How Do You Stay Healthy?

How Do You Stay Healthy With Dr. Kate

Husband and daughter making pasta

Are you confused by all of the seemingly conflicted nutritional advice out there? I know I am, and I’m a doctor. I actively seek out nutritional information and for the most part feel like I am well informed. Yet I still question my food choices. Both what I chose to eat for myself and my family but also what I recommend to patients.

I make note of being doctor although medical education regarding diet and nutrition is exceptionally poor. In four years of medical school, I had one half-day of instruction on nutrition and seven questions on an exam. I did get those seven questions 100% correct, but that was almost 20 years ago now, and nutrition advice has evolved since then.

I found nutrition information fascinating then, and I still do now.

Everywhere you look, a different expert is proclaiming a specific way of eating as the best way, the only way.

I think there are many approaches to a healthy diet and what works for one person may not work for the next. So, I try not to overthink it.

As Michael Pollan says, eat real food, mostly plants, not too much. As long as I eat real food, I think the particular choices may not be as important. For me, I think a plant based diet makes the most sense and is the most sustainable. But does that mean I should be entirely vegan? I don’t think so.Healthy Breast Cancer Diet Part of Healthy Lifestyle

Certainly a healthy diet is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Scientific research says four health behaviors, which are a wholesome diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking, have an enormous impact on health and longevity. If you can maintain those four behaviors, you will be able to avoid up to 80% of chronic disease, adding both years to life as well as more active and enjoyable life to those years.

There is an incredible study going on at Harvard, called the Harvard study of adult development. It started in the 1930s and is still going on today more than 75 years later. It followed 724 men from two very different backgrounds. One group was composed of Harvard students, and the other was poor, underprivileged, boys from Boston’s inner-city.

Some of the original participants are still alive today in their 90s, and the study is now following the children from the initial group. This study tracked these men interviewing them, reviewing their medical records, talking to their wives and families to determine what factors resulted in health, happiness, and longevity. It wasn’t money, success or a healthy cholesterol level at age 50 that best predicted good health and happiness at age 80. Instead, it was how satisfied the men were with their relationships. Being more socially connected to family, friends, and community led to happier, healthier people who lived longer. Robert Waldinger is the current director of the study; you can listen to his TED talk here. 

Family, friends and community for a happier healthier lifeAnother example of the remarkable power of relationships and community on health and longevity is known as the Roseto effect. Roseto is a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In the 1960s, a local doctor realized there was an exceptionally low rate of heart disease in Roseto -virtually non-existent- compared to some of the surrounding towns.

The inhabitants smoked cigars, drank lots of wine, ate meatballs, sausage, and plenty of cheese, while being exposed to potentially toxic gasses and dust in the slate quarries, not exactly the usual recipe for good health.

However, the community was very close knit. The was no crime; people supported each other, meals were a reason to get together and celebrate. There was a strong work ethic with everyone in town working toward a similar goal, a better life for their children. Their children did go on to have more material things and traditional success but not necessarily a better life. As the supportive community began to break down the rates of heart disease and premature death increased, equalling the rates of the surrounding towns.

And, of course, there is the Mediterranean diet with its associated health benefits. People living near the Mediterranean Sea live longer and healthier lives than in other parts of the world. Their diet is often promoted as being one of the healthiest. It consists primarily of real food – fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, olive oil, and even some red wine.Mediterranean Diet Associated With Health Benefits

But it’s not just the diet that results in exceptional health and longevity; it’s the lifestyle. People eat well, savor and enjoy their food. They are social and connected to their community. They spend time outside, moving, engaged in activity that they enjoy. A British cardiologist, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, is making a film about Pioppi, Italy called the Pioppi protocol. Pioppi is on the Mediterranean, and it’s inhabitants are among the world’s healthiest, often living into their 90s. In his film, Dr. Malhotra contends that it is the Mediterranean lifestyle, not just the diet that cultivates good health.

I say this not because diet is unimportant. Healthy food choices are essential for healthy living. The better I eat, the better I feel. And of course, science confirms the relationship between healthy food, normal weight and good health. I remind myself of these examples so that I don’t get too hung up on my particular food choices.

