Patient Advocates: How Medical Claims Professionals Can Slash Your Hospital Bill

Doctor consulting with a patient.

Overwhelmed by your hospital, doctor, or other medical bills?  Before you freak out — or pay up — you should know that as high as 90 percent of all medical bills contain errors, according to Medliminal, a medical cost containment firm. And guess what?  The majority of those errors are in the provider’s favor —not the patient’s favor.  Fortunately, there are little-known professionals you can hire who specialize in finding and fighting the overcharges on people’s medical bills so you pay only what you owe.


A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of the Dr. Oz Show


By: Nicole Romanella, producer at  The Dr. Oz Show and creator of The Monday Dieter. Get more info here

Wondering what a day in the life of a TV show producer looks like? Here is how Monday-Friday begins:

5:00 am: First alarm goes off.

5:02 am: Second alarm goes off.

5:04 am: Third alarm goes off.

Why three alarms? It’s every producer’s biggest fear to oversleep for a morning briefing with Dr. Oz.  


In the News: One Cigarette a Day Raises Heart Disease Risk, Who You Eat With Can Affect How Much You Eat, Aerobic Exercise May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Just one cigarette a day significantly raises heart disease risk. A new study conducted at the Cancer Institute of University College London and published in the British Medical Journal reviewed all credible health studies from 1946 regarding how many cigarettes people smoked and what happened to them – and the results were shocking. The study concluded that women who smoke just one cigarette a day have a 57 percent greater risk of heart disease than that of a non-smoker. To put that in perspective, smoking 20 cigarettes a day almost triples that risk. The main message is that quitting is the only option to substantially minimize your risk. Most credible sources have also found little evidence that e-cigarettes (and the very new “heat-not-burn” cigarettes) lower health risks, except in cases when transitioning to them helps people eventually quit smoking altogether. (NBC)

Who you eat with can affect how much you eat. Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recently confirmed the theory that people are less likely to stick to their diet and more likely to overeat when dining with someone who is overweight, regardless of how much or how healthfully the overweight individual is eating. Other studies have also shown that we are more likely to overeat when our companion is overeating, even if that person is not overweight. Cornell found that people take the most of the food that is placed at the beginning of the buffet, so you can make better choices by taking a full tour of the line before serving yourself and noting where the healthiest options are. Want to learn how to stop overeating around family and friends? Try these nutritionists’ tips. (NPR)

Aerobic exercise may help prevent Alzheimer’s. After scientists at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles reported last year that one in three cases of Alzheimer’s may be preventable with lifestyle changes, an exercise physiologist at Hartford Hospital, Gregory Panza, and his team attempted a comprehensive study on exercise’s cognitive effects. They reviewed 19 existing studies and analyzed over 1,100 at-risk seniors. Their study confirmed that seniors who did any exercise at all showed better cognitive performance than those who did not, but were actually able to draw more specific conclusions as well. It suggested that adults who did only aerobic exercise demonstrated three times better cognitive function than those who combined aerobic with muscle-strengthening exercise. Additional research is needed but this study is enough to suggest that adults who know they are at-risk for Alzheimer’s should carefully incorporate a lot of aerobic exercise into their routines. To further prevent Alzheimer’s, stock up on these delicious foods. (MNT)

The Nut That is Good for Your Brain and Gut

Walnuts interact with the brain to help appetite control.  While it has long been suspected that walnuts reduce overeating due to their nutrient-packed makeup, a new study administered by Harvard professor Christos Mantzoros at a Boston medical center recently proved that consuming walnuts indeed activates a part of the brain linked to hunger and cravings. Participants were in a lab environment for ten days, which increased validity because experimenters knew exactly what each participant was eating when. During five days of consuming a walnut smoothie each day and five days of consuming a placebo smoothie that tasted the same, participants consistently reported feeling fuller when having consumed walnuts. The fMRI test in which participants were shown desirable foods, neutral objects, and less desirable foods backed this up. As Mantzoros says, “We know there’s no ambiguity in terms of study results. When participants eat walnuts, this part of their brain lights up, and we know that’s connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full.”

Omega 3’s in walnuts improve brain health. A lot of evidence has come about recently that suggests brain health is closely connected with nutrition, and a study on 100 adults, aged 65 to 75 years old, supports this. Essentially, by monitoring the brain’s fluid intelligence, omega-3 presence, and gray matter volume, the 2017 study determined a definite relationship between omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid and fluid intelligence. Improvements in overall brain health were discovered in the individuals with high omega-3 levels in their blood, which serves as further evidence linking walnuts to health. Chia seeds, fish, and flax seeds are also rich in omega-3s and can serve as additional excellent sources of a valuable good fat.

Walnuts improve gut health by acting as a prebiotic. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in walnuts may provide health benefits such as better heart health, brain health, and reduced cancer risk. An animal study approved by the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center set out to identify the exact microbial changes caused by walnuts in the gut. Two groups of rats were assigned different diets: walnuts, or a replacement of their average meals while maintaining similar calorie intakes. The study showed improvements in gut health in the walnut group due to increasing levels of Lactobacillus. It also demonstrated that walnuts produce significant health benefits by acting as a prebiotic (a food that helps probiotics flourish in your body) and increasing the diversity of the gut’s good bacteria.

