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A Food-Culture Change Is Upon Us

As a pediatric endocrinologist, I am on the frontline of the childhood obesity epidemic. In fact, I am now seeing 100-pound two year olds and 150-pound three-year-old kids in my clinic and I am concerned. The obesity epidemic is perpetuated by a processed food-culture that lacks healthier local whole foods. 
 
Diets dominated by processed foods (refined carbohydrates with high fat- and/or high-sugar content and artificial ingredients) over whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) spur more obesity and diabetes, and have even been shown to negatively change gene expression of the offspring during pregnancy. All-processed ingredients reflect the balance of desirable factors in the modern way of life such as shelf life (long), taste (sweet), texture (fat) convenience (high), and price (low) — all profitable, all less nutritious, and all with a mass-marketed, generic, “cultureless” appeal that reduces emphasis on local cultures and flavors.

The recent rise of social networking is testament to the fact that people are hungry to connect and yearn to be culturally inspired. Culture (art, food, music) deeply connects people and transcends time, politics, and poverty because it is the language of being human — and something that never changes. Medical research as well as the positive embracing of First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign demonstrates an open mind to the idea of a healthier culture and readiness for change. In fact, many of the families that I meet in my clinic are interested in considering whole-food choices, but lack knowledge and guidance.

Food-culture change offers the best hope for transforming obesity and what Americans eat. Oprah’s recent vegan-whole-food-challenge show on February 1st is a step in the right direction and will help to propel the emerging whole-foods movement. Columbus, Ohio is emerging as a center for local whole-foods activism and food-culture change. Just in 2010, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission released the Central Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan — the first plan of its kind in the nation — and received an $885 million US. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant to create an urban foodscape in one of Columbus’ most blighted neighborhoods. Read more »

7 + 3 = 10 Foods To Avoid In 2011

A patient reading a copy of Prevention in the waiting room brought to my attention an interesting article entitled “7 Foods That Should Never Cross Your Plate.” I would have to agree that these seven commonly eaten foods should be avoided, so I’ll rehash them here, along with three more of my own choosing to flesh out a New Year’s 7 + 3 = Top 10 list.

The lead into the article implores the reader to recognize that “clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing.” Michael Pollan, the regarded author of The Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food, puts it even more simply: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

So here are the food items to avoid, in no particular order:

1) Canned Tomatoes – The resin that lines the corners of tin cans usually contains bisphenol-A, a compound found to produce estrogenic effects in the body, linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and possibly neuro-developmental problems like ADHD. Tomatoes get picked on because their acidity increases the leaching of BPA into the food. Perhaps citrus foods and other acidic canned goods would have the same concerns.

2) Corn-Fed Beef – If you’ve ever watched the documentary Food Inc., you’ve probably been disgusted and appalled by the supply chain that brings meat to our tables and fast food restaurants. Bloated cows are being fed corn and soybeans, heavily subsidized crops controlled by Monsanto, to the detriment of their health. Eating their meat passes on the lower nutritional value to us, and perpetuates an immoral system of CAFO’s and cow concentration camps. Grass-fed beef, especially free range, is higher in vitamins, minerals, and has a healthier fat profile (better omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratios). Bison tends to be grass fed, free-range, and of a superior nutritional quality. Eat Wild can help you find local farms that raise animals properly and often need your support. Think of the higher cost returning dividends on your health and as a charitable support of a good cause. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

The Twinkie Diet

“Hey…where did those cupcakes go?”

Like a never-ending western North Carolina climb where each switchback reveals another uphill, and the finish is shielded by tall pines, the struggle to lose weight and to stay lean is incessant.

In wrestling weight gain, competitive cyclists share the same mat as “regular” Americans. Like jockeys, all competitive bike racers strive for maximal leanness. It’s physics: Weigh less and the same number of watts push you farther and faster, especially when going uphill or accelerating from a slow speed. Remember those velocity problems in Physics 101?

But is it conceivable that losing weight — even if accompanied by lower cholesterol levels — could be detrimental to long-term wellness? Obviously, the question answers itself.

Unless your Internet connection has been interrupted in the last few days, you have probably heard of the “Twinkle diet.” Kansas State University nutrition professor Mark Haub tested the hypothesis that if he reduced his daily calorie consumption from 2600 to 1800 he would lose weight. Read more »

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

Weight Loss Dos And Don’ts: What’s In Your Grocery Cart?

Grocery cartI know it’s not politically correct to look at what other people buy at the grocery store, but as a physician I just can’t help noticing. Some carts contain huge containers of soda pop, Doritos, frozen pizza, and other packaged goods.

I’m not surprised, because at the end of every isle is a display case that offers the giant soda for 89 cents or the Doritos on special for $1.29. With this type of marketing, it takes a strong person to resist the “bargain.”

Yesterday the woman in front of me (overweight, middle-aged) had a strange assortment of goods that she probably thought would help her lose weight. She had several Weight Watcher-type meals, diet drinks, power bars, and lots of “light” items — “light butter,” “light crackers,” “light yogurt,” and ”light ice cream.” 

Folks, this won’t work. Eating this way won’t help her lose weight. She needs to make dramatic changes to drop the pounds. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

One Critic’s Take On The “Multigrain” Scam

Screen shot 2010-07-12 at 2.39.53 PM.pngFreelance journalist and author Suzanne Schlosberg wrote because she was so upset over a New York Times story, “The Chip That Stacks Adds a Multigrain Twist,” that she wanted us to review it. I thought anyone who feels so strongly about something should review it herself. So she did. Here is Suzanne’s guest post:

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I was flabbergasted when I read this New York Times piece on Procter & Gamble’s new entry into the potato-chip market: multigrain Pringles. The story accepts at face value P&G’s misleading marketing pitch — that “multigrain” is equivalent to “healthy.” When I sent a link to my nutritionist friend Cynthia Sass., M.S., R.D., she replied: “Did you notice it says ‘advertising’ in the top left corner? It must be a paid ad that resembles an article.”

Actually, it’s not. It’s a business story that ran in the “Media & Advertising” section. Though the story didn’t appear on the health pages, it should have made clear that “multigrain” simply means that more than one grain is included in the product — not that the product is necessarily nutritious. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

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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?

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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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