Tag Archives: Overweight

Celebrating a Practice That’s Changing Medicine

NaturopathicMedicineWeekNaturopathic Medicine Week is October 7-13th

I am a naturopathic doctor.

I represent a community of approximately 4400 practicing physicians in the United States.  We may be small in number, but what we lack in size we make up for in a passion and commitment to the philosophies we took an oath to honor:  that our bodies’ have an inherent wisdom of how to be well and our primary job as a doctor is to remove barriers to health in order to honor this ability, that at our core we are teachers and in order to truly cure, we must empower our patients to become active participants in their healing process, and that treating symptoms is not the end game, but merely clues to identify and treat the causes of disease.

When you’re small it’s often hard to be seen.  That’s why the recently passed Senate Resolution 211, establishing this week, October 7-13th, as national Naturopathic Medicine Week is such a big deal.

From the authors of the resolution,

“…naturopathic medicine provides noninvasive, holistic treatments that support the inherent self-healing capacity of the human body and encourage self-responsibility in health care”

They go on to state,

“That the Senate recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care; and encourage the people of the United States to learn about naturopathic medicine and the role that naturopathic physicians play in preventing chronic and debilitating illnesses and conditions.”

Awareness about what naturopathic medicine has to offer couldn’t come at a better time.  As a society, we’re really, really sick.  Two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, leaving us at risk for the development of serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and depression.  88 million of us have high blood pressure and 25 million have insulin resistant diabetes.  A full 75% of our national health care costs are focused on these chronic, yet largely preventable, diseases.

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are specialists of diet and lifestyle-based treatments and it’s exactly these treatments that are proven to be the most effective medicine for the prevention and treatment of these chronic illnesses.  We receive an average of 70 hours of nutrition education and an additional 130 hours of training in therapeutic diets compared to an average of just 19 hours of basic nutrition education in conventional medical programs.  We look at the physical, emotional, environmental and social influences and approach each patient as the unique person that they are, using the least invasive (and often less expensive) treatment possible.  In addition, we tend to set up shop where we’re needed most, a full 50 percent of us work with underserved populations.

I believe naturopathic medicine is an essential part of the solution to our health care crisis.  We are a medicine that is changing medicine and it’s for this reason that I am celebrating Naturopathic Medicine Week.  To learn more about naturopathic medicine and find a naturopathic physician near you, please visit our national association, The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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For more from Keegan please visit her website and make sure you follow her on Twitter

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins (Part 2)

Amor Sin Remedio Hopeless Love Hoffnungslose LiebeClick here to read Part 1!

Why Most Vitamin Studies Are Flawed

There is another important thing to understand about clinical trials that review the utility of vitamins in the treatment of disease. The studies that show harm are often designed like drugs studies. For example, a study may use a high dose of vitamin E and see what happens. This is actually a prescient example also explored in recent media.

Studies recently found that high doses of vitamin E and selenium didn’t prevent prostate cancer and may increase risk. What this study didn’t explore properly was the true biochemical nature of vitamin E and selenium. These nutrients work as antioxidants by donating an electron to protect or repair a damaged molecule or DNA. Once this has happened, the molecules become oxidants that can cause more damage if not supported by the complex family of antioxidants used in the human body. It’s sort of like passing a hot potato. If you don’t keep passing it, you will get burned. Many studies simply fail to take this into account.

Nature doesn’t work by giving you only one thing. We all agree that broccoli is good for you, but if that were all you ate, you would die in short order. The same is true of vitamins. Nutrients are not drugs, and they can’t be studied as drugs. They are part of a biological system in which all nutrients work as a team to support your biochemical processes.

Michael Jordon may have been the best basketball player in history, but he couldn’t have won six NBA titles without a team.

Obesity Is Linked To Malnutrition

The tragedy of media attention on poor studies is that they undermine possible solutions to some of the modern health epidemics we are facing today, and they point attention away from the real drivers of disease.

Take the case of obesity, for example. Paradoxically, Americans are becoming both more obese and more nutrient deficient at the same time. Obese children eating processed foods are nutrient depleted and increasingly get scurvy and rickets–diseases we thought were left behind in the 19th and 20th centuries. After treating over 15,000 patients and performing extensive nutritional testing on them, it is clear to me that Americans suffer from widespread nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, folate, and omega 3 fats. This is supported by the government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on our population. In fact, 13% of our population is vitamin C deficient.

Scurvy in Americans in 2013? Really? But if all you eat is processed food–and many Americans do–then you, like the British sailors of the 17th century, will get scurvy.

