Is LCHF Keto the right diet for you in the new year?

With New Year’s resolutions looming, many people are thinking about reinvigorating their health. In fact, 45% of people want to lose weight or get in shape as their New Year’s resolution.

The LCHF Keto diet has been quickly gaining momentum, and it is piquing a great deal of curiosity.

So, is this particular diet right for you? It may just be.

 

What are your diet goals?

Before selecting a diet, it’s important for you to define why you want to diet in the first place. Are your goals weight loss, general health, or a combination?

If you want to lose weight, reduce your hunger, enjoy your meals, and improve your metabolic health, then LCHF may be right for you.

 

Do you want to lose weight?

The primary reason most people go on a diet is to lose weight. As far as weight loss, low carb has you covered. Out of 60 studies comparing low carb to low fat diets, low carb had better weight loss in 30 and they were equal in 30. Low carb was inferior in exactly zero of these studies. That’s an impressive record, and definitely something to consider if weight loss is your primary goal.

But there is so much more to life and health than weight loss.

 

Do you want to reduce your hunger?

One main struggle in health and weight loss is how hungry we are and how much we need to think about food during the day. Studies show that following a LCHF diet reduces our hunger in the long-term. That means less worry about constant snacks, and less concern with needing to eat every few hours. In fact, LCHF works so well at curbing appetite that more people can practice time-restricted eating by compressing eating into a 6-8 hour window, which has indicated potential beneficial effects for longevity.

 

Do you want to improve your focus?

Food, especially the wrong food, can make us feel lethargic and unfocused. Many people report thinking more clearly and having better mental performance when on a low carb diet. The brain loves ketones, whereas carbs can cloud your thinking. Why not switch to low carb and see if your brain fog lifts?

 

Do you want to improve metabolic health?

A recent study showed that only 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. Low carb diets are one of the fastest and best ways to improve metabolic health. Studies show it puts type 2 diabetes in remission, improves insulin resistance, reduces visceral fat, and improves overall metabolic health.

 

Do you want to decrease your cardiovascular risk?

Fat phobia is gone. Limiting carbs to real food veggies and eating plenty of healthy fats improves our cardiovascular risk profile. It reduces BP, reduces TG, increases HDL and improves the size and density of LDL, which all add up to a net improvement in cardiovascular health.

 

The main reason you should consider LCHF/Keto in the new year

You will love it!

No counting calories, no feeling hungry, no wild glucose swings and post meal crashes, no afternoon slump. With all of this research backing this diet, it’s definitely worth a try.

 

One last consideration

A note of caution, most people will do great. But not everyone reacts to this diet the same way, so you may want to consult a doctor experienced in low carb nutrition.

If you don’t already have a doctor to consult with or want to speak with one who specializes in Keto, I’m a professional who has extensive experience with LCHF diets and how they affect your health. If you’re just getting started, I recommend downloading my free LCHF/Keto starter tips e-book to get you on the right track:

 

 

 

If we can be of any additional service, please let us know!

Thanks for reading,

Bret Scher, MD FACC

Low Carb and Intermittent Fasting Make Traveling a Breeze!

It's challenging enough to stick to your health, fitness, and dieting goals when you're at home. When you're traveling, it can be even harder. Nothing's worse than going on vacation only to be frustrated that you've gained back weight you worked so hard to lose.

Let's be honest. When you travel, it's harder to pay attention to what you're eating, when you're eating and how much you're eating. If you prepre ahead of time, however, you can make this much easier. Focusing on intermittent fasting, limiting your carbs, and keeping up some version of your exercise routine can put you on a path to success. 

How Travel Disrupts Your Diet

We seem to be traveling more than ever. The U.S. Travel Association reports that spending on travel in the U.S. alone averages $2.8 billion per day. Per day! That's a lot of opportunity to fall off the wagon. 

  • You're likely to be less physically active. While it may seem you're covering lots of ground rushing to the airport and flying (or driving) hundreds of miles, you're also spending most of that time sitting down. It's also common for travelers to abandon their usual workout routines.
  • There are snacks and junk food everywhere. It's tempting to grab snacks at the airport or to worry that you may not have a chance to eat for a while, so yo ugrab whatever is available. Most of these choices are high carb, high sugar distractions. 
  • Your internal clock is disrupted. If you're traveling through time zones, your circadian rhythm is a mess and youo will find yourself craving more, with diminished self control. 

But it's not hopeless! Here are some recommendations for counteracting these issues and staying healthy when you travel.

Limit Carbs When Traveling

We can debate all we want the merits of low fat vs low carb diets. Especially when the carbs are high quality, real food carbs. However, when you travel, lower quality carbs are often the biggest temptation. Simple carbs like sweets, foods made with white flour, and many packaged and processed foods are everywhere. 

  • Bring healthy snacks with you. Instead of relying on food counters at the airport or filling up on junk food at rest stops on the highway, take the time to prepare some healthy meals. Prepare snacks that include superfoods such as almonds and other mixed nuts, salads with broccoli, kale hemp seeds and chia seeds, and perhaps some dark chocolate for a treat.
  • Do your own shopping and cooking. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you have to eat out every meal! Don't derpive yourself of trying some new restaurants, but remember you can still do some of your own cooking. Look for a hotel or Airbnb that lets you do at least a little cooking and that has a fridge. This gives you more control over your diet.  
  • Research eating options ahead of time. Before you leave on your trip, identify hotels, restaurants, and eateries that offer healthy and low-carb options. Don't forget to find out when and where local farmer's markets are held. I find that is a fantastic way to check out the local scene and partake in healthy local food choices. 
  • Drink water. Staying hydrated can help combat hunger, and it will keep you away from sodas, juices and other sugary distractions.

