If you’ve been drinking low-fat or skim milk because you’ve been told it’s healthier for you, our concierge family doctors would like to offer some information that might change your mind. Although the research is not yet definitive, several recent studies have suggested that full-fat dairy products are actually better for you in several ways.
Whether you overindulged over the holidays or have simply made a resolution to lose those persistent pounds in 2020, our concierge doctors in Jupiter want to suggest what we believe are the most sensible ways to do so.
Not only do you need to make a firm decision to lose the weight you want, but you need to go about it in the right way. The Internet and the magazines are filled with diets that promise “amazing” and “incredible” weight loss in just days! The weight will practically fall off! You can lose weight in your sleep!
Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy? Unfortunately, fad diets may take off a few pounds (often comprising mainly water weight), but the rules are simply too restrictive to maintain indefinitely.
In addition, research has shown that dieting is not effective in the long run, and can lead to greater weight gain the more you diet. The body interprets calorie restriction as a pending famine, leading to increased fat storage against the possibility of future food shortage, and automatically slows your metabolism as a survival mechanism.
You may have even experienced this yourself: losing weight, gaining it back, feeling frustrated and depressed, until the next new miracle diet comes along promising quick, easy, and painless weight loss.
The real secret to slow, steady, and lasting weight loss is an approach to eating that doesn’t reject some foods in favor of others, but allows you to make intelligent selections while enjoying the food you eat.
Studies have shown the following diets to be the best for losing weight gradually and keeping it off permanently.
Of all the eating plans available, we believe one the recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is the best overall, because of its simple rules, its effectiveness in both short- and long-term weight loss, and its proven effect on lowering blood pressure in both hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients. Known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—the DASH diet—it not only improves cardiovascular health, it has also been shown to help prevent cancer, reduce the incidence of diabetes, and improve kidney health.
The DASH approach to eating eschews strict rules, providing guidelines instead. These include: eating more fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, whole grains, beans and nuts, and low-fat or nonfat dairy, and less full-fat dairy products, fatty meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, and sweets. It emphasizes variety, portion size, and natural foods. And by including a sensible balance of lean protein, it helps satisfy hunger and maintain energy. Although adherents are encouraged to reduce their salt intake, they are not required to do so. However, many of the recommended foods on the plan are naturally low in sodium, so salt reduction occurs automatically.
This diet is based on studies during the 1990s that found those in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea tend to live longer, healthier lives than those in other countries, and have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The reason for this is simple: a diet high in seafood, fresh produce, nuts, olive oil, and beans, and low in red meat, dairy, sugar, processed foods, and saturated fat.
Like the DASH diet, the Mediterranean way of eating avoids calorie counting and forbidding certain foods, and simply shifts the emphasis towards healthier fare and away from those foods that are known to add weight and trigger health issues. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce levels of inflammation throughout the body, which means a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, strokes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It also results in almost automatic weight control, thus lessening the risk of diabetes.
Mayo Clinic Diet
If weight loss is your primary goal, this is a safe, effective diet. Once you pass the first two weeks of fairly restrictive eating, as with the above diets no foods are completely forbidden. Its guidelines emphasize fruits, vegetables, lean protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, seafood, and nuts. On this diet, you’ll drop six to ten pounds during the first two weeks, with a slower, steady loss of one to two pounds per week after that until you reach your goal weight.
We believe the best diets are those you can easily follow throughout your life, and that will enhance your health overall. Of course, it’s a good idea to check with us before embarking on any new diet; we can help you select the one that’s right for you.
This time of year, sugar can be found in abundance, from Christmas cookies, to Hanukkah babka, to Yule logs. Of course, it’s ubiquitous throughout the year, as well, in everything from ketchup to soups to bread.
But because numerous studies have linked refined sugar consumption to a host of diseases, our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter caution that you might want to exercise restraint when indulging in sugary confections. It can lead to obesity, diabetes, liver failure, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and numerous other health issues. It has even been linked to cancer.
Just in time for your holiday meals, one popular salad staple has landed—again—on the recall list. Our concierge family practice doctors in Jupiter are as curious as you are about the seemingly endless recalls of romaine lettuce, so we wanted to look into why this keeps happening:
- Newsweek, 11/27/19: “Romaine Lettuce Recall: Six People Suffer Acute Kidney Failure Following E. Coli Outbreak
- NBC News, 11/20/18: Don’t Eat Romaine Lettuce, CDC Cautions After E. coli Outbreak
- NBC News, 6/1/18: Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak Kills 4 More People
- for a total of five romaine lettuce-related E. coli outbreaks in less than two years.
We wondered: Is there something about romaine lettuce, in particular, that attracts the E. coli bacterium? As it turns out, there seem to be two factors implicated in the repeated outbreaks: the locations where it’s grown and the shape of its growth.
