How To Take Care Of A Cancer Patient

Most of you know that my husband Russ has been battling multiple myeloma for the last 6 1/2 years.  What you may not know is that although he was in remission without treatment for over 3 years, this summer the cancer unfortunately relapsed.

Of course, as his wife, my focus is doing everything I can to keep him healthy and make this next leg of the journey as successful as possible.  What can I do to help him?  I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned about how to take care of a cancer patient.

The sad reality is that we will all, at some point in our lives have a close friend or family member struggle with a life-threatening illness.  Knowing how to help them is a useful skill and can make us caregivers feel less helpless.

Make sure they eat, drink, get fresh air and rest

Whether you feel like a bully or not is irrelevant.  Cancer patients need to eat.  Simple, fresh, nutritious food that is easy to grab and go should be available all the time.  Keep in mind that cancer treatment often changes the sense of taste.  The patient’s favorite foods may not taste good to them, and they may get weird cravings.  Stay flexible.

Sandwiches, soups, fresh fruit and veggies, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and calorie-dense foods like nuts and nut butters are good choices.  Good fats like avocado hide easily in blender smoothies.  Protein smoothies (non-GMO soy is better than when as a protein source) are a good protein source.  Be careful with meat, it’s hard to digest and may make nausea worse.

Staying hydrated is important.  Water is the best way to hydrate but iced tea is good too and adding lemon or lime juice can make plain water less boring.  Don’t rely on soda because neither added sugar nor artificial sweeteners are healthy choices.  Sports hydration drinks are OK if the patient has diarrhea but choose one that doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or colors (Shaklee Hydrate is my choice!).

Sleep is tough.  Many cancer patients don’t sleep well, because of symptoms, treatment effects and stress.  Talk to their doctor if they’re having trouble sleeping, medications can help.

Also don’t underestimate the importance of getting outside.  Nature is healing and too much hibernation is not good.  Russ’s first outing after being in the hospital in 2011 was to the Yankee Peddler Festival.  Granted, he spent a lot of time holding down benches and tree stumps, and we didn’t stay long, but he was in the fresh air and sunshine, and we were together as a family.

Take care of yourself too

As I’ve written before, one of the first orders of business when you are a caregiver is to take care of yourself.  If you are exhausted you won’t be able to take good care of your loved one.  You can’t pour from an empty cup!

Eat and drink as you should.  Get enough rest.  Get outside, with or without your loved one.  Exercise.  Recharge your batteries by doing what you enjoy as often as you can.

Vent OUT, not IN

Not long ago, I read a really good article that was sort of about the etiquette of being around someone struggling with a serious illness.  I can’t find the article right now, but the gist of it is this.

Imagine a bull’s eye target with the patient in the middle.  Everyone they know is arranged in the rings around them.  Those closest to them, physically and emotionally, are in the smallest rings and as you get farther away you find distant family members, casual acquaintances and those they see in passing.

Their spouse and children are on the smallest ring.  Grown children may be a step out, depending on the relationship.

When you interact with others in relation to the cancer patient, remember that you are on the RECEIVING end from those who are farther in than you are.  For instance, when my mom was sick with breast cancer I had my own fears and anxieties.  My sister and I were terrified we were going to lose our mom.  I didn’t unload on her or my dad about that, though.  My husband or my close friends were my resource to deal with my own fears.  I vented OUT, not IN.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t tell a cancer patient that you’re afraid for them.  You don’t have to be relentlessly cheerful and optimistic all the time.  Just be careful not to add stress to their already overwhelming burden.  When dealing with a cancer patient, your goal is to relieve stress, not increase it.  Let them vent out, take pressure off, don’t increase the pressure.  It’s about them right now, not about you.

Cancer patients have a lot to deal with.  They are juggling treatment schedules, financial worries, physical symptoms and side effects, fears and anxieties.  Some may be continuing to work, like my husband.  They have family responsibilities as well.

There is a lot we can do to support a cancer patient in their journey back to wellness.  Support their health, take care of yourself and find your own support system to help you keep your feet under you.

QUESTION: Did I forget anything?  What has helped you in taking care of person struggling with a serious illness?