Unfortunately, negative studies on vitamins get huge media attention while the fact that over 100,000 Americans die and 2.2 million suffer serious adverse reactions from medication use in hospitals when used as prescribed is quietly ignored. Did you know that anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen kill more people every year than AIDS or asthma or leukemia?

In short, these studies often confuse rather than clarify, and they only serve up doses of media frenzy and superficial analysis. They leave the consumer afraid, dazed, bewildered, and reaching for their next prescription drug.

Please, be smart; don’t stop taking your vitamins. Every American needs a good quality multivitamin, vitamin D, and omega-3 fat supplement. It is part of getting a metabolic tune-up and keeping your telomeres long!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

5 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotaging and Lose Weight Once and For All

Waldgeist Restaurant in Hofheim. Just make sure to take your Lipitor before bed.By Orion Talmay

The adage goes that you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. So, it would logically follow that hanging out with people who eat fatty junk food will sabotage you and your diet.

Few of us consider that one of the things preventing us from committing to our weight and fitness goals is our environment – and that includes the people around us. This is especially true in America, where fast and “super sized” are glorified. We are surrounded by a junk food friendly environment – whether it’s the muffins offered to you in your company break room or the Italian “family style” dinner with friends. Everywhere you turn, advertisers are trying to hypnotize you into buying. We are bombarded with commercials for food which show joyful anorectic models enjoying chocolates and cheeseburgers. We were taught by our mothers to dutifully finish what’s on our plates. This world full of temptation, misconceptions, and immediate gratification just might affect our ability to get back into our jeans size from high school, don’t you think?

We are drowning in a flood of false information, thanks to all this pervasive and persuasive advertising. These advertisements train our brains to link unhealthy food with pleasure. As you pass a billboard showing a hot celebrity drinking Coca Cola, subconsciously you make a connection between what he or she represents to you – namely health, happiness, athleticism, vitality and success – and drinking Coke. In reality this sugary, toxic and chemically addictive drink is the epitome of unhealthiness, addiction, and obesity. In many cases, junk food is marketed to us as “healthy,” “natural” or even “organic,” but the opposite is more true. Even TV shows about weight loss such as The Biggest Loser glorify rapid, dramatic weight loss that unfolds before our eyes in an hour. And of course it doesn’t tell the whole story; we are spared the gory details, the high risk of injury, and the non-sustainability and unhealthy methods they use on the contestants. The TV magic and the glaring omissions give legitimacy to extreme rapid weight loss and create unrealistic expectations for the audience.

As I alluded to earlier, your peer group can also alter your decision-making. In general, people like people who are like them. For example, heavy drinkers prefer to hang out with heavy drinkers, and overeaters prefer feasting with fellow gluttons. The unspoken (or sometimes spoken) pressure is on, to fit in and be liked. Most social gatherings center around food and alcohol, so if you are dieting, you will need premeditated strategy and willpower if you don’t want to sabotage your diet.

Friends and family tend to appease each other when they fall off the wagon. When you look for consolation, they will tell you “It’s okay, it’s not that bad to take a day off; come on and live a little!” People become very forgiving because they want you to like them. They don’t hold you to a higher standard, in part because that’s not what you want to hear.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants you to be successful. Sometimes it can even be someone close to you like a spouse, family member, or friend who will try to talk you out of your goal. They might be afraid that if you feel better about yourself, you will neglect them or leave them. They might be afraid of “new competition” they will have when you accomplish your weight goals. Or, they may feel in competition with your “gym time” or even with your trainer. Bottom line is that most of the time they do it not because they don’t love you but precisely because they do. For instance, spouses may worry a “new you” may be less attracted to them. Sometimes, simply reassuring them of your love and friendship, keeping open communication and involving them in your health journey can solve these issues.

So, if you agree that the environment that surrounds you can sabotage your progress, what do you do? Well, since living on a mountaintop in Tibet is (probably) not an option, the best way to deal with misinformation or saboteurs is to plan for your success. When your mindset is stronger, achieving your outcome will be your priority. Nothing and no one will deter you. When you are prepared for success, you will win.

How do you prepare for success?

1. Surround yourself with supportive people. If your loved ones aren’t supportive of your health and fitness goals, convince them to change and be a part of your team or find some supportive peers to cheer you on. Succeed regardless.

2. Make sure you have accurate information about fitness and nutrition. Consult with a personal trainer and/or nutritionist. Nothing beats having a coach who can guide you to win the game the right way.

3. Plan your food shopping, plan your meals and plan your exercise time.  Don’t let anyone or anything distract you or steal your time.

