Category Archives: Better Health Through Science

5:2 Mediterranean Diet

Your Heart – Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men & Children

The 5:2 Eating Plan

Your Heart Book Cover- Final 1

♥ If you look to the future in defeat and say to yourself there is no way I can lose 20, 30, 50 or 100 pounds. Ask yourself this: Can I cut back my calories one day each week? How about cutting back two days a week?

On the 5/2 Plan you eat about 500 calories one day, then eat a regular healthy Mediterranean cuisine or plant-based cuisine the next one or two days, then you eat only 500 calories the next day, resume regular eating the rest of the week and repeat this ongoing. Your overall calorie intake drops gradually and you lose weight.

In 2012, Dr. Michael J. Mosley shared his concept of eating less than your usual intake for two non-consecutive days a week. With this plan, you reduce your calorie intake significantly but it is not as mentally challenging as setting out to sharply curtail eating for the indefinite future. His concept is to have men eat about 600 calories and women about 500 calories on two non-consecutive low calorie days.

Dr. Mosley’s examples of food choices on the low-intake days are: two eggs and lean meat with water, tea or black coffee; a second meal of grilled fish or meat, with vegetables. You can make breakfast healthier by throwing out the yolks and eating a side of non-processed protein choices, such as a heap of steamed veggies. (Veggies high in protein include broccoli, mushrooms, soybean sprouts, tomatoes and onions, to name a few.)

Although fasting has been advocated for decades in many groups, harsh diets often fail miserably because metabolic changes related to starvation trigger the body to store up calories and as soon as you begin eating normally, you regain weight.

To be effective and long-lasting, the manner of eating must be sustainable. It must be a way of life — something you can do for the rest of your life. If you have a lot of weight to lose, this would be a life-changing method of gaining control of your eating and reducing weight. To review: one pound = 3500 calories. If your normal intake is 2500 calories/day and you eat 500 calories two days/week, your weight loss each week would be more than one pound. This is approximately 4-5 pounds per month and 48-60 pounds in a year. In addition, if you choose lower calorie foods, less fat and sugar, you may lose more. Most people find this plan easy to follow for long periods.

Animal studies examining the effects of fasting have shown heart benefit with reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. Intermittent fasting also lowered diabetes development in lab animals.

Because Dr. Mosley’s unique concept of marked calorie reduction for two out of five days lacked scientific evidence to support the process in reduction of heart disease and diabetes in humans, I was hesitant to include it in this evidence-based book. However, as I was writing this portion of the book a very exciting scientific review in the British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease was published!

An Aston University team in the UK, led by Dr. James E.P. Brown evaluated various approaches to intermittent fasting, looking for any evidence of advantage for its use in treating Type 2 diabetes. In their review, they found intermittent fasting was just as effective, possibly even more effective, than daily calorie restriction and calorie counting. Other favorable findings: markedly low calorie days (not true fasting) can reduce inflammation, reduce both glucose and lipids, and reduce blood pressure.

True fasting lowers metabolic rate and making it harder to burn fat and lose weight. Reduced metabolic rate is protective in a prolonged starvation state and impacts the ability of people today to lose weight. Researchers believe the gene pool of those who were able to survive periods of starvation has been retained in today’s population. Examples are the American Indians and many Polynesian cultures that are experiencing obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics.

Their bodies evolved to become efficient in saving calories for harsh times. The problem today is, food is plentiful and the ability to efficiently save the energy in fat stores has become detrimental instead of life-saving.

In the 5/2 plan, eating less on two non-consecutive days is unlikely to lower your metabolic rate and trigger the starvation response. For example, choose Monday and Thursday as your low calorie days and add daily exercise to your weight loss plan, Exercise is an essential component to health improvement and longer life.

Pregnant women and people with Type 1 diabetes should not fast.

If you are interested in the 5/2 diet, check with your physician and obtain guidance regarding your medications during the low calorie days, especially if you are a Type 2 diabetic taking medications to lower blood glucose. Monitor blood glucose carefully and avoid readings that are too low.

There are many studies showing great benefit by delaying Type 2 diabetes, reversing glucose elevations and reducing insulin resistance with weight loss. Dr. Brown and his team are preparing clinical trials to evaluate the 5/2 dietary format as interventions in various clinical settings.

