Michelle Gabrielle Centamore


Greater Treatment Options for Breast Cancer Patients

The prognosis following a breast cancer diagnosis is not nearly as grim as it was even five years ago. (Getty Images)

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. 

Between 2012 and 2016, the Nassau County Department of Health estimated 1298.6 annual cases for females; Suffolk County Department of Health estimated 1314.2 cases in females. Although it is rare, breast cancer can also be diagnosed in males. The good news is, experts say the prognosis following a breast cancer diagnosis is not nearly as grim as it was even five years ago. Better screening, diagnosis and treatment are paving the way for a greater quality of life and longevity for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Decades ago, everyone had the same treatment — some did well, some didn’t — but now we know what each patient’s needs are across the board of surgical treatment, medical oncology treatment, and radiation,” says Dr. Christine Hodyl, director of Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Center for Breast Services. “What I’m seeing with breast cancer management is that we are moving towards personalized care.” 

Genetic screening plays a major factor in treatment, Dr. Hodyl adds. For example, BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are known to increase one’s risk for cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“We have learned over time that [some] women need less, not more,” says Jane Carleton, M.D., associate chief of clinical affairs at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute at Monter Cancer Center, Lake Success. Years ago, mastectomies were common protocol.  “We found that not all women need a complete axillary lymph node dissection; we could remove just a sentinel lymph node.” 

If a lymph node tests negative, removing more lymph nodes may be unnecessary. This is a critical “discovery,” as a considerable number of patients have subsequently developed lymphedema (swelling of the arms and legs) following a complete lymph node dissection; with a sentinel lymph node removal, the percent of women who develop lymphedema is substantially reduced, Dr. Carleton says.

As more drugs like Herceptin are being developed, the cure rate of early stage HER2-positive breast cancer dramatically improves, says Dr. Carleton. 

“It also means that if a woman has metastatic HER2 breast cancer, she might live 10 to 15 years longer because of using targeted agents like Herceptin and the many other drugs that have been developed,” she adds.

“The biggest improvement in prognosis has been found in tumors that are receptive to chemotherapy prior to surgery, otherwise known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy; we have been able to downstage a lot of these cancers and improve prognosis,” says Anastasia Bakoulis, DO, a breast and oncologic surgeon at Stony Brook University Cancer Center. “There have also been several advancements in that a lot of chemotherapy agents are now available to patients who may not have responded as well to a neoadjuvant therapy, too.” 

Utilizing immunotherapy for breast cancer is also becoming more encouraging, says Dr. Bakoulis. 

“We are trying to figure out how we can manipulate our own immune system to kill off this cancer and there have been some promising pathways,” she says.

Repeat lumpectomy is a treatment option — versus the previous standard of care in which a patient who was diagnosed with cancer and underwent lumpectomy with radiation would require breast removal if the cancer reoccurred, says Dr. Bakoulis. 

“Emerging data is saying maybe can get away with another lumpectomy and another round of radiation,” she says. Although studies are still in their infancy, Dr. Bakoulis says, “We are not seeing adverse effects from another round of radiation.”

With vast improvement in reconstructive surgery, patients are much more comfortable, notes Dr. Hodyl. One of the newer techniques involves placing implants on top of the muscle versus underneath. 

“We are leaving the anatomy as it is naturally,” she says. The implants are safer, too, she adds.

Advanced screening such as 3D mammography, awareness, and adopting a healthy lifestyle may influence the outcome of a breast cancer diagnosis, experts say. Eating healthy, avoiding processed foods, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, avoiding smoking and drinking, and managing stress can not only decrease your risk of getting cancer but also improve your chance of being cured if you’re diagnosed with the disease.

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How Advances in Prostate Cancer Screenings, Treatments Are Saving Lives

With greater awareness, screening, and improved treatment, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer have positive outcomes, experts say. (Getty Images)

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer.

