Category Archives: Recent Posts

More About Healthy Fats

For decades the conventional wisdom was that eating fat made us fat. As a result, food manufacturers went wild with refined carbohydrates and sugar, seeking to make low-fat foods more palatable. Now, it’s understood that it’s those foods that make us fat.

As explained in Fats: The Good, The Debatable, The Ugly, our body needs certain types of fat to maintain health. These fats are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they are required for normal metabolic function. Because they are not manufactured internally, we must obtain them from foods and nutritional supplements we consume. The most important of these are Omega-3 EFAs, found in a variety of foods, including fatty fish, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds. Recently, some saturated fats, previously considered unhealthful, are also being shown to be beneficial.

Let’s take a look at some of these healthy fats, which have variable compositions. Continue reading More About Healthy Fats

Fats: The Good, The Debatable, The Ugly

Are you confused about the amounts and kinds of fat you should include in your diet? Just about everyone is. For decades, we have been advised to limit fats. But our bodies need certain types of fat throughout our lives. The brain needs fat for its development during infancy and childhood and for normal function in adulthood. Fat is also needed for the absorption of some essential vitamins, the manufacturing of hormones and a wide range of normal metabolic activities.

The Good

The body needs only certain types of fats—omega-6s and omega-3s. These polyunsaturated fats are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) because the body can’t function without them and can’t produce them on its own. Omega-6s, found in animal foods, are necessary for proper body function, but only in limited quantities because Continue reading Fats: The Good, The Debatable, The Ugly

Obamacare 6 Years Later

With all the political tirades focused on Obamacare and ongoing Supreme Court filings designed to dismantle one or more provisions,  the actual achievements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been overshadowed.

Enrollment of 20 Million Previously Uninsured
As of early 2016, 20 million uninsured adults are now covered by health insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. This breaks down to 17.7 million adults enrolled by the insurance exchanges and Medicaid and another 2.3 million young adults, aged 19 to 25 years, able to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26.

The overall uninsured rate has been reduced by nearly half in the last 4 years, from 20.3% in 2012 to the current 11.5%.  All ethnic groups have benefited. Hispanic uninsureds have decreased from 41.8% to 30.5%, Blacks from 22.4% to 10.6% and Whites from 14.3% to 7%.

Majority of Americans Deny They Benefit From ACA
What many don’t realize, says Drew Altman, CEO of the noted health research organization, the Kaiser Family Foundation, is  that those with insurance exchange coverage are just a small portion of the total U.S. population that has health insurance coverage. In contrast Continue reading Obamacare 6 Years Later

Beware of Out-of-Network PPO Providers

Insurers continue to look for ways to control costs. While using the term “consumer-driven,” many of the changes are not in the best interests of consumers. One technique that continues to grow is the creation of smaller networks of doctors and hospitals. Employers enjoy lower premiums from insurers, but workers are challenged with reduced access to providers.

To make matters worse, many in-network facilities contract Continue reading Beware of Out-of-Network PPO Providers

New Fed Dietary Guidelines Ignore WHO and Scientific Advisors

Every 5 years, the USDA and HHS together release an updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Legislated in 1990 under the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act, the report contains nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public.

The 2015-2020 Guidelines 

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities. 

What’s Changed 

Unlike earlier releases of the Dietary Guidelines, which focused on Continue reading New Fed Dietary Guidelines Ignore WHO and Scientific Advisors

Why You Need a Healthcare Buddy

Danger Everywhere

Using our healthcare system can be dangerous to your health. Of late,  the media has been filled with reports of life-threatening superbug infections caused by an invasive scope used to assess gastrointestinal health. It took the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) 3 years to discover that Olympus, the maker of the scope causing infections at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, was responsible because Continue reading Why You Need a Healthcare Buddy

AMA Finally Does About-Face on Consumer Drug Ads

The U.S. pharmaceutical market is the world’s largest, accounting for 40% of the industry’s global revenue and about 60% of its drug patents. Pharma supports the largest lobbying force in the nation and, according to a recent article in the prestigious BMJ (British Medical Journal), spends 19 promotional dollars for each dollar spent on basic research.

Billions of dollars are spent annually on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, which is a major revenue source for consumer magazines, television and a growing number of websites. In 2014, Pharma spent $4.5 billion on magazine and TV drug ads, a 21% increase over the prior year. In a recent issue of Time, 34 of the 152 pages were drug ads–that’s 22%.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has long supported Pharma’s DTC efforts, as Pharma controls the bulk of medical research funds these days and supports medical journals with heavy advertising of their products. This is in sharp contrast to earlier times when the majority of research emanated from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , funded by the federal government–and there were no drug ads in academic, peer-reviewed journals. Continue reading AMA Finally Does About-Face on Consumer Drug Ads

Why It’s OK to Eat Whole Eggs Again

For decades we have been advised to limit our consumption of foods high in cholesterol, such as red meat, dairy products and eggs. It is the egg yolk that is rich in cholesterol, while the white contains only protein and no cholesterol or fat. Hence, egg-white choices on breakfast menus have become commonplace.

Cholesterol is not a demon. We need cholesterol for building a variety of essential hormones, including the sex hormones. All the cholesterol the body needs, however, is produced by the liver. Scientists held until recently that the cholesterol in animal foods, which are high in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the “bad cholesterol”, ends up accumulating in the lining of the arteries. Once the LDL hardens, it becomes dangerous plaque, which can break away and cause a stroke or heart attack.

Bad Fats Not High-Cholesterol Foods to Blame

The new understanding about cholesterol in food, based on recent Continue reading Why It’s OK to Eat Whole Eggs Again

2016 Medicare and ACA Enrollment Deadlines

It’s that time of year again. If you obtain your healthcare insurance from your employer, you will be presented with open enrollment choices. As in previous years, the trend continues, with the employee portion of the premium typically increasing. People with coverage by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) are also in the fall/winter enrollment period. Continue reading 2016 Medicare and ACA Enrollment Deadlines