ingredients of cannabis: THC (Tetrahyrdocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) are to be initially dispensed out of CTMH | Doctors Hospital Pharmacy. Caribbean Medical Distributors LTD is working through CTMH | Doctors Hospital Pharmacy to spearhead this strongly supported treatment in phase I of supplying cannabis oils to pharmacies in the Cayman Islands. read more →