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Mark Gottschlich

Mark Gottschlich

Everyday Wellness: Get off your bum and enjoy a heightened quality of life

One of the fundamental principles by which I live is to live in moderation. This principle’s personal meaning evolved as I aged. During my teen years, it meant trying to find the proper balance between studying and hanging out with friends. Over the next decade, the theme of living in moderation advanced to encompass many aspects of my life — including school, work, nutrition, sleep, exercise, Court Street adventures, etc. What I have found is when I am successful at living in moderation; I am more healthy and happy. On the occasions when I may cross the boundary and test the extremes, it usually has negative effects on my mind and body.This is relevant to “Everyday Wellness” readers because I recently became aware that there was a glaring aspect of my life that was not in balance and needed to be addressed because such excessiveness results in negative consequences to healthy living. I am referring to the inordinate amount of sitting that you and I do on a daily basis.We all do it and few do anything to stop it. All of this sitting — be it in a car seat, at a desk, couch or dinner table — adds up and likely even surpasses the amount of time you lay down to sleep on a given day. I am sure we would all get a glare of disapproval and astonishment from our ancestors who were on their feet all day from working hard labor.The fact is that this sedentary behavior is unhealthy. The worst part is, our bodies try to alert us of the damage we are acquiring by way of subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle twinges of discomfort in our necks and backs, but we largely ignore these aches and pains and attribute them to unavoidable life stressors. To give an analogy, Mama Bear’s porridge is way too hot and yet we continue to sit back (literally) and burn our tongues. The damage is not only reflected in our poor postures but sitting can also negatively impact proper circulation and metabolic functioning, increasing the risk for many diseases including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.I am not saying that sitting is bad and will eventually kill you, but instead, I want to address yet another one of life’s many things that is best enjoyed in moderation. While trying to reduce one’s daily sitting might sound more daunting of a task than even adding healthy vegetables and fruits to your diet, I think you will find there are small adjustments you can make that are easy and sustainable. My advice: let the porridge cool for a couple minutes, or at least sip it slowly.While obviously setting aside time to work out or go for a jog are good options, even easier things could be standing up and walking around the room when you are on the phone. Other ideas include standing up every 30 minutes and taking a quick break to do some non-strenuous lunges, squats or even some light stretching. After incorporating these ideas or your own personal ideas, start charting how much less time you are sitting, and every month or so see if you can “one-up” yourself and go for an extra 10 minutes of standing the next month.The impact of standing and leisurely movement can be profound. For starters, you'll burn more calories, which might lead to weight loss and increased energy. And who knows, maybe after a year or so you will be so focused on seeking a new personal best standing time that you might invest in a standing workstation for your computer. Or even better, your own personal office treadmill! So, take a stand to sitting and decide for yourself if you want to live healthier by standing more.Mark Gottschlich is a second year medical student at the Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine and a monthly columnist at The Post. Have questions about health and wellness? Email him at; call your physician if you feel excessively tired throughout the day.

