Thursday, November 24, 2011

F4: Fats for Fighting Fat - Avocados


Avocados are one of the BEST sources for healthy fat.  About 75% of avocado calories come from fat, most of which are healthy, monounsaturated fats.  Avocados are also high in potassium, fiber, and vitamins B, A, and K.  Research also suggests that a diet rich in avocados can reduce LDL and triglyceride levels and increase HDL levels (Lopez 1996).  Avocados are also sources of the natural sugar, D-mannoheptulose, which has the potential to reduce insulin secretion in hyperglycemic patients (Viktora 1969).  They are also a source of digestive enzymes, such as lipase (for fat digestion) and cellulase (for the digestion of cellulose, found in fibrous vegetables), that can help reduce constipation.  

But be careful!  These enzymes are VERY sensitive to heat, so eat them raw to get these great health benefits.  Eat them as an additional side dish or with your salad.  No matter how you eat them, avocados should be a part of everyone's diet!

Dr. O 
"I don't live to eat...I eat to live!"

REFERENCES

Lopez, L.R., et al., Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia. Arch Med 
         Res, 1996. 27(4): p. 519-23.

Viktora, J.K., et al., Effect of ingested mannoheptulose in animals and man. Metabolism, 1969. 18(2): p. 
         87-102.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Healthy Foods Don't Have Higher Costs



What do you value more: your health or your money?

Most people would immediately say, “My health of course!”  But is that really true?  Due to some people’s finances, I understand that some may have to sacrifice the health benefits of high quality food and purchase lower quality.  However, in many cases, individuals who can easily afford healthier foods choose to settle for more convenient, unhealthy options.  Here are a couple of simple questions that will describe the problem that exists with many Americans today. 

1. Would you rather pay for an Extra Value Meal from McDonald's or a healthier chicken salad that is double the price?  

Many people would choose the Extra Value Meal and not think twice.  Unfortunately, such an individual may only be considering the monetary cost of this meal.  Do you not consider the “health cost” at all?  Is your long-term health not worth the extra money?  

Here’s another question: 

2.  When choosing a drink with your meal, you have two options: a) a fountain drink (water is not available at the fountain), or b) bottled water that is double the price of the fountain drink.  Which would you choose?

Once again, many people would choose the fountain drink because the bottled water has a higher monetary cost.  Even if you have a diet drink, if you read my blog on diet soda, you’d know that the health cost associated with a diet drink is much higher than water.

So what’s the point of all this?  With every food or drink that we consume, we must not only consider the monetary cost, but also the health cost. It's quite simple:

Total Meal Cost = Monetary Cost + Health Cost

In our first example, although an extra value meal has a much lower monetary cost than a grilled chicken salad, the health cost is significantly higher.  Similarly, a cheap fountain drink also has a lower monetary cost than bottled water, but the health cost is significantly higher.  You don’t pay these health costs up front but you will eventually, through doctor visits, hospital bills, prescriptions, quick fix weight loss strategies (fat burners, liposuction, gastric bypass surgery, HCG diet etc.), and emotional distress associated with low self-esteem.  Also, if you’re running a company, don’t forget to consider the healthcare insurance costs of each employee for fees from the aforementioned list.

And even for those who eat healthy, the unhealthy eating of others still affects you, so it is still important to encourage others to do the same.  Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will help to reduce the amount of money taken from YOUR INCOME to finance public healthcare, such as Medicare.

So ask yourself, which option truly has the greater cost?

Dr. O 
"I don't live to eat...I eat to live!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Negative Effects of Antibiotic Use


Whether you are prescribed with azithromycin, doxycycline, vancomycin, or others, antibiotic treatment is very effective at eliminating harmful bacteria from living organisms.  However, there are drawbacks to its use which can negatively affect your health.  While antibiotics for infection eliminate “bad” bacteria, they also eliminate “good” bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, in your digestive tract.  These bacteria, known as probiotic bacteria, are essential in maintaining proper digestive health.  Their elimination can cause diarrhea, malnutrition, improper breakdown of foods, the accumulation of “bad” bacteria. 

This issue is further complicated by the potential for antibiotic resistance.  Bad bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics, allowing them to accumulate along the digestive tract due to the absence of probiotic bacteria.  This can lead to further infections and disorders such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). 

So, if you antibiotic treatment is prescribed to you, the best strategy is to supplement with probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements, immediately after antibiotic treatment.  This will allow probiotic bacteria to re-colonize the digestive tract and maintain its health and proper function (McFarland 2006).

Natural food sources have also been identified as having anti-bacterial properties.  In my next blog, I'll tell what these sources are.

Dr. O 
"I don't live to eat...I eat to live!"
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References

1.    McFarland, L.V., Meta-Analysis of Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea and the Treatment of Clostridium difficile Disease. Am J Gastro, 2006. 101: p. 812-22.