Food for Thought

What kind of food is fueling your day?

By: Sarah VanOrder, Employee Wellness Specialist at Divine Savior Healthcare 


Food has a direct impact on our mental performance and is a huge contributor to our workplace productivity. It is important to note that not all food is good fuel, and in order to receive the proper fuel we need to make the right food selections. Proper food selections throughout the day can help us stay energized and on top of deadlines, meetings, emails, etc.

How does food become our fuel?

Our body converts most of what we eat into glucose, and glucose is what provides our body with energy. We need energy to power through the day and for our brains to stay alert. When our bodies are running low on glucose i.e. an empty stomach, it becomes hard for us to concentrate and stay focused. We can end up feeling sluggish if we go throughout the day by not making the best food selections or by skipping meals.

All food is fuel, but not all fuel gives us the same amount of consistent energy. Even though most food gets converted into glucose i.e. energy, not all foods are processed at the same rate, which determines the amount of energy we receive from our food. Foods like cereal, soda, and bread quickly release their glucose when being processed, which gives us a quick burst of energy but then is shortly followed by a decline in energy.  Foods that are high in fat, like cheeseburgers, provide our bodies with energy for a longer period of time, however, their high fat content makes our digestive system work harder to break it down which decreases the amount of oxygen levels in our brain. This decrease of oxygen in our brain can cause us to feel groggy and unfocused.

To try and avoid that mid-day crash it is important that we are not skipping meals and that we are making the right food choices like choosing fruits and vegetables over fast food and processed items. Research from the British Journal of Health Psychology¹ found that fruits and vegetables are not only good for body but they are great for the mind and emotional wellbeing. The study found that people who consumed more fruits and vegetables per day were happier, more engaged, and more creative. This may be due to the fact that fruits and vegetables are packed with essential nutrients that help in the production of dopamine. Dopamine is produced in 3 different areas of the brain, these areas of the brain are responsible for bodily functions like memory, sleep, mood, behavior, and cognition.  

While most of us know eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day is best for us, we tend to struggle to eat that way because of factors like hunger, time and convenience to name a few. Food items with little to no nutritional value like fried fast food or pre-packed items like chips, cookies, and pastries often sound better to us when we are running on an empty stomach and need that quick burst of energy. Below are some tips to help you choose the proper fuel to avoid feeling sluggish and to help you feel more alert and productive throughout your day:

  • Keep healthy snacks readily available – instead of having candy at your desk have a jar of almonds. Help yourself make the healthy choice by having the healthy choice be your only option!
    • Walnuts and almonds
    • Apples
    • Apples with almond butter
    • Oranges
    • Greek Yogurt
    • Oatmeal and blueberries
    • Hard boiled eggs
    • Carrots and hummus
    • Low-fat cottage cheese
    • Edamame
  • Meal prep- make your food decisions before you get hungry. Don’t wait until you’re starving to make your food choices, it is easier to resist high caloric fatty foods when we are not hungry and low on glucose.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Eating smaller meals more frequently will help keep your glucose at a consistent level and help keep you from getting overly hungry- this is when we tend to make poor food choices.
  • Keep a large water bottle at your desk – aim to drink at least 64 ounces a day!

Try incorporating some of the tips above into your daily routine to see how the proper fuel can power you through your day!


The Choices We Make

By: Dr. Amy Doherty



Throughout nature, we see that life tends toward health as long as it has the proper ingredients and location to flourish. In gardening, healthy plants are the best prevention against plant diseases.  A plant without the proper sunlight, soil pH, and nutrition becomes susceptible to disease as it tries to deal with its environmental deficiencies in addition to whatever fungi or virus is attacking it.  The same is true of humans.

Dean Ornish, M.D., is a renowned physician who has spent most of his life doing research about how lifestyle changes affect human health and disease processes.  In his book The Spectrum, he says, “We tend to think of advances in medicine as being a new drug, a new laser, something really high tech and expensive.  We often have a hard time believing that the simple choices we make in our lives each day- like what we eat, how we respond to stress, whether or not we smoke, how much we exercise, and the quality of love and intimacy in our lives- it’s sometimes difficult to believe that these simple choices we make every day make such a powerful difference, but they do.”

This is a beautiful if somewhat intimidating truth in Medicine and in Life: most of the choices involved in controlling our health and happiness are ours to make.  Further, helping others to be healthy makes each of us healthier.  So during Wellness Month and every month, let’s remember to care for ourselves and others, making choices that are good for us, our community, and our world!