Happy friends drinking cocktails and eating watermelon fruit in boat party - Young people having fun in summer vacation - Youth lifestyle and rich tour holiday concept - Main focus on right girl face

Incorporate Fasting Into Your Trip 

There are many health benefits to intermittent fasting. It can help you to lose weight and lower insulin, and there's even evidence that it contributes to longevity. But when it comes to travelling, the best part of IF is the convenience!  If you're fasting, you don't have to worry about finding a healthy meal at the airport or on the plane.  Stick with water and you are good to go!

If you are fasting, do it in a responsible and healthy way. If you're on any kind of medication, consult with a health professional before fasting. If you've never fasted, start slowly. Most people can do an 18:6 fast without too much discomfort. This means fasting for 18 hours and then eating for the next 6 hours. When you get comfortable with this, you can increase the duration of your fasts to 24, 48, or even 72 hours. If you want to try fasting on your next trip, it's a good idea to try some short fasts before you begin your journey. 

Other Tips to Stay Healthy on the Road

  • Exercise regularly. Try to stay somewhere with a gym. Or a neighborhood that has a gym you can use. Even without this, you can schedule in a walk, jog or bike ride. If you're visiting tourist attractions, think of a walk or bike tour rather than a bus tour. Look into places where you can explore nature and get fresh air.
  • Get enough rest. Travel can also disrupt your sleep patterns. Lack of sleep is associated with anxiety, depression, hypertension, and many other health problems. If you're going to be traveling through time zones, start adjusting to the new time before you leave for your trip. When on your trip, be careful not to burn the candle at both ends. If you're getting up early for a long day of sightseeing (or business meetings), go to bed at a reasonable time. 
  • Limit your intake of alcohol. It seems that alcoholic beverages are everywhere when you travel. Whether you're ordering a cocktail to help you relax on a long flight, downing tropical drinks on the beach, or sampling local craft breweries or wineries, the temptations are everywhere. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar. It can also disrupt your sleep patterns. If you do drink, limit it to one or two per day. 
  • Don't stress out. Stress is never healthy and travel, even the kind that's supposed to be relaxing, can contribute to it. Avoid trying to fit in too many activities on your trip. Rushing around tends to make you reach for junk foods for quick comfort or energy. When planning your schedule, leave time for spontaneous exploration or just lounging around. 

Watching your diet when traveling is important, especially if you frequently find yourself on the road. It's easy to slip into bad habits when traveling which means you have to start all over when you return home. It's better if you can stay consistent even when you're away from home. Limiting your carbs, fasting, and maintaining regular exercise and sleep routines all help you maintain optimum health when you travel. 

 

Alcohol and Low Carb Diets: Can they Coexist?

Enjoying an alcoholic beverage or two is a normal part of daily life for many people. For some, any meal – other than breakfast – is not complete without some sort of alcoholic beverage, whether that's hard liquor, wine, or something more exotic. But did you know that what you drink can affect not only your health, but also your weight loss goals?

Is Alcohol Healthy?

Overall, it depends on the amount imbibed. Health centers, such as the Mayo Clinic, suggest that it's safe for women to drink one standard bottle of beer, one glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor every day. Men, on the other hand, can have twice that amount. Of course, these are just general guidelines. Large women may be able to drink more, while men with a slight build are generally better off having a bit less.

At this rate, alcohol can actually be healthy. Experts say that it can protect the heart, possibly reduce stroke risk, and surprisingly enough, it may reduce the risk of diabetes. That said, you shouldn't start drinking (if you don't already) just to get these benefits. And it isn't clear that the benfits are alcohol specific, they could be more lifestyle related or due to other factors. So tread carefully with the "benefits of alcohol."

When Alcohol Isn't Healthy

As almost everyone knows, alcohol is a toxin. The dose determines the poison. It certainly isn't healthy to have so much alcohol that you get drunk. It also isn't healthy to drink so much, or so often, that you develop an addiction to it. Alcoholism is well-known for causing problems with the liver, and it can be a contributing factor for cancer and other problems with the throat and stomach, as well. Not to mention how the addiction can ruin someone's life.

There are several other situations, some of which are surprising, that you should be aware of. Beer, for example, is the highest-carb form of alcohol – and therefore, the type that will wreck your low-carb eating plan the fastest. Clear hard liquor is better, but wine is the best in moderate amounts.

According to a recent WSJ article, consumers are learning of these differences and adjusting their buying habits to suit. Beer sales are on the decline, while spirits and wine are becoming more popular.

Alcohol and Your Diet

Alcohol has one other big negative: It can torpedo your low-carb diet. This is because typical drinks are high in calories and carbs. The body also metabolizes alcohol before anything else, so its punch can knock you out of ketosis for several hours or longer. While some people won't notice any ill effects from this, many do notice that their weight loss slows or stalls when they indulge.

