Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting the Body Ready for Baby!

Many parent’s to be think caring for baby begins at conception; once you see the little blue line, or the pink plus on the stick, it’s time to quit smoking, stop drinking and start buying organic. The truth is, prenatal health begins with preconception and fertility health. The ability to get pregnant, carry a child, fetal development, give birth naturally and breastfeed are all intertwined. Each is dependent upon lifestyle choices, diet, stress and yes, our environment. As many as one in six couples will experience fertility problems within the first year to trying to conceive, however, you can increase your odds of conception by making a few nutritional and lifestyle changes.

Fertility and preconception health awareness should begin with both parents, ideally six months to one year prior to conception. This starts with two basic tenants; the removal of toxins and the infusion of nutrients. Both male and female reproductive organs are highly susceptible to free radical or oxidative damage from environmental toxins. Environmental toxins include additives and preservatives in our food, toxics in household cleaning products as well as the products we use to clean our bodies and guilty pleasures such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

Simple changes in our diet will boost your fertility and bring your body into top baby making shape. The diet of both men and women trying to conceive should be high in folic acid, vitamin D, Vitamin E and Zinc. It’s imperative that both parents eat clean, organic foods free from pesticides, fungicides, additives and preservatives.

Men and women eating for fertility should incorporate the following foods into their diet.

Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal are good for insulin function. Refined grains (bleached flour, rice and pasta) should be omitted as they cause insulin spikes.

Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard and conifers such as broccoli, cauliflower and rabe are high in folate, which is important for conception and fetal development.

Protein. Vegetarian protein from sources like beans, peas, legumes and nuts are high in iron and preferred to animal proteins. You don’t need to become a vegetarian, but meat should be limited to small occasional portions.

The right fats. Omit trans fats and saturated fats from your diet, but include monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. These will reduce inflammation and any insulin sensitivity. The can be found in avocados, nuts, chia seeds and salmon.

Fresh organic fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that will promote general, and fertility health. Many fruits such as citrus, oranges, strawberries (and green leafy vegetables) are high in folate.

Taking a conscious approach to fertility simply by adjusting your diet and lifestyle will increase your chances of conception. Removing environmental toxins and making positive, organic food choicse has been shown to increase the chances of having a healthy, happy and comfortable pregnancy, a positive, safe birth with little or no intervention, a shorter postpartum recovery period and a baby who is healthy and present.

If you want to learn more, join me at Essence Wellness Center for a 4 Part workshop series on Opening the Body for Baby. This series is designed to inform and connect childbearing women to their natural bodies as they prepare for motherhood. It will be led by Terra Pfund (Sprouting Wellness and 3 Healthy Chicks, LLC) Holistic Health Coach/Yoga Instructor/Doula and Jessica Queller Katc, Myofascial Release Therapist/Doula. Each workshop includes discussion on a topic followed by interactive movement exercises integrating Yoga and Myofascial Stretching to support and enhance fertility.

A Healthy Chick Moment of Yoga: Practice Mindfulness, Live Right NOW

"How can we live in the present moment, live right now with the people around us, helping to lesson their suffering and making their lives happier? How? The answer is we must practice mindfulness."
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Exercise and blood glucose levels: Insulin and glucose responses to exercise

The notion that exercise reduces blood glucose levels is widespread. That notion is largely incorrect. Exercise appears to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity in the long term, but also increases blood glucose levels in the short term. That is, exercise, while it is happening, leads to an increase in circulating blood glucose. In normoglycemic individuals, that increase is fairly small compared to the increase caused by consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods, particularly foods rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars.

The figure below, from the excellent book by Wilmore and colleagues (2007), shows the variation of blood insulin and glucose in response to an endurance exercise session. The exercise session’s intensity was at 65 to 70 percent of the individuals’ maximal capacity (i.e., their VO2 max). The session lasted 180 minutes, or 3 hours. The full reference to the book by Wilmore and colleagues is at the end of this post.

As you can see, blood insulin levels decreased markedly in response to the exercise bout, in an exponential decay fashion. Blood glucose increased quickly, from about 5.1 mmol/l (91.8 mg/dl) to 5.4 mmol/l (97.2 mg/dl), before dropping again. Note that blood glucose levels remained somewhat elevated throughout the exercise session. But, still, the elevation was fairly small in the participants, which were all normoglycemic. A couple of bagels would easily induce a rise to 160 mg/dl in about 45 minutes in those individuals, and a much larger “area under the curve” glucose response than exercise.

So what is going on here? Shouldn’t glucose levels go down, since muscle is using glucose for energy?

No, because the human body is much more “concerned” with keeping blood glucose levels high enough to support those cells that absolutely need glucose, such as brain and red blood cells. During exercise, the brain will derive part of its energy from ketones, but will still need glucose to function properly. In fact, that need is critical for survival, and may be seen as a bit of an evolutionary flaw. Hypoglycemia, if maintained for too long, will lead to seizures, coma, and death.

Muscle tissue will increase its uptake of free fatty acids and ketones during exercise, to spare glucose for the brain. And muscle tissue will also consume glucose, in part for glycogenesis; that is, for making muscle glycogen, which is being depleted by exercise. In this sense, we can say that muscle tissue is becoming somewhat insulin resistant, because it is using more free fatty acids and ketones for energy, and thus less glucose. Another way of looking at this, however, which is favored by Wilmore and colleagues (2007), is that muscle tissue is becoming more insulin sensitive, because it is still taking up glucose, even though insulin levels are dropping.

Truth be told, the discussion in the paragraph above is mostly academic, because muscle tissue can take up glucose without insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the pancreas, its secreting organ, to communicate with two main organs – the liver and body fat. (Yes, body fat can be seen as an “organ”, since it has a number of endocrine functions.) Insulin signals to the liver that it is time to take up blood glucose and either make glycogen (to be stored in the liver) or fat with it (secreting that fat in VLDL particles). Insulin signals to body fat that it is time to take up blood glucose and fat (e.g., packaged in chylomicrons) and make more body fat with it. Low insulin levels, during exercise, will do the opposite, leading to low glucose uptake by the liver and an increase in body fat catabolism.

Resistance exercise (e.g., weight training) induces much higher glucose levels than endurance exercise; and this happens even when one has fasted for 20 hours before the exercise session. The reason is that resistance exercise leads to the conversion of muscle glycogen into energy, releasing lactate in the process. Lactate is in turn used by muscle tissues as a source of energy, helping spare glycogen. It is also used by the liver for production of glucose through gluconeogenesis, which significantly elevates blood glucose levels. That hepatic glucose is then used by muscle tissues to replenish their depleted glycogen stores. This is known as the Cori cycle.

Exercise seems to lead, in the long term, to insulin sensitivity; but through a fairly complex and longitudinal process that involves the interaction of many hormones. One of the mechanisms may be an overall reduction in insulin levels, leading to increased insulin sensitivity as a compensatory adaptation. In the short term, particularly while it is being conducted, exercise nearly always increases blood glucose levels. Even in the first few months after the beginning of an exercise program, blood glucose levels may increase. If a person who was on a low carbohydrate diet started a 3-month exercise program, it is quite possible that the person’s average blood glucose would go up a bit. If low carbohydrate dieting began together with the exercise program, then average blood glucose might drop significantly, because of the acute effect of this type of dieting on average blood glucose.