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Experiencing a dull pain in the pit of your stomach

Stomach PainGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and gallbladder disease are two very common disorders. Knowing which one you have may be trickier than you think. Symptoms may be vague, such as a “dull pain in the pit of your stomach”, making it hard for you to explain to your doctor what’s exactly going on.

At Divine Savior Healthcare, General Surgeons, Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Joshua Pogorelec, have seen many patients with these symptoms and after further examination are able to help  diagnose and treat both diseases.

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD refers to stomach contents moving into the esophagus causing a burning sensation commonly referred to as heartburn. Other symptoms may occur as well, such as pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea and an acid taste in your mouth.  If this continue, prolonged exposure of the esophagus to stomach contents can result in damage to the lining of the esophagus.  This in turn can result in difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing or permanent damage to the esophagus.

Although not all reflux results in symptoms or damage to the esophagus, common symptoms include:
• Heartburn
• Acid regurgitation
• Belching
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Waterbrash sudden excess of saliva
• Dysphagia the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus
• Chronic sore throat
• Laryngitis
• Inflammation of the gums
• Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
• Chronic irritation in the throat
• Hoarseness in the morning
• A sour taste
• Bad breath
• Coughing at night

What is gallbladder disease?
The gallbladder is located below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is made in the liver and allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Any condition that affects the gallbladder is considered a disease, and there are many different scenarios that fall under gallbladder disease:
• Inflammation
• Gallstones
• Common bile duct stones
• Biliary Dyskinesia
• Infection
• Perforated gallbladder
• Gallbladder polyps
• Porcelain gallbladders
• Gallbladder cancer

Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec share "the most common disease of the gallbladder is gallstones. Most people with gallstones do not even know they have them.  Once they cause problems, the gallbladder may need to be removed. Symptoms include pain below the right rib cage or in the “pit” of the stomach. This pain may radiate to the right upper back, chest, or shoulder. Other symptoms may include, bloating, nausea or vomiting, fever or chills, chronic diarrhea, jaundice yellow-tinted skin, or unusual lighter-colored stools or dark urine.”

After taking a closer look at GERD and gallbladder disease, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec are able to provide helpful insight on common distinguishing factors between the two diseases.

Common distinguishing factors:
• Location: Although both may feel like a “pit in your stomach”, if you experience symptoms located closer to your throat or in your chest it is more likely to be GERD related. Symptoms located near your right lower rib radiating into your right upper back, chest and shoulder are more likely to be associated to your gallbladder.
• Pain: Unlike GERD, gallbladder pain usually begins suddenly, and changing positions, belching, passing gas or taking medications rarely helps pain symptoms go away.
• Timing: With heartburn being the most common symptom of GERD, symptoms of reflux are likely to occur shortly after eating, where symptoms of gallbladder disease usually occurs several hours after eating and have more consistent patterns of reoccurrence the same time each day.

What does treatment look like?
The symptoms of GERD are commonly and effectively treated with over-the-counter medications such as anti-acids and proton pump inhibitors. However, if relief does not go away from these medications your provider may recommend you be evaluated by one of our surgeons at Divine Savior.

After a thorough history and physical, our surgeons may recommend further evaluation of the esophagus and stomach with endoscopy.  Similar to colonoscopy, but without the need for prep, upper endoscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the esophagus, stomach and intestine to evaluate for damage to the esophagus, infection and a hiatal hernia.  Depending on the findings, further testing may be indicated to evaluate the function of the esophagus. 

Patients with severe GERD benefit from surgery to prevent reflux from occurring.  This procedure is commonly performed by both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec, is minimally invasive, and very effective at treating GERD.  In fact, most patients no longer require any antacid medications after the procedure.

If you are found to have stones in the gallbladder causing symptoms, the best course of action is to have the gallbladder removed.  Leaving the stones in place will continue to cause pain and may result in serious infection of the gallbladder and bile ducts, jaundice or pancreatitis. 

Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec routinely perform minimally invasive removal of the gallbladder.  This is most often an outpatient procedure and very successful.  After a short recovery, most patients will find their symptoms are gone and they are able to live a normal life. 

If you experience symptoms related to GERD or gallbladder disease, or have concerns about either, it is best to consult your provider for further examination. Treatment for either disease varies person to person, but taking action immediately and being properly treated can help you prevent problems from worsening.

To schedule an appointment with Divine Savior Healthcare General Surgeons, Dr. Anderson or Dr. Pogorelec, call 608-745-5176.

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