Posts tagged with "Dr. Niket Sonpal"

Medical Travel Tips for Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer.  According to AAA, more than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend by car, plane, or train. Nothing ruins a long-awaited vacation faster than getting sick or being in medical distress.  We turned to Dr. Niket Sonpal, an NYC internist and gastroenterologist for some tips on how to avoid health consequences will traveling.

Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. Deep vein thrombosis can cause leg pain or swelling, but also can occur with no symptoms. For travelers, this can happen on long haul trips where you are not moving. Dr. Sonpal recommends if you are flying or on a train, to move around the cabin to get the blood flowing in your legs. If you are driving, take a break at a rest stop and walk around. Compression socks are also another option to prevent DVT.

Don’t Get Nauseous

People can experience motion sickness on virtually any mode of transportation. To combat this, Dr. Sonpal suggests Dramamine® Non-Drowsy Naturals, Dramamine®’s first non-drowsy formulation. It contains the clinically tested ginger dosage required for preventing and treating motion sickness. Other sources of ginger, including candies, gums, or ginger ale, may not contain a full clinical dose. For someone who is already experiencing nausea while traveling, it is a good idea to keep Emetrol on hand which is an over the counter nausea medication that does not cause drowsiness.

Avoid Bloating on a Plane

If you get gassy on a plane, you’re not alone! Dr. Sonpal explains that, “As the pressure around you decreases, the gas in your belly isn’t constrained as much and it expands. This can make you feel bloated or become distended.” It is essential to avoid foods that cause gas or have salt. Skip the tomato juice in flight and stick with non-carbonated water. Avoid alcohol, cruciferous vegetables, dairy and high sodium snacks such as salted peanuts or pretzels. Foods that are protein packed, magnesium-rich and high in Vitamin C are good options.

Sanitize Your Surfaces

Planes and trains are a breeding ground for illness.  The former is awful due to re-circulated air. Most travelers would be appalled if they really knew how germy their tray tables are! Dr. Sonpal suggests sanitizing wipes for your tray table, seat belt clip and hand rests of your seats on planes and trains. When you exit a restroom on a plane or train and touch the door handles, be sure to use hand sanitizer even if you already washed your hands.

Get Your Shots Before Traveling Abroad!

Before you even book your trip, make sure you’re up to date on your shots. If you’re traveling to an area where you’re at risk for picking up an illness like malaria, you might be prescribed preventative medication. Dr. Sonpal suggests that, “People should use the CDC website for recommended vaccines for travel abroad or see a travel clinic. The health risks posed to Americans vary based on the country they are traveling to.”

Don’t Touch the Ice!

When traveling to a different country, most people are very cautious about only drinking bottled water.  Many folks forget that ice is simply frozen water and put it into their soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. Contrary to what one might think, freezing water does not kill bacteria. The only way to be sure it is safe is if you boiled the water and then froze it.

Avoid Jet Lag

Even a relatively short time change from EST to PST (3 hours) can cause jet lag. With some international travel from the United States, the time difference can be as much as twelve hours. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Dr. Sonpal suggests that, “If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you’re flying west. If possible, eat meals closer to the time you’ll be eating them at your destination. Set your watch to the new time before you leave. Once you reach your destination, try not to sleep until the local nighttime, no matter how tired you are.”

Essential Medicine/Supplies to Travel

Dr. Sonpal stresses never to check your medication with your baggage, always keep it in your carry on. Have a fresh re-fill on prescription medication with extra doses in case you get stuck at your destination. In addition, here are some essential over the counter meds/supplies to travel with:

Benadryl- For allergic reactions such as insect or bee bites.

Pepto Bismol- For diarrhea

Laxative such as Dulcolax

Anti-biotic ointment such as Neosporin

Common cold/sinus remedies such as Mucinex or Claritin

Pain relievers such as Tylenol or Motrin

Anti- Nausea medication such as Emetrol

Motion Sickness medication such as Dramamine. If you are the driver, be sure to take the non-drowsy version.

Electrolyte tablets for dehydration

Hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching from rashes, bites, poison ivy etc.

Aloe to soothe sunburned skin

Band-Aids

Digital Thermometer

Nasal Spray to prevent clogged ears while flying

Tweezers

Eye Drops

Epi-Pen if you are prone to severe allergic reactions

How to Find a Reliable Physician if you are Traveling Abroad

The US embassy in your destination country (http://www.usembassy.gov/) can help you locate medical services and will notify your family and friends in the event of an emergency. When selecting a doctor, make sure that I he or she can speak your language. The following resources provide lists of doctors and clinics that can care of travelers:

The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (www.iamat.org; membership required, but it is free)

Joint Commission International (www.jointcommissioninternational.org)

The International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org)

Travel Health Online (www.tripprep.com; gets information from various sources so quality is not guaranteed)

Doctor Tries Fasting Trend

Real Doctor Tries the Intermittent Fasting Trend and Here’s What Happened https://tourocom.touro.edu/academics/faculty/harlem/niket-sonpal.php

There’s crash dieting, and then there’s intermittent fasting. Crash diets aren’t sustainable and rarely factor in healthy food options. Intermittent fasting on the other hand is gaining attention because people are seeing weight come off, and therefore stay with it. It’s being touted as the go-to way to lose 15, 20 pounds within a month or two. Is it just a popular hashtag or can the weight actually stay off leading millions of people to reach their weight goals? To get clarity, we spoke to Dr. Niket Sonpal who not only is Board Certified in Internal Medicine specializing in Gastroenterology; but lost 8 pounds his first week of intermittent fasting when he decided to do it himself. Here’s what he has to say about intermittent fasting.