Still exercise is health-promoting. The combination of the long- and short-term effects of exercise appears to lead to an overall slowing down of the progression of insulin resistance with age. This is a good thing.


Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., & Kenney, W.L. (2007). Physiology of sport and exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


This is my first crack at blogging from by blackberry, so if it's filled with typos and not as aesthetically pleasing, cut me a little slack- I'm trying to be tech savvy here!

Anyway, I am sitting here on an amazing saturday afternoon in Columbus Circle in NYC. You'd think that this is a pretty odd place for me to be considering I'm not one of those person's who thinks the city is the bomb. It's not that easy to get me on the east side of the Lincoln Tunnel.

Yet here I sit in the midsts of the city's chaotic energy, listening to the bubble of the fountain, reflecting on the bliss, sheer gratitude and peace that has come into my life over the past year and a half.

I am in the city today because it is the last weekend of the 2010 IIN PTP program, and my Immersion graduation. And I almost can't believe it. When I think about where I was in December 2007 when I first enrolled in IIN and where I am now, tears of bliss and gratitude actually spring into my eyes.....I am teaching yoga, I'm a doula, I have a prospering women's wellness practice, and I am in business with two of the most amazng, inspirational women I have the priviledge to call friend, let alone business partners. And we're laying the groundwork for what my better half likes to call "healthy-world-domination".

I am not sure life could get much better.

But in my wise old age of 35, I know a little bit about life, and I know that it indeed can get better, and the next chapter is going to be the best yet. I know that once again I have reinvented myself and I am not the person I was 3 years ago, I am just a fine wine. And I am blessed to have the ability to realize that.

I am so filled with gratitude for the people in my life that have supported me throughout this transformation that I am actually enjoying myself in Columbus Circle, NYC. The humidity, the people, the blaring sirens and all. Never in a million years would I have believed this Adirondack girl could find a moment of peace and pleasure in a city of millions.

I've grown a lot. I have so much to be thankful for. And I am damn proud of my accomplishments. Sitting alone in NYC, in celebration of myself feels so much more important than the day I graduated from college....or law school....or super duper law school.

Go me!!

Keep it Fresh!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Christian Medical Bill Sharing and other ideas for health coverage

I came across this article on something called Christian Medical Bill Sharing (http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/06/24/christian-medical-bill-sharing-a-growin/).  The catch to this that you need to be Christian, adhere to Christian values for coverage (they do not cover abortions, sexually transmitted diseases which are considered un Christian like behavior) however, the premiums are considerably lower than traditional insurance.  Members like the plans because as long as they stay within the PPO network, they have a low co payment and it covers their needs.  Of course, there are going to be critics of plans like these, however, as people look for more affordable types of coverage, or are displaced from their current employment or start their own businesses, the cost of insuring you and your family can be a deal breaker (Many average plans can cost 16 thousand dollars for an average plan and just ok coverage).

The big idea here is everyone shares everyone else's health care needs for the greater good, a very Christian ethic.  Ethics seems to be a problem everywhere we look so an ethical type of healthcare plan with a strong belief system behind it that practices what it preaches is a good idea.  They also work with people to help them maintain a healthier lifestyle, a paradigm that has been abused in todays society and health insurance plans.  I can get into the healthier lifestyle area however, that is an entirely longer discussion since it encompasses what we eat, processed foods, the government helping corn growers with subsidies for corn syrup and other unhealthy foods rather than helping to keep the cost of good quality food affordable so even the poor can easily buy it and live healthier lifestyles.

I am currently shopping for new health insurance and quite honestly, the price increases over the past year have been incredible.  Also incredible, is Aetna just decreased our reimbursements for chiropractic services again (something they have done every few years) by up to 18 percent, yet their rates are some of the highest I was quoted.  Where is this money going if it does not go to providers who are already cash strapped by greedy insurance companies who have done this repeately over the years.  Unlike this shared plan idea, insurance companies, and their focus on bottom line and CEO bonuses in the millions is very un Christian like especially when they deny medically necessary care by a reviewer you cannot communicate with other than appeal letters which often go nowhere, especially with self insured plans that are administrated by plans like Aetna.

Ethical shared health care - perhaps this is an idea we need to explore not just in the Christian communities but for other people like myself, a Jewish doc trying to help people live a better quality of life.

What do you think?  I value your opinion

Friday, June 25, 2010

Salt and Heart Health - Know what you are eating and what is in your prepackaged food

I read an article that was reprinted in the Star Ledger today from Bloomberg News (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-06-24/potato-chips-help-drive-up-salt-intake-for-most-american-adults-cdc-says.html) regarding problems in the american diet.  The Centers For Disease Control is sharing their concerns about food and the amount of sodium used in it.  Many junk foods such as potato chips are laden with salt, way to much for our bodies needs.  More salt means more electrolytes which means your body will retain water which means it can have an effect on blood pressure.  Many of the pre packaged foods we eat are flavor deficient and salt is used to get them to have flavor.  Many restaurants use salt, sometimes in abundance with soups and other dishes to give it flavor.  Better restaurants find foods that mesh well together and therefore do not require too much salt.

Lets face it, many of use like salt however, often less can add more.  Many times I have pushed away soup in a diner because of the salty taste.  It really is overkill and our health may suffer long term for this.  The answer is not your doctor or the blood pressure medication to control this.  The answer is for the public to refuse to eat food that has exorbitant amounts of salt.  You can check the packages and if the salt levels are way too high, dont buy that food.  French fries if they are really good and flavorful need minimal salt (as opposed to what Mcdonalds sells)

The solution really is public awareness, changing tastes (corporations will make that the public will buy) and a willingness to change.  This will be better for our health and should affect health care costs nationally if we make salt reduction a national priority.

What to you think.  I value your opinion.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Interview with Jimmy Moore

About two months ago, I did an interview with Jimmy Moore of the Livin' la Vida Low Carb internet empire. I hardly remember what we talked about, but I think it went well. I enjoyed Jimmy's pleasant and open-minded attitude. Head over to Jimmy's website and listen to the interview here.

I do recall making at least one mistake. When discussing heart attacks,I said "atrial fibrillation" when I meant "ventricular fibrillation".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Compensatory adaptation as a unifying concept: Understanding how we respond to diet and lifestyle changes

Trying to understand each body response to each diet and lifestyle change, individually, is certainly a losing battle. It is a bit like the various attempts to classify organisms that occurred prior to solid knowledge about common descent. Darwin’s theory of evolution is a theory of common descent that makes classification of organisms a much easier and logical task.