Research studies and information provided by Kristin Kirkpatrick, Nutritionist and Good Fat Health Ambassador with the California Walnut Commission

In the News: Meal Timing May Lead to Weight Loss, Curcumin Improves Mood and Memory, Non-Drug Methods of Helping Alzheimer’s Tested

Researchers say restricting when you eat promotes weight loss. It is well-documented that eating unprocessed foods food full of nutrients and taking part in moderate daily exercise will help you lose weight, but more researchers now say that the timing of your meals matters in weight loss as well. Time-restricted feeding (TRF) can burn more fat, and particularly help people whose previously steady weight loss has plateaued. Fat burning is the highest when you sleep, and food takes about three to five hours to metabolize. Therefore, shifting all of your meals into an eight or twelve-hour eating window means that all of your food will be metabolized by bedtime, leaving stored fat for your body to burn. The window begins with the very first bite or sips you ingest and ends with the last. This very structured eating strategy also helps ensure that you are eating to remedy hunger, instead of eating to fight boredom, stress, or emotions. (NBC)

UCLA researchers find consumption of curcumin helps mood and memory. Forty adults with mild memory complaints were randomly selected to ingest curcumin twice daily or a placebo for 18 months. They underwent cognitive assessments and PET scans to test amyloid in the brain, which is associated with negative effects on memory and emotional functions. Those taking curcumin improved their memory tests by twenty-eight percent, demonstrated mild mood improvements, and showed far smaller levels of amyloid than the placebo group. A follow-up study will explore the possibility of curcumin possessing antidepressant effects and whether it can help your genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. These findings back up the far lower rate of Alzheimer’s in India’s senior citizens, whose diet is high in curcumin. Want to test how sharp your memory is? Take this quiz. (SD)

Non-drug methods could help Alzheimer’s disease. Around twenty-five percent of the world’s population is born with one copy of the Alzheimer’s gene, and two to three percent is born with two copies, giving them double the risk of developing the disease. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and a strong social life have already been proven to slow the development of the disease, but researchers in Finland recently set out to compare the effects of these variables specifically on people with and without the Alzheimer’s gene. The participant, none with signs of current cognitive impairment, were randomly assigned to a fairly intense diet, exercise, and brain training program. Those assigned to this intense program all performed similarly well on memory and cognition tests, regardless of whether or not they possessed the predisposition gene for Alzheimer’s, suggesting that those lifestyle changes are equally helpful for all people. More studies will have to be done to determine whether these non-drug therapies are more effective on people with the gene. Want to learn more about how to eat to prevent Alzheimer’s? Check out this grocery list. (TIME)

In the News: Birth Control Could Lower Cancer Risk, How Breathing Can Spread the Flu, Hot Yoga Doesn’t Have to Be Hot to Be Beneficial

Birth control could decrease your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers. Research published in JAMA Oncology showed that birth control’s ability to affect a woman’s hormones may also lower their cancer risk. In fact, the longer that a woman was on the pill seemed to lower the risk even further: “For those taking the pill for 10 years or more, the risk of ovarian cancer was 40 percent lower compared to women who had never used the pill or used them for less than a year, and 34 percent lower for endometrial cancer.” While similar studies have been done before, this research study took a closer look at potential lifestyle factors — like smoking, obesity, etc. — that may increase cancer risk. This study found that regardless of lifestyle factors, long-term birth control use benefitted all women regardless of health or even family history. However, the results of this study do not mean that you should throw health out the window if you’re on the pill, you should still follow healthy practices in your daily life. (TIME)

You can spread the flu by breathing. While most people think that catching a virus comes from coughing or sneezing, a new study shows that just breathing can put unwanted bacteria out in the air. The study, funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, looked at 142 people with the flu and analyzed their breath, coughing, and sneezing. Researchers found that “…a significant number of flu patients routinely shed infectious virus…into aerosol particles small enough to present a risk for airborne transmission.” Make sure to get your flu shot in order to take preventative measures against catching the virus this season. (SD)

Hot yoga doesn’t actually have to be hot to benefit your body. Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, is yoga performed at very high temperatures. But a study out of Texas found that while traditional Bikram yoga improved heart health, Bikram yoga in a room temperature environment had the same results. So if you are interested in trying Bikram but haven’t because of the sweltering temperatures, rest assured that you can still learn Bikram while improving your health and working out at the same time. Look up the moves and do them in the comfort of your own home in a normal temperature environment. (MNT)

Who Is Most at Risk for CTE? A Closer Look at This Dangerous Brain Injury

Football Equipment - Black Helmet

By: Dianne Langford, PhD

You may have seen the recent headlines about a new study that looked at the brains of former NFL players and found Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in a full 99 percent of them. While the headlines make it seem like CTE may be unavoidable for players, the reality is that we still don’t know how often it occurs. That’s because all of the 111 players whose brains were donated for the study, which took place at Boston University, were known to be suffering from signs and symptoms of CTE while alive. In fact, that’s why they donated their brains. So, the study doesn’t give us a good estimate of how many total current or former NFL players may be suffering from CTE, or how many may develop it in the future. But what we do know is that there does appear to be a strong link between playing football and CTE.