While treatments are improving, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates for prostate cancer are 191,930 new cases and 33,330 deaths in the United States this year. And Long Island men are not immune. The New York State Department of Health estimates that from 2012-2016, Nassau County presented with average annual cases of 1,118.8 and 107.8 deaths per year; Suffolk County reported 1,093 average annual cases and 113 deaths per year.

“It is certainly an important medical problem on Long Island, similar to the way breast cancer is in this region,” states Dr. Manish A. Vira, system chief of urology at the Northwell Cancer Institute. With greater awareness, screening, and improved treatment, the majority of men who are diagnosed typically have positive outcomes, he adds.

Diagnostics for prostate cancer include a physical examination to ascertain if there is unusual firmness or a nodule on the prostate, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening. PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate. The PSA test measures the amount of PSA in the blood. 

The American Urological Association recommends “shared decision-making” between doctor and patient for men ages 55 to 69 years who are considering PSA screening. Men in their 40s or 50s who are at risk may consider getting screened earlier. 

At-risk males include those with a family history of prostate, breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancer and specific genetic factors. 

“We know that men who carry the BRCA mutation [gene mutations associated with increased breast cancer risk] also carry increased risk of not just prostate cancer but aggressive prostate cancer,” Dr. Vira says. 

An elevated PSA does not necessarily equate to a definitive prostate cancer diagnosis or necessitate a biopsy, says Dr. Michael P. Herman, chief of the division of urology at South Nassau Communities Hospital. There are two additional blood tests — the 4Kscore® and the Prostate Health Index (PHI) — that can aid in determining whether or not a patient needs a biopsy. 

“If needed, MRI-guided biopsies could increase accuracy of the biopsy,” Dr. Herman says. “We’re biopsying fewer people because we’re able to figure out which men don’t actually need it, but the ones we’re biopsying are the ones that are truly at risk, not just because of the high PSA.”

Surgery has improved by using robotics, says Dr. Herman. 

“We’re able to construct everything very precisely and give people the best outcomes when it comes to urinary control and sexual function,” he says.

Recovery from surgery tends to be very fast, too, he adds. Treatment time for radiation for prostate cancer is also much different than it is for other cancers. 

“Radiation [treatment] can be as short as a week or up to two months, but once you’re done with radiation, that’s typically it,” Dr. Herman says. 

Treatments for men diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer especially have dramatically improved over the years, notes Dr. Vira. 

“Traditional stage 4 prostate cancer was treated with hormonal therapy to eliminate testosterone from the body and that treatment would be successful for a period of time, but eventually the cancer would start to grow again,” he explains. 

Several drugs or treatments have been developed for patients who have failed hormonal therapy. A drug called olaparib has shown positive results in clinical trials in men who have the BRCA mutation, Dr. Vira says. A big avenue of treatment is actually no treatment at all, he adds. 

The idea behind “active surveillance” is that “many men who have no risk of prostate cancer at diagnosis may not need treatment right away, because their cancer is going to have a very slow and somewhat indolent course.” 

Surveillance, monitoring, and routine PSA testing would be recommended. If the cancer becomes more aggressive, treatment such as surgery or radiation could follow. 

“Treatment recommendations should always be tailored to the individual and their personal approach,” says Dr. Herman, “and with a physician that is willing to take that personal approach, work with the individual, and understand where they are coming from.”

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Race For A COVID-19 Vaccine Draws Scrutiny

A scientist prepares samples during the research and development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a laboratory of BIOCAD biotechnology company in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 11, 2020. (REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo)

Researchers say they are making progress in developing a vaccine that will curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but some remain suspicious of its effectiveness.

Thirty percent of New York Metro area residents say they are unsure if they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were available and 25 percent say they definitely would not, according to a Mount Sinai South Nassau Truth in Medicine poll released in June.

“It’s disturbing that there is reluctance about a potential vaccine,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau and a national expert on infectious diseases. “However, we’re hopeful that as one is developed, tested, and proven effective, people’s attitudes will change.”