What inspired your decision to do intermittent fasting?

I noticed the winter weight became the spring then summer weight and I wanted to take off extra pounds that I noticed had crept on. I was with friends talking about how they lost weight during Ramadan (would prefer religious observations) and that intermittent fasting was a “thing.” I rolled my eyes. I was skeptical. Then I went online and applied my doctor mind to the concepts I was reading about it and went for it.

There are several ways to go about intermittent fasting. Which way did you do it, when did you start and what was the result?

This is true. The way I chose, and the way I would imagine most people would try, is the one that calls for 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of eating time per day. This basically means if your last meal of the day is 8pm you will have your first meal by noon the following day, free to eat until 8pm again. I figured since I sleep most of those hours, it wouldn’t be as tough as another option where you fast for 5 days and eat for 2 with a 500-800 calorie intake limit on those 2 days.

What were the challenges (if any) that you faced when intermittent fasting?

I live across the street from a bagel shop in New York City. I also have delicious New York pizza on every other corner. Cravings and temptation were there for me for sure. When I left my home and smelled those fresh bagels my brain said. “let’s eat.”

Coming at your intermittent fasting as a doctor, what were some things you were thinking about that others must consider too?

I thought when I would fast. When would be my 8-hour eating period. When we start caloric consumption right when we wake up we do better with weight loss. However, that would mean eating from 7 am until 4pm. This would require a later meal around 3pm. Then I thought, does my lifestyle better allow a 12 noon to 8pm food window?

I also thought about the physiological aspect to what happens to our bodies when we fast intermittently. For one thing, it facilitates weight loss by enhancing hormone function. Insulin levels also lower, plus there’s a rise in noradrenaline. This combination is what helps us to breakdown body fat for energy. While this all reads well on paper there is a lifestyle aspect to it that must be factored in. I’ll add that anyone with a condition should consult with their doctor before going all in on intermittent fasting.

Why do you think it is so difficult for people to fast? What are some of the common symptoms people feel when fasting and what causes them?

When people think of fasting they think of starvation and deprivation. They anticipate they will feel terrible will have a growling stomach, dull headaches, and a bad mood. While these are common symptoms felt at first when fasting, the 16/8 intermittent fasting option allows for food every day. When people see quick results, they stick with it.

What was your diet? What did you cut out and add in?

I looked at my schedule and my overall daily lifestyle and how food was involved. For people who live very hurried lifestyles, food is typically something that is grabbed fast on the go. When we approach food this way no diet will be sustainable. I realized this would require consistent changes in my behavior. It would also require me to get very mindful about what I was eating during the 8 hours of eating time. I chose to eat what I liked in moderation. So, if two slices of pizza twice per week was the lunchtime norm, I reduced to it to once slice. I still ate pasta just not as often and not as much. I also added in a lot more vegetables, proteins, healthy fats and cut out all fast food and soda. Hey, I’m a doctor, but also a human!

For those thinking about intermittent fasting, how would you advise them to proceed?

I would explain that at around the 2 to 4-week mark, someone may plateau. When you notice this don’t think this is the most weight you are able to lose. This is normal and if you are also exercising with weight or resistance training you may be building muscle mass. Pay attention to how clothes fit, body fat loss and how weight loss shows beyond the scale. Knowing how over time the body gets used to intermittent fasting and starts to store up all that is eaten, leading to less weight loss, I suggest resetting your body by eating small, healthy meals throughout the day for a week and then resuming the 16/8 intermittent fasting option again.

People may happily think that they can fast and then enjoy a big bowl of pasta or cheeseburger. What kinds of foods should people eat during intermittent fasting?

You can get results without cutting out your favorite foods which means enjoy that burger or pasta, I did! However, you can’t binge on fast food and think you’re going to make any lasting changes. You want to up your vegetable intake. Things like grilled zucchini or eggplant make for great sides to a piece of grilled chicken or steak. Avocados are a good staple for healthy fats and are versatile. There are loads of recipes out there so plan out your food options in advance, so you stick with it.

About the doctor:

Dr. Niket Sonpal is Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Clinical instructor at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn and on the board of the NY‐American College of Physicians (NYACP). He is also the associate program director for the Internal Medicine residency program at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center. He is trained in Internal medicine, Gastroenterology and has a focus on Men’s and Women’s health.