Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com Tune up your brain, heart, energy, waistline, and sex life! Tue, 24 Apr 2018 17:30:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 https://drmasley.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/cropped-PAN1360re-32x32.jpg Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com 32 32 What Tests to Include with Your Annual Doctor’s Exam? https://drmasley.com/what-tests-to-include-with-your-annual-doctors-exam/ https://drmasley.com/what-tests-to-include-with-your-annual-doctors-exam/#respond Mon, 23 Apr 2018 23:02:55 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5393 The post What Tests to Include with Your Annual Doctor’s Exam? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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May is Health Screening month and it's just around the corner, so let’s address what testing you should include with your next annual medical exam.

An annual physical with your doctor is your chance to identify how you are aging, how to increase your energy and mental sharpness, plus how to prevent cancer, memory loss, and heart disease. Yet too often, this opportunity is replaced with a quick blood pressure and weight check, brief lab work with results you might not even see, a quick listen to your heart, a pap smear or prostate check (and maybe not these either), and too little time to ask questions on things that are important.

Part of the challenge is that medical insurance does not normally pay to assess how you age, how to improve your quality of life, or how to prevent a future health problem, despite that this may be incredibly important to you. It does cover the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, with treatments that have been proven to be cost-effective. Sadly, there is an ongoing debate between doctors and health systems as to whether we should stop offering annual physicals altogether.

Your annual evaluation should clarify how you are aging, help you to achieve peak performance, identify the long-term health risks that you face, and give you the tools to avoid those same threats. Your yearly doctor’s appointment could be your opportunity to shift from:

  • Tired,,,,,,to Energized
  • Mentally Foggy,,,,,,to Sharp & Productive
  • Worried About Your Health & Future,,,,,,To Confident that You’ll Live Life to the Fullest

Your annual assessment should cover the following areas:

  • Weight control: identify your body fat percentage, lean mass, and both a short term and long term optimal weight goal
  • Food and nutrient intake: Do you meet your key nutrients needs, and if not what foods and/or supplements could you take to achieve proper nutrient intake
  • Fitness: Assess your strength, flexibility, and aerobic performance.
  • How you are handling stress
  • Blood sugar control
  • Cardiovascular risk, the #1 killer for men and women
  • Brain function and risk for memory loss
  • Cancer Risk: in particular skin, colon, and GYN or prostate
  • And depending on your history, it might also include your exposure to toxins, risk for bone loss and osteoporosis, safety risks, travel history, support systems, immunization status, and more

The minimum laboratory testing that I would suggest would include your fasting blood sugar level (as part of a CMP—chemistry profile), fasting cholesterol profile, inflammation marker (high sensitivity CRP), thyroid function (TSH), blood count (CBC), nutrient levels (such as vitamin D, ferritin, and perhaps vitamin B12 and RBC magnesium), and a measure of how you are handling stress (such as DHEA-S, and/or Heart Math testing). And at least once by age 50-60, bone density testing (DEXA) as well. Make sure to ask for this type of testing at your visit if it isn’t already performed.

Other additional optional testing that you might want to consider, although it may not be covered by insurance, would include: assessing your arterial plaque load (carotid intimal media thickness testing), computerized cognitive testing to assess your brain processing speed, whole blood mercury level, treadmill ECG and VO2max testing, bone density, and clarifying your hormone levels.

I like to offer a detailed head to toe physical every year, but I realize that this seldom occurs in this day and age.

The truth is that this type of comprehensive evaluation takes time, and time with your physician has been rationed in our new health system.

At my clinic, Dr. Tarin Forbes (my new physician partner and the medical director for our clinic) and I typically spend 3-4 hours of one-on-one time with a new patient to complete an evaluation, and the patient is in our office for nearly 7-8 hours. That evaluation includes all the testing noted above, plus nutrition and fitness. We clarify your unique health goals and come up with a realistic plan to achieve those objectives. But the reality is that most doctors don’t offer nutrition and fitness testing in their medical practice.

One option to have an optimal evaluation within a traditional medical setting is to see a nutritionist and exercise physiologist separately prior to your doctor visit and share those results with your doctor.

Have a local nutritionist evaluate your three-day eating plan for nutrient intake. During three typical days, write down everything you eat (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and beverages), and have the nutritionist identify your current nutrient intake. Clarify if you meet your needs for fiber, protein, vitamin D, B vitamins, vitamin K, fish oil, magnesium, probiotic, and zinc? Then work out a plan to ensure that you correct any obvious nutrient deficiencies, as much as possible with food, and use supplements to finalize your plan.

Similarly, meet yearly with an exercise physiologist at a gym and have them assess your strength, endurance, flexibility, and aerobic fitness. With that information in hand, have that fitness expert develop a plan to enhance your fitness over time. Of course, you’ll have to do the work, so make sure they make recommendations that are realistic for you and your schedule.

One of the keys to getting a good evaluation with your physician is to clarify up front, as you schedule your appointment with the receptionist, and as you begin speaking to your physician, that you want to optimize your health through healthy eating, essential nutrients, fitness, and proactive stress management, and that you are hoping that your physician can guide you on your way. That you would be willing to pay out of pocket for a few of the laboratory studies recommended if needed.

Please don’t sabotage your assessment by bringing a laundry list of complaints to your annual evaluation, such as headaches, rashes, or other health issues that are designed to be covered by a medical visit covered by your insurance. During my all-day assessment, I have the time to cover these type of concerns, but a regular doctor seeing 30+ people per day can’t do both, and dealing with aches and annoyances somehow takes priority over long-term health. If needed, make a separate appointment for any chronic medical problems, so that your physical can focus on your long-term health issues.

My hope is that addressing your key health issues (food, nutrients, fitness, stress management, and toxic avoidance) will help to transform your relationship with your physician for the better. This is your chance to step away from the traditional disease management focus, and instead, address your long-term health goals and aspirations.

I believe that you deserve the best of health. An annual health evaluation, with the proper attention, can help you to achieve your goals, and improve your quality of life for decades to come.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

 

If you’d like to have the best, most comprehensive physical evaluation of your life, to clarify how you are aging on the inside and what you could do to OutSmart Aging, then consider an Optimal Health Evaluation at the Masley Optimal Health Center, in St Petersburg, FL. Schedule by the end of May 2018 and receive $500 OFF your first full day evaluation, and get ready to transform your life for the better. Call Toll Free 844-300-2973, to schedule your appointment.

 

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Roasted chicken thighs (and/or tempeh) with Marinara sauce https://drmasley.com/roasted-chicken-thighs-and-or-tempeh-with-marinara-sauce/ https://drmasley.com/roasted-chicken-thighs-and-or-tempeh-with-marinara-sauce/#comments Sat, 21 Apr 2018 01:09:10 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5342 The post Roasted chicken thighs (and/or tempeh) with Marinara sauce appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This is easy to make and has delicious flavors. For a vegan option, substitute tempeh for chicken. Although a bit more complicated, you can also make this with both tempeh and chicken to add variety. Tempeh is made from organic soy products, so be sure to choose organic, non-GMO. Tempeh has a mild flavor and is less bland than tofu, and pairs nicely with Marinara sauce. 

Chicken Thighs

Tempeh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 22-25 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 pound boneless chicken thighs (or 12 ounces of organic, non-GMO tempeh)

2 cups zucchini, chopped into ¾ inch cubes  

2 Tbsp avocado oil

2 tsp Italian herb seasoning

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper             

Sauce

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 cup Marinara sauce

8 pitted olives, sliced in half

6 basil leaves, thinly sliced into strips

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).

Combine chicken thighs (and/or tempeh) and chopped zucchini in an ovenproof dish. Add avocado oil, Italian herbs, salt, and black pepper and rub with chicken and zucchini. When oven reaches 400 degrees, roast in the oven on the top third rack for 20-25 minutes, until chicken’s internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (F). Zucchini should be tender and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, heat a medium sauté pan to medium-low heat, add oil, then mushrooms, and cook covered stirring occasionally until mushrooms soften (about 6-7 minutes), then add Marinara sauce, olives, and simmer at low heat until chicken is cooked.

Pour Marinara sauce with mushrooms and olives on plates, then add roasted chicken and zucchini, and garnish with finely sliced basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Billions being spent on medications…and the drugs are not making anyone better! https://drmasley.com/billions-being-spent-on-medications-and-the-drugs-are-not-making-anyone-better/ https://drmasley.com/billions-being-spent-on-medications-and-the-drugs-are-not-making-anyone-better/#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 19:22:35 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5326 The post Billions being spent on medications…and the drugs are not making anyone better! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Despite BILLIONS of dollars being spent on pharmaceutical research, diabetes rates continue to rise. Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are increasing at epidemic rates.