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Are Multivitamins Dangerous?

I’ve done a TON of physicals this week, and when I see a patient for a well visit, we always talk about diet.  For most (if not all) humans, the best diet is one full of whole fresh unprocessed plant foods, the more colorful the better.  Limiting meats and other animal-based foods is wise if your goal is to decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Even if you eat healthy, it’s hard to get all the nutrients you need from your food.  I always recommend a good quality multivitamin to my patients.  This week a few people have asked me, are multivitamins dangerous?

It’s common to see reports on the news that vitamin use increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other problems.  If you follow my blog (or talk to me for a few minutes) you know I believe strongly in good nutrition.  So when people are asking if multivitamins are dangerous, I want to reassure them.

Here on my blog I try not to lean on my own opinion too much.  So I went off to the research database, and found a great article published recently that reviewed recent research about the safety of multivitamin supplements.  You can read the article yourself at this link.

So are multivitamins dangerous?  Here are my 3 take-home points from this article:

  • Nutrition should come from food, but our diet is stupid, so taking a multivitamin is a smart harm-reduction method.

There is no multivitamin or supplement that can overcome a bad diet.  Too much processed food, food full of added sugar and fat, and food with artificial ingredients will damage your health.

With that being said, we live in the real world and there are times when we can’t eat a perfect diet all the time.  Even though we live in a country with fresh healthy food available, often it is grown and stored and transported in such a way that the nutrients degrade.  It’s been reported that our food is much less nutritious than it was 50 years ago.

In this day and age, a multivitamin can be sort of like the seatbelt in your car.  You should eat healthy (like you should drive safely) but your daily multivitamin can be a just-in-case safety measure for those crazy days when you just don’t get all the nutrients you need from your food.

  • Comprehensive multi-nutrient supplements (like a good quality multivitamin) are better and safer than single-nutrient supplement

Some research shows that single-nutrient supplements like calcium and vitamin E are associated with higher risk of some diseases.  I don’t recommend people take single-nutrient supplements.  You’re best off taking a comprehensive nutritional supplement program tailored to your specific needs.

For instance, a woman over 60 would need a good quality multivitamin that doesn’t contain iron.  A younger woman of childbearing age would need more iron, more iodine, and more folic acid in her multivitamin.  Someone with migraines or anxiety may need to add a B complex supplement and extra magnesium.  Someone concerned about heart health may want to add fish oil, coenzyme Q10 and extra magnesium.

People are different, and what works for someone else may not work as well for you.

  • There is no consistent evidence that taking a multivitamin increases the risk of cancer, heart disease or stroke.  There ARE suggestions that taking a multivitamin may reduce the risk of health problems in certain populations.  This is really exciting!

Multivitamins have been studied extensively to see if taking them is associated with lots of different medical problems. The research has been pretty neutral in general, with no association with higher OR lower risk of major medical problems.  This may be because multivitamin preparations vary so widely in quality and in what nutrients are contained in them.

A few consistent trends do seem to be present though.  Multivitamins are not associated with a higher risk of cancer.  Some studies have, in fact, shown a lower risk of cancer in people taking a multivitamin.  Researchers are doing more studies to see if they can show lower cancer risk consistently in those taking multivitamins.

Multivitamins also seem to not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, age-related eye disease, mental health and cognitive problems in the elderly, or overall mortality.

So what’s the overall point?  Take your multivitamin every day!  Even if you have a really healthy diet, a multivitamin will help fill in any gaps.  After all, these nutrients affect every cell in your body.  Every cell needs them, every day.

Need help choosing a multivitamin?  I recently wrote about how to choose a multivitamin, so click this link and read up!

You probably already know I use and recommend supplements from the Shaklee Corporation.  Want to see what products would be best for you?  Click this link and answer the questions to get your HealthPrint personalized nutrition assessment.

QUESTION: Do you take a multivitamin?  Do you feel it makes a difference in your health?

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Diabetic Amputation Rates Rising

Mary is a lady I have taken care of for several years.  Every time she comes in I check her heart and lungs.  Then, when I go to check for swelling in her legs, we have a good laugh.  See, the first time I saw her, I checked for swelling and only then realized something pretty important.