Unfortunately, despite the concerted efforts of federal, state, and local scientists, no one seems to have a definitive answer as to why this otherwise healthy and tasty vegetable has been causing so many problems recently. But researchers are getting closer.
Most recent outbreak
Symptoms of E. coli bacterial infection include stomach pain or non-bloody diarrhea that worsens over several days. It can take up to 10 days to begin feeling symptoms after consuming affected food, which is why outbreaks are so difficult to track down.
The infection is normally self-limiting, meaning the body fights it off with no complications other than feeling fairly miserable for a few days. But it can also lead to more severe complications, especially for infants and children under five, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems.
In the most recent outbreak last month, 67 incidents of food poisoning linked to romaine lettuce were reported across 19 states. On November 26th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas area. This includes any type of romaine lettuce, as well as pre-cut or premixed or packaged salads, spring mixes, and Caesar salad, or any sandwiches or wraps that might contain romaine lettuce.
Whether the label says “grown in Salinas” or doesn’t specify its origin, the CDC recommends discarding it. Romaine lettuce that has been grown in a greenhouse or hydroponically appears to be safe.
Nearly all romaine lettuce grown in the U.S. originates from two main areas: the Salinas Valley in California and the Imperial and Coachella valleys in Southern California and around Yuma, Arizona.
The affected lettuce has been found to be contaminated with a strain of E. coli known as O157:H7, which produces a type of toxin that can lead to severe gastrointestinal illness, as well as kidney failure, and possible death.
This particular strain is common in animals, including goats, deer, feral pigs, and especially cattle. Last year’s outbreak was attributed to contamination of surface water possibly used to irrigate and harvest the crop (with high-pressure water knives, which are used to cut the vegetables, as opposed by slicing them from the roots by hand).
Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the outbreaks have occurred within weeks of the time when nearby farming operations fertilize their fields. And the spring 2018 outbreak was tentatively linked to a nearby cattle factory farm, although no conclusive cause was proved. It would certainly make sense, however, if such a concentrated source of bovine fecal matter was so close, that the contamination could have migrated from that source.
The other problem with romaine lettuce is that it’s normally not cooked. Because of the large-scale way we produce our food, much of it is contaminated with such bacteria as E. coli and salmonella, which proper cooking methods destroy. But because romaine’s crinkled leaves grow in an elongated rosette shape, it’s difficult if not impossible to wash it sufficiently to remove all of the surface contamination.
What should you do?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides the following advice to minimize the chances of contamination.
Always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
For refrigerators and other food preparation surfaces and food cutting utensils that may have come in contact with contaminated foods, it is very important to thoroughly clean these areas and items.
Consumers should follow these simple steps:
- Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards, and countertops; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Wipe up spills in the refrigerator immediately and clean the refrigerator regularly.
- Always wash hands with hot, soapy water following the cleaning and sanitization process.
If you think you have become ill from eating contaminated foods, be sure to talk to us. While food poisoning may result in nothing more than a few days of misery, it can also be dangerous. We can advise you on the best ways to recover.
Our concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter understand that old traditions die hard, especially if it’s something learned from our parents, who learned it from their parents, and so on. But if you’re one of those who steadfastly wash your chicken before you cook it, we’d like to try to convince you to stop doing that, for the sake of your health.
If you’re a parent, there’s nothing you won’t do to ensure the health and well being of your child, including providing the best food available. But what do you do when you find that food contains toxic metals that can contribute to the possibility of cancer, heart disease, and impaired brain development?
As the evidence against soft drinks keeps piling up, the best advice our concierge family doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter can give you is, drink water. Or coffee. Or tea. Anything but a manufactured product containing carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame (in diet sodas), phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors, and sodium benzoate as a preservative.
Our concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter have been receiving questions lately from some of our patients regarding the latest fad in “miracle cures,” celery juice. Touted on the Internet, in women’s magazines, and in a recent book as the answer to everything from diabetes to heart disease to heartburn, the benefits attributed to daily consumption of celery juice seem too good to be true.
So we thought we’d take a look at some of the claims for the efficacy of celery juice and see whether there’s any science behind it.
Celery juice, the so-called “miracle elixir,” is said to contain “previously unknown sodium cluster salts that actually neutralize pathogens secretly causing hundreds of symptoms and conditions.” The juice is also said to reduce inflammation throughout the body, which is known to trigger numerous health issues.
As a result, proponents claim, a daily glass of celery juice can lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (known as the “bad” cholesterol), ease arthritis, asthma, joint pain, and a host of other chronic illnesses, as well as promoting rapid and effortless weight loss and even curing some cancers.