Russia has said that the world’s first vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be rolled out by the end of this month, with doctors among those set to be administered with it on a voluntary basis. But a majority of Russian doctors would not feel comfortable being injected with Russia’s new COVID-19 vaccine due to the lack of sufficient data about it and its super-fast approval, a survey of more than 3,000 medical professionals showed.

The disease caused by the new coronavirus that has killed more than 774,682 people as of this story and unleashed economic havoc worldwide. There are more than two dozen coronavirus vaccines at the human clinical trial stage as the race to tame the pandemic heats up.

Among those in development, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine induced a “robust immune response” and protected against infection in a study on monkeys. Australian biotechnology company Vaxine Pty Ltd expects to start Phase II trials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the next few weeks after “positive” results from the first-stage human study. And Among the researchers seeking a cure are experts at Farmingdale-based Codagenix, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company working in collaboration with the Serum Institute of India to rapidly codevelop a vaccine against coronavirus using live COVID-19, known as live-attenuated vaccine.

“Early research shows promise that a vaccine could prevent a resurgence of COVID-19,” Dr. Glatt said. “Science is on our side. Right now, there is still too much unknown about a potential vaccine, and I assume that uncertainty is what we are seeing reflected in the poll results.”

On Long Island, formerly one of the national coronavirus hot spots in April, the number of cases has held steady. There were 86,184 confirmed COVID-19 cases — 43,100 in Nassau County, 43,084 in Suffolk County — and 4,190 residents succumbed to the virus, including 2,194 in Nassau and 1,996 in Suffolk as of July 28, according to the New York State Department of Health. There were 413,593 cases statewide, 4.3 million nationwide, and 16 million worldwide as of that date, data shows.

“We have successfully flattened the curve, but we have not eliminated the virus,” says Dr. Bettina Fries, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Medicine. “I don’t think we will get rid of the coronavirus, it will stay around, and you will see cases pop up, [but] it will be identified and the outbreak will be taken care of. The majority of people will be protected because they will be vaccinated.” 

But because the virus mutates, uncertainty remains.

“We just have to see whether it will be a long-term vaccination, or will it be similar to a flu vaccine where it will be repeated every year,” Dr. Fries says

Dr. Miriam Rahav, a Manhattan-based internal medicine, hospice, and palliative care specialist, says it may not be so simple. She says a COVID-19 vaccine does not come without risk, has only been tested on healthy individuals, and the virus has already mutated into 30 variants. 

“A lack of long-term safety testing is a red flag for the new [coronavirus] vaccine,” she says. “Knowledge about these mutations may prove useful to clinicians wanting to better tailor their COVID-19 treatments, but the proliferation of mutations makes the chances of developing an effective vaccine immensely more uncertain.” 

-With Reuters and Timothy Bolger

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Tips For Losing The COVID-15

Exercising and eating right are still the best ways to lose weight. (Getty Images)

Three months of inactivity and isolation can wreak havoc on your health. If quarantine from COVID-19 has left you feeling sluggish, out of shape, and battling extra pounds — aka the COVID-15 — now’s as good a time as any to kick your health and fitness regime into full gear.

Experts say the ideal way to create change is to choose attainable goals with the understanding that achieving optimal health takes effort and won’t happen overnight. 

“Be mindful that it took time to get where you are today, says registered dietician Lori D’Amato of Food and Wellness in Huntington. “So, it will take time to create healthy choices and new habits. Start by deciding what your long-term goals look like and then break it up into smaller, more achievable goals.”

D’Amato suggests addressing your emotional state, as well as health and weight loss goals. 

“If we are providing the right foods and working on exercise but our mind is not on the same page — stress, external cues — we may see some extra bumps in the road,” she adds.

Exercising is key to achieving better health and weight loss and is good for the psyche, too, says D’Amato.  Cardio is a great starting point, she notes, as it not only raises your heart rate but, “over a prolonged period of time, it starts to release your ‘happy’ neurotransmitters.” Feeling happy can serve as excellent motivation to continue your efforts. 