An excerpt from: Your Heart – Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men & Children

Betty and Bev

Your Heart Book Cover- Final 1

Your Heart

 

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♥ Protect Your Heart ♥

February is American Heart Month

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women and men. February is a great time to review your health history and explore actions to reduce risks for dying of heart disease and stroke. Heart risk factors and actions:

♥ Tobacco use and cessation

♥ High blood pressure identification and treatment

♥ Cholesterol abnormalities paired with dietary modification and statin use when needed

♥ Low activity levels counteracted with exercise prescriptions

♥ Alcohol consumption history and limitation of use

♥ Heredity factors and recommended interventions

To help you take control and make 2018 a healthier year, we are offering our book free on February 13, 14 & 15. In just two-hundred pages, Your Heart will give you the science behind the disease, some actions to improve your health and common interventions that could save your life or the life of a loved one. This includes information on the Mediterranean 5/2 diet, a safe and easy way to reduce weight and maintain a healthy weight for life.

YOUR HEART –

Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women Men & Children

♥ FREE FEBRUARY 13, 14 & 15♥ 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

BETTY and BEV

Easy Weight Loss or Maintenance

Mediterranean 5/2 Eating Plan

The Five/Two Diet
As a method of weight loss and weight control, this easy solution of five/two pertains to a 7 day eating plan. Once you have reached your ideal weight, you transition to healthy baseline calorie intake every day. If you gain a pound, then you can transition back to the 5/2 plan. This is how it works:

• For 5 days a week, you eat a healthy diet based primarily on fruits, vegetables, a few nuts, a little olive oil, limiting pasta or rice to twice a week. Add limited whole grains to the mix, with low-fat meat, including salmon or other similar fish. Mirror your food selections with the Mediterranean diet like people who live along the southern Italian coast and Greek islands. Eating primarily fresh fruits, vegetables, and little saturated fat, they tend to live longer, in better health and with lower heart disease.

• For two days a week, eat very few calories, only 500-600. The two days must not be consecutive. Instead separate them such as Monday and Thursday.

Why not do the low calorie days together? Harsh calorie restriction can trigger what researchers call the starvation response. With starvation, the body revs up to store calories by lowering the metabolic rate and packing on calories when food becomes available. It is a natural process to maintain life.

Even though the two low calorie days are not true fasting, if they are consecutive such as Monday and Tuesday, your metabolic rate may be affected. Separating the days, combined with daily exercise such as walking is known to increase metabolic rate andkabob veg calorie burn. — And, with exercise, you are unlikely to stimulate a starvation response. In fact, with a marked reduction in calorie intake and consistent exercise, you will lose weight.

British physician Michael Mosley, described the 5/2 diet in his book FastDiet in 2012. In a follow up study done at the Aston University in the UK, they found intermittent fasting (very low calorie days) more effective than daily calorie restriction and calorie counting.

Favorable findings included:
• Reduced weight
• Reduced inflammation
• Reduced blood glucose
• Reduced lipids (cholesterol)
• Reduced blood pressure

True fasting (consuming no nutrition) has been shown to lower weight, prolong life, lower blood glucose and lower cholesterol levels. However, fasting also lowers metabolic rate, something you do not want, because your body becomes very efficient at storing excess calories and weight returns.

Eating two low calorie days per week is usually safe for Type 2 diabetics. Those taking medications and insulin must consult their medical provider for advice and to help manage medication dosages when reducing calorie intake. In the end, with weight loss, some Type 2 diabetics can reduce or stop some of their medications. Or, for those with borderline glucose elevations, weight loss and the drug Metformin, may help ward off the development of full-blown Type 2 diabetes. Without interventions, most people with borderline elevation of blood glucose will evolve to Type 2 diabetes within ten years.

Pay special attention to your daily intake:
• Choose fruits over sweets for desserts.
• Exercise portion control. Avoid second helpings. Wait 30 minutes and see if you are really still hungry.
• Do your best to prepare low calorie meals such as turkey breast instead of hot wings or steak.
• Forget potatoes, pasta, gravy, cheese sauce and fattening salad dressing.
• If you are preparing meals, serve light calorie recipes and fruit for dessert.
• Take time to exercise

Note: If you are, pregnant, breast feeding or a Type 1 diabetic, following a Mediterranean-type cuisine is healthy but do not follow the very low calorie day recommendations. However, this is a heart-healthy approach for those with high blood pressure and heart disease, even those who have had bypass and stent procedures.
Betty Kuffel, MD & Bev Erickson

PROTECT YOUR HEART

Fewer people are dying from heart attacks. Education, healthy changes in lifestyle and diet have made dramatic improvements. Additional life-saving interventions include rapid treatments to open closing vessels interrupting heart attacks. Dilation and placement of stents open a closing vessel and returns blood flow to the heart muscle before damage occurs. We have made strides in reducing heart deaths in recent years, but cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of both men and women.

