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Posts for: January, 2012


In papyrus scrolls dating back from 1550 BC, Hippocrates, the Greek physician famed as the father of medicine, offered a formula for sweet-smelling breath: rinsing with a mouthwash made of red wine, anise and dill.  Toothpaste is even older than that, with an ancient Egyptian medical text called the Ebers Papyrus containing recipes dating back some 6,000 years, while toothbrushes to apply it were only invented about 500 years ago, most likely by the Chinese, reports Dr. Harold Katz, director of the California Breath Clinics and author of The Bad Breath Bible.

Today, 93 million Americans suffer from chronically bad breath (halitosis), which can sometimes signal other health problems. If you or someone you smooch with regularly is one of them, these tactics can help restore fresh breath, according dental experts.

Get the latest information about proper oral care for a healthy smile and a strong body.

1. Clean your tongue. Along with brushing and flossing twice a day, also use a tongue scraper, available at most drugstores, or brush your tongue. Your tongue, especially the top back, is a serious source of halitosis.  That’s because your tongue has millions of filaments that can trap food particles and bacteria, leading to oral odor. 

2. Chew sugarless gum Surprising as it sounds, saliva is the best defense against bad breath. A common cause of halitosis is dry mouth, which can be triggered by certain medications and health problems. If you’re wondering why morning breath can be smelly, that’s because saliva flow is lower during sleep. Chewing gum counteracts these problems by stimulating salivation. What’s more, gum containing the sugar substitute xylitol may help reduce cavity-causing bacteria, a recent study suggests. 

3. Scent your breath with cinnamon. Unlike other flavorings, such as mint, which only mask bad breath, cinnamon appears to have odor-combating compounds, with a study presented at the annual meeting of International Association for Dental Research reporting that the cinnamon-flavored gum, Big Red, seems to reduce odor-causing bacteria. In the study, people who chewed the gum had a more than 50 percent drop in bacteria levels.

Check out eight other foods like cinnamon that help your body heal.

4. Keep your mouth moist. Drinking more water also helps wash away bad-smelling bacteria. There’s also research indicating that drinking tea may be helpful, since it contains polypehnols, a plant chemical that may help curb bacterial growth. 

5. Pay attention to your diet. An unfortunate side effect of a low-carb diet, such as the Atkins plan, can be “dragon breath” due to ketosis (the fat-burning state that is one of the goals of this type of diet).  The only cure is increasing carbs, though chewing mint leaves or parsley can temporarily mask the problem. Also watch out for other foods that can trigger mouth odor, such as coffee, alcohol, and such obvious culprits as onions and garlic. 

6. Choose the right mouthwash. Antibacterial mouthwashes help combat oral infections, thus improving breath.An analysis of five studies involving 293 participants by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that such ingredients as chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorine dioxide and zinc are all helpful for reducing mouth odor. However, chlorhexidine mouthwash, available by prescription from dentists, can temporarily stain teeth and your tongue. If your dentist advises it to clear up an oral infection, you may be told to dip a Q-tip into the mouthwash and apply it to the backs of your teeth and gums, or only to the infected area. 

7. Rule out medical problems.  90 percent of the time, halitosis is triggered by microbes in the mouth. Common dental causes include cavities, gum disease (which may not cause any obvious symptoms other than bad breath), and faulty tooth restorations that have become a breeding ground for bacteria. However, if you have good oral health—and persistent halitosis—check with your doctor, since such illnesses as respiratory tract infections, diabetes, acid reflux disease, liver disease and even cancer, in rare cases, can also cause mouth odor, cautions Dr. Mitchell. One of the best ways to protect your oral health—and keep your breath fresh—is to avoid tobacco use, which greatly increases risk for gum disease and oral cancer.

For years now, I have been saying there should be restrictions or regulations on energy drinks.  This particular research was done in Australia, but I’m sure the problem is very similar in the United States.  In addition to the caffeine, a drink such as  Monster  has 13 tsp of sugar in each serving.   Please read this and be aware of what you and/or your children are drinking!

Researchers in Australia called for health warnings on caffeine-loaded energy drinks following a spike in the number of people reporting medical problems after drinking them.

