The MIND Diet

U.S. News & World Report, an international authority in rankings and consumer advice, released its annual evaluation for Best Diets. If you get a copy you will read of 39 diets in multiple categories.  

The MIND diet was ranked fourth for the easiest diet to follow and tied for the fifth for best diet overall and best diet for healthy eating.

The MIND diet was ranked in the following seven categories:

  • Easiest Diets to Follow: No. 4
  • Best Diets for Healthy Eating: No. 5 (tie)
  • Best Diets Overall: No. 5 (tie)
  • Best Heart-Healthy Diets: No. 7 (tie)
  • Best Diets for Diabetes: No. 7 (tie)
  • Best Weight-Loss Diets: No. 29 (tie)
  • Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets: No. 34 (tie)

This blog addresses the MIND DIET (from Rush University Medical Center), which has been on the list for 6 years. They have just completed. A 3-year study (funded by NIH) is about to be completed, published preliminary findings regarding this diet. Data leans to this diet providing long-term protection against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, it also promotes overall health, including cardiovascular benefits.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions,

(ex. hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke).

This diet identifies ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods and addresses them.

Healthy’ food group:

  two or more daily servings of vegetables, of which one serving is a leafy green, 

  three servings per day of whole grains, 

  a serving of beans three times weekly, 

  one ounce of nuts/nut butter, 

  • a half cup of berries five days per week, 
  • two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day; 
  • poultry twice weekly,  
  • at least one fish meal weekly.

‘Unhealthy food  must have limitations: 

  • no more than one teaspoon a day of butter, 
  • eating less than five servings a week of sweets and pastries,
  • less than four servings a week of red meat, 
  • no more than two ounces of whole-fat cheese weekly, 
  • no more than one meal of fried foods per week.

Nuances exist for example having difficulty limiting the intake of red meat to less than four servings per week could still be considered a healthy eater, provided they were reaching the goal of at least one serving of leafy green vegetables each day.

Many books and internet sites exist on the MIND diet, they can help you follow eat to live long and healthy! MIND Diet

Medical Study Retractions

It happens way more than you might think, between 2001-2010  annual retractions exploded by 1,000%, according to some estimates. Issues that lead to retraction includes duplicate publication, fraud, authorship issues, ethical issues, and error.

Scary! So do you just wait and see? Perhaps one of the most notable comes from a prestigious medical journal and on a topic very much touted in all media. Note box below: published in 2013 retracted 2018.

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Publication: The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Authors: Estruch R, et al. Year published/retracted: 2013/2018 Number of citations (pre-retraction/post-retraction): 2266 (1895/371) goes here

In a randomized trial (Spain), the authors stated that adherence to a Mediterranean diet replete with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts decreased the frequency of severe cardiovascular events in participants at high risk for cardiovascular disease. It took 5 years for a retraction based on a careful re-review of the “because of irregularities in the randomization procedures.” This put the validity of the deduction in serious question.

Other retractions have occurred many years after publications, in such journals as The Lancet, Cancer Research. Many took years to retract, meanwhile, medical practice drew on their deductions for the basis of medical care. This past year 2020 saw many retractions as the COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to possible therapies. Noteworthy is the role of hydroxychloroquine. The NEJM and Lancet both prestigious publications had similar retractions in May of 2020.

CAUTION: There is sadly a lack of integrity and competence that rises to the top in all walks of life. But when this affects your physical and mental wellbeing, one can’t help wondering when will another retraction come? Hopefully, we will not see, years from now, the retraction of studies/conclusions that are used to develop and obtain emergency approval of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Please always weight risk versus benefit and decide for you which outweighs

 

 

Ways to Well-Being in 2021

The key to all things 2021 is you, you are the driver, effector, and receiver. A clean slate- write your own version! Please start by giving yourself a break!

Practice self-compassion, take care of yourself first.

Take care of your basic needs:

  • sleep 7-9 hours

  • eat a balanced meal seated put your cutlery down between bites, be aware of chewing,

  • get outdoors at least 3 times a week and walk for 20 minutes, plug into calm meditative tunes

Be Present -you’ve heard that before, my fitness instructor said it so many times till it finally sunk-in. stop dwelling on the past or worrying about what is next. Notice 5 things you see, name 4 things you hear, notice 3 sensations you can feel, inhale, and ID 2 smells, and before you move on note a taste.

Be aware of your breathing, plan, and maintain a daily schedule, putting yourself first.

Promise to sit and handwrite a note, letter, or even attempt a poem. You can!

COVID-19 Vaccine Insights

COVID-19 has now surpassed heart disease and cancer as the leading daily cause of death in the U.S. One American is dying of COVID-19 every 40 seconds at this posting.

The point is that now it is more than ever preventable. Everywhere you turn there is information on the 2 new COVID-19 vaccines – how they work, what they do and not do follow by how the company plays a key role. I tuned in to the full FDA advisory committee meetings of both drug companies’ (Pfizer, Moderna) vaccine submissions in order to get all the medical information available.