4. Watch less TV. The number of commercials for garbage processed food is mind-boggling. These companies are paying a lot of money to sell to you and have mastered the art of influence. They (mis)use popular words like “healthy” and “natural,” but one glance at the label reveals how supposedly healthy, low fat, and natural it really is. Put your TV watching on a diet too, and it will facilitate your dieting and help you avoid unnecessary temptations.

5. Remember that you are a rock star. You can do it regardless of what anyone tells you, including your own inner critic. I believe in you. You put your mind to it and you will succeed.

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picOrion Talmay is a fitness expert and life coach who helps her clients transform their bodies and their lives. Her fitness skills include yoga, weight training, kick boxing, Aikido, MMA (mixed martial arts) and Krav Maga. Orion completed the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile extreme obstacle course with an ice pool, electric wires, buttered monkey bars, and more. She’s not all hard-core though; she is also a woman of the arts — loves to dance and sing, went to acting school, and speaks three languages. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Personal Training and is AAFA, AAPT, KBA, and Zumba certified. She is currently working on an online coaching program for weight loss and self development, designed to empower people across all aspects of their lives: physical, mental, social and spiritual. Orion is also working on her first book, about transformational change. Originally from Israel, she currently lives in sunny Santa Monica, California.

10 Ways To Ditch Your Cravings for Sugar, Salt, and Fats

medusa

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Food Corporations Turn to Chefs in a Quest for Healthy Flavor,” Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and even fast food giants like Taco Bell, are changing their ways in response to the increasing public demand for healthier food options. To improve their image as healthy food manufacturers, Big Food corporations have called upon top chefs to help them create healthy menu makeovers, infusing real, fresh, whole food into old recipe favorites.

Why is this happening now? Intense pressure brought on by politicians and their constituents (you and me!) has given these food manufacturers no choice but to respond to the public outcry for healthier food. It’s no longer enough for these companies to earn a profit by selling food that tastes good. People are beginning to use the power of the pocketbook to show these companies that the food they sell must also be nutritious.

That’s because people everywhere are waking up. They are beginning to see the dangers of genetically modified ingredients and all the sugar, salt, and fats hidden in our food supply. From fancy restaurants to fast food chains, chefs are catching on that people want their food to make them feel good, not just while they are eating it but hours, days, and years afterward.

Really, this news shouldn’t make the headlines. This is common sense! Paying for food that makes us sick is as crazy as shooting ourselves in the foot. It just doesn’t make sense.

Big Food is finally getting the message and getting on board.

But remember, no processed or fast food option will ever be better than a healthy home-cooked meal. The best way to ensure you are eating the highest quality, most nutritious food possible is to prepare your own food in your own kitchen. We are all chefs. You don’t have to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu to know your way around a kitchen. You just need a little knowledge, some imagination, and a sense of adventure.

A desire for real food is a fundamental part of our basic biological blueprint. Given the chance, our taste receptors will naturally gravitate toward the inherent sweetness found in vegetables, fruits, and even nuts and seeds.

So, how do you reprogram your taste buds to ditch the cravings for sugar, salt, and fats? You can start by eating real, fresh, whole foods. Avoid fake, commercialized foods that come in convenience packages or are made in a lab.

Here are 10 more tips to get you excited about ditching the sugar, salt, and fats:

  1. Sauté or roast your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness. Properly searing your chicken or meat brings out the inherent sweetness by way of the Maillard reaction. This is a fancy name for what happens when you create that nice, brown crust on your meat. Want more cooking tips like this? Check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  2. Play with herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and oregano to add flavor and phytonutrients! Finish a meal by adding fresh herbs before plating or serving. This last-minute addition kicks the flavor up a notch!
  3. Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut, and tahini not only increase the flavor of your meal, they also add that creamy, luscious texture found in many rich foods. See for yourself just how healthy and tasty desserts can be by trying my Dark Chocolate Silk Pudding from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  4. Try creating a savory, umami (Japanese for “delicious”) flavor. Add moderate amounts of tamari, umeboshi plum paste, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, dried mushroom, or sea vegetables to your next stew, soup, sauce, or stir-fry.
  5. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and even cayenne or chipotle pepper powder are all extremely flavorful additions to a meal. Spices like these excite your taste buds and grab your attention. This is helpful, because, as studies show, when we are focused on actually tasting our food rather than mindlessly gobbling it up, we actually need less food to feel satisfied.
  6. Befriend some kitchen must-haves like real vanilla extract or vanilla bean or coconut butter. Or use common, every-day foods like lemons in some creative ways. For example, use lemon zest to add real zing to any meal!
  7. For the most flavor, eat seasonally and locally. Canned or packaged foods or foods that have traveled great distances in the back of a truck just can’t compare to the succulence of a fresh piece of locally grown fruit.
  8. Check your hydration. Digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva, which helps us taste all the magnificent flavor in food. If you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, you won’t really be able to enjoy your food.
  9. Check your medications. Believe it or not, most medications interfere with the body’s ability to taste and smell. Some of them can even create an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Wondering how you might decrease the number of pills you take? Learn more about functional medicine.
  10. Got nutrition? Nutrient deficiency is an important cause of improper taste perception. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can markedly impair your ability to smell and taste food. Most Americans have several nutrient deficiencies, but there is one in particular that can especially keep you from enjoying your next meal: zinc. Try adding foods like oysters, pecans, sunflower seeds, and lentils to increase your daily intake of this important mineral. Try the recipe for Hearty Lentil Soup from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. If you are deficient, you might also need to take a zinc supplement. Work with one of my nutrition coaches to ensure your nutrition status is up to par.