There are more than 70 different diabetes drugs being prescribed in the U.S. alone – and NONE address the root causes or stop the progression of the disease. Yes, they likely help to slow ones’ demise and delay diabetic-related complications, but we can prevent and reverse most cases of type 2 diabetes (even without medications), we just need the tools to know what to do.

Blood sugar regulation is an essential aspect of health and overall wellness, and we know it can mean the difference between being fat or slim—but it also can mean the difference between life and death. Poor blood sugar control, in addition to ultimately leading to diabetes, is also the #1 risk factor for developing dementia and heart disease. Unhealthy blood sugar levels also lead to obesity, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and cancer.

30 million people currently have diabetes, and 95% of those are type 2 diabetics, which is largely related to lifestyle choices. Nearly all of these people can reverse their type 2 diabetes with appropriate changes.

Another 86 million people have pre-diabetes, also called insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, and are at risk for all the same problems as those with diabetes.

Sadly, many American medical groups have coined the phrase—“You Can’t Cure Diabetes, You Can Only Manage It, with the Help of Your Physician”. The reality is that this slogan just isn’t true, and perhaps worse, it encourages people to be falsely dependent on prescription medications. These medications are not necessarily harmful but they do often come with annoying side effects. My goal is to help people restore normal blood sugar control so that they don’t need these medications, and they feel better at the same time. It is time for a badly needed paradigm shift.

I say it’s time to claim that people can cure type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes; millions of people just need to be shown how.

I have personally helped thousands of patients, book readers, and online followers to reverse type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. I have helped them transition from having multiple medical problems, to be being medication-free with normal blood sugar control, feeling dramatically better, with more energy, sharper brain function, and better quality of life. And they have been able to maintain normal blood sugar control for years, some for more than a decade.

I don’t think of abnormal blood sugar control as a disease in and of itself, because it’s not. It is, however, a combination of inappropriate lifestyle choices that clash with our individual genetic makeup. Many people have a greater genetic risk of developing type 2 diabetes when they follow the SAD Standard American Diet than others do (while ironically, these same genes would probably help them survive famine).

To discover details on what you can do for yourself and your loved ones, register for The Diabetes Summit 2018, I will be speaking at this summit on Friday, April 27th, 2018.

WHY ATTEND?
Your host for The Diabetes Summit 2018, is Dr. Brian Mowll. For several years, he has been my friend and colleague, and over the last 20 years, he has helped thousands of people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

During this summit, you’ll hear my interview with Dr. Mowll and you’ll hear from many other experts in the field as well. Dr. Mowll will also share his functional medicine and personalized, lifestyle-based approach to help you regain control of blood sugar, heal complications and health problems, and reverse the course of diabetes.

If you’re struggling with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, join us to learn about:

  • The root causes of diabetes and blood sugar problems
  • The impact of abnormal blood sugar control on your brain, gut, immune system, heart, hormones, and body weight
  • Natural solutions to underlying imbalances
  • Emerging research on environmental toxins, EMFs, and other factors
  • How to protect your heart, kidneys, eyes, brain and sexual function
  • And much more!

The Diabetes Summit 2018 is online and free from April 23-30, 2018!

I’ll see you online at this educational event!

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

 

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Soy products—should we eat them, or avoid them? https://drmasley.com/soy-products-should-we-eat-them-or-avoid-them/ https://drmasley.com/soy-products-should-we-eat-them-or-avoid-them/#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2018 22:01:04 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5316 SUBJECT LINE: Soy products—should we eat them, or avoid them? One of the most controversial topics in the nutrition field today centers on soy foods. Are they good for us, or bad for us? This isn’t just debated on podcasts and blogs, it is a topic that I have heard discussed at scientific medical meetings […]

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SUBJECT LINE: Soy products—should we eat them, or avoid them?

One of the most controversial topics in the nutrition field today centers on soy foods. Are they good for us, or bad for us? This isn’t just debated on podcasts and blogs, it is a topic that I have heard discussed at scientific medical meetings with time set aside for experts to debate differing views on this topic. (I’ll tell you the results of that debate shortly.)

In all honesty, I have avoided discussing this topic because there are such strong beliefs on both sides. Over the years though, the fervor against soy has increased – in both the general world and within the world of thyroid health. People have vilified soy, and the growing opinion among the thyroid community has been that it should be avoided, while those concerned about breast cancer and heart disease have been saying that we should be eating more of it.

I think that there is enough evidence on both sides that I need to take a deep breath and share what I know and hopefully it will help you answer this important question, “To eat, or not to eat soy”.

One of the tipping points that encouraged me to write this blog for you now, was a blog written recently by my dear friend and colleague, Alan Christianson, NMD, a naturopath endocrinologist, and a national expert on thyroid health. Alan and I have had discussed the controversy regarding soy food and overall health for years. He shared his evolution on this topic, as the evidence recently has shifted from soy is bad for your thyroid, to soy has a neutral impact on your thyroid, and there are several reasons why you might want to eat soy food.

The Story Against Soy

One of the pieces of evidence initially used to avoid soy food was based on studies of infants raised on soy formula. Initially, these studies showed that infants raised on soy formula had more thyroid problems in life than those raised on a formula developed from cow’s milk (obviously, human breast milk is the best option, but formula is an important option if a woman is unable to nurse her infant). The initial studies used soy milk that was deficient in iodine, iron, and zinc. Once they corrected those deficiencies, the link between soy milk formula and thyroid problems went away. That likely means it was the deficient nutrients in soy formula that was the problem, not the soy milk itself. There is additional weak evidence out of the UK that if you are iodine deficient, have early signs of thyroid disease, and you also consume soy foods, that you might be more likely to develop thyroid problems, but my suggestion would be to avoid being iodine deficient in the first place, and taking a good quality multivitamin would prevent this.

Perhaps the best review of the impact on soy food on thyroid function and overall health is found in an article in the journal Nutrients by Dr. Mark Messina (Nutrients. 2016 Dec; 8(12): 754. Published online 2016 Nov 24. doi:  10.3390/nu8120754). When he combined 14 studies that looked at the impact of soy foods and soy isoflavones on thyroid function, these trials found that none of the soy foods and none of the soy isoflavones (soy hormone extracts) have any effect on thyroid function in either men or women. They looked at TSH, free T3 and free T4 levels, thyroid antibodies, and none were associated with soy food intake.

The only finding that was significant was that if people take thyroid medication (such as levothyroxine), eating soy food when taking the drug would block the medication’s absorption, but this is also true for many other foods, not just soy products. So the bottom line is that people taking thyroid medications should take them on an empty stomach, and they don’t have to avoid eating soy foods.

To sum it up, the case against soy food consumption for thyroid reasons is weak to non-existent.

What about soy food allergies?

Soy is one of the top 7 foods that people react to. If eating soy foods causes you distress, then avoid it. This is similar for gluten and dairy—avoid foods that you are sensitive to. I’ll come back to this point in more detail shortly.

What about GMO soy foods?

I am very concerned about the use of Round-Up and other pesticides that are used on soy products. The producers of Round-Up create GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)  soy products that can withstand spraying them with Round-Up, making it easy to spray and grow soy crops with Round-Up, as they can kill the weeds without killing the soy plants. However, I consider Round-Up to be a toxic compound that is sadly used on crops across the country, this is a very unfortunate use of GMO technology. The other concern with GMO soy foods is that they can create GMO soy plants that produce their own internal pesticides that kill insects (doesn’t initially sound so bad) but these compounds are neurotoxic to humans as well, meaning they should clearly be avoided.

For this reason, I strongly recommend that if you consume soy foods, you choose organically raised and non-GMO soy products. Although more than 90% of soy products in the USA are likely GMO products, it is fairly easy to avoid them—just select organic, non-GMO soy foods, and don’t buy them if they don’t have an organic, non-GMO label.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CONSUMING SOY PRODUCTS? (Please see the article reference mentioned above by Dr. Messina in Nutrients regarding references for all the benefits noted below).

There are multiple strong reasons why you should eat organic, non-GMO soy products regularly:

#1. Eating soy foods helps to prevent breast cancer. And if you have breast cancer, eating soy foods in moderation (1-3 servings per day) will increase your chance of surviving it). This by itself is why I recommend that all women eat organic soy products, and the biggest benefit is for adolescent girls going through puberty. Eating 1-2 servings per day of soy products gives women a lifetime reduced risk for getting breast cancer. That is truly amazing!

#2. Eating soy foods improves menopause symptoms. The evidence again is solid that eating soy foods reduces hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.

#3. Eating soy foods improves your cholesterol profile. OK there isn’t a big change in your cholesterol, but eating 1-2 servings per day will modestly improve your lipid profile and achieve some minimal reduction in heart attack risk. Studies have also shown that eating more soy products will decrease arterial plaque growth, as measured by carotid intima-media thickness (carotid IMT) measures.

