Health Benefits of Social Interaction

Health Benefits of Social Interaction

According to the World Health Organization, the biggest threats to our health, globally, are now chronic degenerative conditions, not infectious diseases. What a transition! As opposed to various epidemics of diseases that were so common in our history, what is now threatening health, across the planet,  is chronic degenerative inflammatory conditions – diseases that we most fear. These include things like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and autoimmune conditions as well.

So it makes sense that we must do everything we possibly can, from a lifestyle choice perspective, to keep ourselves healthy and lower our risk for these chronic degenerative conditions.

No doubt lifestyle issues like diet and exercise have received a lot of press, but what we don’t hear about so often is the importance of social interaction. Continue reading

Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. Leo Galland

Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. Leo Galland

Today on The Empowering Neurologist, I spend some time with my long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Leo Galland. Dr. Galland is one of the true pioneers in functional medicine, who has dedicated his professional life to practicing medicine in a way that utilizes the latest scientific advances coupled with the most profound insights of ancient healing systems. Thus, he is able to give his patients the best tools to preserve health, increase longevity and speed recovery from illness.

Continue reading

Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. David Ludwig

Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. David Ludwig

Today on The Empowering Neurologist,  I interview Dr. David Ludwig. Dr. Ludwig is a practicing endocrinologist and researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Ludwig has published over 150 scientific articles, and presently serves as Contributing Writer for JAMA.

He is founding director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children’s Hospital, one of the country’s oldest and largest multidisciplinary clinics for the care of overweight children. OWL serves as a home for research into innovative approaches to treat childhood obesity.

Dr. Ludwig also directs the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. His research focuses on the effects of diet on hormones, metabolism and body weight. He developed a novel “low glycemic load” diet (i.e., one that decreases the surge in blood sugar after meals) for the treatment of obesity-related diseases.

Described as an “obesity warrior” by Time magazine, Dr. Ludwig has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN, among others.

Today’s interview focuses on his new book, Always Hungry?.

From Amazon:

ALWAYS HUNGRY? turns dieting on its head with a three-phase program that ignores calories and targets fat cells directly. The recipes and meal plan include luscious high fat foods (like nuts and nut butters, full fat dairy, avocados, and dark chocolate), savory proteins, and natural carbohydrates. The result? Fat cells release their excess calories and you lose weight-and inches-without battling cravings and constant hunger. This is dieting without deprivation.

Forget calories. Forget cravings. Forget dieting. ALWAYS HUNGRY? reveals a liberating new way to tame hunger and lose weight . . . for good.

The book really does deliver in terms of both providing the science in an understandable way, as well as giving the reader a user-friendly, actionable plan. I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to read the manuscript for this important work.

A New Understanding of the Obesity Epidemic

A New Understanding of the Obesity Epidemic

America ranks amongst the highest of all countries in terms of the prevalence of obesity/overweight in its population. No doubt, much of the blame can be placed on the dietary habits that so characterize the American way of life.

While our calorie-rich, nutrient-poor diet is certainly one of the main factors contributing to our growing waistlines, new research indicates that another important issue may be at play causing Americans to pack on the pounds.

Researchers at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University have demonstrated that there are remarkable differences in the bacteria living in the intestines of lean humans versus those who are obese. Lean individuals have a higher ratio of a major group of bacteria, Bacteroidetes, when compared to another major group, Firmicutes. The obese subjects in the research project were found to have much higher levels of Firmicutes organisms when compared to the levels of Bacteroidetes.

Continue reading

Sugar Risks Go Beyond Weight Gain

Sugar Risks Go Beyond Weight Gain

The idea that dietary sugars increase the risk for such things as hypertension and the development of health threatening changes in lipid profiles is not new. But a commonly held perception has been that these health risks represented a direct consequence of the fact that increased dietary sugar consumption caused weight gain, and it was the weight gain that then was the cause of the rise in blood pressure, etc.

But in a new study, researchers in New Zealand reviewed 39 studies that looked at diets in which sugar consumption was increased. Thirty-seven assessed lipid outcomes while 12 evaluated blood pressure. Continue reading

Longer Sleep Improves Brain Function in Obese Individuals

Longer Sleep Improves Brain Function in Obese Individuals

Many recent studies have confirmed how adequate sleep plays a pivotal role in fostering cognitive function. This is particularly evident in those individuals who do not sleep adequately, and may as well be obese.

In a recent study, entitled “Sleep Extension Improves Neurocognitive Functions in Chronically Sleep-Deprived Obese Individuals,” researchers evaluated a cohort of 121 obese individuals, both men and premenopausal women, who slept less than 6.5 hours nightly. When initially evaluated, 33% of the participants had impaired memory, 35% had impaired attention, 42% had deficits in motor skills, and slightly more than half had problems with executive function.

They then engaged these individuals in a program to extend the length of time that they were sleeping by using various lifestyle management techniques, as opposed to any pharmaceutical intervention. At the conclusion of the study, global cognitive function and attention improved by 7% and 10% respectively, with a tendency for improved memory and executive functions as well.

Continue reading

To Lower Your Risk of Cancer, Look to Your Waist

To Lower Your Risk of Cancer, Look to Your Waist

By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

Years of data now clearly demonstrate connections between obesity and increased risk for cancer. However, a new study published in the well-respected medical journal, The Lancet, is one of the first to examine this risk on a large scale. With over 5 million participants, the actual data is even more potent.

This study focused on development of 22 different types of cancers and the change in frequency of cancer diagnosis with obesity, measured by way of increased body mass index (BMI). Researchers started with over 5 million participants without a cancer diagnosis, then looked at the BMI in those who developed cancer. Ten of the types of cancers showed up significantly more in those with higher BMI’s, with leukemia and uterine cancer, gallbladder, kidney, cervical and thyroid cancers increasing in direct proportion to increases in BMI. Of note, 2 types of cancers (prostate and premenopausal breast) showed up less with increased BMI.  Continue reading

Drink for Your Health

Drink for Your Health

No doubt, if you’ve been following my blog, or reading Grain Brain, you’ve certainly gotten the message that you’ve got to do everything you can to avoid consumption of sugar. Scientific research has certainly made it clear that sugar consumption strongly relates to such maladies as coronary artery disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, this aggressive castigation of sugar consumption has led to an increase in people choosing to drink “sugar-free” beverages with the misguided sense that this represents a healthy alternative. The reality of the situation is that nothing could be further from the truth. In a study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, French researchers attempted to determine the risk of developing type II diabetes in individuals who consumed artificially sweetened beverages in comparison to those who actually consumed sugar sweetened beverages. The study was extensive in that it evaluated more than 60,000 women over a period of approximately 14 years. Continue reading

How to Prevent and Treat Asthma Without Drugs

How to Prevent and Treat Asthma Without Drugs

By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

As the top cause of pediatric hospitalizations, emergency room visits and missed school days, asthma is anything but a trivial problem for American children. Yet this issue also pushes deep into our adult population. The CDC’s data shows that 9.3% of American children and 8% of American adults live with this debilitating condition.

Research on asthma has mainly focused on how to minimize exposure to environmental irritants, and how to properly subdue the airway’s reactivity with steroids and other drugs.

This largely pharmaceutical-based research makes us better at lowering the inflammation that occurs in asthma, leading to fewer exacerbations for our patients. However, it doesn’t explain how we get asthma, or how to prevent or reverse it. Yet science has finally started to catch up. For the first time, we’re beginning to understand how important diet and lifestyle are to prevention and treatment of this condition.

Continue reading