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For more ways to use your kitchen to take back your health, check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. Get tips and tricks for making healthy and tasty meals. Learn what foods you should eat to boost your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and lose weight. Try more than 175 tasty recipes that appeal to a variety of budgets, taste preferences, health goals, and lifestyles.

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

This 12-Year-Old is Seriously Fed Up with Unhealthy School Lunches

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 11.24.43 AMIf your child came to you and asked if he could starting bringing lunch to school instead of eating cafeteria food, what would you say? What if the school lunches were free and the school district promoted them as “healthy and delicious” with mouth-watering photos and descriptions?

Zachary Maxwell was in 4th grade when he decided his days of school lunches were coming to an end, but his parents weren’t convinced. “It’s free! And it looks pretty good on the online menu.” Zachary would not back down, though, and went undercover to expose the inconsistencies in his school’s lunch menu as compared to the actual food that was served.

Oh, and Zachary is hilarious and so smart. Check it out!

“Yuck” is right! Would you eat that food?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more that one third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese. Though there may be some genetic factors associated with weight, nutrition and physical activity play a major role in maintaining a healthy weight and cardiovascular health. No matter how you look at it, pizza and cheese sticks do little to help kids stay healthy, let alone give them the nutrients and energy needed to get through a demanding school day.

Do Zachary’s school lunches look like something you’d want to feed to your kids? Is it really too expensive or inconvenient to offer children healthy eating options? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Weight Loss Tip: Eat Your Dinner for Breakfast

GirlEatingDinnerFor many years, I operated a private practice as a naturopathic doctor in Southern California, specializing in the treatment of digestive diseases and side-effects of cancer treatment. Although weight loss support was never a service that I proactively marketed, it was an all too common issue that I found myself needing to address with my patient population. Really, this wasn’t a surprise to me, given that close to 70% of all adults in this country are overweight or obese. Every doctor, no matter their specialization, can likely relate to my experience – given the epidemic of overweight and obesity in our country, the need to treat these diseases is fundamental to successfully addressing the vast majority of other symptoms and illnesses plaguing our society today.

The weight loss protocol that I created was conceptually quite simple and consisted of two basic recommendations:

  1. Decrease reliance on packaged and fast foods and increase consumption of whole foods
  2. Make breakfast the biggest meal of the day, lunch the next largest and dinner the smallest

I consciously avoided complicated rules and trends such as those found in diets like “The Zone” or “Atkins”.  My goal was to create a mental shift in my patients from seeing a diet as a temporary thing to do to lose weight to a life-long way of approaching food in a healthy manner. Personally, I don’t have the time or interest to count calories, weigh my meals or eat the same frozen dinners over and over. Perhaps it was my own irritation with these trendy plans that played the biggest role in the advice I ultimately shared with patients.

To get started, I would often suggest a patient make one simple change: eat their dinner for breakfast and their breakfast for dinner. So, if they typically ate a chicken breast, green salad and slice of bread with butter for dinner and a bowl of cereal for breakfast, they’d just switch them up, simple as that. Although the idea of eating chicken breast and salad for breakfast was often a bit of a mental struggle, it was about as easy a change as you could make…no modifications to your grocery shopping list, no new recipes, no calorie counting.

More times than not, when I would see them at their next appointment, they had lost weight…amazing but true. With the idea planted (and some nice weight loss results as motivator), I would then work with them to find more suitable meal ideas grounded in whole food ingredients that followed the same approach of eating the largest meal at breakfast and the smallest meal at dinner.

Last week when I came across a study recently published in the journal Obesity that followed this same approach I was incredibly excited. I was even more excited when I read the results of the study that found significant weight loss as well as other improvements in fasting glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels in the treatment group. How wonderful it was to see this approach studied and to see it demonstrate such positive and measurable results.