Consistency is key. Be consistent and slowly build upon your routine, for example, adding weight training, D’Amato adds. 

Regarding exercise, equally as important to what you do is how you do it, says Kayla Hendrickson, a Huntington nutrition consultant, personal trainer, and co-owner of Brains & Brawn, Inc. It’s all about execution.

“Choose three basic moves and commit to perfecting them,” she advises. “Movement is not much different than learning a new language. It needs to be practiced frequently, correctly, and with detail.” 

Choose exercise that you’re comfortable with physically and mentally and reevaluate over time, Hendrickson says. She suggests avoiding high repetition workouts and instead, increasing sets. Providing “ample opportunity to rest ensures that most reps are executed correctly. This is especially important after a lay-off because there is no way to know your body’s peak ability.” 

Listen to your body. Your “workout should be stimulating yet should not annihilate,” Hendrickson says.

Achieving better health and fitness is indeed a package deal — a positive mindset, plus exercise, plus nutrition, says Stefani Kavner, a certified holistic health coach at Huntington-based Fit For Life with Stef. 

Fuel your body with quality ingredients. To reduce inflammation and restore your body, avoid sugars, white flours and processed foods, Kavner advises. Mind your alcohol intake. 

“It turns into glucose in your body and causes systemic inflammation, as well as being a depressant,” she says, adding that junk food should be limited. “Why tempt yourself with food that you are not OK with eating right now?” 

“It’s important to ingest nutrient-dense foods so your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to heal and run properly,” Kavner adds. “Starting slowly can look like adding greens three times a day or cutting the gluten out of your diet.”

Include fresh vegetables, proteins including fish, and healthy fats into your diet — and don’t forget H2O, the experts say. Include antioxidant-rich foods, too. They’re “not only beneficial for the body by reducing oxidative stress, but [contain] a powerful antioxidant called polyphenols — found in black tea, coffee, several fruits and vegetables — that has been shown to help stimulate fat breakdown,” D’Amato notes.

Be realistic about your goals and path to achieving them. 

“Losing one to two pounds per week is the healthy way to go about weight loss,” for example, notes Kavner. 

Avoid fad diets! 

Make being healthy your new normal,” Kavner says. “If this is something you really want for yourself, making gradual changes over time will build momentum toward healthier habits.” 

Don’t forget to enjoy some fresh summer air and sunshine, too. It’s good for the soul. Seek support if needed, Kavner says.

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Huntington Hospital’s Executive Director Dr. Nick Fitterman Touts Top-Notch Care

Dr. Nick Fitterman

Dr. Nick Fitterman, Huntington Hospital’s executive director, is a native Long Islander who has embraced the Town of Huntington as his “personal and professional home.” 

Run by New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health, the state-of-the-art healthcare facility strives to offer the kind of unsurpassed care and compassion to patients that has been valued by Dr. Fitterman since before he began his career. He says childhood experiences with his family’s pediatrician were the driving forces behind him becoming a physician. 

“We didn’t have a lot of money,” he says. “[My pediatrician] took care of us and I always remember how grateful my parents were. This one person could impact the lives of the whole family. I wanted to be able to do something like that.”

In his previous roles as head of hospitalists at Huntington Hospital and vice chair of medicine at Northwell, Dr. Fitterman says he was able to help address “the changing landscape of patients’ needs and available treatment” and “improve efficiencies and quality at numerous hospitals.” 

In October 2018, Dr. Fitterman leapt at the opportunity to become the executive director at Huntington Hospital. He recalls thinking, “How great would it be to potentially have even more influence to improve the care of the community I live in? This job to me is a dream job.”

Dr. Fitterman praises Huntington Hospital’s exceptional collaborative team that includes physicians, nursing staff, aides, and environmental workers. 

“These people are really committed to relieving suffering of anyone that walks through our doors,” he says.

