What You Need to Know About the DASH Diet

woman eating salad healthy vegetables
The DASH diet is a diet that I, and many of my colleagues, recommend to patients. The DASH Diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it can be a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle when combined with physical activity, limiting salt intake, minimizing alcohol use, quitting smoking and keeping a healthy weight, etc.

In the News: Neither Low-Carb Nor Low-Fat Diets Are Better for Weight Loss, Study Sees Increase in Kidney Stones in the U.S., Researchers Find Potential Source of Osteoarthritis Prevention

Low-fat and low-carb diets contribute to weight loss just about equally. In a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, using 609 participants between the ages of 18 and 50 with about equal numbers of males and females, it was found that limiting either carbs or fats will contribute to weight loss the same amount. What is more, the study also tested all participants’ specific genotype patterns and insulin levels before they began their respective diets, and neither factor could predict an individual’s success with one approach or the other. Each group started their intake of either fat or carbs at just 20 grams a day and then slowly added it back until they reached an amount they could sustain for the course of the yearlong study (an amount which was significantly less than the starting fat/carb intake). While the study definitively answered that certain genotypes do not affect your weight’s reaction to low-carb or low-fat, there was a drastic disparity in results on both sides, with the average participant losing 13 pounds. The study authors decided that the main takeaway was that the fundamental strategy to either approach was the same: be more mindful of your food intake, and as a result eat less sugar, more vegetables, and mostly whole foods. That is where people on both sides saw results. (SD)

Study finds an increase in kidney stones in Americans. About 10% of people will experience a kidney stone at some point in their lives, making it a fairly common ailment, but kidney stone cases increased by four times in women and two times in men from 1984 to 2012. Women aged 18 to 39 saw the largest increase, from 62 to 252 cases in every 100,000 participants. This extremely painful diagnosis is mostly due to genetics and is more likely to happen if a person has too much calcium in their body and does not consume enough fluids. One reason for the larger number of kidney stones found may be a large increase in the amount of CT scans performed, which is how the condition is found. However, calcium oxalate was behind about 75% of the stones discovered in this study, and oxalate is naturally found in foods like beets, chocolate, tea, and nuts – therefore things you may want to avoid if you have a genetic disposition to kidney stones or have had one in the past. The best thing you can do is drink as much as 3 quarts of water a day, ideally producing about 2 ½ quarts of urine, to flush out stones before they become a problem. Learn more about preventing kidney stones here. (CNN)

Researchers may have found a preventative measure for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and plagues about 30 million adults just in the United States alone. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute recently looked into how a certain protein known as FoxO affected joint health in mice. Lower levels of FoxO contributed to the degeneration of joints at a younger age and a greater chance of damage to cartilage. FoxO-deficient mice also showed poorer autophagy, which is the process where cells get rid of damaged components to carry out repairs, and not enough lubricin, which is a protein that protects joint cartilage from damage in the first place. Perhaps the most hopeful bit is that researchers increasing FoxO expression in cells taken from people with osteoarthritis saw a renewed expression of autophagy and lubricin production. More research will be conducted on creating molecules that increase FoxO levels and their potential effects. In the meantime, try these three tips to reduce arthritis. (MNT)

A Closer Look at Dissociative Identity Disorder

Mental health and counseling concept, psychologist listening to depressed female patient and writing down notes

By: Anastasia Pollock, LCMHC

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) also known as multiple personalities or, as I like to call it, multiplicity, may seem like a far-fetched, fantasy-like concept, made up for the purpose of entertaining the masses with stories, movies, and television shows. However, the truth is that DID is a very real condition that many people have had to develop in order to survive, function, and navigate the world. It is more common than most think, affecting up to one percent of the population, according to the American Psychiatric Association. That is 1 in 100 people.


In the News: Fish Oil May Increase Liver Disease Risk, Smiling While Running Improves Performance, Flu Increases Heart Attack Risk

Fish oil may increase the risk of fatty liver disease later in life. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a type of liver disease caused by the buildup of fat unrelated to consumption of alcohol; some of the biggest risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, so it is clearly greatly influenced by diet and fat consumption. With this in mind, Professor José Luis Quiles and his colleagues at Spain’s University of Granada set out to discover the comparable effects of sunflower oil, fish oil, and virgin olive oil on the liver. In this study, where researchers analyzed rats over the entire course of their lives, they found that olive oil was the best option for liver health. Lifelong consumption of sunflower oil and fish oil led to liver fibrosis (scarring) and impaired cell function in the organ. However, fish oil has already been proven to benefit your health in numerous other ways, such as memory and mental health benefits, heart and cardiovascular health improvement, a decrease in postpartum depression, and better vision. Therefore, like most things, the key is moderation, and you can decide how much fish oil you want to incorporate into your diet based on your individual health concerns. (MNT)