Mary’s lower left leg is missing.

She is diabetic and developed gangrene in her left leg some time before she started seeing me and had to have her left leg amputated below the knee.  She is a very sweet lady but now has some significant trouble getting around.

Why would Mary need to get her leg amputated?  There are a number of possible reasons.  Diabetics can lose feeling in their feet and if they hurt themselves they may not feel it.  They don’t generally have good circulation and wounds take longer to heal.  Diabetics also have immune systems that don’t work right and they have trouble fighting infections.

Unfortunately Mary is in good company.  The rates of diabetic amputation are risking across the country.  For instance, in California, the rate of diabetic amputation rose 31% between 2010 and 2016.  Some counties like San Diego and Riverside counties had over 60% increases.  Across the United States the rate of diabetic amputation rose 27% between 2010 and 2014.  Before 2009 the rates had been dropping.

Why is this happening?  Why are people losing toes and feet, ankles and legs to diabetic amputation?

There are a number of possible reasons.

  1. More diabetics.  The number of Americans with diabetes is on the rise.  This doesn’t explain it all, though, because even just looking at diabetic patients the rates are rising.
  2. Access to care.  Before the Medicaid expansion that came with the Affordable Care Act many low-income diabetics went without care for their illness.  Also, coverage for podiatric care (which includes care for foot wounds and chronic foot infections) is not consistent across the country and across insurers.  If you can’t afford medication and see the specialists you need, you’re at increased risk for complications like amputation.
  3. Health literacy.  Many diabetics don’t understand why they need to see the doctor regularly.  They don’t know all the bad things that can happen as a result of diabetes.  They don’t know they could lose their vision, have a heart attack, wind up on kidney dialysis, have a diabetic amputation.  Education is key.
  4. Lifestyle factors.  If you’ve ever tried to lose weight you know how hard it is to change your lifestyle.  Eating a healthy, mostly-plant-based fresh-food diet, exercising regularly and drinking water are critically important for diabetics but many patients seem to think as long as they take their pills or their shots that’s all they need to do.  NO medication can make up for a crappy lifestyle!

If you are a diabetic, please make sure to see your doctor regularly.  If your doctor wants you to check your blood sugar and blood pressure, PLEASE do it, and keep a written log.  (It’s really hard for us to scroll through your glucometer’s tiny screen, so please bring us an organized log.  It will save time for more important things!)

Don’t smoke.  Whatever you need to do to quit, do it.

Get.  Serious.  About your diet.  NOT kidding.  What we put in our mouths determines the majority of health for ALL of us, not just diabetics.  Even if you have a low income, you can make healthy choices in your diet.

Walk.  Get outside and walk.  Go to the mall and walk.  It doesn’t matter WHERE you walk, as long as you do it.  Research has shown that walking is an excellent intervention for those who have circulatory problems in their legs.  It actually helps grow new blood vessels around any blockages that are there.

Look at your feet every day.  If you can’t reach them, get a mirror on a stick or have a family member check your feet.  All parts of them, tops and bottoms and between the toes.  Report ANY wounds or cuts or scaly, red areas to your doctor, even if they’re not painful.  Remember, diabetics lose feeling in their feet and it can be subtle so that they don’t realize the sensation is not normal.  Wear sturdy protective shoes to keep from injuring your feet, especially if you know the sensation isn’t normal.  Cute little sandals and flip-flops will NOT protect your feet from injury.

A diabetic amputation is a huge deal.  Amputation affects independence, the ability to walk and drive and get done the things that we need to do every day.  We need to do a better job preventing the need for diabetic amputations. That means being aggressive about diabetes and blood pressure treatment, protecting our feet, staying active and being engaged with our doctor and an active member of the treatment team.

God gave you two legs, two feet and ten toes.  There’s a reason for that, and we need to do everything we can to keep all those parts in good working order!

QUESTION: Do you know anyone who has lost part of their foot or leg to diabetic amputation?

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What Is Physician Burnout?

Dr. Sadd is a colleague of mine that I’ve been worrying about for a while.  He comes to the office and constantly complains about EVERYTHING.  Dr. Sadd snaps at the office staff, makes negative comments about his patients, and has no tolerance at all when things don’t run smoothly.  He doesn’t really have “good days” and never seems to be happy.