Everyday Wellness

Everyday Wellness: All fats aren’t created equal

Fats are one of the most misunderstood nutrients, and understandably so. Fats used to be synonymous with two groups of foods: commercially baked goods — which includes pastries, pies, and cookies — and fast food staples, like hamburgers and french fries. What became apparent over time was that these fats, while tasty, are also deadly. Research showed that excessive consumption led to an increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. So these foods were placed on the highest of pedestals, all the way up on the tip top of the food pyramid, with advisement from health officials to only to be enjoyed on occasion.But things have changed. Now, certain “fats” can be regarded as health foods, and are actually the mainstays of some of the most popular diet crazes out there, including the Paleo and Mediterranean diets. To understand how some fats can be beneficial while others are deleterious, you must delve deeper into the realm of biochemistry. What you see is dietary lipids are actually made up of complex conformations of fatty acids, and it is the arrangement and the amount of double bonds in these fatty acids that largely differentiates a “good” fat from a “bad” fat.“Bad” fats are made up of trans or saturated fatty acids, particularly solid fats. Foods high in trans fatty acids (such as the commercially produced baked goods) are inexpensive to produce and have long shelf lives. Also, anytime you see the term “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient listing, you know that trans fats are included. Saturated fats largely come from animal sources, which includes fatty meats and dairy products. “Good” fats are polyunsaturated fats (meaning that chemically, they have more than one double bond.) These can be further broken down into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are plant and seafood-derived while omega-6 fatty acids are commonly found in poultry, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.One reason foods high in trans and saturated fatty acids are bad and foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are good has to do with the effects these fatty acids have on our cholesterol levels. Diets high in trans and saturated fats will lead to elevated LDL cholesterol, which will promote increased plaque and clot formation in one’s blood vessels leading to increased risk of heart disease and strokes. On the other hand, diets high in polyunsaturated fatty acids can also have positive anti-inflammatory effects and can lead to an elevation in one’s HDL cholesterol, which is cardioprotective and decreases one’s risk of heart disease and stroke. I encourage you to be aware of your own dietary fat consumption. My recommendation for fat intake is simple: Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats. Replace solid fats with oils when possible. Limit foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fatty acids (such as hydrogenated oils) and keep total trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible. And finally, eat fish because it is rich in omega-3 fats. If you’re interested in assessing your cholesterol level, ask your doctor to run a lipid panel and determine if your LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol are within the recommended ranges. And remember, it’s important to consider not just the quantity of fat in your diet but also the quality of fat.Mark Gottschlich is a medical student at the Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine. Contact him at

Mark Gottschlich

Everyday Wellness: Winter’s negative health effects often overlooked

Winter is almost upon us. Though there are a select few individuals who genuinely look forward to the change in season, the sane majority (myself included) are not particularly fond of winter’s presence, which will surely include many dark and frigid days. It’s not that I’m a total winter hater — I enjoy a snowy day filled with snowballs and sledding just as much as the next guy, especially if it involves school closure — but a couple weeks of winter would satisfy my craving. Okay, enough of my winter venting.The point is, winter can take a toll on us both physically and psychologically, and many people don’t realize the consequences that stress has on our ability to fight infection. For example, running, walking and biking enthusiasts who are accustomed to adhering to a favorite outdoor workout routine are forced to take their exercises inside to stationary equipment because of the cold temperature and piercing wind. Though perhaps less enjoyable, some will be diligent in continuing to exercise while others lose interest. But in either case, winter is associated with change in habitual routines. Though winter may lead to some positive changes as well (such as going to sleep at a more reasonable hour), winter’s negative effects on health and well-being are often overlooked and underappreciated.From my clinical experience as a medical student, two things are apparent during the winter months: more people experience flu-like symptoms and more people feel dejected and gloomy. An obvious association is that illness breeds unhappiness, and, after all, no one enjoys being sick. Though it will be important for me as a doctor to treat those who are sick, won’t it be more beneficial to prevent illness in the first place? So this begs the question, why are we more inclined to get sick during the winter? The answer is certainly multidimensional, but an overlooked reason has to do with winter blues. Winter-related depression and stress can be detrimental to immune function, thus heightening susceptibility to infection.In an effort to counteract winter doldrums, my recommendation is to develop a personal plan to maximize conditions for health. By first reflecting on how winter affects your daily routines and your overall psyche, you can then develop new goals and customs. Physical exercise is a proven depression buster with mood-enhancing endorphin benefits. For example, I enjoy running outside and use it as a time to get away and let my mind take a break, whereas I think running on a treadmill is extremely boring. Therefore, one of my goals this winter is to incorporate swimming into my weekly routine. And instead of running on the treadmill, I will mix up swimming with some interval training on the track in the new Walter Fieldhouse (which, by the way, is awesome if you haven’t been there yet). Including an exercise regimen is one of many things you could do to reduce stress and help prevent illness. Other important ways to positively affect your immune system and psyche on a daily basis include getting an annual flu shot, enjoying at least 15 minutes of outdoor sunlight, consuming essential vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin C and D and getting adequate sleep. For those Game of Thrones enthusiasts, “winter is coming,” my friends. Finding ways to improve mental and physical well-being as well as proactively taking steps to enhance your immune system will serve you well.Mark Gottschlich is a second-year medical student at the Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine. Email him at

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