Compensatory adaptation (CA) is a broad theoretical framework that hopefully can help us better understand responses to diet and lifestyle changes. CA is a very broad idea, and it has applications at many levels. I have discussed CA in the context of human behavior in general (Kock, 2002), and human behavior toward communication technologies (Kock, 2001; 2005; 2007). Full references and links are at the end of this post.

CA is all about time-dependent adaptation in response to stimuli facing an organism. The stimuli may be in the form of obstacles. From a general human behavior perspective, CA seems to be at the source of many success stories. A few are discussed in the Kock (2002) book; the cases of Helen Keller and Stephen Hawking are among them.

People who have to face serious obstacles sometimes develop remarkable adaptations that make them rather unique individuals. Hawking developed remarkable mental visualization abilities, which seem to be related to some of his most important cosmological discoveries. Keller could recognize an approaching person based on floor vibrations, even though she was blind and deaf. Both achieved remarkable professional success, perhaps not as much in spite but because of their disabilities.

From a diet and lifestyle perspective, CA allows us to make one key prediction. The prediction is that compensatory body responses to diet and lifestyle changes will occur, and they will be aimed at maximizing reproductive success, but with a twist – it’s reproductive success in our evolutionary past! We are stuck with those adaptations, even though we live in modern environments that differ in many respects from the environments where our ancestors lived.

Note that what CA generally tries to maximize is reproductive success, not survival success. From an evolutionary perspective, if an organism generates 30 offspring in a lifetime of 2 years, that organism is more successful in terms of spreading its genes than another that generates 5 offspring in a lifetime of 200 years. This is true as long as the offspring survive to reproductive maturity, which is why extended survival is selected for in some species.

We live longer than chimpanzees in part because our ancestors were “good fathers and mothers”, taking care of their children, who were vulnerable. If our ancestors were not as caring or their children not as vulnerable, maybe this blog would have posts on how to control blood glucose levels to live beyond the ripe old age of 50!

The CA prediction related to responses aimed at maximizing reproductive success is a straightforward enough prediction. The difficult part is to understand how CA works in specific contexts (e.g., Paleolithic dieting, low carbohydrate dieting, calorie restriction), and what we can do to take advantage (or work around) CA mechanisms. For that we need a good understanding of evolution, some common sense, and also good empirical research.

One thing we can say with some degree of certainty is that CA leads to short-term and long-term responses, and that those are likely to be different from one another. The reason is that a particular diet and lifestyle change affected the reproductive success of our Paleolithic ancestors in different ways, depending on whether it was a short-term or long-term change. The same is true for CA responses at different stages of one’s life, such as adolescence and middle age; they are also different.

This is the main reason why many diets that work very well in the beginning (e.g., first months) frequently cease to work as well after a while (e.g., a year).

Also, CA leads to psychological responses, which is one of the key reasons why most diets fail. Without a change in mindset, more often than not one tends to return to old habits. Hunger is not only a physiological response; it is also a psychological response, and the psychological part can be a lot stronger than the physiological one.

It is because of CA that a one-month moderately severe calorie restriction period (e.g., 30% below basal metabolic rate) will lead to significant body fat loss, as the body produces hormonal responses to several stimuli (e.g., glycogen depletion) in a compensatory way, but still “assuming” that liberal amounts of food will soon be available. Do that for one year and the body will respond differently, “assuming” that food scarcity is no longer short-term and thus that it requires different, and possibly more drastic, responses.

Among other things, prolonged severe calorie restriction will lead to a significant decrease in metabolism, loss of libido, loss of morale, and physical as well as mental fatigue. It will make the body hold on to its fat reserves a lot more greedily, and induce a number of psychological responses to force us to devour anything in sight. In several people it will induce psychosis. The results of prolonged starvation experiments, such as the Biosphere 2 experiments, are very instructive in this respect.

It is because of CA that resistance exercise leads to muscle gain. Muscle gain is actually a body’s response to reasonable levels of anaerobic exercise. The exercise itself leads to muscle damage, and short-term muscle loss. The gain comes after the exercise, in the following hours and days (and with proper nutrition), as the body tries to repair the muscle damage. Here the body “assumes” that the level of exertion that caused it will continue in the near future.

If you increase the effort (by increasing resistance or repetitions, within a certain range) at each workout session, the body will be constantly adapting, up to a limit. If there is no increase, adaptation will stop; it will even regress if exercise stops altogether. Do too much resistance training (e.g., multiple workout sessions everyday), and the body will react differently. Among other things, it will create deterrents in the form of pain (through inflammation), physical and mental fatigue, and even psychological aversion to resistance exercise.

CA processes have a powerful effect on one’s body, and even on one’s mind!


Kock, N. (2001). Compensatory Adaptation to a Lean Medium: An Action Research Investigation of Electronic Communication in Process Improvement Groups. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 44(4), 267-285.

Kock, N. (2002). Compensatory Adaptation: Understanding How Obstacles Can Lead to Success. Infinity Publishing, Haverford, PA. (Additional link.)

Kock, N. (2005). Compensatory adaptation to media obstacles: An experimental study of process redesign dyads. Information Resources Management Journal, 18(2), 41-67.

Kock, N. (2007). Media Naturalness and Compensatory Encoding: The Burden of Electronic Media Obstacles is on Senders. Decision Support Systems, 44(1), 175-187.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Search of Traditional Asian Diets

It's been difficult for me to find good information on Asian diets prior to modernization. Traditional Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese diets are sometimes portrayed as consisting mostly of white rice, with vegetables and a bit of meat and soy, but I find that implausible. Rice doesn't grow everywhere, and removing all the bran was prohibitively labor-intensive before the introduction of modern machine milling. One hundred years ago, bran was partially removed by beating or grinding in a mortar and pestle, as it still is in parts of rural Asia today. Only the wealthy could afford true white rice.

Given the difficulty of growing rice in most places, and hand milling it, the modern widespread consumption of white rice in Asia must be a 20th century phenomenon, originating in the last 20-100 years depending on location. Therefore, white rice consumption does not predate the emergence of the "diseases of civilization" in Asia.
In the book Western Diseases: Their Emergence and Prevention, there are several accounts of traditional Asian diets I find interesting.

Taiwan in 1980

The staple constituent of the diet is polished white rice. Formerly in the poorer areas along the sea coast the staple diet was sweet potato, with small amounts of white rice added. Formerly in the mountains sweet potato, millet and taro were the staple foods. During the last 15 years, with the general economic development of the whole island, white polished rice has largely replaced other foods. There is almost universal disinclination to eat brown (unpolished) rice, because white rice is more palatable, it bears kudos, cooking is easier and quicker, and it can be stored for a much longer period.

Traditionally, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure were rare, but the prevalence is now increasing rapidly. Stroke is common. Diabetes was rare but is increasing gradually.

Mainland China

China is a diverse country, and the food culture varies by region.

Snapper (1965)… quoted an analysis by Guy and Yeh of Peiping (Peking) diets in 1938. There was a whole cereal/legume/vegetable diet for poorer people and a milled-cereal/meat/vegetable diet for the richer people.