Dr. Sadd is burned out.

What is physician burnout?  Burnout doesn’t just happen to doctors but is very prevalent in the medical field.  Because of this, research on burnout is often done on doctors and nurses and other medical professionals.

Physician burnout happens when the emotional and energetic toll of practicing medicine becomes overwhelming.  Burned out doctors and nurses are exhausted.  They are cynical and have a hard time connecting with others.  They doubt they are really making a difference.  Those of us in the health professions generally chose the field BECAUSE we want to make a difference.

If not addressed, burnout can drive doctors and nurses out of medicine.  Worse, burnout can cause depression and lead to suicide.  And physician burnout is very common.  Recent studies suggest that over half of American doctors are suffering from burnout.

What are the causes of physician burnout?  Recent changes in the American medical landscape with increased regulation and government reporting requirements are contributing to burnout.  We aren’t secretaries.  When we have to spend more and more time staring into the computer screen instead of interacting with patients, it adds more stress.

Doctors and nurses often feel they have less and less control over the way they practice medicine.  They often feel as though their training and expertise aren’t valued.   Checklists and paperwork, financial pressures and rules that don’t make sense all contribute.  If we don’t have enough support with the clerical side of things we can feel overwhelmed.

In addition, some doctors don’t have a good work-home integration.  Long work hours are hard on the family.  We neglect activities that we enjoy and put more and more energy into work.  Eventually the tank is empty and we have nothing more to give to our patients.

If you have lost the joy you used to take in your work, you might be burned out. You might be burned out if you are dreading going to work tomorrow,   If you find it really hard to finish tasks at work that used to be easy, or if you find yourself procrastinating, you might be burned out.

Unfortunately, if you are a doctor or nurse and you’re burned out, you might actually be dangerous.  Burnout increases the risk of medical errors.  In addition, patients who see a burned-out doctor are less satisfied with their care and may be more likely to sue if something goes wrong.  Interestingly, burned-out doctors seem to be more prone to car accidents.

What can you do about it if you are a doctor or nurse and you think you might be burned out?  First of all, be honest with yourself about the situation.  Talk with your supervisor and find out what resources are available at work.  Think about whether you’re taking steps to take care of yourself and enjoy your life NOW.  Too many of us focus on the future at the expense of the present!

After this process, it’s time to reconnect with the joy of your career.  Why did you choose a career in medicine in the first place?  What are the biggest stressors?  Are there ways to reduce the stress while maximizing the rewarding parts of your career?

Physician burnout (and nursing burnout) is a big problem in medicine and more and more organizations are recognizing it.  While your organization may offer tools to decrease burnout, it’s first up to you to recognize that you are losing your joy.

After all, the first step to fixing a problem is recognizing it exists in the first place.

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Toxoplasmosis

My family and I got some surprising news about our cat Domino this week.  You may remember I wrote a few weeks ago that she was sick with pneumonia.  The vet treated her with rounds of two different antibiotics and the pneumonia just wasn’t clearing up.

We were wondering if she might have a lung tumor causing the pneumonia not to get better as expected.  Then Dr. Kontur said “Let me do one more test.”

Turns out, the test came back “screaming” positive!

Domino has toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is an intestinal infection with a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that is found in some animals including cats.  Dr. Kontur tells me it usually affects young cats and older cats with asthma (like Domino) and can cause pneumonia.  Treating the infection requires antibiotics and hopefully it will clear up easily.

So why am I writing about toxoplasmosis today?  Because Toxoplasma can infect humans too.  Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted from animal feces, soil or sand contaminated with animal feces, and by eating raw or undercooked meat or seafood.

Most people who get toxoplasmosis from their cats or any other source have no symptoms at all.  In addition, those who do get sick generally just get flulike symptoms (headache, fever, body aches and fatigue).  Healthy people are at little or no risk of long-term harm from toxoplasmosis.

Who IS at risk?  Pregnant women and those whose immune systems are not normal are most at risk.  People with HIV infection, inherited immune deficiencies, or receiving chemotherapy for organ transplant, cancer or autoimmune diseases are at risk.

