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Category Archives: Recommended Reading

This Doc Says Forget The Health Rules and Live A Little!

by on May 10, 2013

Lose weight, exercise more, get 8 hours of sleep, eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce stress, take supplements… have you grown weary of all the health rules offered by TV doctors, magazine articles and well-intentioned friends? Dr. Pauline Chen, in her New York Times column last summer, wrote about a patient’s difficulty in absorbing “a fire hose of advice.” “Thanks to some dazzling advances in preventive medicine and public health,” she wrote, “doctors in almost every specialty of medicine now have a panoply of proven preventive recommendations to keep their patients from getting sick.”

Dr. Susan Love, health rulesDr. Susan Love, the well known breast cancer researcher, takes issue with many of those recommendations, or “health rules” as she calls them in a book called Live a Little!: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health. She goes down the list of well-known “to do items for healthy living” and questions the etched-in-stone rules that seem to be guiding many of our every day decisions. She writes;

Health rules can mislead you into half way believing that if you eat only the right things, or exercise in the proper way, you can escape not just run of the mill illnesses but death itself. This way of thinking leads to a distorted set of priorities: Instead of trying to be healthy so that you can enjoy life, you squander your happiness in the pursuit of more health.

Dr. Love “studied the studies” in six areas that generate the most health rules; sleep, stress management, health screenings, exercise, nutrition, and personal relationships. While new research has added to our knowledge (and grown the list of rules) since then, her thoughts about putting research findings in context, and using common sense to guide our actions, still holds up. Here are a few examples from her book: … [Read more]


Five Hidden Threats to Your Health

by on April 7, 2013

The lifespan of the average American woman is now estimated to be eighty-four, so consider that women of our generation will spend more than a third of our lives post-menopause. Will we be strong and vital into our 80s and 90s? Playing bridge or doing Yoga? Or will a chronic condition keep us frail and isolated? Clues about our future health and quality of life can, in part, be found in the way we care for ourselves now, in midlife.

That’s the main message that Dr. Julia Edelman, a gynecologist and certified menopause practitioner, wants to convey in her excellent book, “Menopause Matters: Your Guide to a Long and Healthy Life .” Lifestyle choices and preventive measures can reduce our risk of disease but it requires women to be informed about their health and to proactively seek advice from trusted advisors. I found Dr. Edelman’s book to be a great resource for women who want to take control of their health as best they can. … [Read more]


Upgrading Your View Of Love

by on February 14, 2013

Valentines Day seems like the perfect time to tell you about a new book about love. But it requires us, the reader, to set aside our notion of what love is. It’s not about a feeling, or category of relationships, or something that you can fall into or out of.

The upgraded version of love that author Dr. Barbara Fredrickson asks us to consider in her new book, Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Becomerequires words like “life-giving” and “nourishing” to define it because her well-known research lab has found evidence that “love fundamentally alters the biochemicals in which your body is steeped.” In other words, love affects our physical health, our vitality and our overall well-being. She writes;

“Love is the essential nutrient that your cells crave: true positivity-charged connection with other living beings. Love …nourishes your body the way the right balance of sunlight, nutrient-rich soil and water nourishes plants and allows them to flourish.”

Love 2.0, Positivity, Positivity Resonance, positive psychologyBarbara Fredrickson knows a lot about positivity. She’s a scholar in the field of social and positive psychology and her work at the University of North Carolina has given “scientific legs” to the field of positive emotions. In her first book, “Positivity,” she made the case that we need a daily ratio of 3 positive thoughts to 1 negative emotion to step up to a whole new level of life. (See my review of this book here.)

In “Love 2.0,” she describe love as “positivity resonance;” a trifecta of events that involve sharing positive emotions between you and another; a synchrony between your and the other person’s’ biochemistry and behaviors; and, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.”

But no emotion lasts forever. It’s momentary. “It’s far more fleeting … [Read more]


What I’m Reading: Eating For Good Health

by on February 9, 2013

I’ve bookmarked these brief, but informative articles about eating for good health to share with you this weekend.  They all appeared on National Public Radio’s terrific blog, The Salt (What’s On Your Plate), which I recommend for the latest news and coverage of nutrition studies as well as lighter fare, such as the last story below.

