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Some Young Europeans Are Starting To Eat Like Americans

For years I have touted the health benefits of the “Mediterranean Diet” and encouraged patients to eat like the Europeans.   Fresh farm vegetables, olive oil, fish and red wine have been linked with longevity and good health.  I just read in NPR news that young Italians are forgoing the eating patterns of their elders and are imitating the “U.S. diet”.  The result is soaring obesity, just like in the United States.

According the the article, young Italians ages 6-12 are sitting in front of the TV and are eating fast foods and soda.  In just three generations, the eating habits and activity of kids has changed from their healthy grandparents.  Italian health officials say obesity is reaching epidemic proportions.

Part of the diet changes are a result of Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

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*

Why The French Don’t Go To The Gym

gettinbigwithrivaroxaban 300x187 Work out in a Gym? The French say Sacre Bleu!Like their counterparts in other first-world countries, French people know about the health benefits of exercise. And French culture has emphasized, even worshipped, good looks (which these days translates to “fit and trim.”)

So it’s surprising that the French avoid fitness centers as vigorously as factory-produced croissants. But they do.

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, just 5.4 percent of French people were members of a fitness club in 2008. That’s substantially less than their counterparts in Italy (9.5 percent), the UK (11.9 percent), and Spain (16.6 percent).

“It appears that more people are sitting in cafes smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee than working out … the French don’t see fitness as a lifestyle,” American-born fitness consultant Fred Hoffman told MSNBC. Hoffman has lived in Paris for two decades. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

Transcontinental Anesthesia

Transcontinental AnesthesiaJust two weeks after we reported on teleanesthesia in the form of remotely-performed nerve blocks, the first report of transcontinental anesthesia comes in.

On August 30, anesthesiologists of McGill-McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, kept watch over a patient in Pisa, Italy, undergoing thyroid gland surgery. Basically they used a teleconferencing setup with four cameras, with two cameras streaming the anesthesia data (ventilation parameters and vital signs), one camera aimed at the operating field, and the last one for any special purposes. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Do You Have A “Good” Heart?

I saw a prescient story that linked antagonistic personality traits and cardiovascular risk. It was simply impossible to ignore. Low hanging fruit, no doubt.

The article highlights an NIH-sponsored study [published in the August 16th journal Hypertension] that looked at the effects of antagonistic traits — agreeableness, per se – on heart health. Yes, you read it right — agreeableness. To quantify agreeableness, the researchers used a personality questionnaire which included six traits: Trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, and my favorite…tender-mindedness.

Your hypothesis is probably right: People who were distrustful, cynical, manipulative, self-centered, and quick to express anger fared worse. But please don’t dismiss this as just another mundane study proclaiming the risks of an angry personality. The specifics of the findings and their implications really hit hard. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

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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