Pregnancy is definitely not much of a concern for me, my childbearing days are done.  However, I do have a cancer patient in my house.  As many of you know, my husband was diagnosed over 6 years ago with multiple myeloma.  As a result, we are very conscious of infection risk where he is concerned.

If you or someone you know is at risk for toxoplasmosis, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Clean out your cat’s litter box every day.  It takes 1-5 days for Toxoplasma organisms to become contagious after passing in the cat’s stool.
  • If possible, have someone who is NOT pregnant and is NOT immune compromised clean the litter box.
  • Fully cook meats and seafoods before eating them.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after gardening and after cleaning a cat litter box.
  • If your kids have an outdoor sandbox, keep it securely covered to keep feral cats and other animals out of it.

For healthy people toxoplasmosis is not generally a serious health problem.  However, it can cause pregnant women to miscarry their babies and can cause infection in the unborn baby.  In additon, people with immune suppression can develop breathing problems, neurologic problems like seizures, and can affect the eyes and vision as well.

We are so blessed that Dr. Kontur discovered Domino’s toxoplasmosis infection!  Here’s hoping her infection clears up quickly and easily (although she HATES being force-fed pills).  And clearing up Domino’s infection will help protect Russ from any possibility of infection in the future.

If you’re looking for a new vet for your four-legged family member, please give Dr. Kontur a call at Summit Animal Hospital in Northfield.  She rocks!

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How To Be YOUR Healthiest You!

Have you ever had a salesperson try to sell you something you didn’t want?  Maybe you were shopping for a new TV and the salesperson tried to get you to buy something bigger or more expensive than what you were looking for?  Or you’re looking for a new lipstick and the salesperson tries to convince you that their entire line of cosmetics is Just perfect for you!

Even worse, have you been talked into buying something and got home and found it wasn’t what you thought?

When someone tries to sell you something without knowing what would make your life better, they are wasting their time and yours.

Since I can’t possibly know each and every one of you, I try to write about a variety of health topics and let you pick and choose what is helpful for you.  (And I hope you know that I LOVE suggestions for post topics.  If you want to read about something, please drop me an email and let me know!)

There is, however, a tool to help me to know exactly what would help YOU.  What would make YOUR life better.  How I can help you meet YOUR health goals.  What would help you be YOUR healthiest you!

That tool is Shaklee’s HealthPrint personalized health assessment. This assessment is a five-minute questionnaire that asks about diet and lifestyle and your individual health goals.  It then gives you suggestions to improve your diet and lifestyle, as well as adding nutritional supplementation, so that you can meet your health goals!

I realize I’ve written about the HealthPrint before, a little over a year ago, and some of you took advantage of the assessment then.  Many of you didn’t, or you subscribed to my blog since that time.

Why am I writing about it again? Because it is still true that in order to know how to help YOU, I have to know where you’re coming from.  I have to know what’s important to you.  In order to help you be your healthiest you, I have to know what your personal challenges and goals are.  And this is such a quick and easy way to learn about you!

This week I want to invite you to take Shaklee’s HealthPrint and let me learn a little about you.  In return, I can help YOU learn a little about you too!  Maybe you already know you don’t get enough sleep.  Maybe you DIDN’T know that you aren’t getting quite enough exercise.  Maybe you didn’t realize drinking that soda in the afternoon isn’t a good choice.

Yes, the HealthPrint makes suggestions for adding supplements.  If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’re aware that I’m a firm believer in nutritional supplementation.  Surveys show 95% of Americans don’t get all the nutrition they need from their diet.  I don’t think I eat healthier than 95% of Americans, do you think YOU do?  And going without essential nutrients just isn’t acceptable.

Nutrition therapy put my migraines in remission 8 years ago.  It helped my mother heal what SHOULD have been permanent neuropathy in her hands and feet from chemotherapy for breast cancer.  It helped my husband avoid serious adverse effects from HIS chemotherapy for multiple myeloma.  My boys are tall and healthy and strong with the highest quality nutritional support available on the market.