Health professionals from the University of Sydney's Medical School and the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre said reports of adverse reactions to drinks like Red Bull and V jumped from just 12 in 2004 to 65 in 2010.

Over the seven years to 2010, 297 calls for assistance were recorded with at least 128 people hospitalized with symptoms including heart palpitations, agitation and stomach upsets.

Of these, 20 people had more serious issues, such as seizures and hallucinations.

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, said the average person affected was 17 years old and that they often mixed energy drinks with alcohol.

"Our study demonstrates the extent of the growing problem in Australia with energy drink consumption and toxicity, particularly among adolescents," the study's authors wrote.

"Given the clear evidence of toxicity and the growing number of hospitalizations associated with consumption of energy drinks... health authorities should increase awareness of the problem, improve package labeling and regulate caffeine content."

They recommended that "labeling and any marketing of these products should include appropriate health warnings and the national poisons hotline number". A can of energy drink may contain up to 300 milligrams of caffeine -- compared to an average 65-120mg for a cup of drip coffee -- and Poisons Centre medical director Naren Gunja called for more thorough regulation.

"Things to look at would be... how much caffeine do these drinks contain, how many can you buy at once, what age should you be when you buy them, should there be an age limit to being sold the drinks," he said.



This is the first in a 7-part series where Dr. Mark Hyman M.D. gives detailed explanations about each of the 7 Keys to UltraWellness. Key #1 is Optimize Nutrition, and in this blog he explains what constitutes a healthy diet, gives you some tips to help you optimize your nutrition, and clarify whether or not supplements are truly a waste of money.

CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT “good nutrition” is? You shouldn’t be — we know what works and what doesn’t. In a moment, I will share 5 simple tips to help you optimize your nutrition and achieve vibrant health, but first let me clear up a few misconceptions.

Despite the “conflicting” scientific studies and media reports designed to confound rather than enlighten, there is no confusion about what constitutes good nutrition. If we were to gather the world’s top nutrition scientists and experts — free from food industry influence — there would be very little debate about the essential properties of good nutrition.

Unfortunately, most doctors are nutritionally illiterate. Worse, they don’t know how to use the most powerful medicine available to them: food.

Common sense and scientific research both lead us to the conclusion that if we want healthy bodies, we must put the right raw materials into our bodies: real, whole, local, fresh, unadulterated, unprocessed, and chemical, hormone, and antibiotic-free food.

There is NO role in our diets for foreign molecules such as trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup, which interfere with our biology at every level.

If you want junk out, put junk in. Enough said.

If you want a whole, healthy body, put in whole real food.

I want to explain how you can do that …

This is the first in a 7-part series where I will give detailed explanations about each of the 7 Keys to UltraWellness. Key #1 is Optimize Nutrition, and in this blog I will explain what constitutes a healthy diet, give you some tips to help you optimize your nutrition, and clarify whether or not supplements are truly a waste of money.

The Basics of a Healthy Diet

What I am about to share might be shocking …

Carbohydrates are the single most important food for long-term health and well-being.

This may be surprising given the low-carb movement, and “carbophobia” in our country, but it’s true.

Of course, I don’t mean the over-processed, refined, sugary, white foods we commonly think of as carbohydrates, such as donuts, bread, bagels, muffins, colas, juices, and most junk food.

And I don’t mean the cheap, super-sweet, government-subsidized high-fructose corn syrup that is driving our epidemic of obesity and chronic disease.

The carbohydrates I am talking about are the real, whole, nourishing plant foods that the human species has thrived on since from the dawn of evolution.

Food can heal or harm. You make that choice every day by what you put on your fork.

Most of the food consumed by humans since the beginning of time has been carbohydrates. In fact, plant foods are comprised mostly of carbohydrates: vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.

These foods contain slowly released sources of sugar that prevent surges of blood sugar and insulin. Too much insulin causes heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and even dementia.

Carbohydrates contain almost all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to operate normally and optimally.

They also contain fiber, which helps normalize our digestive function and slows the absorption of sugar and fats into the body, keeping us balanced.

The bonuses in plant foods are phytonutrients — colorful healing compounds made by plants to protect themselves, but that also protect us against aging, obesity, brain damage, and more.

