With ever increasing rates of overweight and obesity in America, we see, almost in lockstep, increasing rates of diseases that are linked to weight gain. Likely, mostly for cosmetic reasons, weight loss programs are proliferating at a record pace. And, truth be known, most weight loss programs, with strict adherence, will lead to weight loss, despite how they may vary in the diets that are recommended. While this challenges the notion as to what type of diet should be recommended for weight loss, it begs the question as to what gets people into trouble as it relates to weight gain in the first place.
It seems clear that there is a relationship between high consumption of refined carbohydrates and risk for weight gain. And for sure, other issues that are not specifically related to the types of foods people consume also have an impact on weight gain including things like sleep and exercise. But in this blog, I would like to consider new research that reveals how exposure to cigarette smoking from parent to child sets that child up for weight gain later in life. Continue reading
There are a number of factors that are clearly associated with risk of dementia, and specifically Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia. For example, there’s a dramatic increase in risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in people who have been diagnosed with type two diabetes. Sedentarity, meaning lack of physical activity, is also associated with increased risk as are early life stress, head trauma, and low educational level.
Research has also demonstrated a relationship of Alzheimer’s risk to childhood socioeconomic status as well as school performance.
But an important missing link in these studies that demonstrate associations is an actual demonstration, not of the cognitive impairment, but of actual physical changes that take place in the brain that may then relate to decline in the brain’s function. Continue reading
Food allergies are an ever increasing problem in our world. And the problem can be life-threatening, and certainly life-changing for as many as 11% of our population. This is why I wanted to bring on the program a world leader on the topic of food allergy who could explain to us exactly what food allergies are all about in terms of their causation, their increasing prevalence, how to handle them on a day-to-day basis, and what the future looks like in terms of developing therapies.
Our program today is with Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, author of the terrific book The End of Food Allergy. Continue reading
According to the CDC, 1 in 12 children in America suffers from asthma. That translates to approximately 6 million children. To be clear, asthma is a serious problem not only because asthmatic attacks can be life-threatening, but in the long-term, asthma has been associated with permanent lung damage.
Treatment of asthma in children typically involves inhalers of one sort or another. There are inhaled steroid medications that help to prevent asthma attacks, and so-called “rescue inhalers” that are utilized when the quick relief of symptoms is required.
But, as so often is the focus of my blogs, I think it’s important to first ask questions related to what may be causing a particular problem, in this case asthma, as opposed to simply focusing on treatments. In other words, how might the idea of preventive medicine factor into this discussion?
Who can forget the message of Mary Poppins telling us that “…a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Yes, we humans certainly like our sugar. To be sure, added sugar certainly increases our desire to consume a lot more than the “medicine” described in the song. It’s concerning to consider that of the 1.2 million food products sold in America’s grocery stores, approximately 68% have added sweeteners. This represents an active attempt to hack into our primitive desire for sweet and to alter our food choices moving forward. Continue reading
While pinpointing the actual cause or causes of autism remains elusive, more and more research is indicating that environmental issues may play an important role. To be clear, there are certain genetic markers associated with risk for autism, but the continued increase in incidence of autism spectrum disorder argues clearly against this being a straightforward genetic issue. Likely, various environmental factors interplay with genetic predisposition and ultimately lead to the manifestation of what is diagnosed as representing autism spectrum disorder.
In this video, I review new research that draws an important association between pesticide and herbicide exposure and risk for autism spectrum disorder.
The development of highly accurate and widely available genome sequencing technology has put us at a crossroads. Now, more than ever, the divergent views of nature versus nurture confront consumers wishing to be advocates for their own health. As we learn about our genetics it seems quite clear that the deterministic message about our health destiny is ringing loud and clear. More and more, the idea that we are at the mercy of our inheritance seems supported by the advancing understanding and interpretation of our individual genetic profiles.
An important message we have been espousing over the past decade centers on the importance of lifestyle choices, specifically directed to offset disease risk that may well be enhanced by genetics. This ideology centers on the notion of genetic predisposition in contrast to genetic determinism. It is this contrast that opens the door to empowerment and your health destiny.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a remarkable 40% of Americans aged 20 or over are obese. If we include those who are overweight, the percentage jumps to an astounding 72%! That means that more than two thirds of Americans age 20+ are overweight or actually obese. These statistics are sobering, especially in light of the recently announced report indicating that, for the second year in a row, life expectancy for both American women and men has declined.
When should efforts begin that might be effective in reducing these astounding rates of overweight and obesity? The CDC also reveals that 21% of children (ages 12-19) are obese, with 18.5% obesity in children ages 6 to 11. Perhaps most heart-wrenching is the fact that 14% of 2-5 year olds are obese as well. These statistics would certainly support dietary education and intervention programs very early on.
But, how early should we be starting these educational efforts that can positively impact the incidence of overweight and obesity in Americans? Continue reading
Estimates indicate that approximately 11% of school-aged children in United States have attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Further, approximately 2/3 of these children are currently being medicated for this diagnosis. The most common medications are essentially stimulants like amphetamines or methylphenidates, including drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.
The areas of the brain that are potentially damaged or disrupted by these medications include the basal ganglia, brain structures that are involved in coordinated movement. The other area that is potentially involved is the cerebellum, which also plays a role in movement. Continue reading