And it’s hard to argue with scientific proof that those who use Shaklee supplements are healthier than those who don’t use them.  Don’t believe me?  Click this link to see the research.  Want more?  Okey dokey, here’s more 🙂

Whether your health goals include weight loss, better physical fitness, stress relief, better sleep, healthy aging, or just good overall health, I can help.  Shaklee can help.  The first step is the 5-minute, 20-question HealthPrint questionnaire.

Don’t you have 5 minutes to spend, to learn how to be YOUR healthiest you?

Click this link and take the HealthPrint assessment now!

PS – Even if you took the HealthPrint last year, you can still take it again.  Maybe things have changed!  Maybe you’re eating better, or your goals are different 🙂

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Should Doctors Fire Patients?

“Just tell her to send in the f*@&ing prescription!”

Really?  This is how you talk to people?  Unfortunately, sometimes this is EXACTLY how patients talk to my staff.  The question is, how should a doctor handle a patient like this?

What if this is YOU speaking to my staff this way?  Should I fire you? Should doctors fire patients?

That is an important topic of discussion among medical personnel especially in the outpatient setting.  Clearly, a patient who uses abusive language towards staff members should get the “You have 90 days to find a new doctor” letter.  But are there other reasons why patients should be dismissed from the practice?

Your relationship with your doctor is really not like your relationship with anyone else.  It’s a unique mix of cheerleader, parent, coach and cop.  There has to be mutual respect and trust.

Patients often talk about the trust they have in their doctor.  I agree, that trust is critical.  You have to be able to trust that I know my stuff, that I’ll be able to listen to your symptoms, ask the right questions, recognize the physical findings on exam, order the right tests, then put it all together to come to the right diagnosis.

What patients often don’t understand is that I have to be able to trust YOU.  For example, I have to know you’ll answer me truthfully when I ask you questions.

For instance, how much alcohol do you drink?  Do you use drugs?  Are you taking your medicine every day?  How many sex partners have you had in your life?  This year?  This week?  Did you really lose that prescription or did you sell it?  Are you seeing three other doctors who are prescribing the same medication I am?

The relationship we have is absolutely necessary for us to be able to work together as a team.  I’m not painting the walls in your living room, I’m guiding you to your healthiest and best self possible.  Are you listening to me and giving me honest feedback?  Are you helping me craft a good treatment plan that makes sense to us both?

If I were to poll friends of mine in the medical field I would guess these are the most common reasons we have to dismiss patients from our practices:

  • Repeated no-call/no-shows (lack of respect for the office and other patients)
  • Abusive language and behavior towards the doctor and/or staff
  • Failure to pay their bill (an unfortunate reality of business)

However, I would submit there are other valid reasons to dismiss a patient from the practice:

  • Dishonest behavior such as lying
  • Consistent failure to keep up their part of the treatment plan, such as a diabetic who neglects taking their medication, going to the dietitian or checking blood sugars
  • Failure to maintain appropriate boundaries

By the way, I’m dead serious about that last one.  I had a patient once who wanted to see me socially.  That is, he wanted to date me.  Never mind the fact that both of us were married (me very happily, him not so much).  Never mind that such a thing would violate my oath, State Medical Board regulations, and all the profession’s ethical standards.  He was very persistent.  His find-a-new-doctor letter got mailed out the next day!  What a nightmare…

My patients are awesome.  I absolutely love my practice and the vast majority of my patients are a pleasure to see.  However, I’m not shy about dismissing patients.  If they make me and my staff miserable, or if I’m not effective in motivating them to get their health conditions under control to the best of their ability, then it is in everyone’s best interest that they choose a new doctor.

QUESTION:  Do you work with the public in your job?  Do you have the ability to “fire” clients?  Would you add any reasons to fire patients to the ones I listed above?

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Alkaline Vs. Alkalinizing Foods

Lately I have been seeing a lot of ads for “alkaline” foods and beverages.  Companies are marketing everything from “alkaline water” to specially packaged convenience foods to improve the pH of your body.  Companies promote these foods to decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease, arthritis and kidney stones.

Do they work?

In a word, no.  The pH of a food itself has little to no impact on the pH of your body.  The stomach is extremely acidic and easily overwhelms the intrinsic pH of the food itself.  So “alkaline water” is water that has had its pH adjusted above 7 through artificial means.

