Archive for Dr. Shad’s Blog

Summer Fruits for Optimal Health

Summertime is almost here and while fun for many outdoor activities the heat requires special food choices to stay hydrated and healthy.

Seasonal foods are a great way to figure what to eat.  Summer fruits include watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, peaches, nectarines, kiwi, strawberries, grapes and cherries.  

  All these fruits are nature’s sportsdrink filled with anitoxidants, minerals, vitamins and plenty of water.  Nature’s thirst quenchers are actually much better than man-made artficial sports drinks.  One reason for this is the fiber that combines brilliantly with sugar to decrease your portion size and slowly release sugar into the bloodstream.  The slow release is sustainable and is in contrast with the big bump that comes when drinking a sports beverage.  The reason for this is the excess sugar (usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is not combined with fiber and therefor leads to elevated blood sugar and insulin that eventually will cause Diabetes.

So, this summer reach for a melon or juicy ripe peach to quench your thirst and stay healthy!

A few simple ways to lose a lot of extra weight!

file000722756864Most of us struggle with a few extra pounds and for some us we never can seem to lose weight no matter how hard we try.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010 64.5 % of adults over the age of 18 were either overweight or obese.  Becoming a global problem in need of increased resources and attention, obesity was recently classified as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO).  Obesity is associated with poorer outcomes for numerous diseases including heart disease, many forms of cancer and diabetes.  As research continues to build on our understanding of obesity and how it can be effectively treated, there are a few simple things that we can all do now to help shed those extra unneeded pounds.

1.  Eat breakfast.  We have all heard of the adage citing breakfast as the most important meal of the day.  In fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Breakfast provides the initial fuel that begins the fire of our metabolism to burn away fat and excess energy stores throughout the day.  A complete breakfast with whole real foods that combines protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates with fiber goes a long way to shifting your body toward a losing rather than gaining weight.

2.  Eat most of your calories early and do not eat any meals after 7pm.  Following your complete healthy whole real food based breakfast, you should have a similar sizable lunch.  You can even snack in between breakfast and lunch with some healthy snack choices such as whole fruit and nuts, an excellent combination to avoid increases in blood sugar that can lead to diabetes.  After eating the majority of your calories for breakfast and lunch including mid morning and afternoon healthy snacks, you should have a relatively smaller portion size dinner and avoid eating anything after 7pm or roughly 3-4 hours prior to your bedtime.  You can have a piece of whole fruit or another healthy snack but in general you should not eat before bedtime.

3.  Walk or do some exercise every day.  Another metabolism booster is to move your body, even walking for 30 to 45 minutes at a moderate pace can go a long way toward increasing your metabolism and helping you to lose weight.  If you are able to do more and reach your cardiovascular health goals, even better, but remember walking alone is better than just sitting there and playing with your phone!

4.  Avoid liquid calories and refined excess sugar.  The only liquid calorie any of us should be eating is water.  Any juice, even home made juice decreases our fiber intake and leads to increased sugar consumption.  Any and all excess sugars in our diet that are not burned away through exercise are converted straight to fat!  That’s right, extra sugar makes you fat.  And with the average American consuming over 100 pounds of sugar every year, it is no wonder why so many of us have problems with weight!

New Year, New Beginnings…

New Year's ResolutionsAs another year passes, we can all reflect in different ways on how far we have come and where we are going in life.  Sure we celebrate and have fun with our family and friends, but we also tend to come up with New Year’s Resolutions to change for the better.  Many times these resolutions have to do with being healthier by eating better or exercising regularly.  Whatever your New Year’s Resolution may be, by now you may have already come to one of the challenges that most of us are faced with about a month or so into the New Year.  We seem to have high hopes of success in our resolution to change and we may even make it to the gym, but somehow we get too busy or overwhelmed to continue what we have started.  And sometimes more often than not, we have not even started toward our goals.

I think one of the main reasons why many of us fail to keep our resolutions is that we have a tendency to take on more than we can handle and go for too much, too quickly.  We are often quite ambitious with our New Year’s Resolution, “I’m going to workout 5 days a week for 1 hour and it is going to be great!”  But after the first or second time we may get overly tired or sore and then decide to put off the workout until tomorrow.  But again tomorrow comes and we find another excuse and before you know it we are sitting there feeling bad for ourselves for not doing what we set out to do.  Even worse, this can lead to coping with our defeat by engaging in unhealthy habits such as emotional eating.

One solution I offer my patients and share with you during these first few challenging months of the New Year is to START LOW AND MOVE UP SLOW.  With any lifestyle change, we should take small steps toward our goal to achieve small victories that will eventually snowball into complete success!

One simple way to look at this is to just START!

S TART IT  

Start somewhere, start anywhere, but start low and go up slow.  Rome was not built in a day and no can achieve success without starting from the lessons of failure in life.  Remember nothing is too small to start, if you do not exercise, simply start by walking for 10 minutes one time and you will already be better off than you were 10 minutes ago.

T IME BOUND IT

Set the time for when and where you will start your path to a new life, be specific, e.g. “I am going to walk for 10 minutes at 4pm today”

A CHIEVE IT 

Make it happen! Take the first step toward a better, healthier you, once you accomplish this goal, however small and insignificant it may seem, you will feel success and this will empower you to take the next step.

R EPEAT IT

Do it again! Reinforce your initial success and grow stronger as you realize you can change for the better and feel better.

T RY HARDER

Try adding another level, going the next step, and keep trying, sometimes that’s all you will have to do.  Remember even if you are 1 % better every day you will be 360% better in a year!  So keep going up slowly and try harder, no one has optimal health over night.  It is a constant interplay and balancing act, we all have to stay flexible and keep moving forward, the best is ever the enemy of the good and no one can be perfect, so remember little by little day by day…

I hope this helps us all to START that first step closer to where we want to be as we strive to keep those New Year’s Resolutions! Remember to always consult with your physician or health care provider before starting any new therapy or exercise program or lifestyle change.

(image source:  http://seattlerevealed.wordpress.com/tag/new-years-resolutions/)

Fall is Pomegranate Season

photo-3Fall is known for many good foods.  Apples and pumpkins may be the most familiar to most, but Pomegranates are also best harvested in the Fall.  The pomegranate is one of the most nutrient dense foods on earth.  Originally cultivated in Ancient Persia, pomegranates are considered to be a sign of fertility, health and immortality in many middle eastern and mediterranean cultures.   By now the pomegranate has become famous around the world.  Eating pomegranates or pomegranate juice has been shown to inhibit a broad range of cancers such as prostate, colon and breast cancer.  Punicalagins, phytochemical antioxidant compounds in pomegranates, are thought to be a major reason why pomegranates are also effective in treating cardiovascular disease and preventing strokes and heart attacks by decreasing blood pressure and removing plaque from the arteries.   

Although almost anyone can benefit from adding pomegranates to your diet, having a processed food that has pomegranate ‘flavor’ or many other ingredients is not healthy.  It is unfortunate that many processed foods have tried to generate sales by adding pomegranate  to their label.  As with any other real food that grows from the ground, pomegranates are best whole or freshly juiced, not as a part of a “food-like substance” that includes many disease causing toxic chemical additives or excess sugars.

I generally recommend pomegranates to all of my patients.  If you eat the fruit whole with the seeds, you will also get some of your daily fiber.  it is preferable for people with Diabetes to eat the whole fruit as opposed to the juice, as the fiber slows down the breakdown of the pomegranate into simple sugars thereby preventing a spike in your blood sugar.  Most grocery stores will carry pomegranates this time of year, also check your local farmer’s market for great deals on the fruit and fresh juice from the farm.

“Let Food be Thy Medicine, and Medicine be Thy Food”

This quote was attributed to Hippocrates who is considered to be the father of western medicine.  With the growing epidemic of chronic disease, this age old adage is more apropos than ever. In the U.S., the 7 out of every 10 deaths and 77% of national health expenditures can be attributed to 3 major chronic diseases: Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer and Diabetes.   All three of these major disease categories develop over time as a result of how we live our life.  In particular, our food choices can make major impact on our health by contributing to the prevention of these chronic diseases.  It is a wonder then why we as physicians get so little formal training in nutrition.  The most recent survey of U.S. medical schools conducted in 2012 showed an average of only 19.6 hours of nutrition throughout the entire 4 year medical school curriculum.  Instead of learning about therapeutic food options for our patients, we are limited to medications and surgical interventions as a means to treat our patients.  Given the epidemic of chronic disease and the real impact that our food choices have for our individual and collective health, I think it is time that we return to our roots (no pun intended) and let food be our medicine.

I will be exploring this topic further with new blog entries on how food can be our best medicine to treat and prevent Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and most forms of Cancer.  As a physician I routinely give my patients food prescriptions to fit their individual needs and teach them how to make healthy food choices to prepare meals that are tasty and medicinal for their particular health conditions.  As a lecturer and educator, I am expanding my teaching activities at Stanford Medical School and speaking engagements internationally to include a new series on Food as Medicine for the chronic diseases of our time.  I look forward to your feedback and hope that this blog will be helpful to you as we begin to explore foods for a healthier life.  As always, with any food or lifestyle changes, please consult with your personal physician before making any modifications to your diet or daily activities.