The key to heart health is early action to alter contributing factors. If you recognize worrisome chests symptoms seek healthcare immediately. Call 9-1-1.

Take control of your health through education and action. Basic actions:

  • Exercise – Thirty minutes of exercise a day contributes to improved health
  • Eat Right – Cut calories by reducing fat, sugar and portion sizes
  • Drink – Water, coffee or tea. Stop drinking diet and sugared sodas.
  • Read – Learn how to improve your health and take control
  • Visit a health practitioner: Know your numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose

National Wear Red Day is Friday February 3, 2017

The American Heart Association started the Go Red for Women national movement to improve education helping women learn their risks and take action. I wrote Your Heart- Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men and Children to provide a concise reference with broad information on heart health, diet, exercise with details to take action. Heart disease the #1 killer of women causes 1:3 deaths each year.

Your Heart – Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men & Children

Your Heart Book Cover- Final FINAL

Your Heart Book on Amazon

Price reduction: Kindle $2.99, Paperback $9.99

https://www.goredforwomen.org/

https://yourheartbook.com

History of Birth Control in the US

Part Two

 NOW

Ultraconservative legislators in Texas and other states have defunded Planned Parenthood. More than fifty years after the epic moment in 1960 making birth control pills available, women are fighting the same old battle, the right to self-determination and contraception.

Some legislators at the national level have vowed to defund Planned Parenthood clinics across the United States. Those who fight to defund the clinics and legislate reduced contraceptive availability are antiabortionists. They vehemently attack clinics that provide abortions, leading to violence and terroristic murder of healthcare personnel. Planned Parenthood provides healthcare to both men and women, education, contraceptives, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and they offer fertility consultation. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

Comprehensive sex education and free contraceptives reduce unplanned pregnancies and abortions. Why would those against abortion defund Planned Parenthood clinics limiting access to education and birth control, thus increasing the need for abortions?

Abortions have been a legal right under U.S. law since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973. That decision deemed abortion a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Roe, a single pregnant woman brought a class action suit against the constitutionality of the Texas laws that made abortion a crime except to save the life of the mother. District Attorney Wade was the defendant. The historic decision overturned the Texas law and held that a woman and her doctor could choose abortion in earlier months of pregnancy without legal restriction, and with restrictions in later months based on right to privacy.

Any adult has the right to make personal decisions based on their religious views. However, our founding principle of separation of church and state in the U.S. means no one as the right to impose their religious views on others.

Broad availability of birth control education and contraception has been shown to reduce unplanned pregnancies and reduce the need for abortions.

I wrote Modern Birth Control because of the potential loss of healthcare services to men modern-birth-control-kindle-coverand women. The small booklet provides up-to-date information on aspects of health related to contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, treatment, and avoidance of sexual assault. Many references are included. The 44 page book is available on Amazon. Paperback  – http://tinyurl.com/ModernBC E-book – http://tinyurl.com/ModernBC-Kindle

Betty Kuffel, MD

Improve Your Health

Springtime Weight Loss & Health Goals

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe doldrums of winter have passed. With shorter nights and warmer days, the grass is greener, flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. It’s spring!

If you are an outdoor winter sports enthusiast, you may be fit and at your ideal weight. But, if icy weather kept you indoors and sedentary, you may have added a pound or two. If so, this is the time to get started on a healthy routine. Forget spring cleaning, instead, dust off your shoes and take a walk.

Before you begin, hop on the scale and record your weight. Use the baseline to track your progress to better health. According to the National Institutes of Health, excess weight can put you at risk for a multitude of health problems. Cardiovascular problems are at the top of the list, including heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. Close behind are: Type 2 diabetes, unhealthy pregnancies, sleep apnea and even some types of cancer.

Now that you have your weight, you need see where you are based on accepted parameters using the Body Mass Index (BMI) categories of weight:
• Normal = 18.5-24.9Scale, Tennis Shoes, Calculator
• Overweight = 25-29.9
• Obesity = 30 or higher

So, how do we measure BMI? The easiest way is to go to: BMI Calculator
Input your numbers and the internet program will give you the value.

If you like math and you’d rather calculate your BMI, you need your weight, height, a metric conversion multiplier and a calculator to square your answer and divide. It’s Easy – follow the steps below:

1. Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.45. Ex: 125 pounds x .45 = 56.25 kg

2. Multiply your height in inches by 0.025. Ex: 63” x .025 = 1.575 m

3. Square the answer from step 2. Example: 1.575 x 1.575 = 2.4806

4. Divide Step 1 answer by Step 3 answer. Example:56.25 divided by 2.480625 = 22.7 BMI

• If your BMI is normal, exercise is still important.
• If the BMI is elevated, get started on the Mediterranean 5/2 eating plan combined with walking at least 30 minutes a day plan to drop the unwanted pounds.

