I’ve been a fan of Peggy Girshman’s science and healthcare writing for a long time, so it was with great sadness that I read about her death in March at the young age of 61.
But in tribute to her award-winning journalism career, which included long stints at both NPR and Kaiser Health News, she actually wrote her own eulogy!
She wanted to share a few simple lessons she had learned from her years on the job of reporting healthcare-related stories. Because they resonate with my own view that we need more health and less medicine, I wanted … Continue reading
A new kind of prescription: fresh vegetables
I’ve always loved the quote by Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
I’ve said many times in this blog that I’m disturbed by our healthcare system’s increasing dependence on prescription drugs. It’s not only expensive, but long-term use of drugs causes other problems down the road.
So I was pleasantly surprised to see a local news story about a physician who is rejecting the current trend.
Dr. Kris Knox is prescribing community supported agriculture (CSA) in lieu of or in addition to pharmaceuticals for patients with chronic disease
… Continue reading
The wellness blog in the New York Times had an article about brain health that has strengthened my resolve to exercise every day.
Walk, Jog or Dance: It’s All Good For the Aging Brain
It turns out that regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
The author is referring to a recently published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The study looked at 10 years’ worth of lifestyle data, including exercise levels, on 900 men and women over the age of 65. Over the course of those 10 years, the … Continue reading
It’s spring and sporting equipment is coming out of the closets!
That’s why April is designated Sports Eye Safety Month.
If you and/or your kids play a sport that involves fast-moving balls, frisbees or sticks, the American Academy of Ophthamology (AAO) wants you to take steps to prevent eye injuries.
Every year, more than 42,000 people are seen in ERs with sports-related eye injuries, and 13,500 suffer some degree of blindness as a result.
Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis and
… Continue reading
I just read about health insurance giant UnitedHealth’s bold but risky new insurance plan, Harken Health:
UnitedHealthcare is betting $65 million that it can profit by making primary care more attractive.
With little fanfare, the nation’s largest health insurer launched an independent subsidiary in January that offers unlimited free doctor visits and 24/7 access by phone. Every member gets a personal health coach to nudge them toward their goals, such as losing weight or exercising more. Mental health counseling is also provided, as are yoga, cooking and acupuncture classes.
At this time, Harken Health is only available in Chicago … Continue reading
If, like me, you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or a cold beer on a hot day, or a cocktail when out with friends, you probably think a small to moderate amount of alcohol is part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
So the continuous push-pull in the media about the benefits of alcohol (“Moderate drinking helps you live longer!”) versus the harms (“Moderate drinking increases your risk of death!”) must confuse you as much as it does me.
Why can’t these researchers decide??
Well, there are a lot of problems with this kind of research. First, these … Continue reading
Just in time for spring and summer fun in the sun, the results of a large and long-term study on the hazards of avoiding the sun were published last week in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Usually all we hear about are the bad things about too much sun exposure—skin cancer, melanoma, wrinkles, sunburns, etc.
But this study out of Sweden, which followed 30,000 women for 20 years, found:
Nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays, according to researchers who studied nearly 30,000 Swedish women over
… Continue reading
For years I’ve heard that blueberries are good for brain health. Which is great, because I love blueberries and try to work them into my diet several times a week.
So I was happy to read the results of some new research that supports the connection between blueberries and the human brain.
Most blueberry studies to date have been performed on animals, but two recent studies—funded in part by the National Institute on Aging and the blueberry industry—used human subjects.
One study used adults over the age of 68. Half ate the equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries daily for … Continue reading
If you have Netflix, I highly recommend watching Michael Pollan’s new series, Cooked.
Based on his book of the same name, Cooked, in typical Pollan style, shows us a fresher, healthier, and more enjoyable way to eat. He focuses not only on the nutritional value of foods, but also the culture of preparing and sharing meals.
The series is divided into four parts: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Each episode features mouth-watering meals from a variety of countries and cultures.
Pollan also offers theories as to how America’s diet and food culture got so completely messed up.
… Continue reading
March 6th to 13th is National Sleep Awareness Week.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sponsors the week (#7Days4BetterSleep) to raise awareness of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.
As if we didn’t know!
But if you need a reminder, here’s a TED-Ed video about the effects of sleep deprivation:
Good sleep habits are best learned at a young age. If you are a parent, help your kids find a healthy balance between all their activities and their sleep needs.
The NSF has lots of information about sleep, as well as sleep tips … Continue reading
Ever since watching That Sugar Film, I’m trying to be more aware of how much sugar I eat or drink every day.
Because there is more and more evidence that too much sugar is bad for us, we all need to be more aware of what we’re eating and drinking.
I think we need to be especially careful with beverages. The trend is to sell larger and larger cup sizes (a Double Gulp is a whopping 55 ounces!) and bottle sizes, so we are probably drinking way more sugar than we are eating it.
The Centers for Disease … Continue reading
Cases of food poisoning, or food-borne illnesses, have been on the rise.
A lot of media attention was on the restaurant chain Chipotle recently because of an outbreak of the potentially deadly bacteria E. coli.
But it seems there is always a story in the news about contaminated foods, food recalls and outbreaks of the most common culprits of food poisoning: E. coli, salmonella, listeria and hepatitis A.
As the health news website Medscape reports:
Contaminated-food recalls in 2015 were on pace to exceed those from 2014, with bacteria discovered in everything from ice cream to spinach. Companies in
… Continue reading
The United States isn’t the only country that is burdened with too much medicine (and subsequent out-of-control health care costs).
I belong to a network of health care professionals around the world who are having a dialogue about overscreening, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and what to do about it.
A physician from Spain shared this amusing YouTube video, “Así es la Vida” (It’s Just Life):
The subtitles are in English, but I had to translate for myself the words on the “prescription” box of medicine given to each patient:
No little pill can solve the reality … Continue reading
A couple years ago my state, Washington, legalized pot.
It’s been a boon for tax revenue, for sure (almost $83 million in the first year). And the state reports that it has saved millions of dollars by freeing up law enforcement resources.
Judging from the lines in front of the pot stores (green crosses are everywhere!), pot is really popular here, across a wide range of ages.
But apart from its commercial success, and the fact that it’s given us more stoned drivers, the law concerns me because it seems to promote the idea that smoking pot … Continue reading
A friend and I were discussing the documentary That Sugar Film the other day and she asked me about the claim in the movie that artificial sweeteners were bad for you, too, because they actually made you eat more.
I couldn’t recall exactly what was said in the film, but decided to do a little research on my own to answer her question.
The FDA-approved artificial sweeteners are saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet), neotame, sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame K (Sweet One) and stevia (Truvia).
Because they are “low-energy” sweeteners and don’t contain any calories, it seems a no brainer … Continue reading