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Dr. Christopher Calapai

These are the Key Tests You Can’t Cut When Downsizing Health Insurnce

Nurse talking to patient in hospital room

With the healthcare system is crisis, tons of red tape and fewer doctors accepting insurance, managing one’s health has become a major challenge.

More and more women are skipping key exams simply because getting appointments are a hassle and obtaining coverage isn’t always guaranteed. That said, there are some key tests and exams that ever woman must have at various times of her life.

If you’re going to put a preventative care plan together for yourself it’s important to know which tests are necessary to maintain optimal health. Dr. Christopher Calapai, a NYC board certified expert in osteopathic medicine specializing in longevity, recommends these tests.

Blood and blood pressure screening: Starting at age 18, every woman needs to have her blood pressure checked at least every two years. Having annual bloodwork done is the way to tell if organs are functioning properly. Doing the basic blood panel between age 18 and 39 is a great start. After age 40 additional testing for things like fibrinogen which impacts blood clotting and C-Reative Protein which looks at inflammation in the body are key tests to consider. “As a longevity specialist, bloodwork tells a detailed story about health patterns and future predictions that can then be addressed and even reversed with early care,” says Dr. Calapai.

Cholesterol screening/lipid profile:

Cholesterol is a type of fatty protein in your blood that can build up in your arteries, so knowing how much cholesterol is present is a good predictor of your risk for heart disease. It’s important to start monitoring cholesterol starting at age 20 to establish a history. As women age cholesterol levels tend to rise so having a solid basis of comparison decade to decade is helpful in preventing heart disease down the road, explains Dr. Calapai.

Pap smear:

A pap smear is an important test for women to get annually if they are sexually active and over age 21. The test is designed to detect infection, inflammation or cellular abnormalities in the cervix which may lead to cervical cancer. “This is certainly one of those tests that must be done every year. Some women diagnosed with HPV who may have had abnormal results are often monitored even more closely. The more a woman knows about the health of her reproductive organs the better she can integrate foods, vitamins and minerals to keep herself healthy,” advises Dr. Calapai.

Mammograms and breast exams:

Women should begin administering monthly self-breast exams monthly as early as age 18. “It’s so important for women to understand that breast tissue changes during the month. They want to do the self-check in their shower or lying down just after their period ends when breasts are less tender, sore or swollen. This is when to feel around for any lumps, pain, tenderness, inflamed skin, and any issues with the nipple such as blockages or discharge. A mammography is an x-ray of the breasts. As of 2017, the American Cancer Society screening guidelines advises women to begin getting annual mammograms by age 45 and then can go to every other year by age 55. This guideline is for a woman of average risk. Women with a family history of breast cancer or with had cystic breasts with benign cysts should obviously have mammograms at an earlier age. “The self-exam is so important because early detection is key. If a woman is in her 20’s or 30’s and feels a lump she can follow through with her doctor for a closer look. When a woman goes in for a pap smear a breast exam is often done as well. However, you can’t hold off and skip the self-exam, cautions Dr. Calapai.

Skin cancer screening:

Skin cancer, while less deadly than other kinds of cancers, is the number-one cancer diagnosed among Americans; and one type of skin cancer, melanoma, is deadly. The number of women under age 40 with basal cell carcinoma, one type of skin cancer, has more than doubled in the last 30 years and women under 39 are almost twice as likely to develop melanoma as men.

A skin cancer screening involves a full examination of the skin with focused attention on any moles, skin lesions or any other changes to the skin. It is advised to begin skin cancer screenings at any age and the fairer the complexion the more vigilant one must be. Annual screenings are normal and doctors may recommend twice annually if there are more moles and you’re on hypertension medication. “The skin is the largest organ in the body and a great indicator of overall health. Even if you have darker skin any rash, growth or skin issue should be taken seriously so the underlying cause can be determined quickly,” adds Dr. Calapai.

Eye exam and vision screening:

According to the American Optometric Association people with normal, good vision should have their eyes examined every 3 years. For people who needed glasses or contacts at an earlier age an annual exam is recommended. By age 40 those with healthy, strong eyesight will begin to see changes either when driving, reading or watching TV. Women are at a slightly higher risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, one of the most common eye health problems. A vision screening tests how well you can see; an eye exam checks for glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinopathy, and other eye diseases. Make sure you’re having both kinds of exams. If you have diabetes, you’re at much higher risk for eye problems and should be checked more often. “When you get an eye exam and a prescription for glasses is give follow through and get the glasses. It’s amazing how many people put this off which only leads to further eye strain and headaches. Besides, glasses these days are a stylish accessory. There’s no need to compromise eye health for vanity,” says Dr. Calapai.