Too much alcohol can also lower your inhibitions, and this means that you'll find it harder to stick to your diet. All of the high-calorie, high-carb foods that you'll have available at a party or in a restaurant will suddenly seem far more tempting than usual. For this reason, it is normally advised to either avoid alcohol altogether in such situations or keep intake to a very moderate level.

Drinking too late in the day can also keep you from getting a deep sleep. This interferes with your body's ability to repair itself, and therefore, can also interfere with an exercise program. Since both diet and exercise are generally recommended for weight loss, it's wise to stop drinking several hours before you intend to go to bed.

A Healthy Wine Alternative for Low-Carb Lovers

 

Dry Farm Wines has recognized that a glass of a typical wine isn't always healthy for everyone. Therefore, they have developed a line of wine that addresses the most common health concerns. Their wines are actually great for low-carb eating plans because they are sugar-free, contain less than 12.5 percent alcohol, and are explicitly made to be friendly to low-carb, keto, and paleo diets. This makes them an excellent alternative to the typical high-sugar, additive-filled wines found on the supermarket shelf.

These benefits aren't all that set Dry Farm Wines apart from others. They also lab-test every wine to make sure that it meets the company's strict purity and content standards. Dry Farm also makes sure not to add or remove anything from their product. Instead, the wines are produced so that they contain all of the good aspects right from the start, and so no unwanted ingredients need to be put in. As you might expect, the wines are also organic. They are sourced from small family farms, as well.

How Wine Can Affect Ketones

In a self-experiment of the type that makes the internet the great medium it is, Mark Moschel of Better Humans decided to fast for several days and measure his ketones vs. how he felt. He found that he was more energetic when he had more ketones in his system.

On the second run of the experiment, he added something new: He would have no food, but would have wine. He found that after one glass, his ketones and blood glucose still remained stable. However, after the second, his ketones dropped a bit and his glucose also rose moderately. Finally, after the third glass of a day, both stats continued their prior trends. It took until the middle of the next day for his levels to return to his usual norm.

As this shows, a single glass of wine can be enjoyed without interfering with ketosis or blood glucose, but more than that can lead to trouble on these fronts. But remember, this experiment was done with Dry Farm Wines. Other brands that aren't as meticulous to quality and low sugar may not have the same results.

Make Your Celebrations and Meals Healthier

Now, you don't have to worry about wrecking your diet, getting headaches, or any of the other negative side-effects of drinking moderate amounts of wine. With Dry Farm Wines, these pesky attributes are gone. You can host a party and raise your glass with no worries – and without looking unsociable. There'll be no more awkward moments caused by the need to turn down a beverage as long as the wine on the menu is from Dry Farm.

Despite all of the benefits of Dry Farm Wines, you will still need to partake in moderation as suggested by health experts. There is alcohol present, so stick to one or two glasses, and be sure to have them early enough in the day to allow for a good sleep that night.

To experience the flavor and healthiness of Dry Farm Wines for yourself, just click here. For a limited time, you can even add a bottle to your order for just one cent!

Leave us a comment if you have tried Dry Farm Wines, or if you know of similar products that are healthy, low-carb alcohol alternatives!

Activities for the Whole Family

Have you made the decision that YOU want to start living your best health ever? What about your family? It’s hard to get on track without the support of your loved ones and that’s why it can be necessary to make sure they’re on board for your lifestyle changes as well! It doesn’t have to be a tedious task for them or feel like a burden, it can be fun and a great way to spend more time together. So why not pack in the quality time while getting in a good workout and being active? Here are some perfect examples to get you started as you incorporate your family life into your journey to your best health ever. 


Go Hiking Together


As long as you do your research ahead of time you can find plenty of family friendly hikes where you live. Map out how long it will take you to get there, have some classic car games ready, plenty of water and snacks, and make a day out of it. Pack a healthy picnic to enjoy when you reach the top of your destination and enjoy a beautiful day outdoors while kicking up your heart rate. 


Try Out Fun Sports

You don’t need to be an athlete to play a friendly game of basketball or soccer. Try out a basketball game of HORSE or run around with a soccer ball at your nearest park. Tennis can also be a great game to get the whole family in on. Find your nearest court and grab a couple of rackets and balls. You’ll get some sun and burn off a ton of calories running back and forth on the court. If you’re not feeling so adventurous, just grab a frisbee and head to the beach. Before you know it you’ll be starting your own Ultimate Frisbee team!


Sign up For A 5k Walk Or Run 


See what’s coming up on active.com for the latest 5k Walks and Runs. These events are usually family friendly, a great way to build community and the perfect opportunity to get some steps in. Better yet, find one that is for a cause close to your heart and educate your family on why it means so much to you. You’ll feel the positive impact not just physically, but also get a mental boost for supporting a charity that you feel personally connected to. 


Start a Neighborhood Recreation League


Get your neighbors involved in your health journey by starting a friendly weeknight Kick-Ball league (or Ultimate Frisbee team!) with one side of the street against the other. You’ll create a greater sense of community within your neighborhood, meet new people and maybe even find your next babysitter. You can also do some research to see if your town already has social sports leagues set up and join an existing team with your family and friends. Weeknight games are a great way to break up your weekly routine and add some diversity to your exercise habits. 

Travel With Games

Keep a soccer ball or a frisbee in your trunk. Instead of waiting in the car in between errands or after school activities, get out of the car and throw the ball around. If you’re on your own, try jump roping wherever you are. You can burn as many as 200 calories in just one 10-minute jump-rope session. Or make sure to just get out of the car and walk around, as long as you’re moving you’re one step closer to achieving a healthier life!