For example, broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, Brussels sprouts, and other vegetables from the cruciferous family contain powerful detoxifying compounds that protect us against environmental toxins.

Green tea contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying properties.

Resveratrol from red grapes boosts our energy production and protects our cells.

These are just a few examples of the thousands of phytonutrients in the plant foods that should be the foundation of our diet.

Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, summed up all nutritional research in 3 simple principles:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

In fact, you need know nothing else to be vibrantly healthy.

That’s it. Eat real whole food as it comes from the earth: fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, eggs, and lean animal protein like fish and chicken.

Imagine what your great-grandmother would recognize as food, or what might have been on her dinner table. Just food. There is really no such thing as junk food — there is just food, and then there is junk.

Whole foods that contain phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fats, and fiber all directly, immediately, and specifically interact with our genes, controlling moment-to-moment changes in our physiology and biochemistry.

Food literally talks to our genes. Food is not just a source of calories, it is also a source of INFORMATION.

The key is to send the right information to your genes by eating whole, real, food — mostly plants. Specific nutrients or plant compounds bind to receptors in cells, translating messages from the foods we eat or vitamins we take in into instructions that are carried out by our cells through their effect on our DNA.

That is why food can heal or harm. You make that choice every day by what you put on your fork.

That means if you eat whole, real, fresh food, you don’t need vitamins. Right?

Well, maybe …

Do We Need Vitamins or Not?

I agree that you don’t need vitamins and that they are a waste of money.

But that is true ONLY if you eat wild, fresh, whole, organic, local, non-genetically modified food grown in virgin mineral and nutrient rich soils, and not transported across vast distances and stored for months before eaten.

It is true ONLY if you work and live outside, breathe only fresh unpolluted air, drink only pure, clean water, sleep nine hours a night, move your body every day, and are free from chronic stressors and exposures to environmental toxins.

Then you don’t need vitamins.

But, of course, this describes absolutely no one on the planet! Therefore, in reality, we ALL need vitamins.

Most people don’t understand the role of vitamins and minerals in our bodies. I certainly didn’t when I finished my medical training.

I thought if we just got enough of a nutrient to prevent some horrible deficiency state like scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), then we didn’t have to worry about getting more than that.

I also believed that if you ate “enriched food” like white flour with a few vitamins added back in, or milk with vitamin D added in, additional vitamin supplementation was a waste.

In today’s world, everyone needs a basic multivitamin and mineral supplement. The research is overwhelming on this point.

What most people don’t realize is the same thing that I didn’t realize when I first started practicing medicine: The real reason our food supply must be “enriched” is because it has been so processed that it is “impoverished” to start with.

So why can’t you just eat “nutrient-rich” food, instead of eating “nutrient-poor” food?

Today, even with our “enriched food,” more than 92 percent of Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins. That doesn’t mean they are receiving less than the amount they need to get for optimal health. That means they receive less than the MINIMUM amount necessary to prevent deficiency diseases.

In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers found that 6 percent of those tested had serious vitamin C deficiency and 30 percent were borderline low.

A report in the journal Pediatrics found that obesity and malnutrition can coexist. Obese, overfed, and undernourished children with cognitive disorders were found to have scurvy and severe vitamin D deficiency or rickets. These deficiencies damaged their brains. You never think of an overweight person as malnourished, but they are!

A USDA survey showed that 37 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin C, 70 percent not enough vitamin E, almost 75 percent don’t get enough zinc, and 40 percent don’t get enough iron.

I would say that 100 percent of us don’t have enough of the basic nutrients to create optimal health or give ourselves a metabolic tune up.

There are many reasons why the foods we eat no longer contain the nutrient levels we require for optimal health. Crops are raised in soil where nutrients have been depleted. Plants are treated with pesticides and other chemicals so they no longer have to fight to live, which further diminishes their nutrient levels and their phytonutrient content — not to mention the toxic exposure we receive from such chemicals.

Animals are cooped up in pens or giant feedlots instead of roaming free and eating the nutrient-rich wild grains and grasses they once consumed. Since cows’ stomachs are adapted to grass instead of corn, they must take antibiotics to prevent them from exploding.

