Monday, October 21, 2013

Dairy Kills Anti-oxidants!

Previously posted on!

Here’s a news flash: Dairy Kills Anti-oxidants!!!

I’ve been hot on the trail of this research in pursuit of healthy living, as opposed to “dieting.” We’ve all heard that dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate, and now I know why. It appears that milk interferes with absorption of anti-oxidants, and animal protein is the culprit.

Do you put milk in your coffee? If so, you just annihilated coffee’s antioxidants. Same goes for green tea. And believe it or not, those highly nutritious blueberries tossed into morning cereal with milk, were just rendered impotent.
This is important information for anyone trying to live healthfully, since antioxidants are powerful molecules that can ward off cancer and disease. Rendering them ineffective is most unfortunate.

Switching the focus from dieting to healthful living has been an enlightening journey for me, and one that has helped many of my patients to improve risk factors and body image issues, regardless if weight is lost. For instance, when people diligently exercise, but don’t lose weight, they can become discouraged and stop. But benefits of exercise are often found by developing strength and endurance, while potentially improving blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance, even if the scale doesn’t move. Sometimes a few pounds may even be gained, since muscle weighs more than fat, but the benefits remain.

Increased awareness of high anti-oxidant foods, which boost our immunity and health, has finally entered our awareness. Yet, the fact that yogurt disables the fruit mixed into it was news to me. I even did a video advocating natural ice cream with a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup, without knowing that the ice cream disabled the dark chocolate syrup! Who knew that strawberries with real whipped cream are no longer such a healthy choice?

The good news is that dark chocolate syrup seems to retain its powerful nutrition when mixed with almond, coconut, or soy milk, since there is no animal protein interfering with absorption. Strawberries dipped into dark chocolate are also high on the good list. A little knowledge can go a long way, to maximize health.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Obesity Should NOT Be Classified as a Disease!

As seen on!

The American Medical Association recently designated obesity as a disease, and in doing so, has created a terrible disservice, and potentially damaging situation.  Why bother striving to live a healthy lifestyle, when you can just take a pill for temporary weight loss, which typically results in weight gain? 

Onto the next solution, as medical, surgical, and hokey diet businesses thrive, at our expense.  There is not a single remedy available that seems to keep weight from returning, in the vast majority of people. 

Go ahead, eat like a pig, and never move your butt! They’ll just gut your guts, and you’ll be fine.  (Except for awful side effects, and often dismal long term results). “On sale now, and paid for by your insurance company,” (since there is finally a formal diagnosis.)  Oops, time for a raise in rates!

The AMA went against the recommendations of its own Council!  The Council stated that obesity should not be classified as a disease, since the primary diagnostic measurement, BMI, is flawed!  And seriously flawed, at that.  It does not consider whether body mass is fat or muscle, or whether you eat healthfully, or ever put on a pair of sneakers!

Could there be any advantages, for anyone who doesn’t stand to make money off this?  Can it possibly make us healthier? 

Only if they come up with a magic bullet, because treatments now have incredibly high relapse rates.
Only if they solve poverty quickly, because the greatest concentration of obesity is in those areas. 

Should we pay for them to be on meds or have surgery?  What if most of the population is classified as overweight or obese?  Should everyone be on meds forever???

It’s crazy talk. 

Here’s the truth.  People come in small, medium and large, and we should all simply strive to become our personal best.  The other day, I was on the beach, and about 5 adolescent girls in bikinis passed by.  One said to another, “You don’t have to exercise, you’re naturally thin!”

Is this the message we should be teaching our children?  It’s absurd.  Exercise is healthy for everyone, just as partially hydrogenated oils are toxic for all.  And by the way, I have no idea who said it to who.  They all looked thin to me!

If there’s a silver lining to all of this, fat people might finally receive a bit more sympathy from others.  If they are “ill,” and it’s not “their fault,” there is a more sympathetic tone.  What a refreshing change, from suggestions that “they are weak-willed, lazy, and disgusting.”  Perhaps this will diminish discrimination against people of size, and engender pity, instead of disgust and shame.  How exciting….

Society would be much better served if we simply protected larger peoples’ feelings by accepting that diversity is good in a species.  We must recognize that everyone should strive to be healthy, equally, regardless of size.  There are different advantages and disadvantages to being small, medium or large.

What if North Korea decided to nuke us and our food supply was contaminated?  Who would survive until the next harvest?

Let’s face it; it’s survival of the fattest!

Diagnosis be damned.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shame on You, Dr. Oz!

Previously posted on!

Once again I must take issue with you.
But I digress.

Has anyone ever heard of Garcinia cambogia?  It’s Oz’s newest darling. He was gushing over this stuff, calling it the “holy grail of weight loss!” 
Well, of course I was excited to drink the Koolaid too, but first I hungrily googled the heck out of it… which I wondered if Dr. Oz had done.
If so, he might have mentioned the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a twelve-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. “Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.”