Huntington Hospital was previously ranked the 12th best hospital in the state and 14th in the region by U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 Best Hospitals rankings. 

“What all this reflects is that the community should feel safe,” he says. “They don’t need to travel to get world-class care — it’s right here in their backyard.” 

Dr. Fitterman says Huntington Hospital will continue to raise the bar in healthcare with plans to build a world-class cancer center in Huntington as part of the Northwell Cancer Institute as well as developing a neuroscience center. In addition, the hospital aims to enhance its already outstanding orthopedic and bariatric programs. 

“We are building programs here not to create a demand but rather, to meet the needs of community,” he says. “Healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. The sanctity of a physician-patient relationship is paramount to good care.” 

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Coronavirus Fuels Rise Of Telehealth Trend

Telehealth is the wave of the future, medical experts say. (Getty Images)

As the coronavirus pandemic created the need for doctors to see their patients without potentially contracting or spreading COVID-19 during office visits, many are increasingly turning to telehealth — like Skype, but for healthcare — which provides care remotely through telecommunications technology.

Telemedicine services enable practitioners to collaborate with each other and their patients — for example, transfer and analyze data and images — to treat and monitor patients without physical contact. The technology has been crucial in not only being able to address the needs of the sick but to protect the healthy, too. 

“Clearly at a time when you have a large influx of patients with potential for infectious disease, putting them all in a waiting room is suboptimal,” says Dr. Josh Kugler, who chairs the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside. 

Telehealth allows for initial screening to differentiate the need for an emergency room visit due to a broken bone or possible COVID-19, for example. 

“If they don’t meet certain criteria, we may take their phone number and call them in their car and use their technology or we could bring them an iPad…and we could set up a queue according to severity,” Kugler says, adding that by utilizing technology, physicians are able to triage and treat effectively without overexposing patients and providers. 

The healthcare industry is not new to telehealth. But healthcare privacy laws, limited reimbursement for providers, slower adoption by practitioners, and technical limitations made it an intimidating and/or slow-moving feat before coronavirus. 

Upon implementing or updating the scope of their telehealth care, hospitals and medical practices faced challenges from everything from language barriers to entering Medicare and Medicaid telemedicine codes, adoption and comprehension of the technology, and some patients’ reluctance due to their unfamiliarity with the technology. But most if not all of these bumps in the road were promptly addressed. For example, translation technology was utilized to combat language barriers, and the government has lifted regulatory restrictions.

Ultimately, telehealth has provided healthcare experts with advanced capabilities to care for their patients, the benefits of which are invaluable, experts say.

Telehealth adds 24/7 convenience, says Dr. Ken Long, vice president of administration, Mount Sinai South Nassau. Physicians have access to electronic medical records to remotely attend to hospital as well as family practices, even if their physicians have coronavirus. Doctors could easily fill prescriptions following a telehealth visit rather than have their patients run to the ER, for example. And while there’s been a great shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE), telehealth “allows us to conserve masks and gowns,” he says. “We want the practices to stay functional; we don’t want people to get sick.” 

Medical professionals at Northwell Health, Long Island’s largest healthcare system, agree.

“With the onset of COVID-19, Northwell Health has leveraged existing capabilities and expanded their capabilities and outreach tremendously,” says Iris Berman, R.N., vice president of Telehealth Services at Northwell Health. 

Telehealth has been extremely valuable particularly for the vulnerable and at-risk population, she notes, explaining that a patient with multiple comorbidities, simultaneous chronic diseases that require a number of different specialists to manage their care, would typically require special transportation and visits on any given day to a professional team including a pulmonologist, nutritionist, and physical therapist. 

“What we are able to do with telehealth is have all of those specialties at one visit at one time while that patient stays home,”  Berman adds.

They are able to coordinate, collaborate, and treat effectively.