My blog objective is to let you in on the finer points of what is factually known to date. Critical is understanding FDA emergency use approval (EUA) meaning. Incomplete data is why full approval did not occur. Questions exist and include how long immunity lasts and are what are the side effects beyond the known 60 days. Follow up for 2 years is typical for full safety FDA endorsement. 

The two EUA approved vaccines use mRNA to carry information (S protein found on the surface of the SARS CoV-2 virus) into cells, telling cells to make the S protein then our body sees the S protein and starts to mount a defense against the foreign protein. The mRNA is gone from the body by 24 hours. A booster for 21 (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna)  is required. All vaccines are free. Plenty of scammers out there, be careful.

We always have a choice, and you may have a choice which vaccine and when to receive the ‘jab’ (British term). If your COVID-19 risks are greater than the risk from taking an emergency use approved vaccine, then you should take a EUA vaccine. After vaccination, you are told to continue to mask up and socially distance. No determination yet for up to how long you must do so. The educated guess from both vaccine producers is that in 7-14 days after 2nd jab (booster) immunity can begin, yet unsure if you could be an asymptomatic spreader after having both jabs.

To be clear, presently, there are other vaccines in final human testing – Phase 3. These are more traditionally constructed. That is a different weakened virus (ex. adenovirus) that is coated with the S protein is introduced into the body. The body immediately starts to defend activating the immune system (listen to this podcast for more on the immune system).

So many questions persist regarding the nature of the protection acquired from these mRNA vaccines. Does the vaccine keep you from infecting others? Can it truly block transmission of the virus, which is often spread by infected people who show no signs of sickness?
How long does immunity last? It is unknown to date if either vaccine offers complete indefinite protection against infections. 

Studies show that the immunity for those who receive the vaccine lasts longer than immunity developed post COVID-19 infection (only 6-8 months due to B cell memory). Second, the studies have shown that antibody levels are 5-20% higher in those vaccinated as compared to those who had a natural infection. Third, studies in those recovering from COVID-19 infection showed that the body’s response did not always produce antibodies correctly. Strange! Since, if someone has had chickenpox, there is no need to get immunized for chickenpox, but recovery from COVID-19 infection does not always produce full protection.

 Post Vaccine or no vaccine you must Wear Mask and social distance.

News Flash-new variant virus was discovered in the UK & South Africa, believed to be 70% more transmittable yet it is unknown if present approved vaccines will offer protection against these variants.

Holiday Stressors 2020

The holiday season 2020 landscape will challenge, more than in the previous years. The holidays typically see an increased presence of sadness or depression* and this year there is quite a bit more to contend with. Many have lost loved ones this past year and some were unable to be there when they passed. Compounding this is the personal fear of contracting a possibly deadly disease – COVID-19. Facing one’s own mortality is yet another stressor.

No surprise with the lockdowns that all abuses have dramatically increased globally. In the US, findings include an increase in child abuse risk. In UK one in five crimes during lockdown was domestic abuse-related. From FIFA to Pope Francis speaking out and with protests in France to Turkey, all calling for the elimination of violence in the home. Many have already reacted to increase stress by increasing their alcohol consumption. A recent study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, correlated time in lockdown with the increase in harmful drinking.

All of us must take positive steps to maintain good mental health. Strain and tensions abound as eluded to above, but how we face them with support and a few self-steps can make a difference. If you have negative emotions process them. You come first, don’t ignore your needs to satisfy others. Avoid toxic and negative individuals. Especially with lockdowns and social distancing, don’t allow yourself to feel isolated. In this age of FaceTime, Whats App, and Zoom visits with all your besties, make a date to see each other.

Take stock of all and I know you’ll find positive and worthwhile aspects of your existence!

 

*Recall depression is not sadness it is prolonged (weeks) of feeling sad helpless, hopeless, irritable, and or guilty much of every day.

 

 

 

A COVID-19 Vaccine Is Here

I want to share a few insights that I have gained on the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine’s emergency use authorization (EUA) for those over 16. I have learned much from many sources including watching the full CDC & FDA live meeting last week and relevant medical literature.

Also, I wish to direct you to what background resources exist and what to expect as you anticipate your vaccine timing. This blog by no means covers every aspect of the vaccine news.

First and foremost it is an Emergency Use Authorization– not a complete safety endorsement – what that means is if you are at high-risk of death the vaccine benefits outweigh vaccine risks. At present, in the general population who catch COVID-19, there is a 1/200 of being hospitalized and a 1/1000 risk of dying. Note: There have only been 2 months of follow-up in Pfizer Phase 3 volunteers, after receiving the second booster inoculation. I heard at FDA advisory committee meeting Pfizer is watching safety and effectiveness in the elderly while also fertile and pregnant women. This group should take the vaccine at their own risk. The company reported in testimony there were 4 cases of Bells Palsy in vaccine recipients vs. the placebo group. This is a neurological side effect unexplained to date.

Logistic realities are the Pfizer vaccine requires storage below (-) 70-degree  (5-10 lbs. of dry ice needs to be changed every 24hours) once defrosted the vaccine survives 5 days in the refrigerator and once reconstituted survives 6 hrs before degradation.  A 2nd (booster) dose 21 days later. If accidentally defrosted losses effectiveness and possibly bacterial growth will occur.

