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More Evidence That The Mediterranean Diet Is Healthiest

We’ve known for quite some time that weight loss can reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. However, a healthy diet alone (without weight loss) may also help to reduce risk. In a recent Spanish study (published in the Annals of Internal Medicine), 3,541 men and women ages 55-80 at risk for diabetes were followed for an average of 4.1 years. Those who ate a diet rich in fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil were less likely to develop diabetes than those following other diets of similar caloric value.

This is interesting for a few reasons. First of all, it provides us with insight into the importance of what we eat (and not just how much we eat) for optimum health. When considering how to follow a Mediterranean diet, I think it might be easiest to focus on what is NOT on the menu, rather than what we need to add to our diet. Notice that the Mediterranean diet has very low sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and animal fat (with the exception of fish oil). This is not a low carb or low fat diet. It is a low glycemic-index and unprocessed food diet.

Secondly, calorie-restriction alone may not be the optimal way to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In the past we have focused primarily on fat loss for diabetes prevention – through calorie restriction and exercise. We’ve often heard that “a calorie is a calorie” and that folks can lose weight effectively on a low-carb, low-fat, or high protein diet. While it’s true that studies have been equivocal regarding the most effective type of diet for weight loss, and people have been able to lose weight on everything from a bacon and grapefruit to a cookie diet, a deeper look suggests that certain diets really are healthier for us in the long run.

Thirdly, what we eat can have a profound effect on our health, and food is an easily modifiable risk factor for illness. Unlike many diseases and conditions (such as type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders) where we have little to no control over whether or not we contract them, it is exciting to know that a healthy diet is a powerful weapon against disease that does not rely on pharmaceutical products or medical interventions.

And finally, I found this study interesting because it confirms what I have noticed in my own life recently – that cutting out refined carbohydrates and sugars can have a very positive effect on body composition and overall health. I have always had a very difficult time with hunger during calorie restriction, and I finally realized that it had to do with being sensitive to blood sugar spikes and drops from too many refined carbs. Once I cut out all added sugars and white flours from my diet (replacing them with lean protein and whole grains) my chronic hunger resolved and I could settle in to a comfortable relationship with food without constantly battling the scale.

If you haven’t tried the Mediterranean diet, there’s no time like the present. While evidence suggests you’ll be healthier for it, my experience tells me you’ll feel a whole lot better too. Say goodbye to the food craving and hunger cycle, and hello to a new way of healthy eating that can be comfortably maintained for a lifetime.

A Diet Enriched With Olive Oil Is Associated With A Lower Stroke Risk In One Age Group

More on the Mediterranean diet shows that olive oil is the key component associated with less stroke risk in seniors, a French study found.

Olive oil by trix0r via Flickr and a Creative Commons licenseThe Mediterranean diet has already been linked to better cardiovascular effects, so researchers poured it on to assess its link to stroke. A study of people 65 and older in the French cities of Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier divided 7,625 residents into three categories of olive oil consumption: no use, moderate use for cooking or dressing, or intensive use for both cooking and dressing. Researchers used plasma oleic acid as an indirect biological marker of oleic acid intake from olive oil. (They acknowledged that it could also stem from use of butter and goose or duck fat.) Results appeared in the Aug. 2 issue of Neurology.

In the study, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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*

Olive Oil And Your Skin

Trying to keep up with what’s hot in skincare is like trying to keep up with the Kardashians. It’s impossible (not that I’ve tried with the Kardashians, that is.)

Then how are you to know what are the latest and greatest ingredients? Well, you could read The Derm Blog (when I get around to posting on it), or you could just listen to your grandmother.

Some of the newest discoveries in skin care aren’t new at all: Olive oil may be seem hot now, but countless Mediterranean grandmothers, including mine, have sworn by its skin-care benefits for centuries (millenia?) Were they right?

Olive oil contains caffeic acid, oleic acid, and oleuropein — all of which are potent antioxidants. Unlike berries or teas, these antioxidants are already in oil, allowing them to be directly applied to the skin. Topically applied olive oil helps dry skin, rosacea, psoriasis, seborrhea, burns, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, diaper dermatitis, hand dermatitis, and eczema. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Latest Interviews

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Latest Book Reviews

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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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