“People will see the convenience of it and the efficiency and want to continue this well after the COVID emergency is over,” Berman says. “Getting good data together, looking at those avoided unnecessary and high-cost transfers to the emergency room — conserving more expensive resources for those that really need it — will be something interesting to look at.” 

Related Story: How To Boost Your Immune System During The Coronavirus War

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How To Boost Your Immune System During The Coronavirus War

Drinking fresh citrus fruit juice is a good source of vitamin C. (Getty Images)

As the world takes cover from the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare experts offer insight on how to help strengthen the immune system and stay healthy.

In addition to not touching your face and practicing social distancing — staying home, avoiding crowds, keeping at least 6 feet away from people in public — to avoid the spread of the disease, experts also offer a few suggestions on preventing and fighting COVID-19, should you contract it.

“Strengthening or boosting the immune system during this difficult time is of the utmost importance,” says Rosemary Cook, a registered nurse and holistic nutritionist. “A healthy immune system can defeat an invasion of a bacteria or virus or organism that is going to come to the host, which is your body.”

Hand hygiene is critical. Good old-fashioned soap and water is preferable to hand sanitizer, which should be used as a backup.

“People are using an overabundance of hand sanitizers and wiping out the natural flora or good bacteria,” she says. “Alcohol, although it has good disinfectant properties, deprives skin of oil and water and can dry skin out, which can interrupt the skin’s natural barrier of protection, increasing the risk of viruses and bacteria entering into the skin.”

She recommends disinfecting and sanitizing naturally, too, with vinegar, oregano oil, Thieves oil, or witch hazel. 

Consume a balanced diet that includes protein, fruits and vegetables, advises Vivian DeNise, D.O., of Garden City Center for Integrative Health. Avoid refined sugar, processed foods (which often contain monosodium glutamate or MSG) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), all of which will inhibit the body from doing its best work, she warns. 

Blending fruits and vegetables into juices and smoothies is a great way to get lots of nutrients into your diet. Frozen vegetables are dense in vitamins and minerals, Dr. DeNise notes. Gelatin-rich bone broth supports gut health and the immune system, adds Cook. 

Liposomal vitamin C is a most powerful antioxidant that strengthens your body’s natural defenses, combats free radicals, and encourages the production of white blood cells to protect the body against infection, experts say. Good food sources of Vitamin C include kiwi, oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, as well as raw vegetables — red and green peppers, spinach, leafy greens, etc. 

“Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut are great probiotics and also are rich in vitamin C,” Cook says. 

Experts note that zinc helps strengthen the immune system, in addition to cod liver oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D. 

“All provide protection against viruses,” Cook says. 

If you’re experiencing respiratory challenges, aside from consulting your physician, Cook recommends soothing the condition with the herb, thyme.

“It helps fight respiratory infections and is a natural expectorant; it helps get rid of mucus,” she says.

Avoid respiratory challenges by not smoking or vaping, warns Dr. DeNise. 

“When you smoke, it calms the cilia [tiny hairlike organisms that help protect your body from pathogens] down and whatever you’re inhaling gets deeper into your lungs,” the doctor adds. 

Remember, quarantine does not mean stay inside, says Cook. Fresh air, natural sunlight, and exercise are paramount to feeding the mind, body, and soul. 

“Take a break from social media every now and then, as negativity can wreak havoc on the immune system,” she says. “Sleep helps the body rejuvenate and heal. The body needs rest to maintain and build strength and immunity.” 

Dr. Salvatore R. Pardo, chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, agrees. 

“Whenever there’s a new virus, we don’t know how it behaves,” he says. Rather than panic, he advises: “Follow good hygiene, health, and safety practices.” 

Experts advise individuals to consult with their trusted healthcare provider for specific guidance and supplement dosage relating to their individual health needs. 

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Bite Into Wellness This National Nutrition Month

Say yes to fruits and no to sweets. (Getty Images)

An unhealthy diet is a leading risk factor for death, studies show.