Why Health Officials Want You To Eat More Potassium

Rarely do you hear health authorities telling us to eat MORE of something, but when it comes to peas and beans, more is better. “By amping up consumption of potassium-rich foods, public health officials say, we can cut the risk of high blood pressure — which may, in turn, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.” The blogpost includes a link to this FDA chart showing which foods contain the most of this important plant nutrient.

Women With A Berry-snacking Habit May Have Healthier Hearts

A new study shows for the first time that a regular intake of substances that are naturally present in red, and blue-colored fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of a heart attack by about 32 percent in young and middle-aged women (mid-40s to 60s), compared with women who ate berries once a month or less.  It’s the plant compounds known as anthocyanins that offer so many positive health effects. … [Read more]


What I’m Reading This Week

by on November 25, 2012

I’ve been taking advantage of the post-Thanksgiving Day lull, when everyone is presumably too tired to email or phone me, to catch up on my reading. My “to read” file is bulging with interesting articles I’d like to tell you about. I’ve picked three for this week and will save the rest for another time.

Can Certain Foods Prevent Skin Wrinkling?

Green and yellow vegetables may improve facial wrinkles

We all know that eating fruits and vegetables can lower our risk of certain cancers and heart disease. But can a healthful diet do anything for facial wrinkles? The answer is yes, or at least probably, according to the findings of two studies I learned about on, a non-profit organization that provides summaries of nutrition-related research in short, easy to understand video segments. In an observational study of 716 Japanese women, researchers concluded that what helped most for “crows feet” wrinkles around the eyes were green and yellow vegetables. A plant-based diet – peas, soy, lentils and olive oil in particular- seemed to be protective against skin wrinkling while a high intake of meat, dairy and butter appear to have an adverse affect, the researchers reported. Prunes, apples and green tea appear to be especially protective too. … [Read more]


Recommended Reading: Dr. Mark Hyman On The Need To Find A Doc Who Treats More Than Symptoms

by on August 30, 2012

If you’re a woman in your late 40s, and experiencing insomnia, mood swings, and elevated blood pressure – three common symptoms of perimenopause -there’s a good chance that you’re already taking a cocktail of prescription meds every day. If you’re a few years older, and you’ve graduated to another layer of symptoms, such as joint pain, anxiety or Gerd, it’s possible that your pill box is even fuller. And that’s if your over all health is good!

I know about this symptom management approach to medicine, because it happened to me at the beginning of my menopause journey. By the time I was 50 and not even officially in menopause, I had been prescribed Ambien for sleeping, an anti-depressant and something else for blood pressure.  It didn’t occur to me to ask my physician about hormone fluctuations, the underlying cause of these problems, because, frankly, I thought I was too young for that. And as a practitioner of conventional medicine, and pressed for time, she didn’t think to ask. She heard my tired, lethargic voice and whipped out her prescription pad. I left grateful for these remedies.

Functional medicine practitioner and authorDr. Mark Hyman, a practitioner of functional medicine, and the author of The Blood Sugar Solution, calls this approach to medicine “a recipe for disaster,” saying it’s like trying to fix a car by listening to its sounds rather than looking under the hood. In an excellent article posted on his website, he writes;

“Just because you’re treating your symptoms doesn’t mean you’re healthy. If you think your doctor is controlling your health problems because he or she has prescribed medication for them — well, you couldn’t be more wrong!”

He goes on to illustrate his point with patient stories that, … [Read more]



by on August 6, 2012

In nearly two decades of practicing naturopathic medicine, Dr. Laurie Steelsmith has noticed a trend in many of her female patients age 30 and over. They want to know “Where did my libido go?” and “What can I do to rekindle the flames of passion? Does this sound familiar to you?