To complicate this further, all of us are exposed to hazardous toxins and chemicals that poison our bodies; we live with too much stress; we don’t sleep enough; we don’t exercise enough; and we are inflamed — making the nutritional demands on our bodies even greater.

The question is not how much of a certain nutrient or vitamin we need to not get sick, but how much we need to be optimally healthy! In fact, lower amounts recommended by the government may NOT be enough.

Most people can get what they need by taking the following essential supplements every day:

  • A high-quality multivitamin
  • Calcium-magnesium supplement
  • Fish oil
  • Special B vitamins (folate and vitamins B6 and B12).

I have tested thousands of patients for vitamin and nutrient deficiencies and found that by correcting them, people feel better, their mood, mental sharpness, memory, and ability to focus improve, they have more energy, and they even lose weight. It also helps prevent disease.

In my 20+ years of practicing medicine with thousands of patients, I have seen depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, autism, ADHD, mood swings, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia go away or dramatically improve when people get the right nutrients.

In today’s world, everyone needs a basic multivitamin and mineral supplement. The research is overwhelming on this point.

So what are the takeaways here? What do you need to do to optimize your nutrition?

Here are some simple steps you can begin taking immediately:

  1. Eat whole, real, fresh, organic, unprocessed food. If it comes in a box, a package, or a can, avoid it. If you do choose to buy prepackaged foods, read the labels carefully and avoid foods that contain long lists of ingredients you don’t understand.
  2. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables full of colorful phytonutrients. That means eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Choose a wide variety and you will do much to support your health.
  3. Eat foods with plenty of fiber. Think whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and millet and vegetables like celery, asparagus, and leeks. Fiber is essential for balancing blood sugar and maintaining a healthy bowel. (Scan my Recipes archive for some delicious suggestions using these ingredients).
  4. Eat foods containing omega-3 fats. I recommend eating protein at every meal, and some of the best sources of protein have an abundance of these healthy fats, which are essential for building every cell membrane in your body. Try cold-water river fish like salmon, sardines, and halibut; eat omega-3 eggs; and eat plenty of nuts like almonds, macadamias, and walnuts.
  5. Take the essential supplements outlined above every day. They are the basic workhorse team needed to support every biochemical reaction in your body.

            Mark Hyman, MD


Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you think about the quality of our food supply?

Do you think supplements are effective?

Do you have any tips for others on how to more easily eat real, whole foods?

Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

To your good health,

Robert G. Berger D.D.S.


Kids like snacks. Grownups like snacks. Our bodies need energy and nutrients to remain active and healthy, and snacks provide just a perfect opportunity to supply our diets with the necessary vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.

With our busy schedules, sometimes it's difficult to architect a meal that is to provide our bodies with all the essential nutrients. Keep in mind that most children and many adolescents are picky eaters. Therefore, they may not finish the whole meal. Also, young children have small stomachs, so they may not eat enough to satisfy their nutrient needs, making healthy snacks important!

A healthy snack that is filling and satisfying should include carbohydrates, protein, and fat. For example, you may serve cut up fresh vegetables with peanut butter, cheese, or cottage cheese. Add crackers to get carbohydrates. Another option would be fresh fruits served with yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese; or cereals topped with milk or yogurt.

Did you know that one teaspoon of sugar equals four grams? Have you looked at the nutritional information on the box of your favorite cereal? The healthiest cereals are those containing 3 or less grams of sugar per serving. My latest trip to the local supermarket was a brutal awakening when in an aisle of maybe 50 different varieties I found only a handful of low sugar cereals. Excessive sugar consumption leads to cavities and empty calories that result in unwanted weight, so beware! When selecting cereals be an educated consumer: read labels!

Super snacks do not have to be fancy. All they need to accomplish is to help you achieve the goal of getting three servings of dairy products and five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Consider these healthy ideas for powerful snacks:

- Cottage cheese with fruits (peaches or strawberries)

- Crackers with cheese sticks

- Pretzels and cheese cubes

- Fruit/Veggie/Lunch meat Skewer

- Bagel with peanut butter

- A toast with butter and slices of hard-boiled egg

- A muffin and a glass of milk

- Bugs on a log (go to http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/bugs-on-a-log-675737/)

Keep healthy snack foods on hand to help your family meat the daily requirements of nutrients.