Getting Older? Be Careful Where You Decide to Live

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My wife and I love life in the suburbs. There’s a certain peace and tranquility in escaping from the hustle and bustle of New York City, not to mention the bonus of cheaper square footage. I know we’re not alone in our love for these areas. Today more than 50% of Americans live in the suburbs, and a new study out this week has found that number may be surging thanks to movement of those over 65.   Read more  »

Take the #PacketPledge to Stop Using Artificial Sweeteners

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I’ve voiced my concerns about artificial sweeteners several times in the past. While they initially seemed like a great option for those looking to preserve sweetness without the fattening calories, several studies have made worrying findings about how these replacements may be affecting overall health.

While often used by those trying to lose weight, no studies have been able to show that those who use sweeteners are more likely to lose weight. In fact, some studies have indicated that sweeteners may actually lead to weight gain. The reasons for this are complex and not yet fully understood, but it’s thought that by removing the usual relationship between sweet taste and calories, the body’s ability to normally regulate food intake is disrupted. As a result, those using sweeteners end up eating more than those who don’t. While the effects vary from person to person, it’s clear that sweeteners are not a straightforward cure-all to sugar cravings.

A more recent study found indications that sweeteners might even affect the essential bacteria that live in our gut. The study found that eating artificial sweeteners led to changes in the types of bacteria present in the intestines of mice. More concerning, these changes seemed to translate into glucose intolerance, which is one of the first steps towards diabetes.

With the weight of evidence staring to shift on artificial sweeteners, I’ve decided to recommend that all viewers stop using them. I recognize that some people have seen success using these products. My recommendation comes from concerns that using artificial sweeteners does more harm than good on balance and may be worsening the diseases they seek to help in the long term. Until we know for sure what the effects of these sweeteners are on weight and metabolism, we should all steer clear.

Eliminating sweeteners means going back to real sugars along with the calories they bring. The key is choosing the right sources and using them in moderation. Maple syrup is a low-fructose alternative to table sugar and honey contains several vitamins in addition to sugar that make it a great sweetener as well.

Without sweeteners, your food may taste less sweet, because these chemicals are often much sweeter than regular sugar. Fortunately, your sense of taste usually readjusts within about two weeks. This happens for a variety of reasons that have to do both with your taste buds turning over – which happens every 10 to 14 days – and with your brain readjusting to less sweetness and re-sensitizing to less sweet foods. Give it some time and you’ll find your food will start to taste sweet again.

These sweeteners are everywhere, making eliminating them a real challenge. But I know you can do it. Join me in taking the Packet Pledge to stop using artificial sweeteners and share your decision to do so on Facebook and Twitter using #PacketPledge.

Why Medication Allergies Could Be More Fatal Than Food Allergies

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We’ve all heard of the horror stories about death from allergies. Anaphylaxis, the swelling caused by a severe allergy that can close the airway, can be fatal within minutes if no treatment is given to counteract the reaction. I’ve talked to countless parents on the show whose children are afflicted with severe food or venom allergies that can lead anaphylaxis, sometimes with truly tragic consequences. But we hear less about how adults suffer from these reactions and a new study out this week gives reason to pause and pay closer attention to this population. Read more  »

Introducing AskMD 2.0

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You’ve heard me talk about AskMD numerous times on my show, for help with everything from diagnosing your symptoms to exactly what to do about it. Today, my favorite app got even better. Let me tell you what’s new. Read more  »

How Feeding Your Soul From All Sides Can Reap Major Health Benefits

couple walking in nature / forest

Today is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, and if there’s something we could all use a little more of, it’s health and fitness. I thought I’d talk about some new research out this week that will help you move toward greater mental and physical health. I’ve always found the most enriching activities to be those that blend fitness with fun and I haven’t found a better way to recharge my batteries than to get outside with a group of friends. A new study out this week looked at the ways nature walking can significantly impact mental health. The researchers wanted to see how the combination of an outdoor adventure with a social group setting would influence different measures of mood. Read more  »

The Information You Need to Kick Smoking for Good

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In my years of practice, I’ve seen how hard it is for my patients to quit smoking. Ugly advertisements and warnings from physicians are often not enough to tear away the claws of nicotine that have sunk in over the years. Fortunately, we continue to learn about addiction and how we can best support those trying to quit. A new study out this week details how we can best convey the health message to smokers to support them through the quitting process. Read more  »

Why You Need a Cheerleader for Your Health Goals

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Before I start with my post this week, I wanted to quickly thank all of those who tuned in to watch the first shows of the season so far this week! I’m really excited about what we have in store for you this year, and I hope that we can be partners in making this your healthiest year yet.

One of the biggest challenges my patients face is the daily slog of meeting health goals while managing chronic illness. When someone comes to see me in practice, it generally means they have a lot going on healthwise. Aside from deciding if surgery is necessary, my role is to support them and coach them through the transition from their prior lifestyle to a new, healthier one. The one key factor in making this transition is support. It’s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of a weight-loss plan or new diet, but many times your success in staying on track comes down to who you have cheering you on every step of the way. Read more  »

Remembering Joan Rivers

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Hearing about the passing of Joan Rivers was truly heartbreaking. She was a unique woman who had the incredible talent of making people laugh, even at themselves. I grew up watching her on television, and she gave my family and me many happy moments. I was lucky enough to have Joan as a guest on my show and was inspired by her humor, energy and nature. Her openness about her past health struggles on the show gave people hope that with perseverance and a positive outlook, anything is possible. I grieve along with her daughter, Melissa, and she and her family are in our thoughts and prayers. Read more  »

How to Eat and Drink Your Way to Better Health

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I spend a lot of time following the latest science and medicine on how to best keep my patients and viewers healthy. Most of the time, I find new research on breakthroughs that are changing the way we think about health. But sometimes the discoveries are simple solutions to improve health that have been sitting under my nose the entire time. What we take in through our mouths play a huge role in our health and I’ve talked at length about how eating well is one of the best things you can do for yourself. This week I wanted to remind us all of five simple food and drink solutions for better health we’ve all been taking for granted. Read more  »