I have often joked that I discovered the next diet fad and have even come up with a few potential names, “The Dinner-Fast Diet”, “Eat Steak but Only at Breakfast Diet” or maybe, “The Upside Down Diet”. Too bad I don’t have a publishing deal…it seems like I really may be on to something!

Like this post?

18 Healthy Snacks to Ensure You’re Never In a “Food Emergency” Again

Marcona AlmondsIt may seem as though we live in a land of plenty. Everywhere you look there are vending machines, restaurants, and stores offering an endless assortment of quick and cheap snacks and meals.

And yet, the reality is that everyday most Americans live in a constant state of emergency. Either they skip breakfast or they put themselves at the mercy of the local coffee chain feeding them high-sugar coffees and donuts or muffins or scones (which sound like a French health food but are really giant sugar cookies). And then, at work, there are bowls of candy and vending machines full of soda and on the way home, there are fast food restaurants and convenience stores luring you in. We live in a toxic nutritional wasteland where finding real, whole, fresh food is difficult if not impossible for most people to find.

What is a food emergency? When your blood sugar starts to drop, you are hard-wired to eat anything (and everything) in sight. To think you can use willpower to control your hunger or cravings contradicts the science of how your brain controls your behavior. The more willpower you use, the more it backfires, eventually. You find yourself automatically overeating and binging or just eating whatever happens to be in front of you.

But there is a solution, a simple, practical idea that most of us never think about: planning and bringing food with us.

If you were a type 1 diabetic, you would not leave the house without your insulin syringe or a packet of sugar. If you did, your life would be at risk. If you had a severe bee or peanut allergy, you wouldn’t go anywhere without your EpiPen. One sniff of peanut dust and you could die without your protection.

While you may not die in an hour, you will get sick and fat and live a shorter, poorer life if you regularly find yourself in a food emergency. You will repeatedly choose poor quality, high sugar, refined foods and eat more than you need.

Emergency Life Pack – Your Food Safety Net

That is why I recommend that everyone create an emergency life pack, a food safety net. Each person has to find their favorite things to include, and the choices are almost infinite. You need to stock your home, your travel bag or purse, your car and your workplace with key rations for any food emergency. What if you didn’t have time to have breakfast? What could you grab for the car? Or if you get busy at work, what can you find in your drawer to get you through the day? Or what is at the ready in the late afternoon if you start to droop?

I definitely recommend including protein snacks, because protein controls your appetite and balances your blood sugar over long periods of time. These are snacks that keep on giving but don’t give that quick rush and crash we get from most “snack foods,” which leave us even more hungry and tired. If you wait until you are hungry, you will make irrational decisions. Just set yourself up to make better choices by having good things around you.

Here are easy-to-make or easy-to-buy foods that you can grab and go anywhere with. We all travel out of the house frequently, and with a little bit of planning and shopping, we can stay healthy and keep ourselves out of food emergencies. Get a few glass containers with lids and Ziploc baggies to put your snacks in. Buy an insulated lunchbox or mini-cooler to put your food in. These are just ideas and you can innovate, but make sure you include food with good-quality protein and fats that are also low in sugar.

Things That Last Forever:

  • Canned wild salmon or sardines
  • Flax or seed crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers)
  • Jerky (bison, grass-fed beef or turkey—try Krave or Grass Fed Jerky Chews
  • Salmon Jerky (Vital Choice)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and pumpkin seeds)
  • Nut butter packets (almond, pecan, macadamia nuts—Artisana makes individual packs)
  • Coconut butter packets (Artisana brand is great)
  • Whole food or raw food protein bars (Raw Revolution and LÄRABAR are my favorites)
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Roasted red peppers

 Easy-To-Prepare On-the-Go Snacks:

  • Garbanzo beans with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt
  • Hard-boiled omega 3 eggs
  • Hummus (Try Wild Garden single-serve packets that last a long time)
  • Cut-up carrots, cucumbers, peppers and celery in Ziploc baggies
  • Apple or pear

Treats:

  • Dark chocolate (70%)
  • Dried figs
  • Dates

Dr. Hyman’s Go-To Travel Food Emergency Pack

When I am on the road, I find it a dangerous place: airports, hotel mini-bars, bad restaurants, food deserts. My health is in jeopardy every time I step out of my controlled environment. So I bring food with me and make it a rule never to eat on planes or in airports (although increasingly, there is edible food in airports—you just have to know how to hunt and gather!). I never leave home without these things, and I keep a good stock in my pantry, so I can just throw them in my bag. They take up little space and pack a powerful nutritional punch.