Celery is a healthy vegetable, containing such vitamins and minerals as vitamins C and K, folate, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. And, like other vegetables, it is high in antioxidant polyphenols, known to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and neutralize free radicals which are responsible for cellular damage. But what about the “miracle elixir” claims?
First of all, nutritionists say there is no such thing as “sodium cluster salts.” Celery does, however, contain salt, and juicing the vegetable concentrates the amount of salt you get. The recommended intake of celery juice is 16 ounces in the morning, 30 minutes before breakfast. One bunch of celery, the amount needed to make 16 ounces of celery juice, contains approximately 800 mg. of sodium, The Washington Post reported recently.
“That’s more than you’ll get in two orders of french fries,” Charleston, S.C.-based registered dietitian Debbie Petitpain told The Post. Petitpain is a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Second, while inflammation can be a trigger for many serious and even deadly illnesses (see our recent blog, “Inflammation: The Silent Killer”) there’s no evidence that celery juice can reduce inflammation any better than numerous other fruits and vegetables, including beets, cabbage, parsley, or lettuce.
Finally, juicing any fruit or vegetable extracts some of the healthy fiber they contain. Fiber is not only filling, it helps maintain regularity, prevents the development of diverticulitis and hemorrhoids, and lowers cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
“There is no one ‘superfood’ that can meet all of our daily requirements,” Petitpain told The Post. “And in fact, research continually shows that the best nutrition comes from consuming a variety of food groups and various foods within each group.”
The popular book on celery juice also recommends, in addition to the morning drink, a diet high in fruits and vegetables, free of dairy, sugar, and processed foods. This alone would lead steady weight loss and better health overall, even without the juice.
There is no question that celery is high in many nutrients and antioxidants that can help alleviate many diseases. Unless you’re allergic to celery, as some people are, there’s no reason not to try it if you’re not on a low-salt diet.
But we believe that the most sensible eating plan is one that includes a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat meats and seafood, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. If you’d like more information on this or any related topic, be sure to contact us.
Sausages. Mayonnaise. Pizza. Potato chips. Bacon. Even whiskey, gin, and rum. All these foods and many more share two common traits: All were “processed” into their familiar form by humans, and all have been implicated in an increased risk for early death.
Our concierge primary doctors in Jupiter want to make you aware of the latest studies on the dangers of consuming these foods as the primary part of your diet.
The difference in these studies is that they don’t just address so-called “junk” foods like cookies and fast foods, but many of the items that all of us have in our kitchens and rely on as staples of our diet.
Published last month in the journal BMJ, one study followed more than 100,000 adults in France for five years. They found that those who ate the most processed foods were 23 percent more likely to experience a heart condition or stroke than those who consumed the lowest amounts.
The second study, also published in BMJ, tracked 20,000 Spanish adults over 20 years. Those who ate the most processed foods were 62 percent more likely to die during the study period than those who ate the lowest.
“High consumption” was defined as four or more servings of ultra-processed foods daily, with health risks rising 18 percent for each additional daily serving.
While researchers cautioned that correlation doesn’t prove causation, both studies controlled for such other possible risk factors as lifestyle, demographics, physical activity, weight, and overall health in drawing their conclusions. They also noted that their findings correspond to other earlier studies showing an association between highly processed foods and higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers.
Researchers classified foods into roughly three categories:
- “unprocessed or minimally processed” foods included fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, legumes, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, yogurt, white rice and pasta, and natural juices;
- “processed” foods included cheeses, breads, beer, wine, ham, and bacon;
- “ultra-processed” foods included potato chips, pizza, cookies, chorizo, sausages, mayonnaise, chocolates and candies, artificially sweetened beverages, and whisky, gin, and rum.
They also created a separate category called “processed ingredients,” which included salt, sugar, honey, olive oil, butter, and lard.
The problem seems to stem from the processing, which changes foods from their natural state into something that will last longer on our shelves. These tend to be high in poor-quality fats, additional sugar, salt, and preservative chemicals, and low in vitamins and fiber. The common factor can be summed up in the phrase “convenience foods”; that is, foods that are quick and easy to prepare at home.
Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist who was not involved in the study, told CBS News, “I like to say: The longer the shelf life, the shorter your life.” Freeman directs cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.
The takeaway in both these studies, as well as preceding ones is, the closer to a food’s natural state that you can eat, the better the effect on your overall health.
Freeman told CBS News that the most heart-healthy diet is one rich in whole foods, particularly plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. He added that, for affordability and convenience, fresh-frozen vegetables were perfectly acceptable.
Simply switching from sodas to water is another good choice, as well as substituting fresh fruit for sweets. Options for quick snack foods include such treats as homemade sweet potato chips, and oven-“fried” vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, as well as celery and carrot sticks cut up and stored in water.
If you have any questions about a healthy eating plan, please let us know. We can help you substitute a healthy diet for foods likely to negatively impact your health.