Symptoms of vitamin A, C and D deficiency were common in the poor, although coronary heart disease and high blood pressure were rare. Diabetes occurred at a higher rate than in most traditionally-living populations.


On the Japanese island of Okinawa, the traditional staple is the sweet potato, with a smaller amount of rice eaten as well. Seafood, vegetables, pork and soy are also on the menu. In Akira Kurosawa’s movie Seven Samurai, set in 16th century mainland Japan, peasants ate home-processed millet and barley, while the wealthy ate white rice. Although a movie may not be the best source of information, I suspect it has some historical basis.

White Rice: a Traditional Asian Staple?

It depends on your perspective. How far back do you have to go before you can call a food traditional? Many peoples' grandparents ate white rice, but I doubt their great great grandparents ate it frequently. White rice may have been a staple for the wealthy for hundreds of years in some places. But for most of Asia, in the last few thousand years, it was probably a rare treat. The diet most likely resembled that of many non-industrial African cultures: an assortment of traditionally prepared grains, root vegetables, legumes, vegetables and a little meat.

Please add any additional information you may have about traditional Asian diets to the comments section.

President’s Blog: Thank you Darrell

By Rik Ganderton, President and CEO, RVHS

Our senior management team and I wish continued success to Darrell Sewell, joint vice-president (VP) of human resources for Lakeridge Health and Rouge Valley Health System.

The human resources (HR) needs and complexities of each hospital corporation have grown significantly since Darrell accepted the joint role some six years ago.

Upon much personal reflection Darrell has determined that at this time he needs to focus on his growing scope of responsibility at Lakeridge Health and has decided to continue in his role as vice-president at Lakeridge full-time and to relinquish his role as VP at Rouge Valley. I can understand the increasing demands on him in this very complex joint senior executive position.

Darrell's leadership will be missed at Rouge Valley. Among the many accomplishments Darrell and his team in human resources have led and implemented at Rouge Valley are:

* ARC (Accountability, Respect and Caring) training for all staff and physicians;
* ALF (Advanced Leadership Foundations) leadership and management competency training for both Rouge Valley and Lakeridge Health, and leadership competency assessment (Halogen);
* Growing our commitment to respect, workplace violence prevention, and codes of conduct through several initiatives including ARC, Clearview Connects, revised Respect in the Workplace and Code of Conduct policies, etc. which allows any staff member or physician to identify any workplace issues confidentially;
* Communicating and implementing policies and programs to meet legislative obligations and commitments eg.) Accessibility for Ontarians Disabilities Act customer service training, Bill 168 Risk Assessments, Ontario Disabilities Act, accessibility plans, etc.;
* Ongoing management of recruitment, workforce assessment and adjustments, occupational health and safety improvements, attendance support and disability management supports, collective agreement negotiations and compliance, pay equity plans, compensation administration and the successful implementation of a payroll system (Meditech PP);
* Recognition culture established through programs like our Top of the Valley Service Excellence and Rouge Valley Spirit Days; and
* Creation of the joint HR service delivery model between Rouge Valley and Lakeridge Health, which has created many savings and efficiencies.

Darrell informed his human resources team earlier this month and wants to share his decision with the hospital at large.

He has provided us with much notice allowing me to consider how to replace this leadership position. Darrell will maintain his joint VP role at Rouge Valley until Aug. 31, 2010.

Much of the joint HR portfolio will continue to operate including the joint services provided by Gord Fitzgerald (labour and employee relations), Randy Fallis (transactional HR services ++), and some services under Occupational Health Safety and Wellness (OHSW).

However, Peter Clancy will be returning full-time to Lakeridge Health as director of OHSW, and Karen Clark will become the full-time director of OHSW at Rouge Valley, effective September 1, 2010.

Let me say it has been a pleasure to work with Darrell. His collaborative approach to complex and challenging issues has been highly valuable to Rouge Valley and me personally. I know we will continue to work with him in the Central East LHIN in his role as a vice-president at Lakeridge Health.

All the best to you Darrell. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to our hospital system.

- Rik

Delicous Summer Fruits!

A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners. Fruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season, and more in harmony with your environment and climate.Eating raw fruit in summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. Frozen, whole, puréed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!

Whether you are having fresh fruit for a light early morning breakfast, a midday snack or evening treat, enjoy nature's sweetness and whenever possible buy organic. Here are a few summer fruits and their health benefits:

Apricots: Great for lung conditions and asthma; used to help treat anemia due to their high copper and cobalt content.

Bananas: Help to lubricate the intestines, treat ulcers, detoxify the body and manage sugar cravings; are rich in potassium (which helps hypertension).

Cherries: Slightly warming in nature; increase overall body energy, remedy arthritis and rheumatism and are rich in iron, which improves the blood.

Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.

Papayas: Tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound.

Raspberries: Benefit the liver and kidneys, cleanse blood of toxins, regulate menstrual cycles, treat anemia and can promote labor at childbirth.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pressure on doctor pushes up costs, or does it

I was reading the opinion column in todays NJ Star Ledger regarding an article written by Stella Fitzgibbons MD, who is a hospital based board certified doctor in the Houston Area (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/17/opinion/la-oe-fitzgibbons-health-costs-20100617).  She talks about her experiences and who health cost containment is difficult leading to unnecessary testing.  Apparently, many families pressure doctors to run many tests to rule out rare problems which the doctors experience had shown will respond well without the increase testing and intervention.  She mentions other sources such as web sites and magazines which tell the patient to literally bully the doctor into doing certain procedures and tests.

From the health care providers perspective,  what she has said is true from her unique perspective, however, people make many health decisions based on emotions and fear.  Fear is a great motivator and our healthcare system has used and in some cases abused this to push patients into doing things they may never have done to themselves, sometimes with horrible and disfiguring effects. People have also been talked into taking harmful substances they would never have taken with horrible side effects because of the false hope they saw on television or the education their doctor received from the local drug rep convincing the doctor that this medication was indeed good for their patient.

When people come to the hospital with symptoms they do not understand, fear is ever present and rational thinking often is scarce, especially around caring family members who found their distressed family member. Our broken healthcare paradigm has literally brainwashed the american public to expect all these tests  to leave no stone unturned even though a good exam and responsible recommendations are enough to stay within community standards of their medical specialty, which would protect them from malpractice lawsuits.   .

There are not clear protocol recommendations for patients who enter the ER which eliminate the unnecessary use of diagnostic technologies giving families and the one who is ill a greater sense of confidence with the healthcare provider.  The system is actually set up for people to want more because of the perception that more is better and the legal perception if liability if every last thing should be tested, even though in many cultures, it is not and people are in many instances are better off.  A better system that would save costs, suffering and over testing would be one that would force  the doctor to do certain protocols first. Then the patient has to wait a few days after following their home recommendations before further tests are done as they follow up with their own doctors.  This would make sense and eliminate some unnecessary testing but not all.  I doubt that would happen though because some lobbyist would likely call this rationing, some attorney would call it malpractice (which  they cannot if the doctor follows community guidelines which is the way the average doctor in that specialty would behave) and would get the public in an uproar by using the appropriate buzz words.