However, there is evidence that a diet rich in ALKALINIZING foods is quite healthy for you.  This change in acid is accomplished because of how the foods are processed in the body, NOT based on the pH of the food itself.

There was a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that reported the amount of acid produced by the digestion of certain foods can be estimated almost entirely based on two nutrients.

Protein, especially animal protein, produces acid when it is processed in the body, which must be buffered by the cells and eliminated in the kidneys.  Buffering the acid tends to leach minerals from the bones. This can promote osteoporosis and the formation of kidney stones in the acidic urine.

Potassium salts tend to neutralize acid and decrease the amount of acid excreted in the urine.  In fact, potassium citrate is a medication prescribed for patients with certain types of kidney stones. It also has been shown to protect bone density in patients at risk for osteoporosis.

If you want to properly balance the acidity and alkalinity in your body, which may be a marker of health and risk for disease, you should do three things.

  • Limit or eliminate animal protein (meat, dairy and eggs) from your diet. Your body creates a lot of acid when processing this type of protein.  Replace animal protein with healthy plant proteins like soy, quinoa and beans.
  • Get plenty of potassium in your diet.  You can estimate the amount of potassium in your diet using a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal.  Examples of high potassium foods are oranges, bananas, potatoes with the skins, broccoli and spinach.  You can see more options here.
  • Eat fresh whole plant foods at every meal.  Include plenty of fruit, fresh veggies, whole unprocessed grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

Don’t bother with “alkaline” foods or beverages like high-pH water.  There is little evidence they impact acid production in the body, or any other marker of health, at all.

QUESTION: Have you seen marketing for “alkaline” foods and beverages?

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You CAN Lose Weight And Keep It Off

As a family doctor and a doctor who enjoys providing medical supervision for weight loss, I have a lot of REALLY big patients.  They struggle with their weight for many reasons, but they all have one thing in common.

My patients have tried and failed to lose weight and keep it off many, MANY times.

As a result, some of them have given up.  One patient actually said that, in so many words.  “I tried to lose weight, but I couldn’t do it, so I gave up.  Now I just eat whatever I want.”  Yikes!

I LOVE helping people lose weight.  It is the highlight of not only my medical practice, but my Shaklee business as well.  Unfortunately, sometimes it’s difficult to get patients to see that yes, you CAN lose weight, there IS a program that will work for you!   Even if you’ve failed before, you can lose weight AND keep it off!

Why do people fail at losing weight?  There are so many reasons!

  • Diets ask people to give up their favorite foods
  • People don’t have time to spend hours per week at the gym
  • People are too busy to cook multiple meals each day and do a lot of food prep
  • What reason would YOU add?

These are all reasons why I’m so excited about a soon-to-be-published research article proving that people who have failed multiple times to lose weight and keep it off CAN lose weight without a restrictive diet and punishing hours-long sessions at the gym.

Let me have Dr. Wayne Wescott, PhD, professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Massachusetts, explain about this research project.

Talking points from the study:

  • Participants had failed at weight loss an average of TEN times
  • The program design was very doable.  A 40-minute exercise program twice per week, incorporating both resistance training and cardio.  Modest calorie restriction only in the first phase, participants could resume their normal diet in the second phase, just continuing a single protein shake per day.
  • Over 80% of participants completed the initial phase of the program (not too hard or too restrictive)
  • 75% of participants completed the second phase of the program
  • Participants had success!  They lost an average of 14 pounds of fat and added almost 4 pounds of muscle.  That may not sound like a lot for those of us who watch the “lose 10 pounds in your first week or your money back” commercials on TV, but this is healthy, real, sustained weight loss for those who had failed A LOT in the past.

This is the exercise program used in the study.  Each exercise is done in a single set, at a weight where you reach temporary total fatigue between 8 and 12 reps.  This means that you can do 9 reps but not 10, or 10 reps but not 11.  Do the exercises slowly and with control, with proper form.

DISCLAIMER: If you aren’t familiar with resistance exercises, you should invest in a session with a good personal trainer before starting any new exercise program.  Many gyms have trainers available and some gyms provide a free session when you join.