  • Wild salmon jerky from Vital Choice or Patagonia
  • Grass-fed beef or turkey jerky by Krave
  • Packets of coconut butter and macadamia nut butter by Artisana
  • Raw Revolution protein food bars
  • Organic almonds
  • Organic macadamia nuts
  • Organic dates

For help creating your own emergency food pack, watch my how-to video here. Remember, with a little bit of planning, you can save yourself from food emergencies and stay healthy and well nourished wherever you go.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you like to include in your emergency food pack?

Have you found some good sources of healthy, whole foods even while out on the road?

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

The Healing Powers of Burgers and Fried Chicken

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 4.10.30 PMCan burgers and fried chicken really be good for you? Yes. But not the Five Guys killer burger—not that kind. It’s burgers and chicken you cook yourself. And why do you need to cook them yourself? Here’s why.

Eating out can kill you, especially if you eat fast food or the addictive processed sugar and fats typically packed into almost every food that is made in a factory. The average American eats 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream and consumes 53 gallons of soda, 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners, 2,736 grams of salt, and 90,700 milligrams of caffeine per year. Do we really think we can create health in that toxic food environment?

A young New Zealand woman with eight children recently died after consuming 2.2 gallons of Coke per day, which, by the way, contains two pounds of sugar and 900 milligrams of caffeine (enough to give an elephant palpitations).

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study that showed life expectancy declining among women in America, especially in the South (the area with the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country). The authors of the study were quoted as being surprised by this data. One Harvard researcher said that trying to figure out why “is the hot topic right now, trying to understand what’s going on.”

Really? Life expectancy drops as obesity, diabetes, and the consumption of junk food, fast food, and sugar soars, and researchers fail to see the connection? It’s not rocket science. And yet, Harvard scientists are perplexed, and the National Institutes of Health spend $800 million each year studying the cause of obesity.

The cause of obesity is complex, to be sure—increased stress, environmental toxins, our sedentary lifestyle, and our sleeplessness as a nation all play a role. But the elephant in the room here is our toxic industrial food supply, specifically sugar. To paraphrase President Clinton, “It’s the food, stupid.”

I just returned from China where they are experiencing the same chronic diseases and obesity we find in the West because, on every corner, at every turn, our industrial food culture has permeated their world—KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Coke, Pepsi are everywhere. Today, China has the most type 2 diabetics in the world. Yes, they have more people, but their diabetes rate is about the same as that of the United States: about 10 percent. Thirty years ago, I traveled to China and saw only one overweight woman, and she was riding a bicycle. In 30 years, the rate of diabetes there has gone from one in 150 to one in 10, and now, one in five people above the age of 60 in China are diabetic—and 60 percent are not even diagnosed. Obesity and diabetes are rampant there, increasing at a far faster rate than in the United States, and this shift can be tied directly to how fully they have embraced our processed, industrial, high-sugar diet.

I am the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and we were asked by the Chinese to come and teach their physicians how to deal with lifestyle-related chronic disease. A group of us went to show them how to return to their traditional ways of using food as medicine.

It’s sad that a country in which food has long been considered medicine—with specific care taken to include special foods with healing properties at every meal—would need to relearn this knowledge. In fact, the word for “take your medicine” in Chinese is “chi yao,” which means, “eat your medicine.” We went to a special restaurant where everything on the menu was chosen for its medicinal properties, including all sorts of exotic fungus and plants and animals like sea cucumbers.

But we don’t need to eat funny-looking plants and animals with weird textures and tastes to eat our medicine. In fact, we can start with burgers and fried chicken.

I recently did a segment on The Dr. Oz Show during which I demonstrated how to use food as medicine, cooking recipes from my new cookbook, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. I carefully selected healing, medicinal, blood sugar-balancing ingredients, disguising them as our favorite foods.

It might surprise you that burgers and fried chicken can be healthy, but keep in mind, my versions of those foods have stealth healing properties. All the recipes in my cookbook contain medicinal foods. They are medicine, but they don’t taste like medicine, because at the end of the day, if they did, no one would eat them. But they are made from real, whole, fresh food cooked from scratch, and they taste amazing. To help you truly understand how food is medicine (not just like medicine but actually real medicine), I have analyzed two recipes from my cookbook that we demonstrated on The Dr. Oz Show.