Smiling while you run may increase endurance and improve performance. Exercise scientists have known for a while that your endurance hinges greatly on psychological factors along with physical ones, and that perceived effort has a big effect on performance. In general, the less effort we feel we are using, the better our performance. However, for the first time, these known facts were taken to an even more specific level in a study that tested how manipulating your facial expression while running would affect your endurance. The study, which was conducted on 24 club-level runners, showed that they used 2.8 percent less energy when smiling than frowning and 2.2 percent less energy when smiling than when they had neutral facial expressions. It follows the idea of embodied emotion, which says your facial expression can affect how you feel. There is still a question as to why, but the results as of now suggest that smiling during your workout is definitely worth a try to increase your endurance – and feel better while you do it. Want to give exercise a go? Try this quick workout. (CNN)

Having the flu raises heart attack risk. Doctors have suspected for years that the flu can kill indirectly as well as directly, and this was confirmed in a new five-year study. The researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario found that people who had the flu had a six times greater risk of heart attack in the seven days after it subsided. This suggests that people with heart conditions should take extra care to avoid influenza (vaccinations, hand-washing), but the risk in that seven-day period was equal among people who had never had a heart attack and those who had. Other respiratory diseases are correlated with higher heart attack risk, but none so much as the flu. The researchers particularly want to share their findings to encourage more people to get the flu vaccination if they have not already, given the particularly bad flu season we are experiencing this year. To learn more about what to eat this flu season, check out this gallery. (NBC)

In the News: Studies Show Importance of Going Outside Daily, Military Steps In As Olympic Security Hit With Illness, Hot Tea May Increase Cancer Risk in Heavy Drinkers and Smokers

Studies show the importance of going outside daily. Multiple recent studies have shown that, while it’s tempting to stay inside for long periods of time during the winter, doing so can be extremely detrimental to your health. Most of all, too little sunlight throws off your circadian rhythms, which control everything from your sleep patterns to your moods and digestion. Natural sunlight boosts your serotonin levels far more than artificial light and taking in vitamin D both reduces inflammation and promotes the effectiveness of your immune system. Taking just a twenty-minute walk outside is also a great time to be mindful during your day if you leave your phone behind and take in the fresh air. Yet another study performed at the University of Michigan showed that taking in the scenery improved memory and cognitive function by 20 percent compared to a group not exposed to any scenery. It may be the last thing you want to do when it’s the coldest time of year, but all of these health benefits are worth taking the time to bundle up and venture out. (NBC)

Over one thousand Winter Olympic security guards replaced with military personnel due to a norovirus outbreak. Forty-one of the security guards on Olympic duty have suffered from a sudden bout of vomiting and diarrhea just days before the beginning of the Olympic Games in South Korea, leading to all of the security guards in the Winter Olympics facilities to be pulled from their posts. The military will be fulfilling all aspects of the security staff’s duties until each individual’s condition has completely subsided, but all of the civilian guards are in stable condition as of now. The Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention immediately dispatched a team to check other people for symptoms and take the necessary steps to control and prevent further infection (such as checking the food and water sources), but it’s not clear right now how the illness originally came about in the facilities. Want to learn more about the Olympics? Get the scoop here. (CNN)

Hot tea linked to cancer risk in previous tobacco users. Drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea increases chance of esophageal cancer in people who already smoked or drank heavily, according to one of the largest studies of its kind. The study was performed at Peking University in China and followed almost 500,000 adults over nine years. It is well-documented that smoking tobacco and drinking can cause esophageal cancer, but drinking hot tea increases that risk even further because it damages the cell lining of the organ, leaving it vulnerable to other carcinogens. Therefore, if you have a habit that you just can’t kick, you can reduce your risk by letting your tea cool before drinking. Learn more about cancer screening here. (CNN)

A Closer Look at Arsenic in Gluten-Free Foods


If you’re avoiding gluten, you’re not alone. According to data from market research company Mintel, about one-third of you are giving gluten-free eating a try. Increased demand has resulted in a larger array and improved selection of gluten-free products. Whether you can’t eat gluten because it makes you sick or you’re avoiding it for other reasons, the gluten-free foods you’re subbing in could be exposing you to elevated levels of arsenic.


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.