  • Leg extensions
  • Leg curls
  • Leg presses
  • Cardio x 6 minutes
  • Chest press
  • Lat pull-down
  • Shoulder press
  • Cardio x 6 minutes
  • Abdominal crunches
  • Lumbar extensions
  • Torso twist
  • Cardio x 6 minutes

Some suggestions for cardio would be the elliptical treadmill, stationary bike, rowing machine, stair-stepper, or a fast walk or a jog on the treadmill.  As long as you get your heart rate up and get a little out of breath, do what you like!

The meal-replacement protein shakes used in the research project were the Shaklee 180 products.  They are easy to use, tasty, and manage hunger well while providing protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics.  The shakes are supplemented with the branched-chain amino acid leucine to support and preserve muscle mass.  The products are low-glycemic and therefore diabetic friendly and never contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or genetically-modified ingredients.  You can see more about the products at this link.

The bottom line is that, even if you have failed at weight loss in the past, you CAN lose weight and you CAN keep the weight off.  Shaklee and Dr. Wescott have proven it!  Please don’t give up!  Email me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com and let’s get started 🙂

QUESTION: Have you tried to lose weight and failed in the past?

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Update From Shaklee Live

Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia!  I am spending a few days at Shaklee’s annual Global Conference learning about all the new products and tools from the number-one natural nutrition company in the USA.

There is so much to tell you! Shaklee really only releases a small number of brand-new products per year, because the development and testing process is so rigorous.  But this year we have BIG news!

This year we have the YOUTH skin care line, which was 8 years in development.  This product is so advanced the science team worked with dermatologists to develop a Skin Age Index in order to be able to test it!  This index takes into consideration things like wrinkles, pigmentation and pore size to give skin an age score.

After 60 days, 100% of women saw younger skin, and 2/3 of women saw their skin age go down into a lower decade!  Ten years off their face!

Now, as a physician I don’t usually pay much attention to how people LOOK, I’m more interested in their health and how they FEEL.  But I AM a woman, I’m 46 years old, and I would like to keep my skin looking young as long as I can!  And I know that many women feel the way I do about their skin and their appearance.

My shipment of Shaklee YOUTH skin care products should be waiting for me when I get home from Atlanta tomorrow and I can’t WAIT to start using it!  I already have my “before” pictures taken!

BTW if you’re on Facebook, I did a Facebook Live event this morning, with no makeup on (YIKES!) to show the Radiance C+E capsules.  Click this link to watch it!

The other group of products that have been updated are the fitness products.  So many of my team and customers are excited about these products!  The company recognized that not all of us are going to be marathon runners or long-distance swimmers or Olympic athletes, and we still have fitness needs too.

Shaklee has introduced products for fitness athletes while keeping the line of products for endurance athletes as well.

The Shaklee Performance fitness products are

Shaklee also has the Performance products available in an Endurance Pack for high-performance athletes and in a Fitness Pack for recreational athletes and those who work out for health and fitness.

As always, Shaklee has new technology to support distributors in building their businesses.  This year, though, they have greatly simplified the process of sponsoring new members and distributors.  If you are interested in learning more, please let me know!

If you’d like to hear more or have questions you’d like answered, please hop on to my Zoom webinar Sunday night at 9 PM.  Click this link a few minutes before 9 so you don’t miss anything!

5 years ago I started my blog while at Shaklee Live in Las Vegas so it seems a good time to take stock of where I am with my blog and with my Shaklee business.

I get asked a lot why I write my blog.  Especially since I only have a handful of people that actually read it!  (Thank you!  You know who you are!)

The reason I write my blog is the same reason I started my Shaklee business.  To help people be healthier.  There is so much misinformation and just downright misleading information on the internet, I wanted to create a place that had reliable and scientifically sound information for folks to read.

One other benefit of writing my blog is that it forces me to keep reading.  When I’m coming up empty for a blog topic, I usually go to the research database to look up something that I saw in the office that week.  Things like shingles, vitamin D deficiency, and gallstones became topics because of patients I saw or questions that were asked in the office.

So thank you for reading this far, and I hope you continue to read what I write!  YOU are the reason I do what I do <3

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