Go For A Bike Ride

A great way to burn calories and explore your neighborhood, biking is a perfect outdoor activity. Whether you’re on a beach cruiser or a tandem bike, you’ll be enjoying the ride so much you won’t even mind the burn when you’re going up those hills. Make sure to strap on a helmet, ride with water and plan out a fun pit stop. Check out TrailLink to find safe, family-friendly trails in your city. 

Get Technology Involved 

Add an element of competition between family members and see who can get the most steps in the day. You can use the Health app on your phone or invest in a FitBit to track your steps. Set a goal of 10,000 or 20,000 steps a day and create incentives for whoever hits the goal first. For example, the winner doesn’t have to do dishes that night or gets to choose what movie you’ll see that weekend! 

Make sure your family and friends know about your commitment to your healthier lifestyle so they understand how important it is to you that you have their support. Rallying your community is a pivotal step towards achieving your best health ever and there are endless fun and active ways the whole family can join in on your journey. 

How To Be A Morning Person

There are many benefits to rising early. It boosts your energy and lifts your mood. It amplifies your productivity and sparks your creativity. And it improves your chances of getting to work on time!

Are you looking for ways to become a morning person? Getting more sleep is a great first step. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of shuteye each night. But it’s not just the number of hours you sleep that affects your ability to wake up and seize the day. It’s also the quality of those ZZZs.

Even if you’re a true night owl, you can transform yourself into a morning person by making a few tweaks to your daily routines. So what are you waiting for? Adopt these healthy sleep habits and you’ll soon find yourself waking up refreshed and ready to go

  1. Set bedtime reminders: Sticking to a healthy sleep schedule starts with hitting the sheets around the same time every night. On your smartphone, set an alarm with a soothing sound that reminds you when it’s time to start winding down. (If you have an iPhone, check out the Bedtime tab on your alarm clock for a sleep analysis bonus.)
     
  2. Start slowly: Training your body to get sleepy when it should doesn’t mean you need to convince yourself to hop into bed at 9 p.m. when you’re used to doing so much later. Making too big of a leap will keep you lying awake and restless, plus more likely to rebound into old habits. Instead, try turning in just 15 minutes earlier than usual. When your body adjusts to this new bedtime, turn in another 15 minutes earlier.
     
  3. Stay consistent: Waking up at the same time every day will also help you stick to your new schedule, which you may find easier to commit to on weekdays. If you’re tempted to reward yourself with extra shut-eye on the weekends, resist the urge to lounge in bed. Sleeping in a couple of hours later than normal may feel luxurious now, but it can throw off your body’s internal clock—and land you with “a case of the Mondays.”
     
  4. Reframe your thinking: Do you tend to procrastinate when it’s time to go to bed? How you think about bedtime sends signals to your body, which may trigger or inhibit a sleepytime response. By the time you feel tired, you might find yourself saying, “It’s late, I should go to bed.” A little trick to make bedtime less flexible is to shift the way you think about it. Next time you’re up an hour later than intended, try saying to yourself, “It’s an hour past my bedtime.”
     
  5. Destress your morning routine: How you start your day can set the tone for a positive day—or not. Hectic mornings may seem like the norm, but they don’t have to be. Shorten your morning to-do list by shifting tasks to the night before, like picking out what to wear, preparing a make-ahead breakfast, packing a healthy lunch, setting the coffee timer, and organizing your work bag.
     
  6. Skip the snooze button: Tired of being tired, even after a full night’s sleep? If you tend to hit the snooze button, you may be making yourself more tired than you think. Setting your alarm to go off just eight to 10 minutes into a new REM cycle can lead to sleep inertia or that feeling of heavy morning grogginess that’s hard to shake. Moving your alarm clock away from your bedside will encourage you to get up and start moving right away.
     
  7. Cut back on caffeine: Any coffee lover knows that going cold turkey on the joe can be quite the feat. Gradually scale back on your caffeine intake. Not only will it help you snooze more soundly, you’ll be less likely to spend those extra dollars on a cup of coffee the next morning.
     
  8. Jumpstart your day: You don’t have to leap out of bed and hit the gym for a vigorous workout to reap the benefits of morning exercise (unless, of course, you want to).There are plenty of early-bird workouts you can do from the comfort of home, and all you need is 10 – 30 minutes of moderate physical activity to get your heart pumping and feel more energized for the day ahead.

All it takes to start your journey to becoming a morning person is to make one small change. You’ve got this! Which healthy sleep habit will you try tonight?

 

 

 

 

3 Simple Breathing Techniques You Can Practice Anywhere

It doesn’t always take a vacation to a private island or a lavish spa day to get some relaxation time in. There are simple, quick techniques you can learn and incorporate into your everyday schedule to help ease that nagging tension and anxiety you might feel, and they take only take 5 minutes or less! Any time you might feel overwhelmed by an upcoming deadline at work or stressed out just coping with everyday tasks, you can try out any of these three breathing techniques. Find a quiet space wherever you are (even at work!) and try one of these out to help you feel more relaxed and ready to tackle the rest of your day. 

Belly Breathing 

Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, this technique requires you to focus on expanding your stomach, rather than your chest, as you take in each deep breath. 