Sweet Potato Burgers (on page 114 of the cookbook)

Here are the ingredients, along with information on how each affects your health and your biology:

  • Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, which is reflected in their orange color. Their phytonutrient properties help with weight loss by increasing adiponectin, a fat-reducing, insulin-balancing, anti-diabetes hormone made by your fat cells.
  • EVOO, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is a phytonutrient superfood. It contains oleic acid and dozens of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory polyphenol compounds that lower blood pressure and promote health. They also contain good monounsaturated fats.
  • White beans contain good plant proteins, fiber, and magnesium. The fiber helps lower your blood sugar.
  • Curry contains turmeric and other anti-inflammatory spices. Obesity and diabetes are inflammatory conditions. Turmeric is nature’s ibuprofen. It also prevents cancer and dementia (both related to diabesity).
  • Almond flour contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fats. It helps lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, prevents diabetes, and promotes weight loss. People who ate more almonds have been shown to reduce their risk of diabetes significantly.
  • Avocado contains phytosterols, which are fats that lower cholesterol. They also contain omega-3 fats (ALA), as well as carotenoids, selenium, and zinc. Avocado has eight grams of fiber in one cup and is very low in carbs. The fats in an avocado help you absorb all fat-soluble antioxidants, just like the carotenoids in the sweet potato do. Avocado also contains these special seven-carbon carbohydrates that help to lower blood sugar.
  • Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which contain a special fiber called lignan (seamolin and sesamin) that lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. It is very high in magnesium and calcium, containing over 30 percent of your daily needs in just one quarter of a cup. It is the best source of dietary calcium (far better than milk).
  • Lemon zest contains limonene, which boosts liver detoxification, and the lemon juice contains anti-cancer bioflavonoids.
  • Garlic contains 1,2-DT (1,2-vinyldithiin), which is an anti-inflammatory sulfur compound that can inhibit the number of fats cells that form in our body. And it can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and is a natural antibiotic.

Not bad for a burger!

The next recipe is fried chicken. I call it “unfried” chicken. Click here to check it out!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

The One Diet That Can Cure Most Disease: Part 2

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 6.24.34 PMClick here for Part 1.

What if you could cure all your health problems and lose 10 pounds in just 7 days?

That’s an amazing claim, hard to believe for sure, but I have seen this miracle so many times in my practice (and now from all the people who have posted on my website who followed my ideas) that even I am starting to believe it! My true goal is to help people feel better. Period.

Because I once was seriously ill with chronic fatigue syndrome, I know what it’s like to wake up every morning feeling like you can’t go on or to have a thousand and one other minor complaints that lower your capacity to enjoy life. Now, of course, with more serious illness, it may take more than one week to find the cause and the cure (although by using the systems of UltraWellness and functional medicine, it is possible for so many millions with chronic illness to get better over time).

Functional medicine is medicine by cause not symptom. The ONLY way to truly heal chronic disease and address weight problems and disease is to get to the ROOT of the problem, to find the cause, and then get rid of it and help the body heal. And two of the major factors that make people sick and fat are being toxic and being inflamed. So, the secret of the 7 days is to very quickly stop the things that make you toxic and inflamed (sugar, caffeine, alcohol, junk food, processed foods, etc.) and do things that help you detoxify and cool off inflammation (eat whole real foods, stop all potential food allergens, clean out your bowels, deeply relax, and more).

That’s when miracles can occur.

The scientific research supporting the role of inflammation and toxins in illness is overwhelming, but most doctors don’t know how to help their patients deal with it. Think of it as an experiment and try to prove it to yourself. Don’t believe me. I was trained in conventional medicine, practiced it for 10 years, and helped many people using the tools I was trained in—namely, medications and surgery. While I worked in the emergency room, those tools worked amazingly well, bringing people back from the brink of death and relieving suffering. But I realized that I wasn’t helping the tens and tens of millions of Americans (125 million to be exact) who suffer from some type of chronic illness. And that doesn’t include the millions who just don’t feel well.

In fact, I now believe that most people walk around just accepting feeling mediocre—tired, achy, brain fog, memory problems, depression, headaches, congestion, allergies, digestive problems, joint pains, PMS, skin problems—things that may not even be a disease, yet rob them of the possibility of feeling great. Who can say they are fully alive, full of energy, and able to greet the day with joy and enthusiasm? How many of us can really do that?

Well, I know this is possible for most people. And the sad thing is that most people don’t know why they feel less than fully alive and healthy and don’t connect it to their behavior or habits. The key to creating health is figuring out the cause of the problem and then providing the right conditions for the body and soul to thrive. It isn’t taking another medication!

Over the last 20 years of practicing at Canyon Ranch, founding The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA, and working with dozens of other leaders in the emerging field of functional and systems medicine, I have found the few simple things that make the most difference for the most people. That is why I write the books I write. But I was overwhelmed by how the lives of people who never even saw me as a patient were changed. When I read these stories, I realized that I could offer what I have been giving to my patients one on one to help them feel great very quickly and lose weight immediately without compromising my true goal of helping people get to the root of their health and weight problems.