 Is it rational to steer patients down the most logical path based on the current science we have available?  I believe it is and our healthcare systems can certainly help patients better with more rational and concise  recommendations that take the patient and their families emotions out of the decisions.

In another case she mentions, she has a patient who just came into the IC unit after a huge stroke.  She mentions that the family wants everything done to save the life of someone who is also in kidney failure and also has pneumonia.  Again, failure of having concise protocols has the family making emotional demands that will prolong his suffering, are likely to fail on an individual with insufferable brain damage.  The outcome with or without tubes and procedures is the same - the loss of a loved one.  Our healthcare system needs to be able to council a family on the right thing to do which is prepare the patient and their family for the inevitable, rather than having these stressed and scared people make a decision they are likely unqualified to make in the situation that presents itself.  The loss of a loved one is awful, and we do not want to let go.  If the outcome is the same, and comfort rather than intervention is more humane, yields the same results and does not totally drain the persons bank account as well, shouldn't the best course of treatment be a protocol that leads the family down the right path, rather than giving them the right to push for intervention which clearly is wrong.
Some may say that this takes away freedom of choice and is rationing.  I call it rational health care policy.  As many studies are finding out, often less is more which is especially true in healthcare.  Many developed countries do more with less and the care is often excellent.  Their understanding on life, death and taking care of oneself is healthier as well (our country is #38 in the WHO for health care quality).  Yes, we americans can  learn from other countries healthcare systems and we should.

In life, we are born, we live our lives and at a certain time, our bodies will fail, while we used our lives to procreate and create our legacies.  Disney called this the great circle of life.  Disney had it right, perhaps our medical systems should learn from Disney. Its as simple as that!

What do you think.  I value your opinions.

What about some offal? Boiled tripes in tomato sauce

Tripe dishes are made with the stomach of various ruminants. The most common type of tripe is beef tripe from cattle. Like many predators, our Paleolithic ancestors probably ate plenty of offal, likely including tripe. They certainly did not eat only muscle meat. It would have been a big waste to eat only muscle meat, particularly because animal organs and other non-muscle parts are very rich in vitamins and minerals.

The taste for tripe is an acquired one. Many national cuisines have traditional tripe dishes, including the French, Chinese, Portuguese, and Mexican cuisines – to name only a few. The tripe dish shown in the photo below was prepared following a simple recipe. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Here is the recipe:

- Cut up about 2 lbs of tripe into rectangular strips. I suggest rectangles of about 5 by 1 inches.
- Boil the tripe strips in low heat for 5 hours.
- Drain the boiled tripe strips, and place them in a frying or sauce pan. You may use the same pan you used for boiling.
- Add a small amount of tomato sauce, enough to give the tripe strips color, but not to completely immerse them in the sauce. Add seasoning to taste. I suggest some salt, parsley, garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Cook the tripe strips in tomato sauce for about 15 minutes.

Cooked tripe has a strong, characteristic smell, which will fill your kitchen as you boil it for 5 hours. Not many people will be able to eat many tripe strips at once, so perhaps this should not be the main dish of a dinner with friends. I personally can only eat about 5 strips at a time. I know folks who can eat a whole pan full of tripe strips, like the one shown on the photo in this post. But these folks are not many.

In terms of nutrition, 100 g of tripe prepared in this way will have approximately 12 g of protein, 4 g of fat, 157 g of cholesterol, and 2 g of carbohydrates. You will also be getting a reasonable amount of vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Healthy Chick Melodies: Summer Tunage

It's summer! Blue skies, riding bikes, relaxing days on the shore, sipping on cold, tasty drinks at beach bars filled with good times. Such beautiful weather gracefully demands equally beautiful soundtracks. What better time for Healthy Chick summertime melodies?!

As always there have been quite a few albums on repeat in my playlist. The National's, High Violet, definitely has its moments, and they are great moments. Band of Horses new one, Infinate Arms, isn't exactly as artsy as the first two albums, but still delicious. LCD SoundSystem, This is Happening, has been one of my pump up albums I play as I'm getting ready to go out for a night of fun in Red Bank or Asbury. So fun! Groundation's, Dub Wars, although not quite new, has been my afternoon snack as I tend to my garden and clean my apartment with the sun streaming in. The Black Keys, Brothers, is so ridiculously good. I actually should be highlighting it down there with the others. I love their sexy rock and roll more than anything and in my opinion, it's their best album yet! Of course energetic Phish shows, lots of reggae, and mellow Grateful Dead concerts are always staples in my summer album rotations!

What this Healthy Chick is listening to...NOW!:

The Drums - The Drums

Super cool, retro tunes that are so insanely upbeat! Perfect for summer beach days. Not very much to them but a simple drum beat, a melody played on a single guitar string, yet loaded with catchy pop gems. When the sun is shining I haven't been able to turn it off! LOVE it!!!!

Definitely the most fun (and poppiest) song on the album: Let's Go Surfing

She & Him - Volume Two

I know this came out back in March but duo Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward's new one is way too playful and cute for cold winter days. This sweet little album was definitely my #1 favorite Spring album and still plays in my car on these sunny summer days. And seriously, anything that Zooey Deschanel does brings a smile to my face. Sigh...

Wild Nothing - Gemini

This album is a bunch of hushed vocals beneath a sonic, murky recording style. I just can't get enough of the overwhelming feeling of semi-ambient summer nostalgia. Sparkly, dreamy, beautifully heart-stealing song writing. I'm enjoying it so much and the cover reminds me of Man Ray's photography (above). <3

I'm currently putting together my annual summer playlist that I like to share with everyone who receives my Center Your Health newsletter. My summer 2010's playlist will be in July's newsletter, so please be sure to sign up if you haven't already!

What are you listening to right now? I'd love to hear, please share below!

Keep it fresh!

- Lauren

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

QUINOA: One Super Food, 3 Different Ways!

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a staple food in our pantry. Although it looks and cooks like a grain often said to resemble couscous, it is actually a seed. This makes it a great nutrient-rich whole food substitute for rice and pastas. The tiny seed is considered a complete protein since it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies need. It is an excellent non-animal source of protein, but it doesn't stop there. Quinoa is also a great source of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, copper and riboflavin, just to name a few. Since it is jammed packed with nutrients, this healthy little "grain" has powerful anti-oxidant properties that can help protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, migraines and many more! It gets bonus points for cooking up to a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture in fifteen minutes, one-third the time of whole grain rice! All of these benefits make quinoa a fantastic and easy substitute for all of those starchy empty Summer BBQ calories we find in pasta and potato salads! Try making a light and refreshing quinoa salad instead. It is more delicious, certainly more healthy and its fiber will keep you full without the guilt!