1. Preferably lying on your back, place one hand over your stomach and another over your chest. 

2. Breathe in slowly through your nose and through your stomach so that you feel your stomach rise against your hand as your abdomen fills with air. 

3. Exhale completely and as you exhale through your nose, feel your stomach deflate to its neutral position. 

4. Repeat this process for 5-10 minutes, focusing on the sensation of your stomach rising and falling with each breath. 

The 4-7-8 Method

This exercise helps you breathe more deeply while putting your mind into a meditative state as you focus on counting the seconds during each breath in and out. 

1. Sit in a comfortable position and start by slowly inhaling through your nose on a count of 4 seconds.

2. After the fourth second, hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds*

3. After 7 seconds, exhale your breath for a count of 8 seconds. Repeat this exercise 3-4 times. 

*If 7 seconds feels too long, lower the count to a number of seconds that feels more comfortable for you. 

Progressive Relaxation

Your entire body will take a role in this breathing exercise as you coordinate each breath with the tensing and relaxing of your toes and feet all the way up to your shoulders and head. 

1. Lying or sitting, start by tensing the muscles in your feet as you breathe in through your nose. Hold the breath for a moment as you experience what the tension feels like in your feet and toes. 

2. As you relax your feet, release your breath and exhale through your nose. Take another moment to appreciate the feeling of your feet no longer tensing and contracting. 

3. Continue the process throughout your whole body, including your legs, abdomen, arms, hands, shoulders, jaw and eyes. 

4. Finish the exercise by tensing the entire body as you take a final deep breath in, and as you release your breath make sure to focus on the sensation of each muscle returning to a relaxed state. 

Taking the time to breathe deeply not only helps remind your brain to calm down but it can help remind you to be mindful and present in the moment.  Just by taking 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to try any of these breathing techniques you’ll notice a difference in how you cope with your stress, negative thoughts and the tension you’re holding in your body. Give it a try and let us know which one works best for you! 

Looking for Knowledge in All the Wrong Places

I always found it interesting when people talked about feeling their loneliest in the middle of New York City, surrounded by millions of people. It may seem like a leap, but that’s how I feel about finding reliable, reputable, easy to understand information on being healthy.

In today’s media-centric society, we have more information more easily available than ever before. Yet when it comes to healthy lifestyles, we may be at a low point in having accurate information that we can use to live healthier lives.

The popularity of social media has inflated the importance of just that….popularity.  It is more important to be popular than to be correct, accurate, intelligent, reasonable, balanced, and hundreds of other adjectives. Popularity -measured by numbers of clicks, likes and shares- is king.

That may be harmless when we are talking about videos of cats playing the piano and kangaroos jumping in the ocean, but when it comes to advice that directly impacts our health, popularity may be confusing us more than ever.

We have to be 100% vegan or we are killing ourselves. Statins are poison and should be avoided by everyone. Meat has been incorrectly vilified and we should all eat as much meat and bacon as possible. Low-fat is the only healthy diet. Ketogenic is the best diet for everyone. Cardio exercise is worthless and we all need to do heavy lifting. We need to do interval training every day for weight loss. Tumeric will solve all your problems. Vaccines are killing us and giving us autism.

I could go on and on. I’m getting disgusted just typing these.  But you can see how claims such as these from a popular voice, with thousands of shares and likes, could be taken as “truth” and as something that must be part of healthy living.

Fortunately, there are a smattering of popular voices that are also concerned with scientific evidence, reasonable approaches, and practical utility. I hope to be one of those voices. That was the goal behind creating my book, Your Best Health Ever: A Cardiologist’s Surprisingly Simple Guide to What Really Works (available on Amazon here).

My focus is the foundational principles of a healthy lifestyle, made very simple.

I present a balanced, scientifically accurate evaluation of lifestyle as medicine, and help build a sense of self-efficacy and “can do.” It’s meant to be a mix of science and practical tips for incorporating healthy habits into your life.

If my book and my message resonates with you, great. I am happy to be a voice to help. But do not stop there. Below is a list of other individuals with social media and web presence who are valuable sources of health advice. I do my best to summarize them to help you find the right ones for you.

 

The Physicians:

Mark Hyman, MD- @markhymanmd. One of the most well-known functional medicine doctors, head of Cleveland Clinic’s functional medicine program, and multiple times best-selling author. He is a proponent of eating fat as his book Eat Fat to Get Thin suggests. He is one of the more respected and reasonable voices at the intersection of traditional and functional medicine. He tailors posts to the general public with recipes and other concrete health suggestions, and he does an admirable job of combining scientific evidence with clinical experience.

 

John Mandrola, MD- @drjohnm John is an electrophysiologist (a sub-specialty within cardiology focusing on electrical problems of the heart) who is excellent at dissecting data and seeing multiple points of view. His posts can be on advanced topics and are usually geared towards physicians and less so to the general public.  He is still an outstanding example of a reasonable and intelligent voice who challenges the status quo when appropriate yet still acknowledges the benefits of agreeing with the masses.

 

Kevin Pho– @KevinMD. He is a primary care physician who is vocal regarding the challenges doctors face in providing high quality care and remaining engaged as physicians. He is a good resource for physicians to realize they are not the only ones facing these challenges, and he provides actionable advice to help with them. He may also be beneficial for patients to understand what MDs are going through, although most information may too technical for the public.