#4. Eating soy foods decreases the risk for prostate cancer. In the Asian population that eats lots of soy foods, eating more soy foods is associated with a 50% lower risk for getting prostate cancer.

Contrary to reports noted on websites, men who eat soy foods do NOT have a drop in testosterone levels. There were two cases where this did occur, but only when men took massive dosages of isoflavone supplements (soy extracts in huge dosages), nearly 10 times what people would eat from food. Regular soy food intake does not impact testosterone levels or sex hormone binding capacity.

#5. Eating soy foods increases bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis. Studies have shown that consuming more soy products is associated with a lower risk for fractures and better bone density measures.

#6. Eating soy foods “might” improve cognitive function. Initial epidemiological studies following populations over time have shown mixed results as to whether soy products improved or worsened cognitive function. Better designed, more recent studies have suggested that eating soy foods may even improve cognitive function for women who have already reached menopause. However, a couple of other studies with men and women have shown that soy foods had no impact on cognitive function, but at least these investigations noted no harm.

#7. Eating soy foods may reduce inflammation. In contrast to studies claiming that soy causes auto-immune disease and increased inflammation, for the average person, eating more soy food is associated with a decrease in CRP (C-reactive protein) levels, and no worsening in other inflammatory levels.

Of course, if you happen to be soy sensitive, and feel you are intolerant of soy, then I strongly recommend that you avoid soy products. Eating foods that you are sensitive to may increase your risk for auto-immune activity.

I promised at the beginning of this blog to share which expert won the medical meeting debate on eating soy products. After seeing the benefits noted above, I bet you can now appreciate that the person speaking in favor of consuming organic soy products clearly won that debate.

SO WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE WHEN IT COMES TO EATING SOY?

If you tolerate soy products, then I recommend that you can safely eat and will likely benefit from having several servings of soy foods per week, up to 1-2 servings every day. I only recommend organic, non-GMO soy products. You should explore eating edamame, tofu, miso, tempeh, and soy milk and find products you enjoy.

If you feel you are soy intolerant, then clearly avoid soy foods. for at least for 3-6 months, and perhaps long term. Talk to your physician if you should consider reintroducing soy foods in the future (at least after being soy free for a minimum of 3-6 months), and consider food allergy testing with a blood test to clarify if you are in fact soy sensitive.

I have met patients that were initially soy and gluten sensitive. When they completely gave up both for six months and reintroduced soy, and continued to avoid gluten, they no longer reacted to soy protein. I find this a common occurrence. If you are gluten sensitive and you eat soy products, likely your gut leaks food products into your system—this is from eating gluten and initiating an inflammatory reaction, and soy food can literally leak from your gut into your system. You are supposed to have soy food nutrients in your blood, but not soy food. Stop the gluten, stop the leaky gut, and often other food sensitivities, including to soy products will sometimes disappear.

If after giving up gluten, you reintroduce soy products, and your good allergy testing shows that you are soy sensitive (you make antibodies against soy products and have associated symptoms), then yes I recommend that you give up eating soy products long term. My estimate from my 30 years in my clinic is that 10% of people may have a long-term soy food sensitivity, compared to 20% of the population that is gluten sensitive.

If you look at the evidence, It is clear that soy foods have far more benefit than risk. Hopefully, you can discover new ways to enjoy these food products that have been eaten for thousands of years by some of the longest-lived and healthiest populations on the planet.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

 

 

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Guacamole with Black Bean Chips https://drmasley.com/guacamole-with-black-bean-chips/ https://drmasley.com/guacamole-with-black-bean-chips/#comments Fri, 06 Apr 2018 18:37:10 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5295 The post Guacamole with Black Bean Chips appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Guacamole is one of my favorite snacks—it’s creamy, flavorful, and as long as your chips are black beans as the first ingredient, you can enjoy chips with it as well. The only drawback is that it doesn’t store well—you need to consume it right away for best results.

When you select black bean chips at the store, be sure to read the ingredient section. It should list black beans first, as the predominant ingredient, and hopefully, you get at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. If they list wheat flour or rice flour as the first ingredient, look for another product. The less total ingredients the better.

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2  medium Haas avocados (or 1 Florida avocado), cut in half, pit removed

1 lime, juiced

¼ medium sweet onion, minced

¼ cup cilantro (or parsley) chopped

½ tsp ground paprika

¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper (less or more to taste)

Black bean chips (about ½ to 1 cup portion per person)

Directions:

Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon and mash in a large bowel. Add lime juice, onion, cilantro, paprika, and cayenne pepper and mix.

Serve with a sprig of cilantro and a little drizzle of lime juice over the guacamole (helps prevent it from turning brown if not served immediately).

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Shrimp, Scallop, & Red Bean Gumbo https://drmasley.com/gumbo/ https://drmasley.com/gumbo/#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:50:20 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5282 The post Shrimp, Scallop, & Red Bean Gumbo appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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For a classic gumbo, you’d need the holy trinity of Cajun flavors (onion, celery, and bell pepper), 3 proteins (most common combo is shrimp, chicken, and sausage), and three thickeners (French roux is prepared with flour and bacon fat, okra, and sassafras leaves. It typically also includes rice, but with this version, I’m choosing to simplify it, making it quicker and easier to prepare, healthier for your heart, brain, and soul, and it will still be delicious. If you want to simplify even further, use shrimp or scallops, not both.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Simmering Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 (makes great leftovers)

Ingredients: 

2 Tbsp avocado oil

1 medium white onion, diced

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground paprika

2 medium celery stalks, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced into ½-inch pieces (seeds and membrane removed)

1 large red bell pepper, diced into ½-inch pieces (seeds and membrane removed)

4 cups okra, sliced into ¾-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)

15 ounces chopped tomatoes

¼-1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (adjust to your preference for spicy heat)

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken stock

1-2 cups water (adjust to your preferred thickness)

1 pound bay scallops

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

15 ounces red or kidney beans cooked (if canned, rinsed and drained)

1 tsp gumbo filé powder (ground sassafras leaves—if you don’t have the filé, not to worry, the okra alone will help thicken nicely)

Directions:

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, add oil, onion, salt, oregano, and paprika, and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion softens. Add celery, bell pepper, and okra and sauté another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften.

Add stewed tomatoes, cayenne pepper, broth, water, and bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add scallops, shrimp, and beans and simmer another 10 minutes, until shrimp turn pink and scallops are cooked. Remove from heat, stir in filé powder. Serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Is Eating Fat and Animal Protein Bad for Your Heart? https://drmasley.com/is-eating-fat-and-animal-protein-bad-for-your-heart/ https://drmasley.com/is-eating-fat-and-animal-protein-bad-for-your-heart/#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2018 20:32:30 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5266 The post Is Eating Fat and Animal Protein Bad for Your Heart? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Over the last month, the #1 question I have received has been, “Does eating meat and fat help in heart disease prevention and treatment? Dr. Esselstyn, PCRM, and Dr. McDougall advocate no meat, fish or dairy, and no oil. Your advice differs. What should I do when recommendations conflict?”

That is a very good question and one I get asked regularly from the public and from doctors and dentists. The benefits of the ultra-low-fat diets recommended by Dr. Esselstyn, PCRM, and Dr. McDougall come from adding extra fiber from vegetables, fruits, and beans, plus spices & herbs, and cutting out bad inflammatory fats—I completely agree with these specific recommendations, as adding these fiber-rich, plant-based foods is the foundation of my food recommendations.

Following a vegetarian diet, or a pesce-vegetarian diet can be a very healthy lifestyle, but my point is that you don’t have to be vegetarian to be healthy.

However, cutting out Smart Fats, such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and wild salmon is not supported by sound scientific studies, and I would say purely from a health perspective, as I will expand upon shortly, that it is actually a bad recommendation.

I also recommend avoiding bad inflammatory fats, such as hydrogenated fats (trans fats), and animal fats that come from feedlots which are loaded with pesticides and hormones (likely 90% of animal protein sold in the US and Canada). So if you do eat animal protein, from a health perspective, it should be free-range, pasture-raised, or wild. I encourage you to eat it in moderate portions, and that most of the food on your plate should come from colorful plant foods. For more details on this, please review the book that I co-wrote with Jonny Bowden, Smart Fat.

I interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish, MD on this topic last year. He was one of the original founders of the ultra-low-fat, vegetarian diet recommendations. During our conversation, we both agreed that recent studies have shown that adding olive oil, nuts, and fish oil help to reverse heart disease, and that along with these healthy fats, you must also consume an abundance of colorful vegetables, fruits, beans, and spices. That was an amazing interview as I have always held Dr. Ornish in high regard and have followed his work since the 1990s.