Quinoa Summer Salad
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves fresh garlic minced (optional)
2 tbs. olive oil
4 tbs. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add quinoa and simmer for fifteen minutes. Let cooked quinoa cool, then toss with tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, then toss with the quinoa mixture. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
4 medium zucchini
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup almonds, chopped (about 2 ounces)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions: Heat oven to 400° F. In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Arrange in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Fluff the quinoa and fold in the beans, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and 3 tablespoons of the oil. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini. Top with the remaining tablespoon of oil and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake until the zucchini is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers
1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup red onion, grated and squeezed dry

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

Directions: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add quinoa and simmer for fifteen minutes. Let quinoa cool and then transfer to food processor fitted with metal blade. Add beans, onion, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of oil, garlic, jalapeno, salt, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Puree until smooth. Form into six 1/2-inch thick patties. Place bread crumbs in shallow bowl. Press patties into crumbs, turning to coat both sides. In non-stick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Cook patties in batches, turning once, for 8 minutes or until browned.

Pretty faces are average faces: Genetic diversity and health

Many people think that the prettiest faces are those with very unique features. Generally that is not true. Pretty faces are average faces. And that is not only because they are symmetrical, even though symmetry is an attractive facial trait. Average faces are very attractive, which is counterintuitive but makes sense in light of evolution and genetics.

The faces in the figure below (click to enlarge) are from a presentation I gave at the University of Houston in 2008. The PowerPoint slides file for the presentation is available here. The photos were taken from the German web site Beautycheck.de. This site summarizes a lot of very interesting research on facial attractiveness.

The face on the right is a composite of the two faces on the left. It simulates what would happen if you were to morph the features of the two faces on the left into the face on the right. That is, the face on the right is the result of an “averaging” of the two faces on the left.

If you show these photos to a group of people, like I did during my presentation in Houston, most of the people in the group will say that the face on the right is the prettiest of the three. This happens even though most people will also say that each of the three faces is pretty, if shown each face separately from the others.

Why are average faces more beautiful?

The reason may be that we have brain algorithms that make us associate a sense of “beauty” with features that suggest an enhanced resistance to disease. This is an adaptation to the environments our ancestors faced in our evolutionary past, when disease would often lead to observable distortions of facial and body traits. Average faces are the result of increased genetic mixing, which leads to increased resistance to disease.

This interpretation is a variation of Langlois and Roggman’s “averageness hypothesis”, published in a widely cited 1990 article that appeared in the journal Psychological Science.

By the way, many people think that the main survival threats ancestral humans faced were large predators. I guess it is exciting to think that way; our warrior ancestors survived due to their ability to fight off predators! The reality is that, in our ancestral past, as today, the biggest killer of all by far was disease. The small organisms, the ones our ancestors couldn’t see, were the most deadly.

People from different populations, particularly those that have been subjected to different diseases, frequently carry genetic mutations that protect them from those diseases. Those are often carried as dominant alleles (i.e., variations of a gene). When two people with diverse genetic protections have children, the children inherit the protective mutations of both parents. The more genetic mixing, the more likely it is that multiple protective genetic mutations will be carried. The more genetic mixing, the higher is the "averageness" score of the face.

The opposite may happen when people who share many genes (e.g., cousins) have children. The term for this is inbreeding. Since alleles that code for diseases are often carried in recessive form, a child of closely related parents has a higher chance of having a combination of two recessive disease-promoting alleles. In this case, the child will be homozygous recessive for the disease, which will increase dramatically its chances of developing the disease.

In a nutshell: gene mixing = health; inbreeding = disease.

Finally, if you have some time, make sure to take a look at this page on the Virtual Miss Germany!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Low Micronutrient Intake may Contribute to Obesity

Lower Micronutrient Status in the Obese

Investigators have noted repeatedly that obese people have a lower blood concentration of a number of nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, several B vitamins, zinc and iron (1). Although there is evidence that some of these may influence fat mass in animals, the evidence for a cause-and-effect relationship in humans is generally slim. There is quite a bit of indirect evidence that vitamin D status influences the risk of obesity (2), although a large, well-controlled study found that high-dose vitamin D3 supplementation does not cause fat loss in overweight and obese volunteers over the course of a year (3). It may still have a preventive effect, or require a longer timescale, but that remains to be determined.

Hot off the Presses

A new study in the journal Obesity, by Y. Li and colleagues, showed that compared to a placebo, a low-dose multivitamin caused obese volunteers to lose 7 lb (3.2 kg) of fat mass in 6 months, mostly from the abdominal region (4). The supplement also reduced LDL by 27%, increased HDL by a whopping 40% and increased resting energy expenditure. Here's what the supplement contained:

Vitamin A(containing natural mixed b-carotene) 5000 IU
Vitamin D 400 IU
Vitamin E 30 IU
Thiamin 1.5 mg
Riboflavin 1.7 mg
Vitamin B6 2 mg
Vitamin C 60 mg
Vitamin B12 6 mcg
Vitamin K1 25 mcg
Biotin 30 mcg
Folic acid 400 mcg
Nicotinamide 20 mg
Pantothenic acid 10 mg
Calcium 162 mg
Phosphorus 125 mg
Chlorine 36.3 mg
Magnesium 100 mg
Iron 18 mg
Copper 2 mg
Zinc 15 mg
Manganese 2.5 mg
Iodine 150 mcg
Chromium 25 mcg
Molybdenum 25 mcg
Selenium 25 mcg
Nickel 5 mcg
Stannum 10 mcg
Silicon 10 mcg
Vanadium 10 mcg

Although the result needs to be repeated, if we take it at face value, it has some important implications:
  • The nutrient density of a diet may influence obesity risk, as I speculated in my recent audio interview and related posts (5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
  • Many nutrients act together to create health, and multiple insufficiencies may contribute to disease. This may be why single nutrient supplementation trials usually don't find much.
  • Another possibility is that obesity can result from a number of different nutrient insufficiencies, and the cause is different in different people. This study may have seen a large effect because it corrected many different insufficiencies.
  • This result, once again, kills the simplistic notion that body fat is determined exclusively by voluntary food consumption and exercise behaviors (sometimes called the "calories in, calories out" idea, or "gluttony and sloth"). In this case, a multivitamin was able to increase resting energy expenditure and cause fat loss without any voluntary changes in food intake or exercise, suggesting metabolic effects and a possible downward shift of the body fat "setpoint" due to improved nutrient status.
Practical Implications

Does this mean we should all take multivitamins to stay or become thin? No. There is no multivitamin that can match the completeness and balance of a nutrient-dense, whole food, omnivorous diet. Beef liver, leafy greens and sunlight are nature's vitamin pills. Avoiding refined foods instantly doubles the micronutrient content of the typical diet. Properly preparing whole grains by soaking and fermentation is equivalent to taking a multi-mineral along with conventionally prepared grains, as absorption of key minerals is increased by 50-300% (10). Or you can eat root vegetables instead of grains, and enjoy their naturally high mineral availability. Or both.

Truth in Advertising....

If you read this blog in a web browser instead of a feed reader, you will notice that there is now a block of text ads to the left of our side bar. We know that this type of advertising can be a turn-off to some readers, but we would appreciate if you could bear with us for a few weeks while perform a little experiment and test it out.