These often-heard questions led Dr. Steelsmith to do research on how to build sexual energy through naturopathic and Chinese medicine. The result is her new book, Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine, which looks at ways to enhance libido naturally, using Western and Eastern herbs, aphrodisiacs, nutritional supplements and natural hormones.

naturopathic medicine, menopause, libido, vaginal drynessShe covers a lot of ground in this book, including ways to naturally treat “notorious sex spoilers” like vaginal dryness, incontinence, UTIs and pelvic pain. But what piqued my interest were her suggestions for nutritional supplements “that can pack an extra punch of pleasure potential.” I spoke to Dr. Steelsmith to learn how these sex-enhancers work.

At the top of her list of natural aphrodesiacs is an amino acid, L-arginine, which she calls “an effective natural sex-enhancer by increasing nitric oxide and promoting blood flow to your sexual organs.”

“It vasodilates, so it increases circulation by increasing nitric oxide and promoting blood flow to your whole body, especially to your sexual organs. For women who are having low libido and poor sexual function, taking L-arginine can be a booster and increase sensitivity so they can feel more when they are having sex.” … [Read more]


What I’m Reading

by on March 15, 2012

Here’s my pick of the three most interesting or newsworthy articles I’ve read this week.

Rodale’s The Daily Fix Newsletter – Why Women Shouldn’t Eat Factory-Farmed Chicken.

Years ago, I felt (and tasted) the difference when I stopped buying Foster Farm-brand chicken and switched to organic, locally raised poultry. Now I know why. As this article points out, tests by ConsumersUnion regularly show that as much as two-thirds of grocery-store chicken contains bacteria. That means that “dirty factory farms are filling our guts with bacteria that can cause all sorts of infections. And for women, that could mean more uncomfortable urinary tract infections (UTIs).”  Did you know that 80 to 90 percent of routine UTIs are caused by E. Coli? And supermarket chicken could be where all that bacteria is coming from, according to a Canadian researcher.

More Magazine (March issue), “Anti-Aging Arsenal: Four Nutrients You Now Need” 

We’re so busy counting calories and fat grams, we often overlook the importance of consuming micronutrients that are essential to the proper functioning of our bodies. As the author of this article points out, avoiding certain foods such as meats and eggs, … [Read more]


What I’m Reading This Week

by on March 9, 2012

Between Twitter feeds, magazines, health newsletters, blogs and three daily newspapers, I read a lot about women’s health and healthy aging.  So I’m going to start a weekly post in which I pick a few of the best articles that I think you’ll find interesting too. Consider me your personal information sherpa.

This week, there were two articles about exercise in the “Well” Column in the New York Times that are worth calling out.

The first, “Getting Fat but Staying Fit?,” references a study that explored whether you can be fit when you’re overweight. Researchers concluded that exercise does, in fact, mitigate the health risks associated with being overweight.  You’re in trouble when you are overweight and sedentary.  The bottom line, Ms. Pope writes “exercise by itself won’t erase the heart risks of extra body fat, but it may blunt them.” … [Read more]


These Books Can Help You Keep Your Fitness Resolutions Even If You Only Have 15 Minutes for Exercise (And I’m giving them away)

by on January 23, 2012

How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions? I’m betting that one of them included a commitment to exercise on a regular basis. It’s only four weeks into the year, but if the thinning crowd at the gym is any indication, this is the time when you see who’s serious about their fitness and who isn’t. If you’re in the latter camp, you MUST watch this engaging 10 minute video that explains why exercise is the single best thing you can do for your health. If this doesn’t motivate you to get with the program, nothing will.

If you do watch the video by Dr. Mike Evans, an Assoc. Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, you’ll learn that even a half hour of daily exercise can be meaningful. Consider these recent research findings that he explained more fully in his talk:

  • Just one hour a week of activity reduced the incidence of heart disease by almost half in one study.
  • For every increase of 10-minutes in your walk to work, there’s a 12 percent reduction in your likelihood of getting high blood pressure.
  • Compared with persons who watch no television, those who spent a lifetime average of six hours a day watching TV can expect to live five years less.

If exercising at least 30 minutes a day seems out of the question, given home and work responsibilities, take a look at Joan Pagano’s exercise books. Joan specializes in full-body strength training that can be done with minimal equipment at home, in the gym or on the road. They’re illustrated with step-by-step photos … [Read more]