Adding more of these “Smart Fats” lowers tissue inflammation, and multiple studies have shown that they will reduce your risk for heart disease and memory loss. The PREDIMED study (Estruch et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet; NEJM 2013; 368:1279-90.) published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine compared a low-fat diet with the Mediterranean diet and those who consumed more olive oil and nuts had fewer cardiovascular events.

Your brain, in particular, needs Smart Fats to improve cognitive function and prevent depression–after all, did you know your brain is more than 60% fat by weight? Compared to a Mediterranean diet that was shown to improve cognitive function and prevent memory loss, following a low-fat diet actually increased the rate of dementia and memory loss.

The good news is, there is no health evidence that you have to cut out clean animal protein (as in wild, grass-fed, and organically raised). The most recent studies published (such as Chowdhury et al. Ann Intern Med 2014;160:398-406; Praagman J et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2016;103:356-65; and Wang et al. JAMA 2016;176:1134-45.) showed that eating moderate saturated (animal) fat does not increase the risk for heart disease. Clean sources of animal fats appear neither beneficial nor harmful.

Please don’t get the wrong impression here. I am not saying you should eat “more” red meat and fatty dairy products, and if you do not eat them, then you do not need to start. I am trying to say that if you do so in moderation with organic and pasture raised products, it appears to be more neutral than anything.

The most harmful food group remains sugar and flour, as well as the toxic fats noted above. We should do more to avoid high glycemic load foods (glycemic load refers to foods that increase your blood sugar levels) and toxic fats.

Another finding that is crystal clear is that consuming processed meats (deli meats, hot dogs, and bacon) that are produced from animals raised in feedlots and sprinkled with toxins like nitrosamines, are deadly. These processed meats increase your risk for cancer, heart disease, and memory loss—so please avoid them altogether.

One last point: If you wish to follow a vegetarian diet, then I totally support that and think it can be super healthy, just be sure to meet your nutrient needs, including your requirements for smart fats. (See my blog post on key nutrients needed when following a vegetarian diet).

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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What Are the Best Herbs for Your Brain? https://drmasley.com/best-herbs-brain/ https://drmasley.com/best-herbs-brain/#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2018 05:00:36 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5205 I enjoy cooking with herbs and spices that are great for my health and make my food taste fantastic at the same time—it is a win/win. Several herbs provide both of these benefits, and these are flavors that you should use more often. Rosemary For centuries, rosemary has been known as “the herb of remembrance”. […]

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I enjoy cooking with herbs and spices that are great for my health and make my food taste fantastic at the same time—it is a win/win.

Several herbs provide both of these benefits, and these are flavors that you should use more often.

Rosemary

For centuries, rosemary has been known as “the herb of remembrance”. In various cultures, people have worn rosemary crowns on their heads when studying.

In a study presented at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference, researchers showed that even the smell of rosemary essential oil can improve the prospective memory of those over 65. This study examined 150 people over 65 and divided them into three groups: one group was put in a lavender-scented room, another in a rosemary-scented room, and the last, a room with no scent at all. Researchers found that people sniffing rosemary experienced enhanced prospective memory, along with increased alertness, compared with those in the lavender and unscented rooms.

Along with being one of our favorite culinary herbs, regions of Italy that eat the most rosemary also happen to have some of the lowest rates of memory loss on the planet.

I have been able to grow rosemary in my garden in both Washington State and Florida—and I use it often when cooking. I encourage you to do the same.

Thyme and Parsley

A recent study from Brazil found that a flavonoid in these 2 herbs called apigenin, enhances connections between our brain neurons. Many researchers believe that a diet rich in apigenin might influence brain cell formation and communication, and help prevent memory loss. Further studies are needed to confirm these hypotheses, yet thyme and parsley are fantastic cooking herbs, so I am happy to use them more often.

Sage

As its name suggests, sage is associated with knowledge (better memory). In two small studies, capsules of sage extract improved young adult performance on memory tests, compared with a placebo. Researchers noted improved word recall nearly immediately (within 1-2 hours) and for up to 6 hours after exposure to sage oil extract.

Italian Herb Seasoning

I hope that you have noticed that you can get several of these essential herbs by cooking with Italian Herb Seasoning, one of my favorite cooking herbs. The classic combination includes: rosemary, thyme, and sage, plus oregano, marjoram, and basil.

Turmeric

Turmeric root looks like a ginger root and is the yellow powdered spice commonly blended with Indian curry dishes. Cultures that ingest large quantities of turmeric have some of the lowest rates of dementia and memory loss in the world. Many of the other spices in curry spice mixtures (cumin, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon) have potent anti-inflammatory and other healing properties, making curry spices one of the healthiest spice combinations in cooking.

Not only does turmeric have potent anti-inflammatory properties, but it is being studied as a way to stop or slow memory loss, decrease joint pain from arthritis, and prevent or treat cancer as well. It’s potential as a healing agent is enormous.

However, the challenge is the actual amount you need to consume. The most active and studied compound in turmeric spice is called curcumin. Curcumin is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. You would likely need to eat about three heaping tablespoons of turmeric spice daily to reach the same levels in your bloodstream that can be achieved with a single 500 mg high-quality curcumin capsule (the dosage commonly used in scientific studies). By “high quality,” I mean a form that has been proven to be well-absorbed and is not contaminated with heavy metals, which are commonly found in turmeric supplements that come from India.

Because my parents have arthritis, and I have noted early signs myself, I concluded I should be taking this compound too. Optimistically, since I like curry-flavored foods, I spooned a heaping tablespoon into a ½ cup of plain yogurt one morning and stirred, thinking I could easily get three tablespoons daily. After a brief taste—I realized that I was not going to get this quantity from the spice alone, so I set out to find the best-absorbed form of clean curcumin in capsule form for myself and my patients.

Now I take a 1000 mg curcumin supplement daily, plus, I aim to cook with curry spices including turmeric several times per week. I have even learned to grow turmeric in my garden in Florida. Click here for the link to the curcumin supplement I take daily.

A commonly used herb that has not been shown to work—at least not yet.

An herb that is commonly reported to help memory is Ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo is a very cool tree, which manages to grow well in cities with terrible pollution. Ginkgo trees thrived on this planet millions of years ago when volcanos blackened the skies. They were also the only life forms know to survive the nuclear bomb explosion in Hiroshima.

Ginkgo has amazing anti-oxidant properties, and in theory it has fascinating healing potential. Some initial small studies years ago suggested that a ginkgo biloba extract might help prevent memory loss, yet larger randomized clinical studies have thus far been disappointing, showing no benefit when compared to placebo.

It might be that ginkgo requires other agents to work synergistically for maximum benefit. It might require special processing. For now, there is not any solid evidence that using ginkgo biloba by itself is effective in preventing memory loss. Stay tuned, as I anticipate that someday soon they will find an effective way to use this plant.

I hope this blog has helped you identify herbs that you should use more often!

I wish you the best of health,

Steven Masley, MD

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Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers https://drmasley.com/stuffed-peppers/ https://drmasley.com/stuffed-peppers/#respond Fri, 23 Mar 2018 18:19:34 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5186 The post Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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These stuffed peppers are loaded with heart and brain-friendly nutrients and fiber. Despite that quinoa is technically a seed instead of a grain, like grains it still has a moderate glycemic load, potentially raising your blood sugar levels if eaten in excess. Fortunately adding beans with quinoa will help block that rise in blood sugar, and combined they provide a generous assortment of vitamins, minerals, and protein. This dish can be prepped in advance and just pop it in the oven 45 minutes prior to serving, making it a nice meal to share with company. Colorful bell peppers provide sweetness which is a treat, but if you are a bit more daring, poblanos add a whole extra flavor dimension—just be aware that poblanos vary from mildly sweet to fairly hot and spicy, and each poblano can vary in heat intensity. 

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Baking Time: 45 minutes     Serves: Four

Ingredients:

½ cup                   Quinoa, rinsed, drained

½ cup                    Water

1 Tbsp                  Avocado oil

½ medium           Sweet onion, diced

2 medium            Celery stalks, diced

¼ tsp                    Sea salt

1 tsp                     Dried oregano

½ tsp                    Chili flakes

2 medium            Plum tomatoes, chopped

2                           Green onions, diced

¼ cup                   Fresh cilantro, chopped

2 (15-oz) cans     Black beans, cooked, rinsed, drained

4 large                 Peppers (Red, yellow, or orange bell peppers; or poblano), slice in half, remove seeds and membranes

Garnish:

¼ cup                    Chopped walnuts (or pecans)

½ cup                    Organic gruyere cheese, grated (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° (F).

Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, then remove from heat, and set aside.

Heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add oil, then onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes until onion starts to soften. Add celery, salt, oregano, and chili flakes, and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to medium, add tomatoes and green onions, heat for another 2 minutes, stir in cilantro, black beans, and remove from heat.

After 12-15 minutes, stir quinoa; when done it should be fluffy with little pearly white sprouts extending, and be slightly al dente when tasting a bite. Mix quinoa in with vegetables.

Grease an ovenproof dish likely with avocado oil.  Lay peppers in the dish and fill each pepper with black bean, quinoa and veggie mixture. Garnish with nut and cheese. Bake for 45 minutes and serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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What are critical nutrients for a vegetarian or vegan? https://drmasley.com/critical-nutrients-vegetarian-vegan/ https://drmasley.com/critical-nutrients-vegetarian-vegan/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 08:30:05 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5201 The post What are critical nutrients for a vegetarian or vegan? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Over 7 million people, 3-4% of the US population follow a vegetarian eating plan, and 1 million of those are vegan. Vegetarians eat foods that are grown or produced, including dairy products and eggs, while vegans avoid all dairy and egg products as well. Both avoid all sources of fish, poultry, and meat.

A vegetarian and/or vegan diet can be a super healthy lifestyle. Nearly 80% of pesticides in the American food supply come from meat, poultry, and dairy products, so avoiding them reduces your risk for toxins. (For omnivores, this makes it essential to choose grass-fed, organically raised, and/or wild protein options, something a vegetarian doesn’t need to worry about.)

When done properly, a vegetarian eating plan is loaded with fiber from vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts, and these sources of foods are very rich in vitamins and minerals. Commonly the #1 nutrient we all need more of, is fiber, and eating more vegetarian meals is an easy way to achieve this.

A poor vegetarian eating plan could include cheese pizza, white rice, ice cream, and pasta—but without the necessary vegetables, fruit, beans, and nuts. This plan would be grossly nutritionally deficient, and it just goes to show that if you eat mostly processed foods, whether you are vegetarian or not, your nutrient needs won’t be met.

Vegetarians and vegans need to be careful to meet some specific nutrient needs, because if their diet isn’t organized properly, they end up becoming deficient. Fortunately, with just a bit of planning, it’s easy to meet these needs. These specific nutrients include:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Long chain omega-3 fats
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Sulfur-based amino acids

I’ll address each in a moment, but first let me address a couple myths that are NOT common deficiencies in vegetarians, in particular protein and iron. It is pretty easy to achieve adequate protein intake without ever eating animal protein. A vegetarian has it easier, as yogurt, milk, and eggs are solid sources of protein. Yet you can also get plenty of protein from beans, soy products, quinoa, and many other grains that are rich in protein. If you are open to adding a protein shake each day, either whey protein (dairy) or rice-pea-potato protein (dairy-free), it will be even easier to meet your daily protein requirements.

Many plant foods are rich in iron, in particular beans, soy products, whole grains, and many nuts and seeds. It is a myth that vegetarians have a higher rate of being anemic than people who eat animal protein.

Vitamin B12:

B12 is a critical nutrient involved in producing energy, especially for the nervous system. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent, irreversible neurological harm, such as peripheral neuropathy or memory loss.

Vitamin B12 in naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, and dairy products and is not generally present in plant foods. Over the last 100,000 years, we also got substantial vitamin B12 from unintentionally consuming dirt, as dirt contains soil microbes that produce vitamin B12. But in today’s world, dirt consumption is at an all-time low.

The easiest way for a vegetarian to ensure adequate vitamin B12 intake is to take a good quality multivitamin daily. Most common supplements only provide the minimal B12 dosage, 2-10 mcg daily, which is not adequate for some people. I recommend at least 50-100 mcg of vitamin B12 daily, and the supplements we provide in our medical clinic have 400 to 500 mcg of vitamin B12 daily. Be aware that vitamin B12 comes in two primary forms, methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is better absorbed, and does not contain a trace quantity of cyanide, I prefer it, but both are acceptable forms.

If you are following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, do have your medical doctor check your vitamin B12 level periodically to ensure that your gut is absorbing the vitamin B12 that you are taking (there are various factors that can impede absorption).

Long Chain Omega-3 Fats (commonly called fish oil):

Long-chain omega-3 fats are essential for healthy brain function. They also lower inflammation and protect your heart. These fats only come from seafood (fish, shellfish, and seaweed). Medium chain omega-3 fats come from soy products, flax seed, and other plant sources, and although these are clearly healthy foods, they don’t provide the same benefits of long chain omega-3 fats. Less than 7% of medium chain omega-3 fats are converted to long chain omega-3 fats after we ingest them.

If you are vegetarian, the best ways to ensure that you meet your long-chain omega-3 fat needs is to eat seaweed daily, such as a seaweed salad. More convenient would be to take a DHA supplement that is extracted from seaweed. Aim for 500 mg of DHA daily.

Zinc:

Zinc is an essential nutrient that impacts hundreds of enzymatic reactions in your body, and is needed for antioxidant balance, wound healing, immune function, and blood sugar control. There is actually ample zinc in a balanced vegetarian diet. The only issue is that many fiber rich foods block zinc absorption, so you need more than the minimum to meet your real zinc needs. The RDA suggests 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men, but in light of decreased absorption on a vegetarian diet, I suggest that you aim for at least 15 mg of zinc daily. You can safely consume up to 25 to 50 mg daily.

An easy way to help meet your zinc needs is to take a multivitamin with zinc. Look for zinc bisglycinate (protein-bound, well absorbed and gentle on your stomach). Avoid zinc oxide if you can, as oxides can cause gastro-intestinal problems.

Vegetarian sources of zinc include:

image

I recommend taking a good quality multivitamin daily, and eating foods that are rich in zinc.

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is essential for bone, heart, and brain health, plus immune function. Recent studies have shown that optimal vitamin D levels can decrease your risk for cancer by 50-60%. Don’t be deficient!

There is very little vitamin D in food and for 100,000 years, we produced most of our vitamin D from the direct sunshine. To meet your vitamin D needs from the sun, you would need the following:

  • 1 hour of sunshine between 10 am to 2 pm daily, while wearing attire similar to a 2 piece bathing suit
  • No sunscreen
  • If you live north of the Santa Barbara, Dallas, Atlanta latitude (33 degrees north), you’ll only make enough vitamin D from the sun during the summer months. (Likewise, if you live south of 33 degrees south below the equator, you have the same issue.)

90% of my patients living in Florida, the sunshine state, don’t get enough sun to meet their vitamin D requirements. From my clinic database, we have shown that 90% of people achieve a very good vitamin D level if they get 2,000 IU of vitamin D every day. Some people have less absorption and need up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Calcium:

Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, and is involved is hundreds of cellular actions. You don’t need to drink cow’s milk to meet your calcium needs, although it is a convenient source of calcium. Most healthy people can meet their calcium needs with just 800 mg of calcium daily. If you already have bone loss (osteopenia or osteoporosis), then aim for a bit more, 1,000 to 1,200 mg daily.

Food is a better source for calcium than supplements.

Calcium Food Sources:

image

Sulfur Based Amino Acids:

Amino acids are protein building blocks. Methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, and taurine are the 4 common sulfur-containing amino acids. They actively block oxidation, are important for your nails and hair, and are used to detoxify and remove toxic compounds.

For vegetarians, eggs are a very rich source of these essential protein building blocks, but other vegan sources include soy products, legumes (beans), nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Other sources of sulfur that help with detoxification come from onions, garlic, and leeks, as well as all the cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and bok choy). A vegan or vegetarian who eats ample beans, nuts, seeds, and cruciferous veggies will meet their needs easily.

Is a vegetarian or vegan diet healthy?

Absolutely! Just be sure to meet your needs for Vitamin B12, long chain omega-3 fats, zinc, vitamin D, calcium, and sulfur-based amino acids, and focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD

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Chicken Curry https://drmasley.com/chicken-curry/ https://drmasley.com/chicken-curry/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 18:53:52 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5190 The post Chicken Curry appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Great flavors for your palate and the curry spices, vegetables, and yogurt are terrific for your brain. This recipe is a sample from my new book, The Better Brain Solution, Knopf Publishing.