Poor nutrition choices were responsible for an estimated 318,656 cardiometabolic deaths in 2012, according to “Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States,” a 2017 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The good news is that it’s never too late to get healthy. What better way to start than to explore some of 2020’s most promising nutrition plans? This year’s front-runners are the ketogenic (keto) diet, plant-based diet, and intermittent fasting.

“Many diabetics—Type 2—are using [the Keto] diet for weight loss which helps decrease blood sugar and insulin levels,” notes Greer McGuinness R.D., C.D.N., chief clinical dietician at Cold Spring Hills Nursing Home in Woodbury. “The biggest challenge is following the diet; many patients don’t stick to it and eventually get frustrated and stop, resulting in weight gain.”

The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate- to high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. McGuinness suggests that diabetics, especially, should collaborate with their physician and dietician to monitor health and achieve success.

Plant-based diets are the next hottest trend, says McGuinness, and for good reason. According to the American Heart Association, a plant-based diet — which entails removing or limiting some or all meat items and consuming fruits, vegetables and grains — reduces the risk of coronary disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and many cancers. 

“Plant based doesn’t mean you eat less protein,” says McGuinness. “You get protein sources from other items.”

Be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and iron, too. 

Intermittent fasting does not dictate what types of food you can or can’t eat; rather, “It’s an adjustment of times for consumption of food and not eating,” explains McGuinness. 

“The fewer hours you eat, the fewer calories you consume, putting you in a calorie deficit for weight loss,” she says. 

Still, consuming healthy foods and practicing healthy lifestyle habits can surely contribute to success. Individuals on medications should consult with their physician, says McGuinness. Whatever nutrition plan you choose, remember, no diet is a one-size-fits-all, says McGuinness, who suggests seeking out counseling if need be.

“The human body is so complex, and everyone is different,” she says, adding that it’s all about “changing the mindset.” 

The Little Mermaid Takes The Argyle Theatre at Babylon Village Under The Sea

The Little Mermaid takes the stage at Argyle Theatre at Babylon Village

The Argyle Theatre at Babylon Village is taking Long Island theatergoers “under the sea” for one more week with the classic Broadway musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

The enchanted tale of a beautiful, brave mermaid who longs to explore life on land is an absolute must-see. Under the creative leadership of Argyle’s artistic director, Evan Pappas, The Little Mermaid sweeps audiences up in one wave, beginning with mesmerizing ocean sounds breezing through the theatre minutes before both vibrant sea and land-life take the audience by storm, quite literally. With brilliantly designed costumes and choreography, a super creative set, awesome props, intricate lighting and sound details, and a dynamic, talented cast, one would think the real Disney story has come to life in the most magical place on earth, except in this story, the magic is all on Argyle’s stage. An especially “hot crustacean [pit] band” is underneath and fills the theatre with a captivating instrumental performance.

Princess Ariel, played by Kimberly Immanuel, embodies the heart, soul, talent and beauty of the teenaged princess who dreams of becoming human, and live with the charming Prince Eric, played by the dashingly talented, Jeff Sullivan. Immanuel sings Part of Your World with a voice that is both sweet and strong, full of conviction with a hint of a dream about to come true. Her transformation on stage from mermaid to human is pure genius thanks to costume designer, Kurt Alger, whose designs are all exquisitely constructed to reflect each character’s unique personalities.  

Ariel’s father King Triton is played with royal perfection by Warren Nolan Jr. He truly personifies your average, protective father and majestic ruler. Under the Sea is a blast, performed by the fiery red crustacean, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gregory Thurman. Such fun and fancy fin-work graces the stage in this scene and more, thanks to an eclectic choreography arrangement by choreographer Tara Jeanne Valle. 

Courtney Balan’s performance as the evil Ursula singing Poor Unfortunate Soul, accompanied by Flotsam and Jetsam, her evil sidekicks on skates, was super powerful. Ariel’s faithful friends, Flounder, played by Matthew Rafanelli and Scuttle, played by Michael Valvo, brought that fantastic, fun-loving energy we’ve all come to adore from a Disney Classic. 

