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More Potassium, Fewer Strokes

There are few medical conditions that people fear more than a stroke. We know that blood pressure control and lowering cholesterol levels reduces stroke risk. Now, thanks to a huge analysis from Italy published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, we know that higher dietary consumption of potassium is associated with lower rates of stroke and could also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and total cardiovascular disease, too. What is even more remarkable is that the results apply to all parts of society and not just to specific “at-risk” subgroups.

Most doctors aren’t even aware of how important it is to eat potassium-rich foods. And what are these foods that have potassium? Surprise: It’s fruits and vegetables like bananas, tomatoes, oranges, apricots, most legumes, spinach, winter squash, avocado, kiwi, and cantaloupe. Actually, almost all fruits and veggies have moderate to high potassium content.

The researchers looked a number of well-done studies that included 247, 510 participants over age 30 and found that those patients with the higher potassium intake reduced their stroke risk by 21 percent. The Italian doctors say the protective effect of potassium against stroke is in part due to its blood pressure lowering effects and also due to other properties of the potassium mineral, such as the inhibition of free radical formation.

I’ve written before about the DASH diet, which also found that reduction of sodium and addition of fruits and vegetables to the diet is an effective way to control blood pressure. The DASH diet is high in potassium.

Think about it: Did you have five servings of fruits and vegetables today? Numerous studies have shown their life-prolonging benefits. This new study just adds to what we already know. I challenge all readers to keep a diet count and make sure you are eating five fruit and vegetable servings a day — every day — to help reduce your risk of stroke, cancer, and heart attack.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

A Simplified Formula For Good Health

You can’t do anything about your genes, but here’s a formula for good health — simplified:

0          Cigarettes
5          Servings of fruits and vegetables a day
10        Minutes of silence or relaxation a day
30        Body mass index (BMI) below
150      Minutes of exercise a week    

You knew this already, but are you really doing it?

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Food And Pesticides: The Dirty Dozen

Fruits and VegetablesThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit focused on public health. We know that the long-term consequences of eating chemicals from pesticides used on our foods is damaging to our health.

The EWG analyzed data from the FDA and found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the “Dirty Dozen” are eating 10 pesticides a day. We want people to eat more fruits and vegetables, but NOT to ingest more chemicals. Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. So what’s the answer? Rinse completely and buy the “Dirty Dozen” foods organic whenever possible. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

High-Tech Scans Of Fruits And Vegetables?

Medical Pastiche blogger Peter Zavislak, whom I can always count on to point out the unusual and interesting sides of medicine, sent me to a website that has nothing but pictures and videos of food in an MRI scanner.
Here’s a series of images from their site of a cantaloupe as viewed from an MRI: 

 

I just find myself thinking that these MRI machines aren’t cheap to run and maintain. Doctors and nurses used to be able to get “freebies” by buddying up with the X-ray, CT or MRI technologist and running a scan for free.
Some hospitals allow their employees to test the machines after being set up or maintained to get images for testing purposes. I’m sure more than a technologist or radiologist or two have found incidentalomas from this practice. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

4 Super-Healthy Foods

Healthy shoppingRaise your hand if you want to eat healthy.

Healthy eating isn’t just good for cinching your waistline — it’s great for overall health.

From glowing skin, to heart health, to maintaining healthy teeth and bones; eating foods packed with certain nutrients can also protect your immune system and fight infections.  It can boost your libido and decrease that lousy (LDL) cholesterol and boost your good (HDL) cholesterol.

Healthy eating shouldn’t be a struggle. It’s easy to get sucked into the marketing trap when you’re food shopping and you encounter all those in-store specials. Sometimes, those specials are just bad for your health. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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