It's no secret that many of us bloggers use our blogs to generate additional income for our businesses. As a start up company in a new, but blossoming field, we are incredibly thankful that we are able to operate with limited start up funds. That being said, as a start up business it's a constant struggle, with tight budgets and financial decisions to be made, and the cost of printing, marketing and food items quickly ads up!

When we started this blog in August, it wasn't our intention to be a full-time blogging site, generating a full-time income - and it's still not. It's our intention to use holistic health counseling to promote local, sustainable foods and wellness opportunities. However, we're trying to do what we can to contribute to our bottom line. Through the Blogher Ad network and individual sponsor ads in our sidebar, we are able to ease the financial burden of making a start up health counseling business a success. We have been advised that the new block of text ads in that location will contribute significantly to our blogging income, so we're trying it out for a bit just to see if it makes any difference in our Google AdSense revenues (we will let you know how it works out in case you want to do the same!).

We just wanted to draw it to your attention and put out there to the universe why the new ads have appeared. We're not trying to be anything but accessible, truthful bloggers, so we wanted our thought process to be as transparent as possible.

Thank you for your readership and joining us in the adventure over the past year. Now, back to the holistic healthy living tips!

Shocked by $9M Horizon CEO salary? N.J. Chiropractors Association has own Horizon horror stories

The recent revelation that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon) CEO William Marino's compensation package last year was nearly $9 million has come as no surprise to the tens of thousands of doctors and patients throughout New Jersey who have been cheated by the healthcare giant for many years; especially to the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC), which represents over 1,600 chiropractors statewide.
As the outcry continues from the general public, legislators, and medical practitioners across the state for legislative hearings regarding Horizon's outlandish executive compensation packages, the ANJC, whose members have experienced first-hand the intransigence and audacity exhibited by Horizon, continues to pursue several strategies to rectify various injustices visited upon chiropractors in New Jersey and their patients by Horizon.
For example, on May 25, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois upheld claims filed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) against 22 leading Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers across the country, including Horizon. The action was filed by a number of individual healthcare providers on behalf of a putative nationwide class of healthcare providers, and multiple state chiropractic associations on behalf of their members, including the ANJC, the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Association, the New York Chiropractic Council, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and the California Chiropractic Association.
The lawsuit challenges the BCBS defendants' abusive practices in using post-payment audits, improper repayment demands, and automatic recoupments, to pressure providers to repay substantial sums that have previously properly been paid on behalf of BCBS subscribers. In denying a series of motions to dismiss the case, the court validated the Plaintiffs' primary legal claim that even retroactive claim denials, including those made as a result of a post-payment audit, require proper appeal rights and other procedural protections under ERISA. The Court also upheld the rights of the state chiropractic associations, including ANJC, to pursue significant policy changes in these auditing and recoupment practices on behalf of their members.
Through the lawsuit, the ANJC hopes to level the playing field for chiropractors facing repayment demands from Horizon by requiring Horizon to fulfill its existing obligations under the law. "We are not challenging Horizon's right to audit claims to ensure payments are made appropriately," said John W. Leardi, Esq., of Buttaci & Leardi, LLC, Special Counsel to ANJC, and co-lead counsel in Pennsylvania Chiropractic Association et al. vs. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association et al., Case No. 1:09-cv-05619. "But too many chiropractors in this state have been unfairly subjected to inflated or otherwise illegitimate overpayment demands from Horizon and been forced to settle because of an inherently unfair process. What we want is a process that requires transparency and fairness; a process where a doctor is given a meaningful opportunity to understand and object to an overpayment demand before facing automatic recoupments from current claims."
The ANJC also continues to fight for fair reimbursement to its members by Horizon on the "front end." For years Horizon, unlike virtually every other private insurance carrier doing business in New Jersey, refused to pay chiropractors separately for patient exams and physical therapy modalities. Instead, Horizon "bundled" reimbursement for these services into payments for chiropractic adjustments. Last October, however, the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) held that Horizon's chiropractic reimbursement policies violated the New Jersey Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act and ordered Horizon to cease and desist from "bundling" payment for patient exams and physical therapy modalities into the reimbursement it pays for chiropractic adjustments. Nevertheless, it was not until April 15, 2010, that Horizon finally began processing and paying these claims separately in compliance the DOBI's order.
Certainly the DOBI order was a tremendous victory for chiropractors in New Jersey and, more importantly, their patients. And to Horizon's credit, they appear to have stopped bundling chiropractic services on all claims, including those submitted to self-funded plans, which fell outside of the DOBI order. But they have not addressed the thousands, if not millions, of chiropractic claims that were improperly denied in violation of the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act prior to October 7, 2009. And frankly we owe it to our members and their patients to explore all possible avenues of potentially recovering these amounts, which we believe are substantial.
The bottom line is that chiropractors and their patients in New Jersey have been subjected to unfair treatment by Horizon for years. So the recent news that last year, when health insurance premiums increased an average of 25% and the economy nearly ground to a standstill, top Horizon executives collected over $24 million in bonuses, came as no surprise to the ANJC, its members, and chiropractic patients throughout the state.
Dr. Sigmund Miller is Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Should You Go Organic?

It took me a long time to begin forking over my precious money for organic produce. But the more organic produce I eat, the less I mind paying the extra buck or two. Besides being free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, these fruits and vegetables have better textures and are consistently better tasting. Because organic produces isn't waxed or chemically treated, it must be sold fresh, and the fresher produce is, the more nutritious and tasty it is! If you can't afford to go organic, buy locally grown fruits and vegetables when possible. They're bound to be fresher than produce that has been shipped long distances.

Keep it Fresh!

Foods that build muscle and proper nutrition

I was reading an article that was posted on AOL.com news (http://www.aolhealth.com/2010/05/07/8-foods-that-pack-on-muscle/) regarding foods that help build muscle.  One of the biggest problems in our current diet is the lack of protein when compared to simple carbohydrates such as pasta's and breads.  As I have gotten older, I have realized since my job as a chiropractor is quite physical, that without an abundance of protein in my diet, I tend to crash after the meal and feel tired and sleepy.  This is typical if I have a lunch abundant in carbs and light on protein.  Although I love food, during the work week, it is my fuel. I remember Michael Phelps talking about how his diet of in excess of 10000 calories a day was his fuel and at my own level, I need to use the proper fuel to make sure I have the energy to sustain my high level of function throughout the week while treating my patients.  As the casual reader, your needs may differ but food is still fuel.  It helps you maintain your edge during the week and in this competitive world, everyone needs to be at their peak while doing business.  As the saying goes, you are what you eat.  Read the article.  It has some great advice.  What are your thoughts?

Soccer as play and exercise: Resistance and endurance training at the same time

Many sports combine three key elements that make them excellent fitness choices: play, resistance exercise, and endurance exercise; all at the same time. Soccer is one of those sports. Its popularity is growing, even in the US! The 2010 FIFA World Cup, currently under way in South Africa, is a testament to that. It helps that the US team qualified and did well in its first game against England.