Diet and exercise are what usually come to mind when people think of healthy lifestyles. But, there is more to it than that. Harvard’s study of adult development, Roseto, Pennsylvania and Pioppi, Italy are good reminders of the other important contributors to healthy living.

If healthy, supportive relationships can offset some of the known detrimental effects of poor lifestyle choices like smoking cigars and eating a lot of meat and cheese as illustrated by the Roseto effect, imagine what they could do for someone who does eat well.

I eat well most of the time because I feel better when I do. But, I indulge. And when I find myself obsessing over minor details I remind myself of the bigger picture. There is more than one way to take care of yourself, which in addition to eating well and exercising includes stress reduction, plenty of sleep, and nurturing your relationships. Within and between each of these categories, there is give and take. Some days the good work I do in one category may make up for a subpar performance in another. But I strive to reach a minimum goal in each group every day.

I put together a daily wellness checklist to remind, motivate and inspire me to achieve within each of these areas. Click here if you’d like a copy. It helps me to stay on track and gives me a little win when I check off an activity as completed.

Dr. Kate KilloranDr. Kate Killoran is a board-certified OB/GYN with 15+ years of clinical experience and a breast cancer survivor. Medical school, residency, and clinical practice educated her thoroughly about disease. What her medical education failed to teach her was how to be healthy and well. This she learned from her breast cancer diagnosis.

She practices what she preaches using her knowledge of health, wellness, and disease to help other women be healthy, happy, and well. She sees patients both in her office in beautiful Camden, Maine as well as online at www.drkatemd.com.

For more information or if you’d like to contact Dr. Kate, please visit drkatemd.com.

The Chromosomal Link Between Breast Cancer Risk and Obesity Found!

A recent study has found the chromosomal link that helps reduce or increase the risk for breast cancer through a mechanism that controls the weight of the woman.

Recently, research was conducted to study the link between weight loss, body fat and the length of a certain chromosome in the women with breast cancer.

It is well documented that maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercises, and a healthy diet are the keys to cancer prevention and management. However, the exact mechanism through which these factors work was not fully known.

Researchers at the Yale Cancer Center have found an explanation for this link in the small ends of a chromosome called telomeres. These findings will be presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 11, 2015.

The research was based on a previously published study conducted at the Yale called LEAN that examined how weight loss through healthy lifestyle changes was linked with the telomere length in the breast cancer survivors who enrolled in a weight-loss program. It was found that the telomeres shortened with each cell division and were also associated with faster aging and an increased risk of mortality in the breast cancer patients.

The Yale study further explored the link between telomere length and weight loss in the breast cancer survivors. The research concluded that telomeres in the breast cancer survivors who had lost weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet were slower to shorten.

“It was also found that the telomere shortening was reversed in some cases when the women followed a healthy diet and lost weight,” said the first author of the study, Dr. Tara Sanft, the assistant professor of medical oncology.

“The results indicate that a higher body fat level could be associated with a shorter telomere length. Also, weight loss was strongly associated with an increase in the length of the telomere,” Sanft said. “This indicates that the length of telomere could be a mechanism through which the relationship between breast cancer risk and mortality and obesity is mediated.”

The senior author of the study, Melinda Irwin, said, “A growing body of scientific research linking lifestyle factors like exercising and maintaining a healthy weight with an improved breast cancer treatment success and survival is compelling.”

“With the findings of exercise and weight loss improving the mechanisms associated with breast cancer mortality and treatment success, a shift in the management of breast cancer patients that includes increased access to lifestyle behavioral counseling is expected,” Irwin said.

Meanwhile, new guidelines have been recommended by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Cancer Society. The women who have undergone lumpectomy for the removal of a cancerous lesion in the breast or mastectomy are advised to have regular follow ups with annual mammograms. Mammograms are not required for the women who have undergone reconstruction of the breasts. MRIs are also not recommended except in cases of high-risk factors.

Following these guidelines and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can improve the chances of survival of breast cancer patients substantially.

Find more about “Alternative ways of cancer treatment” for breast cancer on our website.

