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Improving Your Diet In The New Year

If healthier eating is on your list of resolutions for 2012, look no further. The January 2012 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch offers 12 ways to break old dietary habits and build new ones.

For many years, nutrition research focused on the benefits and risks of single nutrients, such as cholesterol, saturated fat, and antioxidants. Today, many researchers are exploring the health effects of foods and eating patterns, acknowledging that there are many important interactions within and among nutrients in the foods we eat.

The result is a better understanding of what makes up a healthy eating plan. Here are five food- or meal-based ways to improve your diet that we list in the article (you can see all 12 on the Harvard Health website):

Pile on the vegetables and fruits. Their high fiber, mineral, and vitamin content make fruits and vegetables a critical component of any healthy diet. They’re also the source of beneficial plant chemicals not found in other foods or supplements.

Go for the good fats. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

XXXtreme Calories Dishes: What Not To Eat

It’s no secret that the U.S. has a weight problem and with chain restaurants serving up meals with thousands of calories in a single dish, it’s easy to understand why. Watch “CBS Doc Dot Com” to see which meals you should try to avoid — or at least share.

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Is Red Meat Hazardous To Your Health?

Red meat consumption has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer (breast, colorectal, stomach, bladder, prostate, and lymphoma).

There are plausible mechanisms: Meat is a source of carcinogens, iron that may increase oxidative damage, and saturated fat. But correlation and plausibility are not enough to establish causation.

Is red meat really dangerous? If so, how great is the risk? A couple of recent studies have tried to shed light on these questions, but they have raised more questions than they have answered. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

McDonald’s Vs. DASH: Two Days, Two Diets

This week I’ve been trying to eat according to the DASH guidelines for lowering blood pressure. It actually hasn’t been too difficult — partly because I’m not following their strictest guidelines, which call for just 1,300 milligrams of sodium and 16 grams of saturated fat a day. I’ve been shooting for 2,300 milligrams of sodium and 22 grams of saturated fat.

In 2003, I tried a somewhat different “diet,” which in some ways was more difficult to follow, even though it only lasted one day. My son Jim (then age 11) and I ate every meal at McDonald’s for an entire day (yes, this was before Super Size Me). We recorded the experience on the Web. I thought it would be interesting to compare my day at McDonald’s to a typical day on DASH. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Daily Monthly*

Can High Blood Pressure Be Controlled With Diet?

Do a search on the Internet for “high blood pressure” or “hypertension” and you’ll find that nearly every health website recommends the DASH diet to control blood pressure. It makes some sense: If sodium and saturated fat cause high blood pressure, then removing them from your diet should make it come back down.

But changing your eating habits is easier said than done. It’s easy to say you want to cut down on fat and sodium, but it’s hard to resist a hot slice of Chicago-style pizza piled high with sausage and cheese. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Daily Monthly*

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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