Oops!  Faux pas!!!

In fact, this study was actually criticized for using a high-fiber diet, which is thought to impair its absorption.  Criticized?  A high fiber diet is basically fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Too bad eating healthfully is contra-indicated for this panacea.

The NYU Medical Center newsletter succinctly reviewed an eight week study of 60 overweight individuals finding some weight loss.  Another trial found no effect on appetite.  One more study tested to see if it could cause weight loss by altering metabolism, but no effects on metabolism were found.

Taken together, I’d say this is all very underwhelming.  Furthermore, I would toss the lot of them down the drain, because none have any long term follow-up.  Everyone knows that most people gain back lost weight, regardless of how it’s lost!  How dare he sing such glaring praises, before any credible evidence is in!

I could see why Dr. Oz might be giddy about it, before results are conclusive.  This natural extract supposedly boosts serotonin, which helps with mood, and might conceivably reduce emotional eating.  Furthermore, it supposedly inhibits an enzyme from turning sugar into fat, and instead encourages the liver to turn it into energy and lean muscle mass, instead of fat.

So what happens after people go off this?  Don’t know; there isn’t any research.  But there is a body of work to suggest that the body may overcompensate, such as losing weight on amphetamines, and then rebounding when going off.

I believe the two part system, of trying to lose weight and then trying to maintain that loss, has failed most people, regardless of how weight was lost.  We need one way of living healthfully forever. 

A healthy lifestyle includes a variety of natural foods, listening to hunger and satiety, coping effectively, and moving your body.  Genetics account for the rest, including actual weight.  The scale will reflect that ideal combination of heredity and lifestyle; nature and nurture.  Some people will be heavier, and some will be thinner, which is OK.  Diversity is natural, and desirable.

If someone was restricting food before moving towards a healthy lifestyle, they will gain weight.  If they were overeating and not moving their body, their weight will naturally move towards a healthier point in their set point range.  Weight fluctuation is a byproduct of living a healthy lifestyle, and not a valid goal or indicator in itself.

Let’s finally get off the scale, and focus more on health.

Monday, January 14, 2013

“Obesity Crisis; Real or Imagined?”

As seen on!
Being overweight (BMI  25–29)) was associated with LOWER mortality than “normal” weight, in an analysis of nearly 100 studies! This impressive review, published in a prestigious medical journal, included nearly 3 million people from around the world. Lower mortality rates were also found for “grade one obesity” (BMI 30-35), compared to normal weight people (BMI 18.5-24). 

Happy New Year to me!  I’ve been talking about this phenomenon for ages, based on many individual population studies.  But this is the mother of all studies!

So what do we do now?  Encourage people to gain weight instead of lose weight?  Should government subsidies provide cheaper, low quality, potentially toxic foods to fatten us up?  Should pharmaceutical industries create drugs that coax weight gain instead of weight loss?  Should surgeons be sued for weight loss surgeries that mutilate digestive systems, before having adequate evidence of creating long-term health?  These ideas sound may sound absurd, but no more absurd as the opposite.

My message has not changed.  People naturally come in all sizes, and everyone must strive to live a healthy lifestyle.  Every overweight person will not live longer; these studies simply reflect trends.  There are probably evolutionary advantages to all sizes, which ought not be messed with.  Super -obese people may live  longest if our food supply dried up, but may die off a bit sooner if not needed for survival.  Don’t they deserve respect for this important role?

So how can we reduce stigma, bias and discrimination against people of size, while helping everyone to become healthy?  First of all, stop beating yourself up for feeling fat!  It is abusive, demeaning, degrading, and counter-productive.  It is exactly the same as if you called other people those ugly names.  Offer yourself the same respect you would offer friends or strangers.

 Next, our government should eliminate ” ideal weights” and “BMI’s.”  Assess health according to lifestyles, biological markers, (blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance), and perhaps some physical measures of strength and endurance.  

 Exercise often improves all of these indicators, for people of all sizes!

Nuts, avocados, dark chocolate, fruits, whole grains and salmon are healthier than partially hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and chemicals for everyone.  Responding appropriately to hunger and satiation might work better than portion control, and coping effectively is always a plus… regardless of pounds on a scale.

 Americans are living longer than ever, despite being fatter.  This doesn’t sound like a crisis to me!  In times of abundance, people maximize height, weight, and longevity, but we must realize the price for living longer.  Being mortal, we must die from something.  Deaths from cancer in the US are astronomically high, compared to cancer deaths in India, because they don’t live long enough in India for those cancers to develop!  It’s not because we’re fatter!

 So let’s stop the hysteria, and use the wonders of medical science to replace a knee, control diabetes and manage other maladies, without blaming fat people for being fat.  We don’t blame thin people for being thin, despite their higher death rate than overweight people!

 Genetics account for at least 60% to 80% of our weight, so let's do the best we can with what we have.