 

  Frank Lippman MD-@drfranklipman. He is a physician and functional medicine practitioner. He promotes basic, reasonable health and wellness advice. Sometimes his information is too general, but can still be helpful for general reminders about health and wellness. He avoids the extremes and controversial topics. Has a gentler approach to functional medicine than most.

 

Val Jones MD- @DrVal She runs Better Health LLC and provides intelligent and well balanced health information.

 

Tim Caufield- @cuafieldtim He is affectionately known as “The B.S, Detector.” He is very quick to call-out and engage anti-vaccine proponents, chiropractors, naturopaths, holistic practitioners, and of course Gweneth Paltrow for their lack of evidence.  His downfall is that he lumps groups together rather than recognizing a “few bad apples” can ruin the reputation of an entire profession. But if you have doubts about whether something legit, Tim likely has an opinion on the matter.

 

The Vegetarian:

David Katz MD-@drdavidkatz Controversial for his history of self-promotion, but aside from that he provides a reasonable, intelligent, although heavily vegetarian biased, voice on nutrition and health. Frequently gets into twitter battles with Nina Teicholz, which provides an excellent point-counterpoint discussion of nutrition and quality of scientific evidence.

 

The Vegan:

Joel Kahn MD-@drjkahn He is an admirable mix of practicing cardiologist, businessman, author, and passionate individual. He is heavily biased toward Veganism, and practices what he preaches. He even has his own Vegan restaurant in Detroit. He is committed to promoting health and wellness, and it is noteworthy how strongly he believes in his message. He is very active contributing articles on multiple websites, and is always quick to weigh in on current issues. He also frequently engages in twitter debates with Nina Teicholz. Eventhough I don’t personally believe we all need to be vegan, I appreciate Dr. Kahn’s message and his style, and I highly recommend him as a vegan health resource.

 

The Alternative Practitioner:

Chris Kresser-@chriskresser  Of the non-MD functional medicine practitioners and Paleo proponents, he is the most reasonable, and the most detailed regarding science and research. He does not subscribe to the all-or-none approach to Paleo, and his level of thinking is deeper than most others.  If you read an article on fish oil and then read Chris’ article on the same, you will immediately see his added layer of thinking and analysis.

 

Comedic Relief:

@zdoggMD– Likely the most entertaining and humorous physician to follow. He may not be the best resource, but he certainly is the most entertaining.

 

Non-Physician Authors and Writers:

Gary Taubes-@garytaubes He is a journalist and author of The Case Against Sugar and Good Calories Bad Calories. He is not a medical professional, but he is a very good researcher and writer, and a vocal crusader against sugar and refined carbohydrates. The attacks against him would be the strength of evidence behind his claims, but overall he is a wealth of information and a vigilant proponent of health and the crusade against sugar.

 

Nina Teicholz-@bigfatsurprise Author of The Big Fat Surprise. Vocal proponent of saturated fat and one of the initial whistleblowers on the poor-quality science demonizing fat. She embraces controversy and can frequently be seen in twitter debates with Drs. Katz and Kahn listed above. That makes her always entertaining and informative, and a great source to help us see the “other side” of the low-fat trend that has been present for decades.

 

The Nutritional Movement:

The Whole 30: @whole30 Best-selling book promoting whole food nutrition and avoiding processed, refined foods. Great resource with recipes and inspirational links.

 

The Standard Medical Sites:

WebMD

NIH

MayoClinic

Everyday Health

These all seem to have a balanced and reasonable approach to standard medical advice.

 

New Generation:

@Greatist- The health website for millennials and Gen X.

 

Most Popular

 

Joseph Mercola DO-@mercola- He is one of the most popular and most active voices in the health and wellness sector. Many of his posts are reasonable and great resources. However, he also drifts to the extremes and overstates the strength of the evidence to suit his claims such as (Do Drug Companies Secretly Favor a World Flu Pandemic?” “Zinc Can Cure Diarrhea” and “Learn How Homeopathy Cured a Boy of Autism” not to mention calling shampoo, tampons and other daily use items a “poison.”  Of course, he sells healthy versions of them all on his website. There are multiple articles written calling him the most dangerous voice in health and wellness, and the FDA has reprimanded him on a number of occasions. Yet that doesn’t stop him from getting almost 2 million visitors to his site every month.  As far as the public is concerned, he is doing something very right.

 

Mehemet Oz, MD- He wins the award for most popular physician voice on multiple mediums- TV, website, social media etc. He reportedly reaches millions every day in over 100 countries. He has gotten into trouble in the past for episodes such as “Plant based magic weight loss cures,” “miracle appetite suppressants,” communicating with the dead to reduce stress, and others. Doctors have petitioned Columbia University to remove him from his faculty position due to his “egregious lack of integrity” and his promotion of “quack treatments.” Yet it is clear he has won the popularity game and has a voice millions yearn to hear. He could never have done that if he wasn’t helping people to some degree. From that aspect, we can all learn from him.

 

Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola are two of many popular voices promoting a message of either distrust of modern medicine, or belief that miracle cures exist. This message resonates with millions. They both have credentials as experienced clinicians, and much of their advice is scientifically sound. The challenge comes in knowing when they cross the line and enter the potentially dangerous realm. That is why now more than ever, we need reasonable and responsible voices promoting health, wellness and prevention of chronic diseases.