Several of The Little Mermaid’s cast and crew are returnees, a true testament to the specialness of the Argyle family, started by father-son duo, Mark and Dylan Perlman. Argyle’s frequent theatergoers, too, have come to look forward to and appreciate the exceptional talent and heart that is displayed at each of Argyle’s productions.

Argyle Theatre, 34 West Main St., Babylon. argyletheatre.com, 844-631-5483. Disney’s The Little Mermaid tickets $35-$74 Through February 23. 

Healthy Relationships With Food Take Dedication

Eating disorders can impact the mind and body equally. (Getty Images)

For Meaghan Wamboldt, 26, of Dix Hills, establishing a healthy relationship with food and her body took nearly half of her lifetime to accomplish. 

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always struggled with body image and self-confidence,” she recalls. 

During her childhood, competitive cheerleading and dance kept her active and fit on the outside, but by the time she hit her teens, she began to crumble on the inside. Traumatic experiences, poor self-esteem, anxiety, and depression settled in, resulting in dangerous eating and lifestyle habits. By her freshman year of college, Wamboldt was diagnosed with anorexia, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although presently recovered from her eating disorder, Wamboldt suffers from its physical side effects, including a heart condition (bradycardia) and infertility.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that could negatively and indefinitely impact an individual’s emotional, mental, and physical health. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (starvation), bulimia nervosa (self-induced vomiting following binge eating), and binge eating disorder (eating large quantities of food). Most individuals who suffer from an eating disorder also feel some sort of guilt or shame about themselves and their condition. 

“An eating disorder is the degree to which thoughts, actions and behaviors about food, weight, body image and exercise begin to interfere with your quality of life and your ability to be present,” says Dr. Sondra Kronberg, licensed clinical nutritionist, certified eating disorder specialist, and founding executive director of Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative, which has officers in Jericho and Hauppauge. 

There are several potential triggers in eating disorders and Long Island is no stranger to many of them, says Kronberg.

“We live in a pretty image-driven culture on Long Island — the amount of pressure to succeed, be the best and the thinnest, stress, and affluence,” could all create an “epidemic of eating disorders,” she says. 

Other triggers may include a history of a mental health condition, a relative with an eating disorder, poor body image, and weight issues, poor self-esteem, anxiety or trauma, and peer pressure, according to NEDA.

“The most obvious sign of an eating disorder is being grossly too thin or being grossly overweight,” says Barbara Crosby, M.S., certified health coach, weight management expert and eating disorder therapist. Other symptoms include thinning hair or hair loss, decreased socialization, increased isolation, not being able to eat around people, etc. 

Recovery from eating disorders is “a work in progress and a lifetime responsibility,” says Crosby. 

“The sooner the patient is diagnosed the easier it will be to heal,” Crosby says. Working with a mental health professional, nutritionist, physician, etc., who specializes in eating disorders is critical. “The goal is for the patient to have the courage and strength to look into and learn about themselves.” 

Support of family and friends may also contribute to healing and help foster positive self-attitudes and gratitude. Crosby advises: Don’t discuss food, weight or appearance. 

“Instead, chat about the weather, kids, jobs, vacations, movies … If asked how they look, “stay neutral,” she suggests, with a reply like, “You look beautiful.”

Those who succeed in recovering from an eating disorder have this in common: “They learn how to eat and care for themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually in a way that supports their aliveness, well-being, spontaneity, growth and development,” says Kronberg. 

Wamboldt says her life was saved by a team of professionals including a nutritionist, psychologist, psychiatrist, medical doctor, and support group, as well as her faith. 

“I no longer view my body as a battlefield, and food isn’t the enemy,” she says. “I learned that my worth and my value doesn’t come from a number on the scale, but what’s in my heart. I learned that self-esteem comes from doing esteemable acts and living my life according to my values and morals. I learned that I am loved because of who I am inside, not outside.”