Go to: Your Heart, our other blog, to find details regarding both Mediterranean food choices and guideline for the plan of eating two low calorie days per week – allowing easy weight reduction.
Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight may lower your chances of developing heart disease? If you weigh 200 pounds, this means losing as little as 10 pounds could prolong your life. Weight loss benefits include:
• Improved energy, sleep, sex life and self-image
• Lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and lowered risk of heart attack
• Reduced cancer risk
• Fewer aches and pains
• Reduced risk of dementia
Spring Forward. Put on your tennis shoes and start walking. Listen for the sweet sounds of returning birds. Watch for spring flowers and pussy willow buds. Take a dog for a walk. Ask a friend to join you.

Lift your spirits and improve your health.

Betty Kuffel MD and Bev EricksonTall Grass

Lipstick Logic

Your Heart Book Cover- Final FINALMore information about heart health and losing weight can be found in our book: YOUR HEART

ESTROGEN IS BACK IN THE NEWS

Estrogen Supplements May Reduce Dementia Risks

Two recent studies show a possible benefit of estrogen supplements in menopausal women to reduce dementia risk. These studies are very important because women are living longer and any improvement in mental function or delay in the onset of dementia could provide great benefit for women.

Loss of ovarian hormone production following menopause or surgical ovarian removal, results in important changes throughout the body. Bone density decreases, osteoporosis develops and more fractures occur. Hot flashes, mucus membrane dryness, reduced libido, hair loss, skin wrinkling, all become issues. The list goes on. Some problems related to estrogen loss seem minor, but decreasing risks for heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia are major considerations for long term health.

In the past, physicians provided prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women following menopause. In the summer of 2002, physicians stopped prescribing hormone replacement therapy after the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) concluded the risks of estrogen treatment far outweighed its benefits. The large WHI study also reported the combination of estrogen plus progestin not only increased the risk of both breast cancer and heart disease, but women had an increased risk for dementia.

The following studies suggest estrogen alone (without progestin) may be beneficial for the brain and memory and not detrimental as the WHI study reported:

+ Neurobiology of Aging published a Norwegian study where researchers studied MRI scans of women taking estrogen. They found an important area for memory, the hippocampus, showed preserved brain volume in women who started taking estrogen supplements before or at the beginning of menopause and continued for a number of years. Since the hippocampus is the area affected in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, the findings in the Norwegian study are hopeful.

+ The National Proceedings of Science reported that a team of scientists at Guelph University in Ontario studied the effect of estrogen on synapses in mouse brains, the location where brain cells communicate. Within minutes of an estrogen injection, a large increase in synapse activity occurred in the hippocampus. Boosting estrogen levels may help strengthen brain connections and result in improved learning and memory. Human studies are needed to validate their findings and any long term benefit.

WHI conclusions are being revisited by practicing physicians and research groups. Estrogen replacement in women may once again be prescribed as an anti-dementia aid. However, if a woman has had clots, strokes or cancer, estrogen is not appropriate.

For additional information on benefits of estrogen from new studies see our blog at:Your Heart Book Cover- Final FINAL
www.yourheartbook.com

http://tinyurl.com/mvpm2y9

The Benefits of Daily Exercise after Menopause

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Women experience menopause with lost ovarian function due to aging or surgical removal. Loss of estrogen in the postmenopausal state affects the body in both obvious and subtle ways. Obvious effects are hot flushes, thinning hair and skin wrinkling, but there are many more silent harmful effects.

Early menopause contributes to osteoporosis. Gradual weakening of bones occurs without the estrogen stimulus to calcium metabolism and bone strength. Further bone loss may evolve to fractures and disability.

We also know the effectiveness of high-density-lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” blood fat, is reduced without estrogen effect. This transporter molecule is responsible for removing cholesterol buildup in arteries. HDL particles without the effect of estrogen are less efficient and the risk for heart attacks increases in women following menopause. Postmenopausal women can offset some of this effect by eating healthy and staying active. Statin medication to modify abnormal blood lipids may also be needed.