 

 

Conclusion

 

So where can we turn for reputable, easy to understand information that will help us lead healthier lives? I encourage you to follow those on the above list whose style resonates with you, and I hope my book and website can fill that role as well. Just remember, everyone has a bias. Everyone. Every point has a counter point. Every story has more than one interpretation.

 

Look for balance, look for rational analysis, look for people who ask more question and don’t pretend to have all the answers. And please, remember to question every dramatic claim or headline you read. They rarely are as simple or impressive as authors would like you to believe.

 

Follow these principles, and you will ensure that you get the most accurate and reliable health information available. It may not always be the most popular or have the most likes, but hopefully it will be the most accurate and helpful. That’s more important than cats playing the piano, don’t you think?

 

 

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Bret Scher, MD FACC

Cardiologist, author, founder of Boundless Health

www.DrBretScher.com

 

 

How Many Pills Do We Need to be Healthy?

How many pills do you need to be healthy? To be healthy we would want to do the following:

  • Lose weight
  • Lower LDL
  • Raise HDL
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Lower insulin levels
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

 

To do all that you would need five or more prescription drugs. But is that what it means to be healthy?

 

Our traditional medical culture seems to be saying, “Yes!” That type of thinking is why prescription drug use continues to rise, with over 60% of American adults taking prescription drugs, and 15% taking five or more drugs.

 

Guess what. It doesn’t have to be this way. Not even close.

 

Here is the secret you can do that is better than taking 5 or more pills.

 

You can commit to healthy lifestyle habits.

 

Do that and you will lose weight in a healthy manner. You will lower your blood sugar and insulin levels. You will improve your cholesterol profile, reduce your inflammation and lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.

 

And you can do it all without side effects, unless of course you consider being happier, having more energy, and feeling better as side effects!

 

Sounds easy? It can be. It won’t always be easy, and it certainly isn’t easy to be perfect. But being better, and seeing every day as a new opportunity is well within our grasp.

 

The Science Supports Lifestyle First

 

A 2016 study in NEJM investigated four different trials comprising over 55,000 subjects. They concluded that even those with the highest genetic risk of cardiovascular disease can reduce their risk by almost 50% with healthy lifestyle habits, defined as eating healthy, getting regular physical activity, not bring obese, and not smoking.

 

In addition, A 2014 study showed that 80% of all first heart attacks are explained by 5 risk factors (smoking, waist circumference, healthy diet, regular physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption). It turns out, all five of those factors are within our control. We don’t need a pill to control them. We just need to commit ourselves to controlling them.

 

Putting it into practice

 

Despite this encouraging information, A study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded that an only 2.7% of the Americans studied led a healthy lifestyle (defined as regular physical activity, healthy eating, not smoking, and having a recommended body fat level).

 

It should be no surprise, therefore, that heart disease remains the leading cause of death in men and women. There are approximately 900,000 heart attacks annually in the U.S., one every 42 seconds, with 365,000 people dying from a heart attack every year. Heart disease costs $207 billion annually in the U.S. alone. And for the first time since 1993, the life expectancy in the U.S. has started to decline.

 

The Health-Drug Disconnect

 

If more and more people are taking prescription drugs, yet our life expectancy is declining, how do we rationalize the disconnect?

 

I propose it is because we have lost sight of what first line medical therapy should be.

 

Statins come with a litany of side effects, and at best reduce your risk of heart attack by 3% over 5 years.

 

Drugs that raise HDL level can worsen your risk of dying (CETP inhibitors).

 

Diabetes drugs can increase insulin levels, increase weight, and create a medication dependency.

 

Weight loss drugs are rarely sustainable over the long run, and come with severe side effects.

 

Do any of those sound like good choices for first-line treatments? Not to me. And I hope not to you either.

 

Change What We Reach For

 

Instead of reaching for our prescription pads, physicians should be reaching for cookbooks, lists of farmer’s markets, different options for activity trackers, stress management apps, and other healthy lifestyle tools.

 

That is where true health begins. That is our best chance of achieving real health. Not health that is dependent on a medication, or health that is defined by a lab value.

 

For more information on how to improve your health with healthy lifestyle habits, read more about our book and instructional video series. They may just change your life.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Bret Scher, MD FACC

Cardiologist, author, founder of Boundless Health

www.DrBretScher.com

 

Action item:

Take a look at Your Best Health Ever: A Cardiologists’ Surprisingly Simple Guide to what Really Works. You can buy it today on amazon (here is the link). It has all the information you need to prioritize healthy lifestyle practices over prescription drugs. Together, we can promote natural, long-lasting health that feels great.

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Preventable?

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Type III Diabetes? And Can it be Prevented?

By Bret Scher, MD

 

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most devastating conditions in our country, and you may have the power to prevent it.

 

There is nothing more empowering than knowing you have the ability to prevent a chronic disease. Especially when some view that chronic disease as worse than death. While not all factors that lead to chronic disease is controllable (e.g., genetics), there are some diseases that you can protect yourself against. And one of those might be Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Alzheimer’s disease—which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.—is a devastating condition that impairs your memory and ability to think. It progresses over time, eventually condemning an otherwise functional body to a life completely dependent upon care from others. It changes the lives of not just those affected by the disease, but their loved ones and caregivers as well.

