Fat is Expensive

When your doctor tells you to lose weight, it’s not because they care what you look like in a bathing suit. We used to think that fat was just energy stored against the future, and that someday there will be a famine so the skinny would starve and the chubby would inherit the earth.

But that famine never came. We now know that fat produces a variety of hormones, peptides, and enzymes that can have wide-ranging impact on your health. Overweight people have increased risk of diabetes, dementia, cancer, sexual dysfunction, heart disease and strokes. It costs Medicare 50% more every year to treat an obese American compared to one of normal weight. The problem is only 20% of Medicare patients are normal weight.

If we Americans lost our extra weight, most of the healthcare crisis would disappear right along with the pounds.

Is it Prevention or is it Early Diagnosis?

Everyone seems to agree that prevention of disease is critically important, but most of what doctors do under the heading of preventive care is not prevention, it’s really just early diagnosis.

Pap smears and mammograms don’t prevent breast and cervical cancer; they help us diagnose them early. Prostate exams, chest x-rays, and your annual physical don’t prevent disease, they help us find it early. It is possible not to have a disease, but still be weak, tired, and overweight, while robust good health means being fast, strong, lean, smart, and sexy.

But fast, strong, lean, smart, and sexy pretty much define optimal health, and optimal health requires you and your doctor working together to change your lifestyle, enhance your diet and supplements, move your hormones back to a robust youthful level, and boost your immune system. This is the direction I think medicine should be moving.

Secondhand Smoke May Damage a Child’s Brain

Secondhand smoke damages the brains of children. A recent study that followed 91,000 children under the age of 12 demonstrated that secondhand smoke exposure increased learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and psychiatric problems by 50% or more.

It turns out that secondhand smoke has a dramatic impact on the developing brain. Young people who are still developing their mental and emotional capacity seem to be at high risk of damage. Since smokers tend to be people with less education, and less earning power, the children of the poor are impacted by this more than any other group.

Unfortunately, these are also the parents that are least likely to recognize that their smoking is damaging their children’s brain and limiting what they can achieve for the rest of their lives. I have one good suggestion to solve this problem: if you smoke, stop.

Secondhand Smoke May Be Related to Hearing Damage

Secondhand smoke damages hearing in children. A recent study of 1500 kids between 12 and 19 years of age demonstrated that the more exposure they had to secondhand smoke, the worse their hearing tended to be. By measuring the amount of cotinine in the blood of these adolescents, researchers were able to calculate the extent of their exposure to secondhand smoke.

Overall it was found that 60% of the kids with secondhand smoke exposure had some degree of hearing loss. The best current theory is that the secondhand smoke is actually damaging the auditory nerves in the still growing young people.

We often think of secondhand smoke as triggering asthma or causing breathing problems in younger people. But it now appears that secondhand smoke is actually causing neurologic damage. Here’s one more good reason why every smoking parent should quit.

Your BPM Can Predict Your Risk of Cardiac Disease

How fast your heart beats may predict how long you live. There are a lot of fancy and expensive medical tests that can be done to determine your risk for heart disease, stroke, and premature death. But there’s one test that you can actually do at home sitting on your couch that costs nothing, takes about one minute, and will give you a pretty good idea of your risk.

Here’s how you do the test. Sit quietly and rest for 15 minutes. Then find your pulse in your wrist or your neck and count the beats for one minute. If your resting heart rate is more than 84 bpm, your overall risk of cardiovascular disease goes up by about 40%. And the odds are you will live about a year and a half less than others your age.

But if you will lose your excess fat and start exercising, your heart rate should slow, and your risk should return to normal.

Berries Can Help Prevent Heart Disease


Berries help prevent heart disease. A study that looked at 93,000 nurses over 18 years, found that the more deeply pigmented berries they consumed, the lower the risk of heart attacks.

The magic number for blueberries, strawberries and raspberries seems to be about three servings per week. Even those women who were overweight, smoked, or suffered from diabetes had a reduction in their risk of heart attacks, when deeply pigmented berries were a significant part of their diet. But as expected, thin women who exercise regularly did even better than their sedentary and overweight counterparts.

Once more we find that diet involving tasty and nutritious foods can lower your risk of heart attacks as much as some very expensive prescription drugs. I can’t help wondering what would happen if our country put as much time, effort and money into improving our diets and exercise as we do into heart-related prescriptions and medical care.

Know Your Vitamin D Number

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You know your height and weight. You probably have a rough idea about your cholesterol number and what it should be. You might know your blood pressure. But there’s another number that most people don’t know, but should.

That number is your 25 hydroxy vitamin D level. Modern Americans avoid sun exposure in an effort to avoid wrinkles and skin cancer. But skipping the sunshine means that they don’t make enough vitamin D. Many studies have now established that the lower your vitamin D, the higher your risk of cancer, autoimmune disease, and premature death.

I recommend that everyone get their vitamin D checked each spring and fall. If you haven’t had your vitamin D level checked recently, have your doctor do this test. A vitamin D level below the 25th percentile doubles your risk of death as compared to being at the 50th percentile. Go ahead and avoid the sun, but take your vitamin D. Check ours out in our Longevity Store.

Fast Food & Allergies

Fast food is both fast and cheap. This makes it popular for parents and children alike. But beware, fast food does more damage than just making you fat.

A recent international study of asthma and allergies in childhood demonstrated that children who eat fast food three or more times per week, have a 30% increase in their incidence of asthma, eczema, and hay fever. Thus far, no one knows if it’s the high-fat diet or the fact that these kids tend to weigh more than normal, damaging their immune systems, or if there is something in the way of food additives or even the way the fast food is prepared, that is damaging these children.

There is obviously a lot we don’t know. But this much is clear, you should limit fast food for both you and your children to the status of an infrequent treat. Those quick takeout meals are convenient and inexpensive, but they may be dangerous.

Hope for Hair Loss

If you are not yet bald, but are getting rather thin on top, there is an new option to help you grow new hair. It’s called platelet rich plasma injections.

Platelets are tiny structures in your blood, which helped plug little breaks in your blood vessels. Platelets contain nine separate growth factors which are released to trigger rapid healing should you suffer damage to a blood vessel. In this procedure a few vials of your own blood are drawn with a needle. The blood is spun down and the platelets are concentrated and separated into a smaller volume of plasma. This platelet rich plasma can then be injected into 100 or more tiny points across your scalp. The growth factors released seem to trigger the hair follicles back to robust growth.

I have seen men and women who have doubled and tripled the amount of hair on their head by this simple and relatively inexpensive procedure.

Omega-3 for ADHD

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Today, a message of hope to those of you who have children with attention deficit disorder.

In June 2012, a study was published dealing with children whose ADHD was not well controlled with Ritalin or similar drugs. These hard to control kids were put on 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids for six months, that’s about 3000 mg of fish oil. It was found that there was a significant improvement in how well these kids did at home and at school. The children were found to be less restless and aggressive. They were better in completing their school work and their academic performance improved. Parents and teachers reported that the kids were less impulsive and more cooperative.

But if you try this, you need to be patient. It took almost 6 months to see these changes. The good news is that fish oil is cheap, readily available, and its use has virtually no downside.