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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How To Get Kids To Swallow Pills

It seems like more and more, I’m seeing older children and teenagers, fully adult-sized patients, who refuse to take medication in tablet form.  “I can’t swallow pills.”  “They make me gag.”  “I’m going to choke.”  I talk a lot with parents about how to get kids to swallow pills.

The problem with older kids and adults that won’t take pills is that a ten-day course of antibiotics for an adult can be quite a lot of liquid.  Some medications just aren’t made in a liquid because they aren’t meant for children, and sometimes they can’t be crushed or cut into pieces to make them easier to swallow.

Before we go into how to work with your kids to help them achieve this adult skill, I want to be very clear on how we use words.  I hear “I can’t” a lot, both from patients and parents.  If your child is eating solid food, he or she CAN swallow pills.  It is physically possible to do so.  A single bite of food is MUCH larger than any tablet that is made to be swallowed intact.

So what is the problem?  Your child (and maybe you as well) has bought into a self-limiting belief.  They BELIEVE that they are unable to swallow pills and if they try, something unpleasant will happen.  Maybe they half-swallowed a piece of hard candy once and had a choking sensation that scared them.  Maybe they DID swallow a piece of ice from their drink or a piece of hard food they didn’t chew well, and it hurt a little going down.  Whatever the reason, they firmly believe that swallowing something intact will hurt.

Your job as their parent is to help them prove to themselves that they CAN swallow it and it WON’T hurt.

How do we do that?  Candy to the rescue!  (Yes, you read that right, Dr. Jen is actually advocating you giving candy to your child.  In this instance, though, the candy isn’t candy but a training tool and a necessary evil, LOL!)

Start with a small package of really tiny candies.  Some examples are Tic-Tacs, M&M Minis, and Mini SweeTARTs.  You know your child, what would they like?  It just has to be really small.  Get one small package and tell your child if they are able to swallow the first (insert small number, like 3 or 5 or 10) whole, they can have the rest of the package to eat.  Use milk or juice to wash the candy piece down.  Watch them to make sure they don’t chew them first (and if they do, that’s OK, it just doesn’t count) and apply liberal amounts of praises and atta-boy/girl.

Gradually work up to larger and larger pieces of candy until they are able to swallow pieces as large as an average medicine tablet.  Examples are Skittles, plain M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces.  Once they are able to confidently swallow these, they should be ready for an ibuprofen or acetaminophen tablet in case of a headache or minor injury.  Be sure to use the correct weight-and-age-based dose for your child.

Also, since children’s supplements are usually formulated to be chewable and to taste good, they often contain sweeteners and flavors that really aren’t good for your child.  Not to mention that they are EXPENSIVE!  I recommend to parents that they move their child to a high-quality adult supplement as soon as they are able.

I started my children learning to swallow pills when they were five years old.  The first pill they took was Shaklee’s Optiflora probiotic, which is so tiny that if you drop it, you won’t find it again unless your flooring is really dark:

Shaklee OptiFlora

After the probiotic we moved on to Shaklee’s OmegaGuard which is also small.  (Plug for those of you who don’t like fish oil because they’re horse pills – OmegaGuard is little!)

Shaklee’s OmegaGuard

And now both my boys, at 15 and 10, take Shaklee’s Vitalizer Men.  I laugh when people ask me what I’m feeding my 6’2″ teenager who has sprouted up about 8 inches in the last 2 years.  He’s my Shaklee kid!

Shaklee’s Vitalizer Men

Your child CAN take pills, if he or she is able to swallow solid food.  It is physically possible.  It’s your job to help him or her past the fear and get the confidence to learn this adult skill.  Like so much of parenting, it just takes patience, persistence and lots of positive reinforcement.

They can do it!  And so can you 🙂

QUESTION: How did you help your kids learn to swallow pills?  Do you have a child that can’t or won’t do it yet?

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