As we await the second mRNA vaccine – ‘Moderna’ as media calls it- approval, you should be learning as much as possible about them. No matter how far down the priority list you are to get the vaccine, you must be learning. We are awaiting the more traditional vaccines from Johnson and Johnson and Oxford Univ. These and others are similar to the flu vaccine and do not require special handling. No word on the likely date for completion of studies and submission of these vaccines.

A worthwhile link you may find is this video.

Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D a nutrient present in a few foods, a hormone that our bodies produce has been long known to impact bone growth, bone healing, and boost immune system function. Hence I am taking extra D3 during this pandemic! The sun alone may not be able to meet our needs and actually, you need time to allow the ‘D’ from the rays to be absorbed into your body. So after sunning, no shower for at least 2  hours! Also, your skin color, time of year, and where you live are critical factors. Check how much you are getting daily and remember always better to get it from foods than supplements. Please if you are under 70 be sure you are getting 600 IU (15mcg)/day. Over 70 increase to 800IU(20mcg)/day. More than 4000IU/day is dangerous. The University of Florida provides examples of foods that contain vitamin D:

3 ounces (oz) of cooked sockeye salmon: 570 IU or 14 mcg.
3 oz of drained canned tuna: 240 IU or 6 mcg.
3 oz of drained canned sardines: 165 IU or 4 mcg.
1 cup of 1% fortified milk: 120 IU or 3 mcg.
6 oz of low-fat vanilla yogurt: 80 IU or 2 mcg.
three-quarters of a cup of fortified orange juice: 75 IU or 2 mcg.
1 serving of fortified breakfast cereal: At least 40 IU or 1 mcg.
1 large hard-boiled egg: 45 IU or 1 mcg.

But I digress, this blog is to share new info regarding Vitamin D’s influence in fighting Diabetes, Hypertension, and Dementia.

Dementia

Long-term studies one over 6 years resulted in mounting evidence supporting the supposition that vitamin D gives our brains a boost. Prevention is the cornerstone of any disease, especially dementia. Those with deficiencies had the highest risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes

A  study, derived from the Nurses’ Health Study, found that daily supplementation of calcium and vitamin D was associated with a 33% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That’s a big number!

Hypertension/Heart Disease

study, published in Circulation, followed more than 1,700 individuals (more than 5 years), without any cardiovascular disease to find a significant association in time between vitamin D deficiency and their development of cardiovascular disease.

Various other studies have also come to the conclusion that low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of coronary artery or heart diseases.

– best when taking supplements buy vitamin in the D3 form

 

Medicine Is Not an Exact Science

Everyone is different you have heard this regarding many issues, but this especially comes into the forefront as the healthcare system responds to the novel virus pandemic. Medicine is an art not a precise field of science. I listen to so many concerns, confusion, and complaints regarding all aspects of the pandemic. It is not fake, it is gravely real! In this blog, I want to offer some medical insights in an attempt to clarify and hopefully not confuse you more. Let’s start with recognizing the illness, well it is a virus, it is everywhere, and it needs a living ‘host’, us humans to multiple and then making us ill – ‘attack’ our organs. Allot more complicated than the common cold virus (there are many of them). We are all unique so how our bodies respond is different. How long it takes feel ill, if it causes illness at all varies – husband may get it bad and wife never turns positive! This brings me to the myriad of tests for the presence of the virus – SARS- CoV-2. There are so many all have varying accuracy. You can be sneezed upon by a COVID-19 ill person and it can take anywhere from 5-14 days for your test to turn positive.* Why? Well, for a test to pick up the presence of this virus it has to have multiplied a specific number of times, and how quickly it does that depends on our individual immunity. Has your body been primed by small dose exposures to the virus? No way to tell, I’m afraid. Why can a mother contract COVID-19 and feel better after 2 weeks yet not have a  positive antibody test for 45 days, yet her son can have measurable antibodies  – tested within 10 days of feeling better. You get the sense there is no fixed formula.

*CDC is considering at the time of this blog to shorten quarantine after finding that 50% become ill with symptoms in 5-6 days, 9% in 10 days while only 2% in 14 days.

Medicine is an art not an exact body of knowledge that can apply to all.

What As Well As When You Eat Matters

What you eat and also when you eat are important factors in your health.

A researcher scientist (Nour Makarem) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York studied weekday vs. weekend dietary habits. She found that waist circumference, body fat, blood pressure, and blood sugar were all affected. These are all important heart health risk factors.

Studying women age 20-64, she found for every 10% increase in inconsistency in calories consumed after 5 p.m, blood pressure and blood sugar (measured by HbA1c) were negatively altered.

Earlier research by this scientist had shown that eating more in the evenings negatively affected the heart risk for disease.

The present COVID-19 pandemic could be further contributing to the disruption of eating and sleeping cycles and hence our health. I find heeding the suggestion from these results that especially now we reduce evening intake. Please, as we cocoon to decrease virus spread, follow a routine that ensures time for exercise,