New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter
Go straight to the reviews
Thanks for all the positive response
to our January newsletter! It's already time for another one, so here
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.
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
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.
Overweight Child – Promoting Fitness and Self-Esteem
By Teresa Pitman and Miriam Kaufman, MD
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
People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies
By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon
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.
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.
while their advice on home and herbal remedies for Alzheimer’s is a
good start, there are many more effective complementary treatment options
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
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.
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