And it occurred to me that what I do for nearly every patient who comes to see me is to give them a chance to see just how sick they have been and how powerful making a few simple changes can be in just one week. Once they see by directly feeling how their food choices and their behaviors make them sick—and they experience a taste of UltraWellness—then, they are empowered to make changes that can help them feel great and lose weight for the long term.

The most important things to address at the outset for weight loss and creating UltraWellness are inflammation and toxicity. These are among the two most important causes of chronic disease and obesity. So, I put together a simple program called The UltraSimple Diet Challenge, including all the tricks and tools I have used successfully with thousands of patients for so many years. In one short week, I teach them how to detoxify and to cool off chronic inflammation.

That is The UltraSimple Diet.

I asked many of you in my online community to try it and give me feedback. I was overwhelmed by the response. We had thousands respond but could only accept about 150 into the testing. Even though I know what I recommend is effective, I was very surprised by the power of the program in people who I had never even met or for whom I created a customized plan. It had dramatic effects. We had 131 people complete the program. We asked people to track their medical symptoms—things like headaches, fatigue, digestive problems, congestion, joint pain, depression, and more. In just one week, they had an average of 51.15% reduction in their symptoms. And they lost an average of 5.53 pounds (and many lost over 10lbs) and lost an average of 1.37 inches from their waist and 0.94 inches from their hips!

To me, the weight loss is nice, but it’s not the main objective (it’s a nice side effect and happens automatically if you deal with the underlying roots or causes of illness). The real benefit is the possibility of experiencing UltraWellness, a state of deep and true health and vitality. And it happens so quickly. You don’t need to believe me—just try it for one week. Join me for a webinar on May 29 to learn about how you can join The UltraSimple Diet Challenge that starts in just a few short weeks. It’s only seven days—anyone can do it!

And tell your friends. Pass this along.

I believe that if enough people really get to experience the difference in their health created by one week on The UltraSimple Diet Challenge, it will change them forever. It could create a cultural shift that may be able to fight the overwhelming power of the food and pharmaceutical industry, which controls our health.

Empower yourself, transform healthcare!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

Health Benefits of the “Mildly Overweight”: Can We Handle Subtlety in Scientific Reporting?

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.34.57 AMIf researchers discovered that, contrary to popular belief, carrying a few extra pounds might not actually be that bad for our health – that it could in fact be better for long-term health than being a size zero – would you want to know? Our guess is: Yes, absolutely.

Now imagine a doctor who has worked all his life to combat obesity and promote healthy lifestyles, who has tirelessly preached the dangers of excess weight throughout his career. You can understand that a new report such as this would deeply trouble him – that he might even take steps to prevent its dispersal to the general public.

This is not a theoretical tale from some overly dramatic medical soap opera. The report is real: A review of 97 independent studies, including nearly 3 million people, headed by Katherine Flegal, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics. Published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Flegal’s study revealed the surprising news that what is medically classified as “overweight” is actually associated to lower mortality rates than both obesity and normal weight.

This of course challenges basically everything we thought we knew about weight and health (apart from the consensus that obesity unhealthy.) And this is where Walter Willett, chair of the Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition department, enters the picture. A highly quoted nutrition expert, Willett’s research focuses on diet and lifestyle habits (namely alcohol, red meat, birth control pills, and artificial sweeteners, among others) and their correlations with different forms of cancer. Willett is now the subject of considerable public scrutiny for expressing some less-than-professional opinions on Flegal’s report. In an interview with NPR, Willett commented, “This study is really a pile of rubbish, and no one should waste their time reading it.”

Unfortunately, dismissing such a comprehensive report as Flegal’s as “a pile of rubbish” might have been the worst move of Willett’s career. Science is, by definition, a critical and collaborative field. Its findings have power and influence in our society because we trust the scientific method; and we trust it because, presumably, the research is tested, challenged, and peer-reviewed. Willett’s comment reveals a fundamental disregard for this equilibrium, no matter how noble his intentions.

There is certainly something to be said for simplicity in scientific reporting. If the general public needs to hear that excess weight leads to heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illness in order to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits, then maybe we can believe that’s all researchers are responsible for reporting. If, on the other hand, we trust that the general public is thoughtful and discerning enough to consider shades of grey and make informed lifestyle decisions, then it would be dangerously irresponsible for scientists to censor their findings. The obsession with weight in our culture has undermined the promotion of healthy body image, self-esteem, and eating habits, particularly among teenagers and women. If Flegal’s report could introduce a bit of breathing room, then it is worth the effort that may need to go into explaining and elaborating on those pesky shades of grey.

What do you think? Can we handle subtlety in scientific reporting? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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