Prep Time: 30-40 minutes

Serves: Two

Ingredients:

1 pound               Chicken thighs, deboned and cut into strips (organic-fed, cage-free)

2 Tbsp                  Macadamia nut oil (ok to substitute almond or avocado oil)

½ medium            Red onion, cut into long thin slices

2 Tbsp                  Curry powder

1 tsp                     Paprika, ground

¼ tsp                    Cayenne pepper, ground (1/8 to ½ tsp to your taste)

1 tsp                     Ginger, ground (or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger grated)

¼ tsp                    Sea salt

¼ tsp                    Ground black pepper

½ medium           Head of cauliflower, cut into bit sized pieces

1 cup                    Peas (frozen or fresh, shelled)

½ cup                   Chicken stock (organic)

1 cup                    Plain organic yogurt (2% or full fat)

¼ cup                   Fresh cilantro, chopped (or parsley)

Directions:

Heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp of oil, add chicken and cover pan, stirring occasionally until all sides are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and place in a holding bowl. Add the second tablespoon of oil and saute onion with curry spices, paprika, ginger, salt and pepper for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower, cover, and heat another 3-4 minutes until cauliflower is al dente. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in cooked chicken, peas, and stock and simmer 4-5 minutes, until chicken is cooked. Turn off heat, stir in yogurt, and garnish with cilantro and serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Roasted Chicken with Mediterranean Herbs https://drmasley.com/roasted-chicken-with-mediterranean-herbs/ https://drmasley.com/roasted-chicken-with-mediterranean-herbs/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 18:53:30 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5193 The post Roasted Chicken with Mediterranean Herbs appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This is a very easy dish to prepare. You can change up the flavor profile of your roast chicken by varying the herb rub you use. Italian seasonings are terrific, but for a French twist substitute herbes de Provence (featuring savory, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, and optionally lavender). A roast chicken is one of the simplest dishes to prepare—just leave enough time for baking.

 

 

 Prep Time: 10 minutes

Baking Time: 65-75 minutes

Serves: Four

Ingredients: 

3-4 pound       Whole Chicken, organic, cage-free

3 Tbsp             Extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp             Italian herb seasoning, dried

1 tsp                Sea salt

½ tsp               Ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Pat dry chicken with paper towels. Rub skin all over with oil, herbs, salt and pepper.

Place chicken in a roasting pan on a middle rack for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° for about 65-75 minutes (until meat thermometer inserted deep into the thigh reads 165°. If chicken hasn’t lightly browned, switch oven to broil for an additional 3-5 minutes or until skin is golden. (Final meat thermometer temperature should be 165-170°.) Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes for juices to redistribute before carving. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

For an easy complete meal, consider roasting some vegetables in the oven at the same time. Beets, carrots, squash, and parsnips are all great choices—just toss with a little oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Borscht https://drmasley.com/borscht/ https://drmasley.com/borscht/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 15:58:56 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5119 The post Borscht appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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The classic Slavic winter soup—delicious, hearty, and colorful. Nearly all borscht served in Russia has beef and makes a meal, but typically in western countries, we make a vegetarian version and serve before the main dish. I’m sharing the vegetarian version here. If you wish to include beef, slice 1 pound grass-fed beef chuck into bite-sized piece, saute with 1 tablespoon of ghee until lightly browned in a skillet, set aside, then add beef to the soup when you add the potatoes and cabbage.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Simmering Time: 30 minutes

Serves: Six

Ingredients:

4 medium beets

2 Tbsp Avocado oil

1 medium white onion, diced

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp dried dill

1 tsp caraway seeds

2 medium carrots, ¾-inch cubed

2 medium celery stalks, chopped

2 cups purple potatoes (or baby red-skinned potatoes), cut into bite-sized portions

2 cups red cabbage, coarsely chopped

4 medium garlic cloves, diced

2 cups tomatoes, chopped (or 15 ounces canned, chopped tomatoes)

6 cups low-sodium organic vegetable or beef broth

Garnish:

Optional: 1/2 cup organic low-fat sour cream (or organic plain low-fat yogurt)

¼ cup chives, diced

Directions: 

Rinse beets and trim off the roots and tops, peel away the thick or unsightly skin.

Heat a large saucepan to medium-high heat, add oil, then add onion to the pan and sauté with salt, pepper, dill, caraway seeds for 2-3 minutes, until slightly yellow to golden. Meanwhile, cut two beets into ¾-inch cubes; grate the other two beets.  Add beets to the pan. Next add carrots, celery, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve in individual bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and chives.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Does Your Supplement Contain BAD Ingredients? https://drmasley.com/supplement-contain-bad-ingredients/ https://drmasley.com/supplement-contain-bad-ingredients/#comments Mon, 05 Mar 2018 21:13:18 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5169 The post Does Your Supplement Contain BAD Ingredients? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Welcome to National Nutrition Month! In honor of this, my e-mails for March will focus on nutrition-related topics.

The nutrient ingredients in a supplement can be essential to your health, or they can be inactive, and sometimes even harmful. I want to ensure that you can distinguish between these. I suggest that you pull out your current multivitamin and check the ingredients listed as you read along.

Let’s start with a very common nutrient deficiency that is essential for your health, magnesium.

NUTRIENT #1: Protein-Bound Magnesium versus Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium is an essential mineral for our health. It improves blood flow, blood pressure, and blood sugar control, plus it speeds the connection between brain cells. It also helps prevent constipation, migraine headache, muscle cramps, insomnia, and serious heart arrhythmias. Yet a whopping 70% of people don’t get enough to meet the basic RDA recommendations.

You can get magnesium from seeds, nuts, beans, and green leafy veggies. Yet, after I identify foods that are rich in magnesium, more than half my patients still won’t realistically meet this critical need, making a supplement important. Often people need to supplement with 150-250 mg daily. Magnesium is a big molecule and the minimum requirement is 400 mg daily. You typically won’t find more than 20-50 mg of magnesium in a multivitamin pill, or none, so don’t be surprised if you need to take a separate pill to meet your magnesium needs.

The best supplement form of magnesium is the kind that is bound to protein, as it is very well absorbed, and is gentle on your stomach. Examples of protein-bound are: magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, and chelated forms of magnesium. Magnesium citrate is less well absorbed, but doesn’t bother your stomach, and can be helpful for constipation.

The most common form sold is magnesium oxide, and sadly it has the worst absorption, and can cause GI distress. Too often, people stop it due to gastro-intestinal symptoms, making this form of magnesium inactive if it isn’t tolerated.

Magnesium Tip: Aim for protein-bound sources of Magnesium, such as malate, glycinate, or other chelated forms.

NUTRIENT #2: Organic Copper versus Inorganic Copper

Humans have consumed the “organic” form of copper for 100,000 years and it is essential for blood cell and immune function. Good sources include: sees, nuts, beans, mushrooms, and green leafy veggies.

In contrast, “inorganic” copper is not found in food, and has only very recently been introduced for human consumption, primary through cheap vitamin supplements and copper plumbing. The latest research shows a strong link between Alzheimer’s disease and inorganic copper intake in humans, and animal studies show that inorganic copper intake can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and increased formation of beta amyloid in the brain. This makes inorganic copper potentially toxic to your brain.

Some vitamin supplements contain no copper (and this should not be a problem as you can usually get all the copper you need from food), and some contain organic forms of copper (such as copper glycinate, copper bisglycinate, or copper amino acid chelates).

Unless future studies prove inorganic copper to be safe, I recommend avoiding all multivitamins made with inorganic copper (such as copper oxide, copper sulfate, and copper carbonate). If the multivitamin only says copper, very likely, it is an inorganic source; you can easily do a search on google for the type of copper used in a supplement.

Copper Tip: Avoid a multivitamin made with inorganic forms of copper. If you have copper pipes in your kitchen, you can install a reverse osmosis filter in the kitchen to filter your water for drinking and cooking, thus removing any inorganic copper from the water coming from your kitchen faucet. (I highly recommend reverse osmosis filters for cooking and drinking water. Even though my wife and I don’t have copper piping in our kitchen, we still choose to have a reverse osmosis filter.)

 NUTRIENT #3: Mixed Folates (Vitamin B9) Versus Folic Acid

Mixed sources of folates help your DNA to repair itself, preventing cancer, and they remove toxins from your body. Folates also help protect your brain and heart and are essential for good health. You get mixed folates from eating beans, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.

Most cheap supplements use folic acid as a source of folates. The problem is that 40% of people are unable to convert folic acid to the active forms that protect your DNA. This makes folic acid an inactive nutrient for many people, and thus they may have an increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and memory loss.

Folate Tip: Ensure your multivitamin contains mixed folates (e.g., 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate, not just folic acid). The multivitamin listed at the end of this article is a good example.

 NUTRIENT #4: Mixed Carotenoids Versus Beta Carotene

Plant pigments (carotenoids) come in many forms and they are essential for a healthy brain. Carotenoids are antioxidants, and they block oxidation (aging) body wide. One specific carotenoid, beta-carotene, can also be converted into vitamin A, an essential nutrient.

