PBS – “In Defense of Food”

If you’re interested in starting out the New Year with a better eating plan, check out the PBS production of Michael Pollan’s best-selling book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

What is Pollan’s manifesto? Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Advice for healthy eating doesn’t get much simpler than that.

In Defense of Food premiers Wednesday, December 30th. Check your local listings for the time. Here’s the trailer:

Michael Pollan hosts the program himself and examines how the typical high-calorie, low-nutrient American diet came to pass and what we can do to reclaim … Continue reading

“That Sugar Film”

that sugar filmIt probably wasn’t the best idea to watch this documentary just a few days before one of the most sugar-laden holidays of the year.

On the other hand, I will definitely be more conscious about how much sugar I eat and will hopefully avoid a huge sugar hangover—that slightly sick, tired, yucky feeling I get after eating too many sweet foods.

That Sugar Film is one of several sugar documentaries that have come out recently that attempt to show us just how bad sugar is for our health.

Related story from Time: Sugar is definitely toxic, a new study saysContinue reading

Nursing shortage infographic

I was invited to share this very interesting infographic on the looming shortage of nurses in this country.

The last of the baby boomers will reach retirement age in 2029. Although baby boomers can expect to live well into their 80s and 90s thanks to healthier lifestyles and modern medicine, they won’t be without chronic health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and early dementia.

That will put a strain on the health care system, as there is already a growing shortage of doctors and nurses. And as more highly-trained nurses take on the role of primary … Continue reading

Sonicare toothbrushes and gum recession

So I finally got around to finding a new dentist.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my dentist of 20 years retired and, because I don’t have dental insurance, I was faced with the daunting task of researching local dentists to find one that 1) offered basic dental care and didn’t push teeth whitening, gum scaling or Botox; and 2) was willing to offer me a cash discount and work with me on keeping my dental costs down.

Now that I’ve found him, I hope he doesn’t retire soon!

I keep my teeth and gums very clean and … Continue reading

National Health Education Week 2015

Since 1995 the third week in October has been designated National Health Education Week.

In honor of that, and being an advocate of empowering patients to make more informed health care decisions—and save money along the way—I’m posting a list of some of my favorite health care books.

Google Scholar – A better informed search engine

While I don’t think using Google to self diagnose is a good idea, it can give patients access to a lot of helpful, practical information about medical conditions, treatments, drugs and alternative therapies.

Google can help generate a list of questions to bring to the physician or surgeon so patients can be as informed as possible when selecting a treatment modality.

The problem, of course, is there is usually too much information, and much of that is useless or even harmful. It might be scientifically inaccurate and/or trying to sell a questionable product.

But I just discovered Google Scholar! I … Continue reading

Antibiotics vs. surgery for appendicitis

I’m very much in the “less is more” camp when it comes to medical care.

So it would seem I would be very interested in the latest research out of Finland that shows, at first glance, antibiotics to be as effective as surgery in treating appendicitis.

Avoiding surgery should be a good thing, right?

This study was published last month in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association). Many news media picked up and reported the story, some even saying antibiotic therapy could become the new normal for treating appendicitis as, they said, it is safer and cheaper.

But … Continue reading

Jamie Oliver – Teaching children about food

I love the British chef Jamie Oliver. He’s funny and he’s passionate about food.

He’s also the father of several small children, and he’s made it a personal crusade to improve the health of children, through food, in his country as well as ours.

A few years ago, he did a reality series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, in which he attempted to change the way children are fed in our public school system. He introduced us to the infamous “pink slime”!

I shared his frustration as he ran into one bureaucratic roadblock after another.

Related posts:

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Better patient education for mammograms

I’ve mentioned in several posts that I think screening tests, especially mammograms, are used too widely in this country. Every woman over age 40? Every year? It’s overkill.

Even the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) only recommends a screening mammogram every other year between the ages of 50 and 75.

But most women still think the yearly mammogram is health care at its finest.

Related post: Screening mammograms—benefits vs harms

The British medical journal, Lancet, recently published a study that shows women who are better informed about the risks and benefits of screening mammograms are less likely to … Continue reading

Brain health – Play EyeWire

brain health eyewireUse it or lose it

There are several pieces of advice for helping prevent or delay age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s.

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat healthy, heart-friendly foods
  • Exercise
  • Socialize
  • Challenge your brain

Keeping your brain active and fit can be especially fun and rewarding, as it usually involves learning something new. Examples of good brain-stretchers are:

  • Learning a foreign language
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Learning to dance, especially a complicated dance such as ballroom or folk dancing
  • Playing games

I love to play games. Board games, card games, word games or video games. You can play with others, which also … Continue reading

Ebola in the US

Ebola 24/7!

Two months ago I posted that I was not concerned about an outbreak of Ebola in an American city. By “outbreak” I mean a rapid spread of the virus resulting in many people becoming ill and dying, as is happening in West Africa.

I stand by that belief.

However, listening to and reading the non-stop media coverage of Ebola in the US, I can understand why so many are verging on panic. Mainstream media is designed to “sell” news rather than inform the public, and fear is a powerful motivator when it comes to selling something. I’m … Continue reading

Researching health care costs

It’s not that simple

Last night on the local news I watched a story about health care costs. The reporter, a consumer affairs specialist, talked about the expanding trend in health care of high-deductible medical insurance plans. Under the ACA, family annual deductibles can reach up to $12,700 (increasing to $12,900 for 2015); whatever your deductible, you pay your medical bills out of pocket until that deductible is met.

The uninsured, of course, just pay out of pocket.

Related post: Health insurance basics, part 1

The reporter encouraged us to

…take some time to research, and see what the

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Disease outbreaks and vaccinations

book vaccinationsLast week there was another warning in our local newspaper that a person diagnosed with measles had traveled through our airport. The article advised anyone who was at the airport during that particular time frame, and who might not be vaccinated and/or might be pregnant, to talk to their health care provider.

Measles is very contagious and can be especially dangerous to pregnant women.

In light of continuing misinformation about vaccinations, and the possibility that more unvaccinated children will be in our schools due to the influx of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, I decided to republish this post Continue reading

Improve your posture

Learn how to sit properly

As someone who spends a lot of time sitting at a desk, and who has a family history of arthritis and back problems, I am always concerned about taking care of my spine.

I recently discovered a great series of YouTube videos by Esther Gokhale (pronounced go-CLAY), known as “the posture guru of Silicon Valley.”

As she explains in this introductory video:

In modern society, we have forgotten how to use our bodies, and we suffer a lot of aches and pains and dysfunction because of that.

But the good

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Need a new doctor?

Switching doctors will become more common

My family is one of those that has lost our current insurance plan. And in researching new plans, I’ve found that individual market plans, both on and off the health care exchange, have significantly smaller provider networks.

Our current doctors and hospitals are not “in network” for any of the new plans, so we will have to change.

I understand why the insurance companies need to do this. To keep premiums and out-of-pocket costs even remotely affordable (I still think they are way too high), more expensive doctors and medical centers have to be … Continue reading