Pelé is almost 70 years old in the photo below, from Wikipedia. He is widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time. But not by Argentineans, who will tell you that Pelé is probably the second greatest soccer player of all time, after Maradona.

Even though Brazil is not a monarchy, Pelé is known there as simply “The King”. How serious are Brazilians about this? Well, consider this. Fernando Henrique Cardoso was one of the most popular presidents of Brazil. He was very smart; he appointed Pelé to his cabinet. But when Cardoso had a disagreement with Pelé he was broadly chastised in Brazil for disrespecting “The King”, and was forced to publicly apologize or blow his political career!

Arguably soccer is a very good choice of play activity to be used in combination with resistance exercise. When used alone it is likely to lead to much more lower- than upper-body muscle development. Unlike before the 1970s, most soccer players today use whole body resistance exercise as part of their training. Still, you often see very developed leg muscles and relatively slim upper bodies.

What leads to leg muscle gain are the sprints. Interestingly, it is the eccentric part of the sprints that add the most muscle, by causing the most muscle damage. That is, it not the acceleration, but the deceleration phase that leads to the largest gains in leg muscle.

This eccentric phase effect is true for virtually all types of anaerobic exercise, and a well known fact among bodybuilders and exercise physiologists (see, e.g., Wilmore et al., 2007; full reference at the end of the post). For example, it is not the lifting, but the lowering of the bar in the chest press, which leads to the most muscle gain.

Like many sports practiced at high levels of competition, professional soccer can lead to serious injuries. So can non-professional, but highly competitive play. Common areas of injury are the ankles and the knees. See Mandelbaum & Putukian (1999) for a discussion of possible types of health problems associated with soccer; it focuses on females, but is broad enough to serve as a general reference. The full reference and link to the article are given below.


Mandelbaum, B.R., & Putukian, M. (1999). Medical concerns and specificities in female soccer players. Science & Sports, 14(5), 254-260.

Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., & Kenney, W.L. (2007). Physiology of sport and exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Layout

I thought I'd spruce the place up a bit! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Eating for Fertility - Part III - Super Foods For Super Baby Making!

In Part I and Part II of Eating for Fertility we discussed aphrodisiacs and fertility and incorporating whole foods for optimal preconception health. In Part III, we're diving into SUPERFOODS! Superfoods are the most potent, super concentrated, and nutrient rich foods on the planet. They boost immunity, alkalize the body, elevate serotonin production and enhance sexuality....all super important for super baby making!!

Here's my short list of superfoods for super fertility:

Maca – helps to increase progesterone, which is extremely important to enhance fertility and the ability to hold the pregnancy. Maca comes from peru and is a tonic for the endocrine system. You can take this product daily. It comes in liquid, capsule and powder form.

Blue Green Algae: Chlorella (fresh water green algae) Spirulina (salt water blue- green algae)– a tiny aquatic plant that has been used by humans since pre-historic times. It's the origin of life-giving nourishment on the planet. It is packed with nutrients (protein, vitamin A, iron, phytonutrients, etc). Blue-Green Algae nourish the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems and regulate metabolism and repair tissues. The most important quality is its ability to detox the body and help to keep it alkaline (cervical mucus which transports sperm is alkaline, so it's important to eat alkaline foods).

Flax Seeds - Flax seeds contain B vitamins, maganese and magnesium. They are high in Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids which your body needs to balance hormones. They also contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) knowns as lignans, which block harmful xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals in the environment which have estrogenic properties) in the body. Try to get about 2-3 tablespoons of flax seeds each day; grind them up for optimal absorption and benefits. You can add them to smoothies, oatmeals or sprinkle them over a salad or oatmeal.

Acai Berry - boosts energy levels, improves digestive function, improves mental clarity/focus, promotes sound sleep, provides all vital vitamins, contains several important minerals, and is an extremely powerful free radical fighter. Acai also has very high levels of fibers, cleanses and detoxifies the body of infectious toxins, strengthens the immune system, enhances sexual desire and performance, fights cancerous cells, slows down the aging process, promotes healthier and younger-looking skin, alleviates diabetes, normalizes and regulates cholesterol levels, helps maintain healthy heart function, minimizes inflammation & improves circulation.

Bee Pollen - Bee pollen contains all the essential components of life. The percentage of rejuvenating elements in bee pollen remarkably exceeds those present in brewer’s yeast and wheat germ. Bee pollencorrects the deficient or unbalanced nutrition, common in the customs of our present-day civilization of consuming incomplete foods, often with added chemical ingredients, which expose us to various physiological problems.

Royal Jelly - This rich concentrated food contains remarkable amounts of proteins, lipids, glucides, vitamins, hormones, enzymes, mineral substances, and specific vital factors that act as biocatalysts in cell regeneration processes within the human body. Although some of the elements found in royal jelly are in microgram quantities, they still can act supremely with co-enzymes as catalysts or can act synergistically. (Meaning, the elements’ action combined is greater than the sum of their actions taken separately.) Royal jelly is rich in protein, vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6, C, E, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, inositol and folic acid.

Goji Berries - these tart little berries improve fertility and help to treat sexual dysfunction. They are particularly useful for those suffering from endometriosis and PCOS or anyone trying to balance hormones. They are believed to increase sexual fluids and enhance fertility.

So now that you know what superfoods are great for fertility and preconception health, how do you incorporate them into your diet? Smoothies are a great way to put a new twist on something old. Also, try my Banana Berry Fertility Bread!


Super Food Smoothie

2 Scoops Protein Powder (non-hormone/ no artificial sweeteners or additives)

½ Banana (frozen or fresh)

2 Tsp. Organic Spirulina Powder

1 Tsp. Maca

2 Tsp. Organic Royal Jelly/ Bee Pollen/ Propolis Plus

½ Cup Frozen Sambazon Pure Acai

1 Cup Raw Organic Milk or Unsweetened Almond Milk

3 Pieces of Ice (optional)

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Banana Berry Fertility Bread

1 Cup Gluten-Free Flour

1 Cup Non-Hormone Protein Powder

1 Tsp. Baking Soda (aluminum free)

1 Tsp. Baking Powder (aluminum free)

1 Tsp. Cinnamon

½ Tbsp Xanthan Gum

¼ Tsp. Sea Salt

3/4 Cup Overripe bananas (about 3 mashed)

¼ Cup Fresh Organic Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)

¼ Cup Raw Organic Coconut Oil (or use grapeseed oil if you don’t like the coconut)

½ Cup Unsweetened Organic Coconut (shredded)

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

1/3 Cup Raw Organic Agave

¼ Cup Raw Chopped Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc.)

2 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat Oven to 350*F. Lightly oil a loaf pan with olive oil.

In a medium bowl whisk the baking flour with the baking soda, baking powder, coconut, cinnamon, xanthan gum, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the bananas with the oil, agave nectar, unsweetened almond milk, and vanilla. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in the berries and chopped raw nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the banana bread cool on a rack for 20 minutes before turning it out. Let cool completely before slicing.

Keep it Fresh!