Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

How Much Water Are You Supposed To Drink? Your Urine Will Tell You

Perhaps you’ve heard that increasing your water intake is part of a healthy lifestyle – and that you should drink at least 8 glasses of a day. This “rule of thumb” is actually not based on scientific evidence. Although for many people it’s not harmful advice, you may not need to work so hard at getting enough water every day.

The amount of water that your body needs depends on three main variables (yes, needs can vary with different illnesses and conditions, but let’s talk about the average American):

1. Your body’s size

2. Your activity level

3. Your environment (weather and humidity conditions)

The larger you are, the more water you lose from sweat (be it from physical activity or hot weather conditions), the more water you need to replace. The amount you need can vary a lot – and in most cases there are two tricks you can use to stay properly hydrated: Read more »

One Organ Donor, Seven Recipients

New York Times article highlights transplant donor and recipients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital

Organ Donation Checkbox

UK NHS Organ Donation Checkbox

As organ transplantation has advanced and improved in recent decades, more and more patients’ lives are saved every year. But the most pressing problem in organ transplantation has yet to be solved: the shortage of donor organs available to the thousands of people waiting on lists for a new kidney, liver, lung, heart, or other organ. People who intend to donate may not indicate their wishes to family members before their death, or families are reluctant to make that decision in the midst of profound grief and loss. For others, donating an organ was just never something they knew much about or even considered.

When they do choose to donate a loved one’s organs, families usually remain anonymous, as do those whose lives they save. Perhaps that is why articles like the one in the New York Times on May 16, 2011, touch and inspire readers so deeply. This version of an increasingly common story captures the essential soul-searching, as well as the profound gratitude, hope, and solace, that marked the meeting of Mirtala Garcia and the people who received her husband’s organs. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

The Seven Golden Rules For Kidneys

In the better-late-than-never category comes my shout out for World Kidney Day, which was March 10th.

I love their slogan: “Protect your Kidneys, Save your Heart.”

As an organ, the kidneys are a lot like offensive lineman in football; they do all the hard work but remain mostly anonymous. They sit motionless in the back of the body,quietly and humbly filtering salt, water and toxins from our bodies. Though some may think that pee smells bad, or is gross, not having “healthy” pee is a real problem.  No one ever thinks of their kidneys until they malfunction.

Though the inner workings of the kidney–with all its convoluted loops, capsules and ion exchangers–are more complicated to understand than the heart, keeping your kidneys healthy is simple: just make heart-healthy choices. Read more »

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

Four Body Parts You Don’t Want To Miss


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Several years ago I was urgently paged by a patient who had discovered a lump at the bottom of his chest. He came straight over to my office, fairly certain he had cancer. The lump turned out to be a normal part of his sternum (breastbone), a small piece of cartilage called the xiphoid. Now that’s the kind of diagnosis I like to make. Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »