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What’s New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter

February, 2001

Go straight to the reviews

Thanks for all the positive response to our January newsletter! It's already time for another one, so here we go.

My patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market. And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice! While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're inaccurate.

The people writing the books either don't regularly use the medicines they write about or they're presenting theories as if they are facts. Others can be valuable tools for improving the quality of your life.

Dr. Atkins NEW Diet Revolution
By Robert C. Atkins, MD


After 25 years of being a vegetarian, I almost wanted to go on this diet. It was too good to be true.  Eat lots of protein, a few veggies and as many fatty foods as you want while losing weight and feeling tremendous as you are doing it.  The idea was appealing, that is, until, I reached Chapter 22.  A wonderfully charismatic and persuasive writer, Dr. Atkins waits until Chapter 22 to discuss the downside of his miracle diet – but we’ll get to that later.  First, let’s talk about the advantages.

Dr. Atkins hits the nail on the head – sugar and simple carbohydrates resulting in a sugar imbalance in our blood are one of the most significant problems with the American diet.  Our well-documented rise in diabetes in the US supports this, as does our increase in all types of cancer.  (Sugar feeds cancer, and white bread, white pasta, and white rice easily convert into sugar in the body.)  He’s right again with the need for fat in the diet.  I, too, have seen the low-fat Pritikin enthusiasts look thin, fit, but with skin older than their age.  In fact, I think the diet is safe for a short-term stint of one to 6 months for significantly overweight people.  But I have some reluctance to recommend it long-term.

Here are a few basic objections to the diet.  First are the side effects of constipation, possible gout, kidney stones, gall bladder colic, and digestive deficiencies.  A diet shouldn’t pose health risks. 

Second, there is the myriad of vitamins and nutrients necessary to successfully do this diet.  Dr. Atkins counters this objection with the need for vitamin supplementation with any diet or lifestyle.  And to a small extent, he is correct.  However, his recommendations are a multivitamin and mineral, essential fatty acids, L-carnitine, CoQ10 and chromium and then 5-6 more supplements to counter the possible dieting side-effects of constipation, hunger, fluid retention, fatigue, nervousness, and insomnia.  That’s a lot of pills. Add that to the cost of free-range meat, and this diet becomes expensive. So once again, we have the same dilemma.  Can’t we find a diet which works, is healthy, safe and affordable?

I can’t help but think about all the medical research that supports eating a diet rich in vegetables.  Vegetables are extremely protective against cancers.  And vegetarians tend to be thinner than the average person.  Also, just wiping out beans and grains as if they are somehow unnecessary is also, in my opinion, a mistake.  Beans are cancer fighting and balance blood sugar.  Grains provide necessary nutrients and fiber for digestive health.

Dr. Atkins has had some impressive results.  I’d like to see some extensive follow-up studies on those who have followed his diet for a significant amount of time.  Let’s look at their medical histories.  That would settle the debate over the safety of this diet once and for all.  In the meantime, I recommend this diet for those trying to loose at least 50 lbs.

The Overweight Child – Promoting Fitness and Self-Esteem
By Teresa Pitman and Miriam Kaufman, MD


Have you ever wanted good advice to give your child or grandchild after they’ve been teased at school?  Have you ever wondered how to get your couch potato offspring away from the computer?  Then even if your child does not struggle with weight issues, the Overweight Child is a book you ought to read.

I especially enjoyed the 50 ways to make your child’s everyday life more active.  For example, Pitman and Kaufman recommend that the number of hours your child exercises should equal the number of hours your child spends watching TV or playing computer games.

Their dietary recommendations are reasonable, though the recipes are not.  A realistic goal for all children (and adults) is to eat healthier rather than go on a diet.  Diets are usually followed by a return to unhealthy eating habits that will put the weight right back on.  The emphasis is on being fitter, not thinner.  Eat correctly, exercise and the pounds will go.

There’s one note of warning here. When reading the introduction, I was certain the authors had just been to a sale on rose-colored glasses. Pitman and Kaufman minimize the increased risk of asthma, arthritis, and high blood pressure leading to heart attacks or strokes.  But these are major risks!

The authors dismiss the current campaign of trimming our nation down, as a weight fad. Being overweight is just “out of style” by current standards of body size.  They support this claim by holding Marilyn Monroe as a weight role model for overweight children.  Marilyn, they state, was a size 16.  The 5’5 1/2” Monroe had a 23-inch waist and weighed between 118 and 140 (during pregnancy).  Further, the current size 12 was a size 8, thirty years ago.  True, standards have changed since Marilyn’s time and we expect today’s models and actresses to be unrealistically thin. 

But this doesn’t change the fact that 50% of Americans are overweight and nearly 20% are obese.  It’s a serious problem.  And it’s sad and emotionally destructive for overweight children to get teased and tormented.   The balance lays somewhere between ignoring the health hazard and reminding the child everyday they’re overweight.  If you can ignore the authors’ rationalization for the extra weight and just focus on the great advice, then this book can help you and your child.

The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies
By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

I saw this title and cringed, “Oh, great, another book telling people how to use herbs written by non-herbalists”.  Was I ever wrong!  Joe Graedon’s grandfather was a pharmacist around the turn of the 20th century.  Herbs were a mainstay of his practice.  Joe grew up with this tradition.  And even with his pharmacy degree, it is clear there is an appreciation for the simpler remedies in health.  Teresa Graedon saw first hand the effectiveness of herbal medicine while living in another culture.

The Graedons are overcautious about the herb licorice (Glycerrhiza glabra).  Yes, there is some bad press about overuse leading to high blood pressure.  But that has been with extremely excessive use or with the herb after it has been altered into a more drug-like state with one component dramatically increased. 

And while their advice on home and herbal remedies for Alzheimer’s is a good start, there are many more effective complementary treatment options available.

This is a great book with some very basic information about some nutritional supplements and herbs that address mostly minor medical conditions.  And while it is clear that the information is derived more from research and laypeople’s homespun advice rather than from herbal practitioners, it is still helpful.

Health Tip: In this cold season, remember to cut back or avoid all sugar and mucus-forming foods like cheese, milk, peanut butter, and orange juice for a few days until you are feeling better. Sugar lowers the immune system and will prolong your illness.

Herb Tip: If that area below your nose is red and sore from blowing and wiping your nose, go get a little Calendula (Kah-LEN-ju-la) cream. Many mainstream drug and food stores as well as health food stores carry it. It will soothe and heal your nose and can be used for all types of skin irritations.

Patient Feedback: Read what our patients are saying about naturopathic medicine

 

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About the Doctor


Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton
11825 SW Greenburg Road, Suite A2
Tigard, OR 97223
503-443-2332