There are multiple essential forms of carotenoids, including beta-carotene (orange pigment from squash and oranges), lycopene (red pigments from watermelon and tomatoes), and lutein/zeaxanthin (green pigments from green leafy veggies). Consuming lycopene reduces your risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are noted to help prevent macular degeneration and blindness. If you eat at least five cups of a variety of colors of vegetables and fruits every day, you likely meet your requirement for these nutrients, yet many people don’t eat enough colorful vegetables and fruits to meet this essential need. Most high-quality multivitamins provide a variety of mixed carotenoids. The more common supplements typically contain only beta-carotene. This makes beta-carotene alone in a supplement partially inactive.

Carotenoid Tip: Ensure your multivitamin has mixed carotenoids, not just beta-carotene. The multivitamin listed at the end of this article is a good example.

OTHER SIGNS OF A HIGH-QUALITY MULTIVITAMIN:

Other ways to confirm that your multivitamin is protecting your brain is to ask:

  • Does it have adequate vitamin D? You should get at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily from your supplement plan, which can come from both your multivitamin and your fish oil.
  • Does it have adequate vitamin B12? If you are past age 40, have any gastrointestinal issues, or occasionally take a heartburn medication, ensure that you get at least 100 mcg and up to 500 mcg of vitamin B12 daily.
  • Does it have enough chromium? Chromium is essential for blood sugar control. You should get 400 mcg of chromium with your multivitamin daily.
  • Are the minerals in your multivitamin bound to protein? Or bound to salts? Protein-bound has better absorption and is gentle on your stomach. Salt bound compounds often have less absorption and can cause stomach distress. So when you look at the zinc, selenium, and iron, avoid sources that say sulfate, carbonate, or oxide. Choose forms with minerals bound to glycinate, malate, or other chelated forms.

Examples of a multivitamin we recommend to patients at our clinic includes: our Daily Multivitamin and Thorne’s Basic Nutrients 2/Day. Or to meet all your brain and heart nutrient needs together, consider the Brain & Heart Support Pack, which includes a 2-pill daily multivitamin, fish oil with adequate vitamin D & K, magnesium, and vitamin B12.

I hope this has given you the tools to ensure that you are taking a high-quality supplement that has active and essential nutrients for your health and your brain.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

PS: Next week, I’m offering a $20 discount on high-quality supplements, so stay tuned for e-mails coming next week.

 

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Frittata https://drmasley.com/frittata/ Wed, 28 Feb 2018 21:53:57 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5113 The post Frittata appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Eggs are back on the menu and they aren’t just for breakfast. Cage-free, organically-fed eggs contain smart fats that are good for your brain, and they do not worsen your cholesterol profile—turns out that outdated claim was a myth. A tasty frittata works for any meal, just like an omelet. This one is simple to make and pretty to serve.

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Baking Time: 15-20 Minutes

Serves: Two

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp                 Avocado oil

2 cups                  Mushrooms, sliced (button or shiitake)

¼ tsp                    Sea salt

¼ tsp                    Ground black pepper

1 tsp                    Dried Italian herbs

1 cup                   Artichoke hearts, quartered and drained

4 medium            Green onions, chopped finely

2 cups                  Spinach, fresh

1 small                 Tomato, diced

6 large                  Eggs, organic-fed, cage-free

½ cup                   Unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup                Organic gruyere cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring an oven-proof sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add oil, then mushrooms, salt, black pepper, and Italian herbs. Cook stirring occasionally 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add artichoke hearts, green onion, and spinach, reduce heat to medium, and stir occasionally until spinach wilts, another 2 minutes.

Whisk eggs in a bowl, stir in milk. Then stir in mushroom mixture. Pour contents back into the sauté pan, top with cheese, and heat for 1 minute on the stove top so the eggs begin to cook.

Transfer pan to the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes; the frittata should have the texture of custard: trembling and barely set, if you cook until the top is firm, it is overcooked. After baking, turn the oven to broil for 2-3 minutes, just enough to lightly brown the top of the frittata. Serve immediately—if left in the pan, the frittata will overcook.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Eating More Fat Is Good for Your Heart and Brain https://drmasley.com/eating-fat-good-heart-brain/ https://drmasley.com/eating-fat-good-heart-brain/#comments Mon, 26 Feb 2018 21:37:33 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5053 The post Eating More Fat Is Good for Your Heart and Brain appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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For years the medical community has told people to decrease their fat intake to prevent heart disease and memory loss, but there have been four big problems with this approach.

First, it is hard to do. I spent years telling people to lower their fat intake, yet 95% of my own patients couldn’t do it. They weren’t satisfied, they developed cravings, and they couldn’t stick with this kind of eating.

Second, your brain is more than 60% fat by weight, and about 40% of it is made of omega-3 fats—you need fat to nourish your brain. The latest studies have shown that adding more fat to your diet improves cognitive function and slows memory loss.

Third, I believe the benefits from low-fat diets (like Pritikin, Esselstyn, and Ornish) have little to do with eating low-fat.  They do get rid of some bad fat, which is good, but the real reason these eating plans are better than the SAD Standard American Diet is when they’re done right, they’re packed with fiber and they’re high in plant-based nutrients.

Fourth, although low-fat diets do some things right, like getting rid of bad fats, they also get rid of smart fats – and that is actually pretty dumb. Smart fats have two BIG amazing benefits: they decrease inflammation and they improve hormone levels, in particular blood sugar and insulin. So when we cut out the Smart Fats, we become more inflamed and lose healthy hormone balance. And since the leading causes for heart disease are high blood sugar levels and inflammation, cutting out smart fats increases the risk for arterial plaque growth.

This does not mean eating more of any fat is good, (such as ice cream, sausage, and French fries) but adding more smart fat is good (such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts).

Which Fats Are Smart for My Heart & Brain?

Smart fats have proven clinical benefits from published studies. For example, studies have shown that consuming more olive oil and nuts decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease. Hundreds of other studies suggest nuts and olive oil are good for your heart and help to slow overall aging, and the recent Mediterranean Diet study showed that consuming more extra virgin olive oil and nuts prevented cognitive decline. Wild salmon and sources of fish oil have proven heart benefits, plus they decrease inflammation and they are good for our brain. Dark chocolate, another smart fat, has been shown to have many benefits for blood pressure, overall cardiovascular health, and is also good for the brain. Monounsaturated food sources, like avocado, have been shown to improve both our cholesterol profile and help with insulin resistance.

So, nuts and nut oils, olive oil, cold water fish, dark chocolate, and avocado are clearly good for your heart and health, and can easily be called smart fats. Smart nuts with proven benefits include: almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamias.

What is a Bad Fat?

There are obvious examples of bad fats, such as partially hydrogenated fats (also called trans-fats) that worsen cholesterol profiles, blood sugar control, and increase cancer risk. Hydrogenated fats are used by the food industry to extend the shelf life of food, but they shorten your life if you eat them.

Another example of bad fats are fats loaded with pesticides and hormones. Feedlots too often feed cows, pigs, and poultry pesticide-packed grains whose chemicals accumulate in the fat. When we eat the animal fat, we may get a big load of toxic fat. Feedlots may also load animals with growth hormones, and these hormones likely increase your risk for cancer.

So, to avoid bad fats, become a savvy shopper – read labels, and if you purchase meat and dairy, buy them from pasture raised, hormone-free, and grass-fed animals.

Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad?

Consuming coconut oil:

  • Boosts metabolism (calorie burning) in highly active people.
  • Provides a terrific fuel source (medium chain triglycerides) for prolonged exercise sessions and for athletes.
  • Has anti-microbial properties, helping to fight infections.
  • For people with mild cognitive dysfunction, it appears beneficial for memory, and for people with a neurological disease, the MCT portion of coconut oil helps injured brain cells function.

Despite these benefits, there is still controversy with coconut oil because eating more coconut products increases cholesterol levels. It raises LDL particle size (considered good) and healthy HDL cholesterol levels (also good). The problem is we do not have any clinical outcome studies that show eating coconut is either neutral or beneficial, and at least one clinical study using coconut products showed that it decreased artery function, so there should be some hesitation in recommending coconut oil to people with established heart disease.

My recommendation is if you are in good health, or if you have neurological issues, then it’s likely smart to eat more coconut fats. However, if you have established heart disease or you are being treated by your doctor for abnormal cholesterol problems, I’d recommend that you consult with your doctor and avoid coconut fats and enjoy the many other heart-friendly smart such as avocado, macadamia nut, or almond oil, or extra virgin olive oil instead.

Also, don’t be fooled about the myth regarding cooking with coconut oil at high heat. In reality, coconut oil has a low smoke point, only 350 degrees (F). So only use coconut oil at low or medium-low cooking heat, not higher.

Bottom Line

There are smart fats that benefit your heart and brain and the latest scientific evidence shows that you do not need to follow a low-fat diet. Clearly some fats should be avoided, yet you should enjoy eating more nuts, nut oils, olive oil, cold water fatty fish, dark chocolate, and avocados. So, Bon Appétit!

