Do NOT offer juices to children!

Juice AKA Cavity-inducing sugary water

Juice AKA Cavity-inducing sugary water

Dear Dr. Mo: What’s the verdict on giving juices to kids? Should I offer them to my baby or should I just stick to water?

Dear reader: Your question targets a persistent dilemma parents have and we often discuss this topic with them as family physicians. If you want a short answer, that answer is: you should stick to water.

Having said that, let me break it down a bit further: Continue reading

5 Cholesterol lowering foods – Infographic

FullSizeRenderDear Dr. Mo: What are some of the foods that could help lower my cholesterol?

Dear reader: Eating a healthy diet in general can be challenging and tailoring it to a specific health need only adds to that challenge. Before embarking on any significant change in your diet, I suggest you first speak with your doctor who could give you useful pointers, link you with a specialist and follow up on your progress.

 

To get you started, I’ve written about such foods here

To answer your question, I’ve made this useful infographic to serve as a quick reference point to what’s out there Continue reading

When to eat?

Dear Dr. Mo: I’ve put my self on a weight loss program by combining advice and ideas from your posts. My largest meal has always been lunch and I figured to move it earlier in the day. I would like to know if timing of this meal would make any difference in my diet? Does a timing affect weight loss outcome?

When we eat is just as important

When we eat is just as important

Dear reader: Your hunch that eating your largest meal – lunch – earlier in the day would be better for your weight loss efforts is very accurate.
Data from a relatively recently published large-scale prospective study on the subject proves this to be the case.

The study had followed 400 overweight adults for 20 weeks and demonstrated that timing of meals predicted weight loss effectiveness; the results were published on January 29, 2013 in the International Journal of Obesity. Continue reading

4 super foods to clean up your pipes

Awful but healthy

Awful but healthy

Dear readers, our modern diets are plagued with unhealthful food choices. Many people are struggling with excess weight and our arteries are taking the toll over the years – they begin to accumulate plaque. Plaque buildup increases the chances for heart disease, heart attack and/or stroke.

This basically means accelerated death. Or debilitation. Then death.

We can use a healthy diet to keep our arteries in good shape and preserve their fitness into the old age.

The following 4 foods are very powerful arterial cleansers – I cannot say which of the first three I hate more but these are my top 3 foods I’ll never ever eat even if it kills me. The 4th food is actually pretty cool.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them and in fact, you’ll benefit greatly if you introduced all 4 to your daily diet. Here’s why: Continue reading

Fiber and health

Add fiber-rich foods to your daily diet

Dear Dr. Mo: I am looking to improve my diet and fiber comes highly recommended as something to eat daily. What is it and where to get it from? How much is enough?

Dear reader: The reason fiber is highly recommended as a part of any healthy diet is simple – it is really good for you.

Previously, it was thought that fiber was a significant factor in preventing colon cancer but as it turns out, most of the evidence show that fiber has no such effect in prevention of this disease.

Still, fiber has many other good effects, for which it is considered a must-have in our everyday diets.

So, what does fiber do for us?

Fiber helps prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes (by improving insulin resistance), constipation and diverticulitis (an intestinal problem). It helps to regulate cholesterol levels by slightly reducing the “bad” LDL cholesterol. And last, but certainly not the least of good effects is the increase of the bulk of foods making us feel fuller for longer – that’s another way fiber helps us in avoiding overeating and being overweight.

What is fiber and where to get it from?

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate form found in plant foods.There are two types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble Continue reading

Natural ways to manage mild hypertension – eat Beetroot!

Natural remedy for elevated blood pressure

Natural remedy for elevated blood pressure

Dear Dr. Mo: My blood pressure has recently been slightly elevated. Are there some ways to control it with a healthy diet before I turn to meds?

Dear reader: The so called ‘high normal’ blood pressure (130-139/85-89 mmHg) and even sometimes Stage I hypertension (140-159/90-99 mmHg) can actually be alleviated and managed with mostly life-style changes like salt restriction, proper hydration, quitting smoking, exercise and of course diet adjustments. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t take the meds prescribed by your doctor – do take them by all means as these are usually necessary to act as short-term blood pressure regulators. (In some cases, meds are constantly required). Continue reading

What is Diet Anxiety and what can we do about it?

(Diet) Anxiety may overshadow but can be recon with

(Diet) Anxiety may overshadow but can be recon with

Dear Dr. Mo: Whenever I think of starting a diet, I begin to feel strong anxiety and I fear that I will fail – so I keep putting it off. I’m not having hopes of becoming any super-model looking person but I still cannot bring myself to start my diet. What’s happening to me? 

Dear reader: Losing weight can sometimes become an overwhelming pressure, imposed on us more from the outside than coming really from the inside.

True, we do want to look fit and feel good about our body because this is good for our health but it is the nature of our modern society, which favours skinny looking, (almost) anorexic appearance augmented further by computer programs to unrealistic shapes, that pressures us to achieve the unachievable – and to ultimately, fail.

Humans are the only animal capable of thinking about and more importantly, imagining the future and this unique feature we owe to our frontal part of the brain, the one whose level of development and complexity is so uniquely human. This ability is also responsible for anxiety.

Anxiety is the product of our fear of future and because we are able to imagine our futures, this can cause us to be frightened – to feel anxiety.