About the doctor:

Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. is an Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine. Proclaimed the “The Stem Cell Guru” by the New York Daily News, Dr. Calapai is a leader in the field of stem cell therapy in the U.S. His stem cell treatments have achieved remarkable results in clinical trials on patients with conditions as varied as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, frailty syndrome, heart, kidney and liver failure, lupus, MS and Parkinson’s. He has worked with Mike Tyson, Mickey Rourke, Steven Seagal, and Gotham’s, Donal Logue; and as a medical consultant for the New York Rangers. Connect with him via twitter @drcalapai or at www.drcal.net

These Are the Foods That Help or Kill Your Brain

Guest post

The foods you have in your pantry and fridge may be helping or hindering your brain. Dr. Christopher Calapai DO, a New York City Osteopathic Physician board certified in family and anti-aging medicine explains that the foods we choose have a lot to do with how sharp, attentive, alert, focused and happy we feel after they are consumed. Certain foods may taste great have additives in them that literally cloud our brains and leave us sluggish and dull headed. The opposite is also true. We can eat certain foods and feel a charge of mental energy and focus. We spoke to Dr. Calapai and got a quick list of foods that boost and drain the brain. Which ones will you add and remove from your shopping list?

Brain Boosting Foods to Add to your diet:

1 Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamin E. Higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and un-hydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw or roasted doesn’t matter, although if you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts. “Adding nuts to your diet can aid in decreasing levels of enzymes that lead to protein plaques from forming and dementia. Nuts can also reduce brain inflammation, keep blood pressure low, key for preventing stroke,” explains Dr. Calapai.

2. Blueberries

“I eat these daily and encourage patients to add blueberries to as many things as possible. They’re great on their own, added to a shake, to oatmeal, or even to a salad,” says Dr. Calapai. Blueberries are tasty and sweet and loaded with antioxidants. They’re packed with vitamin C, K and fiber and pack high levels of gallic acid, making them especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress. “Studies show that eating blueberries can boost focus and memory for up to 5 hours,” adds Dr. Calapai

3Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the best brain foods out there. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline which is a B vitamin know for aiding brain development keeps memory sharp and protects the brain from later decline with age. It’s also loaded with vitamin C. Just one cup provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake. Its high-fiber levels makes you feel full quickly, too. “People hear broccoli and roll their eyes thinking it’s bland a boring. Think of broccoli as a canvas ready to be painted with spices and flavors, offers Dr. Calapai. Try stir frying with a bit of olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add in a spoonful of orange or lemon juice and it gets this nice sweetness to it.

4Fish

Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and other fish are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA seems to be very important for the normal functioning of neurons in the brain. Eating more fish often means eating less red meat and other forms of protein that are high in artery-clogging saturated fats. “People who are lacking in Omega 3’s can experience mood swings and feeling edgy or negative. Omega 3’s have been know to be mood boosters in addition to enhancing focus and memory,” says Dr. Calapai.

5Avocado

This creamy treat is also a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E. Research suggests that foods rich in vitamin E—including avocado, which is also high in the antioxidant powerhouse vitamin C—are associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Brain Drainers to Drop

1Partially Hydrogenated Oils

There is zero reason to ever eat foods that list “partially hydrogenated oils” in their ingredients list. It’s code for trans fats, which, in addition to upping your risk for obesity and damaging your heart health, can cause serious brain drain. “Diets high in trans fats increase beta-amyloid, peptide ‘plaque’ deposits in brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. One study published in Neurology found that people who consumed high levels of trans fats had lower cognitive abilities and smaller brains later in life,” says Dr. Calapai. Common culprits include fried foods, baked goods, and processed foods. So bake or grill chicken instead of frying it, go for sweet potatoes instead of French fries and avoid anything wrapped in plastic that sits on a shelf for months at a time.

2Added sugars

The average American eats 79 pounds of added sweeteners per year which can cause constant insulin spikes and inflammation resulting in both vascular and neuronal damage. One study published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity found that large amounts of sugar cause the hippocampus, the brain’s memory control center, to become inflamed, meaning it can’t work at 100 percent. Meanwhile, one cross-cultural analysis found that high sugar intake is linked to depression. “Sugar is a big trap because when you eat something sweet there’s a high initially. It feels good at first taste but then once it starts to be processed in the body there’s a heaviness that follows, says Dr. Calapai.

3Saturated fat

A diet high in saturated fat can decrease the brain’s ability to fight the formation of Alzheimer’s-linked brain plaque. An onslaught of saturated fat also hurts your brain in the short-term. Saturated fat impairs your brain’s ability to learn and form new memories within as little as 10 minutes after chowing down. Processed meats such as bacon, pepperoni, pork sausage, or chorizo are examples of very tasty foods that are high in saturated fat. “Look we all like to indulge from time to time and that is fine, but when saturated fats are staples in your diet, then that’s going to take a toll,” advises Dr. Calapai.

About the Doctor:

Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. is an Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine. Proclaimed the “The Stem Cell Guru” by the New York Daily News, Dr. Calapai is a leader in the field of stem cell therapy in the U.S. His stem cell treatments have achieved remarkable results in clinical trials on patients with conditions as varied as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, frailty syndrome, heart, kidney and liver failure, lupus, MS and Parkinson’s. He has worked with Mike Tyson, Mickey Rourke, Steven Seagal, and Gotham’s, Donal Logue; and as a medical consultant for the New York Rangers. Connect with him via twitter @drcalapai or at www.drcal.net