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

Latest Posts

Can Sugar Raise Your Blood Pressure?

Most of us know that salt raises blood pressure in many people. When I learned that in medical school almost 40 years ago, I have not touched a salt shaker since. I enjoy having a low normal blood pressure. A new study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (July 2010) suggests that sugar, especially the fructose that comes from corn syrup, may also raise blood pressure.

A study team from the University of Colorado in Denver looked at sugar intake among thousands of Americans in a major national nutrition survey between 2003 and 2006. Those who consumed more added sugars, such as the fructose in soft drinks, had significantly higher blood pressures than those who did not and ate more natural foods such as fresh fruit. Fructose from corn syrup is a major cause of the obesity epidemic and may also be contributing to high blood presure, the most common chronic disease in adults. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*

An Eater’s Guide To Food

Food Rules: An Eater's ManualMichael Pollan has become one of our most important writers about human nutrition. His book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006), spelled out why the almost eight billion humans on this planet had better balance what we eat — for our own health and the health of the planet.

He published a small book in 2009 (Penguin Books) called Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. His rules are around seven words in three brief statements: “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.” How simple and wise is that?

These three statements make up the three parts of this small book, with lots of practical “rules.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*

Belly Fat Is A Risk Factor For Dementia

One of the great fears we all have is to lose our mental ability as we grow old. No one wants to end their life with dementia (such as Alzheimer’s Disease). We all should be highly motivated to do things to avoid this tragic outcome. We already know that regular exercise is good for the mind and may reduce the risk of dementia. Recent evidence shows that the use of statin medications to lower cholesterol may help reduce dementia risk. Now we have evidence that the roll of fat around your waist may be a marker for increased dementia risk.

The University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter (February, 2010) reports on a study published in the journal Neurology that followed 1500 Swedish women for 30 years. Those with more fat around the waist were twice as likely to have dementia by age 70 compared with thinner women. A 2008 study from Kaiser Permanente that included men and women showed similar results. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*

Ideal Cardiovascular Health: It’s Within Your Grasp

You too can have ideal cardiovascular health. What is that you may ask? The American Heart Association has come out with a new report that defines it.

Ideal cardiovascular health means you do all of the following:

1. You do not smoke
2. You are not overweight (normal body mass index, or BME less than 25)
3. You get regular physical activity, about 5 hours a week
4. You eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats and simple sugars

You also have the following: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*

Do Diet Sodas Make You Fat?

You would expect that diet sodas would help you lose weight since they have no or minimal calories. Drinking a diet soda rather than a regular soda saves you all that sugar, right? Many people develop diet soda drinking habits due to several factors, the caffeine, the sweetness or just wanting to drink something without the calories.

The link between diet sodas and weight is not what you might expect. Reviewed recently in the medical journal JAMA (Dec. 9, 2009), a major heart study showed that people who drank more than 21 diet sodas per week had twice the risk of becoming overweight or obese compared with people who don’t drink diet soda. In another major study, daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 67% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (cause by excess weight). Drinking diet sodas gives you the same “sweet tooth” behavior as other sweets and actually results in people eating more calories than if they stayed away from sweets in general. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*

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 »