A study reported at the North American Menopause Society stated women after menopausal tend to weigh more, have larger waist lines, and a higher percentage of body fat than younger more active premenopausal women. Sedentary behavior correlated with a larger waist size – no surprise. But their findings showed regular exercise brought benefit to both pre- and post-menopausal women. When women increased their daily exercise – energy, mobility, and bone density all improved, along with reduction in waist size. Increased activity and weight control can also reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Last year, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research reported a four year study examining women who walked the equivalent of thirty minutes per day had a lower risk of invasive breast cancer. The exact mechanism is unknown, but we do know exercise carries many positive benefits. Researchers stressed the benefit of lowered risk of invasive breast cancer was lost when exercise stopped — so daily exercise is key.

Walking daily can become a positive routine and is as important to overall health as brushing your teeth. Dogs love to walk. Our dogs provide encouragement to take a hike even in the rain. If you don’t have a dog, find a friend to join you. Exercise and social relationships correlate with happiness and longer life. Find a route that makes you smile and take a daily walk.

Some good advice from Dr. Seuss:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

20151018_142608Betty and Bev

Alcohol, Women and the Economy

Alcohol abuse has ruined many lives and relationships. There are few families without these problems. Child abuse, partner abuse and self-abuse are all intertwined when it comes to the use of mind-changing substances. Some people are successful occasional users, many are not.

Recent research articles and experiences with alcoholic friends stimulated this series of blogs on the topic. This will be our last one for now, but I wanted to end with recent information on the topic to help you analyze your own behavior and possibly intervene when you see dangerous behavior occurring.
Microbreweries and small distilleries have become popular everywhere. Tasting a “flight” of either beer or hard liquor samples may put you over the safe driving blood alcohol limit of .08. A designated driver is essential. One in ten deaths among working-age Americans between the ages of 20-64 is caused by excessive alcohol. Drunk driving kills.

Two days ago, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study showing alcohol consumption and costs have accelerated. The economic costs are due to reduced work productivity, the cost of treating people for health problems related to alcohol, and crime. These statistics did not examine the pain and suffering from alcoholic behaviors.
We all understand why pregnant women must be wary of alcohol and its harm to an unborn child. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, also called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a constant reminder that mental and physical changes are attributable to a mother’s behavior while pregnant. There is no amount of alcohol consumed while pregnant that has been proven safe. The primary concern is that small amounts of alcohol could negatively affect the developing fetal brain. Each woman has to decide. Our advice to pregnant women is to wait and have a glass champagne to celebrate after the birth of your child.

Many have a glass of wine for social reasons. Others drink to get drunk, or are addicted and don’t stop until their blood alcohol level causes them to pass out. Tragedies happen every day due to alcohol. Think twice before you drink, and never drive after drinking.

Betty and Bev

I’ll Drink to That!

Some water flowing in high mountain streams is pristine enough to drink without the need of additives to kill or filter out disease-causing microbes. But, in many places on planet earth, water clean enough for consumption is in short supply. In California and other drought-ridden locations, plants and animals are dying due to insufficient water. In many areas around the world, dysentery from drinking contaminated water is prevalent and life-threatening.

We take water purity for granted in the US where chlorinated water pours from our taps. But, during much of the past 10,000 years, before the availability of pure water, the only safe liquid to drink contained alcohol. Today, we see alcohol through many lenses, with both good and bad views.

Alcohol is the metabolic byproduct of the natural process of fermentation that occurs when yeasts metabolize sugars. In the Middle Ages, alcohol was called “the water of life,” aqua vitae. They learned to make wine from grapes, and beer from fermented grain. People of all ages, including children, drank alcoholic beverages as their primary consumable liquid. The alcohol destroyed many microbes causing disease and made it safer to drink than water. The processes for making wine and beer are simple. Today, many people make them for fun. Microbreweries have sprung up everywhere. There are many suppliers, even health food stores carry the products.

All alcohols are not consumable. Some can cause blindness and death. Disinfectant alcohol is applied to surfaces of the body prior to medical procedures, and is the primary ingredient in liquid hand purifiers. Windshield cleaners spew various colored fluids containing alcohol. There are many industrial uses.

20150626_195841The drinkable form is ethyl alcohol. It is used in celebratory toasts, paired with elegant dining, and has been shown to contribute to cardiovascular health. Undisciplined drinking carries health risks and tragedy. Alcohol is a sedative drug and a toxin. Excessive consumption contributes to loss of mental function, also causing addiction and liver failure. Alcohol has become a common social drink and a problem for many who drink to excess.

Our next blog will review a new powdered alcohol product called palcohol. Additional blogs will provide information on health and social issues related to alcohol consumption, common early signs of problematic drinking, and will discuss blood alcohol determinations.

Here’s to safe drinking, designated drivers, and moderation in all things.

Betty and Bev