One thing that’s very well known to psychologists (but not to most other people) is how bad we are at imagining our futures: the more distant an event is in time the fuzzier it will look in our mind’s eye and the more it will be painted by our present thoughts and feelings (we are thus unable to escape the present – this is called ‘presentism’). The problem is that we won’t know this and will think that the way we imagined it is exactly the way it will happen – and alas, it won’t. Continue reading

Exercise for healthy hearts and minds

 

Dear Dr. Mo: I’m a guy in my late 40s, not overweight and I work a lot. Is there something I can easily do to stay healthy and live longer?

Dear reader: Many things are important as we age, and this goes for both sexes, not just men: blood sugar levels, blood pressure, mobility and fitness, risks for cancer, heart and mental health.
For us men, I would say that the latter two are really important and that by maintaining them we surely improve all other parameters to help us live longer and better although women are no different in this regard. Continue reading

Diet killers – how to succeed in weight loss?

Weight loss is tough and temptation knows this

Weight loss is tough and temptation knows this

Dear Dr. Mo: When is the best moment to start my weight loss diet? What should I pay attention to and strategize around?

Dear reader: Stress is one of the biggest diet killers.

Stress exhausts our mental capacities and diminishes our will power to stay the course and not give in to temptations.

Temptations are another big enemy of weight loss diets.

That said, the best you can do is start the diet while you are on vacation – although it may sound counter-intuitive, this way, less over all stress will give you a mental edge to keep up. 

We are more likely to stick to promises we make (to ourselves) and not cheat, when we feel good, relaxed and refreshed – in other words, when our minds are not tired and taxed.

While vacations reduce stressors, they usually offer more temptations. To tackle them head on you can make an effort to avoid them in the first place (this is the safest and easiest way).

Start with emptying your home (or a hotel room) of any food and drink items that might tempt you to give in. Do not really count on your will power to constantly refrain from the ‘forbidden’ food: every time you say ‘no’, a bit of your energy is spent and at the end of the day, when you come home tired and full of impressions and thoughts, this physical exhaustion alone is more than enough to deplete your ability to resist and sooner or later you will fail; so, best is not to have any louring food around.

Economist Dan Silverman says that a good way to save the will power for big temptations, when we really need it to resist, is to allow small indulgences to seep into our diet every now and then (like having an occasional desert). He calls this “rational self-indulgence”. Continue reading

Why is gluten-free a risky way of eating?

Dear Dr. Mo: Gluten-free food is gaining in popularity and suddenly a lot of people think gluten is bad for health – is that true and should I consider a gluten-free diet?

Dear reader: Actually no, going gluten-free for no particular reason can be a very risky business.

This is NOT a gluten-free bread - it is a multi grain

This is NOT a gluten-free bread – it is a multi grain

Why gluten-free diets can be bad for you?

Gluten-free diets exclude many whole grains and are lower in fiber content while higher in simple carbohydrate content.  Continue reading

The 5-second rule – can you eat food you dropped on the floor?

Dear Dr. Mo: I’ve been told that if I dropped my food on the floor and picked it up within 5 seconds, it would still be safe and clean to eat –

Food gets contaminated immediately

Food gets contaminated immediately

bacteria didn’t have enough time to jump on it. Is that true?

Dear reader: To answer your question on the so called ‘5-second rule’ simply, this rule is not correct and NO, no small amount of time can pass to still allow us to pick the food up from the floor and safely eat it – germs free; and I mean no amount of time – not even a millisecond, or even less than that – not even a nano or a piko or however unimaginably small amount of time you want to use as a yard stick. Continue reading

What is healthy eating?

Dear Dr. Mo: How do we really define healthy eating? Where should I begin?

healthy eating means versatility in colours, shapes, sizes and tastes

healthy eating means versatility in colours, shapes, sizes and tastes

Dear reader: Healthy eating could mean different things for different people so when you hear or read that you should eat healthy, there comes a logical question – what does it mean for you?

En générale, healthy eating means choosing the right types and amounts of different food for your age, sex, activity level, health and of course, taste!

I have written extensively about food choices and types so explore my previous posts, some of which are here: Mediterranean diet, Importance of breakfast, Myths about healthy eating, Foods for a lower cholesterol, Eating healthy on the road, Fiber and health, Healthy foods etc.

So how to do it? How to eat healthy? Continue reading

Are you peanuts?

Dear Dr. Mo: Why are some people allergic to peanuts? What is it about that allergy that makes it so dangerous?

Peanuts are healthy but could cause dangerous allergic reactions

Peanuts are healthy but could cause dangerous allergic reactions

Dear reader: Allergy to peanuts is a fairly common one among us humans.

In fact, when it comes to severe allergy attacks, this one is among the most common causes. There are even some anecdotal stories about strange ways people have come into contact with traces of peanuts and died almost instantly – these in fact may have been based on real life events. Continue reading

That (in)famous water weight

Dear Dr. Mo: Why does weight fluctuate during the course of a day? Normally my weight is lower early in the morning than it is at night.

Dear reader: The most common reason for such daily weight fluctuations is so called “water weight”.

Water influences our weight

Water influences our weight

What does “water weight” mean?

You retain some water during the day and this is reflected in changes in your scaled weight within 24-hour periods. These changes are not drastic and are usually anywhere between a few hundred grams to about 2 kilograms (a few pounds).

Now to be clear, these gains are certainly not in fat – to gain so much fat in a day (say about 2 kilos) one would have to consume about 14 000 to 15 000 calories, which is borderline impossible and probably not even survivable. Continue reading