References:

1. Study links body fat, weight loss, and chromosome length in breast cancer patients
2. New follow-up care guidelines released for breast cancer survivors
3. Yale study explores breast cancer/weight loss link

Featured Photo Source: Ken Borsuk / Hearst Connecticut Media

Dr. Adem Gunes

Dr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at

Paleo Diets May Negate Benefits of Exercise

Paleo Diet May Negate Benefits of ExerciseBy:Michael Greger M.D.

Much of the low carb and paleo reasoning revolve around insulin. To quote one random blogger, “carbohydrates increase insulin, the root of all evil when it comes to dieting and health.” So because carbs increase insulin we should stick mostly to meat, which is fat and protein—no carbs, so no increase in insulin, right? Wrong. We’ve known for half a century that if you give someone just a steak, no carbs, no sugar, no starch, and their insulin goes up. Carbs make your insulin go up, but so does protein.

In 1997 an insulin index of foods was published, ranking 38 foods on which stimulates higher insulin levels. What do you think causes a larger insulin spike, a large apple and all its sugar, a cup of oatmeal packed with carbs, a cup and a half of white flour pasta, a big bunless burger—no carbs at all, or half of a salmon fillet. The answer is the meat.

They only looked at beef and fish, but subsequent data showed that that there’s no significant difference between the insulin spike from beef, versus chicken or pork—they’re all just as high. Thus, protein- and fat-rich foods may induce substantial insulin secretion. In fact meat protein causes as much insulin release as pure sugar.

So based on their own framework, if they really believed insulin in the root of all evil, then low carbers and paleo folks would be eating big bowls of spaghetti day in and day out before they’d ever touch meat.

Yes, having hyperinsulinemia, too high levels of insulin in the blood, like type 2 diabetics have, is not a good thing, and may increase cancer by like 10%. But if low carb and paleo people stuck to their own theory, it it’s all about insulin, they would be out telling everyone to go vegetarian, as vegetarians have significantly lower insulin levels even at the same weight. It’s true for ovolactovegetarians. It’s true for lactovegetarians and vegans. Meateaters have up to 50% higher insulin levels.

Put someone on a vegan diet- man, woman, young, old, skinny or fat, and you can significantly bring their insulin levels down within just 3 weeks. And then just by adding egg whites back to the diet, you can boost insulin production 60% within 4 days.

What if you take people and add carbohydrates, double their carbohydrate intake, you can bring their insulin levels down. Why? Because they weren’t feeding people jellybeans and sugar cookies, they were feeding people whole plant foods, lots of whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

What if you put someone on a very-low carb diet, like an Atkins diet? Low carb advocates assumed that it would lower insulin levels. Dr. Westman is the new Dr. Atkins after the old Dr. Atkins died overweight with, according to the Medical Examiner, a history of heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension. But Dr. Westman was wrong. No significant drop in insulin levels on very low carb diets. What they got is a significant rise in their LDL cholesterol levels, the #1 risk factor for our #1 killer, heart disease.

Atkins is an easy target though. No matter how many new, new, extra new Atkins diets that come out, it’s still old news. What about paleo? The paleo movement gets a lot of things right. They tell people to ditch dairy and doughnuts, eat lots of fruits, nuts and vegetables, and cut out a lot of processed junk. But this new study’s pretty scary. Took a bunch young healthy folks put them on a Paleolithic diet along with a Crossfit-based, high-intensity circuit training exercise program. Now if you lose enough weight exercising you can temporarily drop your cholesterol levels no matter what you eat. You can see that with stomach stapling surgery, tuberculosis, chemo, a cocaine habit—just losing weight by any means can lower cholesterol, which makes these results all the more troubling. Ten weeks of hard core workouts and weight loss, and LDL cholesterol still went up. And it was even worse for those who started out the healthiest. Those starting out with excellent LDLs, under 70 had a 20% elevation in LDL, and their HDL dropped. Exercise is supposed to boost your good cholesterol, not lower it. The Paleo diet’s deleterious impact on blood fats was not only significant, but substantial enough to counteract the improvements commonly seen with improved fitness and body composition. Exercise is supposed to make things better. Put people instead on a plant-based diet and a modest exercise program—mostly just walking-based, and within 3 weeks can drop their bad cholesterol 20%, and their insulin levels 30%, despite a 75-80% carbohydrate diet whereas the paleo diets appeared to negate the positive effects of exercise.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

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