 

In 2015 alone, approximately 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18 billion hours of unpaid care to the 5 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. But the cost to families and to society as a whole cannot be measured in just dollars and cents. The emotional toll can also be enormous. The negative effects on caregivers can be vast, including:
 

  • Psychological distress
  • Impaired health habits
  • Psychiatric illness
  • Physical illness

 

To make matters worse, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia is only getting larger and is expected to triple as baby boomers reach the at-risk age of 65 and older.

 

Paradigm Shift in Understanding Alzheimer’s

Modern medicine has struggled to find effective treatments for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. The most effective medicines may slow the symptoms by a few months, but the inevitable progression always happens in the end.

 

A new paradigm shift, however, offers promise for methods to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. The paradigm shift is that Alzheimer’s may be Type III Diabetes.

 

To understand this relationship, it helps to understand the basics about diabetes, blood sugar, and insulin. Insulin’s job is to signal cells to take sugar out of the blood and convert the sugar into energy. When a person has diabetes, the cells no longer listen to insulin, so the body needs to produce more and more insulin to get the message across.

 

As the efficiency worsens, the body can’t keep up, the blood sugar rises and diabetes develops. This causes two main problems:
 

  • Insulin levels rise sky high. Since insulin is a fat storage and pro-inflammatory hormone, higher levels equate to deterioration of overall health.
     
  • Blood sugar levels increase to dangerous levels. This can eventually lead to heart disease, vascular disease, kidney disease, vision loss, neuropathy, and other serious conditions.

 

It turns out that brain cells can become resistant to insulin as well, thus drawing a connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s. The theory is that increased insulin and increased sugar in the brain leads to damage of brain cells and eventual dementia.

 

The Connection Between Alzheimer’s and Diabetes

 

Medical science is starting to explore the relationship between diabetes and dementia and is drawing a strong connection. One study, for instance, reviewed previous investigations of diabetes and dementia, accounting for over 2 million subjects. The study concluded that those with diabetes were 60 percent more likely to develop dementia.

 

While an association does not prove causation, it does raise an interesting potential link that deserves further exploration.

 

The next question is whether there is a reasonable explanation for why the two diseases might be related. And it turns out there is.

 

Another study demonstrated that individuals with type II diabetes are more likely to develop the same “brain tangles” that are seen in those affected with Alzheimer’s. It is thought that these tangles are directly responsible for the progressive cognitive decline. And they are present in both the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, and the brains of those with diabetes even in the absence of dementia.

 

How to Prevent Diabetes, and possibly Alzheimer’s

 

This emerging research could be discouraging news since the incidence of diabetes is on the rise, with an estimated increase from 285 million cases worldwide in 2010 to 439 million in 2030.  The result could be an equal surge in new Alzheimer’s cases.

 

Or it could be encouraging news, since type II diabetes is almost entirely preventable with healthy lifestyle habits. Presumably, these same habits may help prevent Alzheimer’s as well.

 

In fact, a 2001 study in NEJM suggested that 90 percent of type II diabetes cases could be prevented with:
 

  • Proper exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy bodyweight

 

 Another study showed that a lifestyle program that included 150 minutes of weekly physical activity and a goal of 7 percent weight loss prevented diabetes better than the popular drug Metformin—an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood-sugar levels.

 

Finally, a 2012 study followed 2,700 people over three years and found those who ate a diet higher in carbohydrates and sugars and lower in protein and fat were more likely to develop dementia.

 

This information shows that diabetes, and by extension Alzheimer’s disease, may be preventable by following a healthy lifestyle that includes these elements:
 

  • Exercise 150 minutes per week and remain physically active throughout the day
  • Maintain near ideal body weight
  • Eat a real-foods, vegetable-based diet with healthy fats
  • Avoid simple, refined carbohydrates
  • Avoid added sugars in food and drinks

 

A Healthy Lifestyle Is Necessary

 

Unfortunately, this is not hot-off-the-press news. These studies were published over 15 years ago, yet many people are still reluctant to adopt such healthy practices. In fact, one study of American adults found that only 2.7 percent of the subjects followed a truly healthy lifestyle.

 

The public shouldn’t need more inspiration to strive to be healthy, but knowing that Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes are likely preventable will hopefully be enough motivation to spark a revival for healthy lifestyles now and for decades to come.

 

Change doesn’t come easily, so start by making simple steps and find a support system that will help you adopt new ways of living.

 

Those in positions of influence (doctors, nurses, personal trainers, nutritionists, health coaches, chiropractors, and other medical professionals) need to actively educate society about the association between Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

 

If you fall into this category, it’s important to learn how to inspire individuals to adhere to healthy life habits, which may help prevent one of the most devastating conditions that touches the lives of tens of millions Americans every year.

 

Now that’s empowering.

 

Thanks for reading.

Bret Scher, MD FACC

Cardiologist, author, founder of Boundless Health

www.DrBretScher.com

 

ACTION ITEM:

Make 1 meal this week a Vegetable Based meal. Don’t have chicken with a side of veggies, or salmon with rice and a couple veggies. Make the basis of the meal veggies and add 4-6 oz. of high quality animal protein.  Notice how it looks different, tastes different, and how you feel differently after you eat it. If you can do this, then you can increase it week after week until most of your meals are veggie-based. You will be amazed at how it improves your health and how you feel!

Bret Scher, MD FACC

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