I hope this helps you to make the best choices for your health.

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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Cioppino (Italian Seafood Stew) https://drmasley.com/cioppino-italian-seafood-stew/ https://drmasley.com/cioppino-italian-seafood-stew/#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:21:14 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4994 The post Cioppino (Italian Seafood Stew) appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This is a favorite meal in our home for company, and it will nourish your heart and brain as it is loaded with healthy nutrients. Ensure you buy very fresh fish and shellfish. Vary vegetables and seafood according to availability.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Simmering time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 (makes about 8-10 cups)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp         Virgin olive oil

1 medium    Onion, chopped

1/4 tsp         Sea salt

1 cup            Mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp             Italian herbs, dried (rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil)

¼ tsp            Black pepper, ground

3 large          Carrots, chopped

1 med-large  Fennel (or 3 celery stalks) Cut away any tiny roots from the base, remove stems & leaves.                         Chop fennel bulb into ½-inch pieces.

1 cup            Red wine

1 medium     Red bell pepper, remove seeds, stem, and chop

1 cup            Chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce

2 cups          Vegetable or fish broth, low sodium

1 pound        Mussels and/or clams in the shell, scrubbed clean

1 pound        Whitefish, cut into 1-inch pieces (tilapia, cod, snapper, catfish—whichever is fresh)

1/2 pound     Shrimp, large, peeled and deveined (or crab legs in the shell)

8 large          Sea scallops

½ cup           Parsley, chopped

 Directions:

Heat a large stew pot over medium-high heat. Add oil, then onions, salt, mushrooms, herbs, black, pepper, and stir for 2 minutes. Add carrots and fennel and cook another 2 minutes. Add wine to de-glaze for 30 seconds while stirring (the wine helps release the onions sugars stuck to the pan). Add bell pepper, tomato sauce, broth and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak fish, shrimp, and scallops in orange juice or milk for 15 minutes. Rinse and drain when ready to add to pot.

Bring another pan with a steamer tray to a boil, add muscles and/or clams and cook until they open, 5-6 minutes. Drain, saving 1 cup of clam-mussel liquid from steaming and set aside.

Increase temperature under the large stew pot to medium-high and add fish, shrimp, and scallops. Heat 4-5 minutes, until shrimp are pink and fish is cooked. Add drained mussels and clams, plus 1 cup of clam-mussel liquid and simmer another minute.

Ladle stew into bowls and garnish with parsley. This stew is fabulous accompanied with a tossed green salad on the side or as a second course. Be sure to set table with a second batch of large bowls for discarded shells.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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5 Steps to Improve Blood Pressure without Taking Medications https://drmasley.com/5-steps-improve-blood-pressure-without-taking-medications/ https://drmasley.com/5-steps-improve-blood-pressure-without-taking-medications/#comments Mon, 19 Feb 2018 22:24:53 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4873 The post 5 Steps to Improve Blood Pressure without Taking Medications appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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My goal is to help you have normal blood pressure, without needing medication. I don’t think of blood pressure medications as being bad per se, but they often have unpleasant side effects. My hope is you won’t need them if you follow the easy-to-follow steps noted below.

Blood pressure is the best predictor of a future heart attack or stroke; it is also the best measure of the function and well-being of your arteries. When your blood pressure is elevated while at rest, that means that your arteries are sick and dysfunctional, likely constricting and limiting blood flow. When your blood pressure is normal, that means your arteries are dilated and providing adequate blood flow to your heart, brain, and muscles.

A normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80, anything above this is elevated. If it reaches 140/90 that is the standard cut off for hypertension, the point when you qualify for medication therapy, as your hypertension has made you high risk for a cardiovascular event. Antihypertensive medications can lower blood pressure and help decrease your future risk for a heart attack or stroke, but they can have numerous side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Decreased energy
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Wheezing
  • Decreased exercise performance
  • Decreased libido
  • And a variety of more serious side effects as well.

Below are several steps that are as effective as adding a medication, without those side effects, and they are pretty easy to implement:

Step 1: Eat five cups of vegetables and fruits every day

Vegetables and fruits provide nutrients such as potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, flavonoids, and an array of other compounds that make your arteries dilate.  Everyone should eat at least five cups of produce every day, and the more colorful the better. It is amazing that doing something so simple is as effective as taking a drug.

Step 2: Exercise for 30 minutes daily

No doubt about it, exercise is great for blood pressure control. Dance, walk, bicycle, or go to the gym and find something that makes you sweat. Any activity that gets your heart rate up improves your blood vessel function and will improve your blood pressure.

Step 3: Lose 10 pounds

I won’t say weight loss is easy, but it is super effective at lowering blood pressure. Losing 10 pounds is as effective in controlling BP as taking a BP drug.

Step 4: Spend 10 minutes meditating daily

If you are not good at meditating, then try using an app like HeartMath, which gives you feedback and makes meditating easier. Studies show that adding meditation or using HeartMath is as effective as taking blood pressure medication.

Step 5: Yes limit salt intake, but more important is to limit your sugar

For people with hypertension, decreasing salt intake from a typical American sodium intake of 3,800 mg per day to 2,500 mg per day lowers the top blood pressure reading (systolic) about 5 mm of Hg points, and the lower blood pressure reading (diastolic) 2.5. Yet for the average American with elevated blood pressure, the typical benefit from cutting your salt intake is only a 2 point reduction.

On the other hand, new research suggests that sugar has a bigger impact on blood pressure than salt. The challenge in making this distinction is that most processed foods are often loaded with both.

A study published in Open Heart compares the effectiveness of limiting sugar and salt on blood pressure levels. (DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC. Open Heart 2014; 1:3000167)

Their findings show that:

  • Eating more sugar increases systolic blood pressure 6.9 mm Hg points and diastolic blood pressure 5.6 mm Hg in the short term, and 7.6/6.1 mm Hg if followed for more than 8 weeks.
  • Drinking a 24-ounce soft drink can increase blood pressure by 15 systolic and 9 diastolic points and raise heart rate by 9 beats per minute.
  • People who consume 25% more calories from sugar (which is easy to do) have a 300% increase in death rate due to cardiovascular disease.
  • A high-fructose (sugar) diet for just 2 weeks increases blood pressure 7 mm Hg systolic and 5 diastolic, but also raises pulse rate, triglycerides, fasting insulin and is associated with fatty liver.
  • The good news is there is no harm noted from eating more fruit, so don’t fret over having an apple, a peach, or a cup of berries. Do avoid fruit juice and dried fruit.

For the past 100,000 years, humans consumed not more than a few pounds of sugar per year in the form of hard-earned honey, maple syrup, or sugar cane. It is only in the last few years that our intake has leaped to 100 to 150 pounds per year. Today, one in six people get 25% of all their calories from sugar, which is way too much! No wonder rates for diabetes and insulin resistance are skyrocketing at epidemic rates, and so is the rate for memory loss.

The bottom line is that we should all be eating more clean protein, more healthy fat, and more fiber from vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruits. We should use more herbs and spices to make our food taste delicious, and by adding more herbs and spices we don’t need to use as much sugar and salt.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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Salmon Spread https://drmasley.com/salmon-spread/ https://drmasley.com/salmon-spread/#comments Thu, 15 Feb 2018 22:22:22 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4804 The post Salmon Spread appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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One of the easiest ways to eat more salmon is to serve salmon spread.  This is quick and easy to prepare, and super nourishing for our brain and heart. This is far better than tuna spread is this healthier version which is delicious as a side dish, or served with a tossed salad.

PREPARATION TIME: 5 MINUTES

SERVES: 2

Ingredients:

6 ounce           Canned salmon (wild Alaska pink or red salmon)

2 medium       Green onions, diced

1 Tbsp             Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp             Hummus (store-bought)

1 Tbsp             Capers

1 tsp                Lemon juice

1 medium       Celery stalk, diced

Optional         Hot sauce to taste

Directions:

Flake salmon. Mix with the remaining ingredients and serve.

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Tips to Treat the Flu https://drmasley.com/tips-treat-flu/ https://drmasley.com/tips-treat-flu/#comments Mon, 12 Feb 2018 22:59:54 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4791 The post Tips to Treat the Flu appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Every year my patients ask me if they should get a flu shot, and what treatments they should consider if they do get the flu—both are great questions, but let’s start with a bit of background.

The influenza virus (the flu) represents a group of RNA viruses that vary from year to year and are constantly evolving. With an influenza infection, there is typically sudden onset high fever (often to 103 to 105, body aches, cough, headache, and marked fatigue and especially in high-risk individuals, people can become severely ill with the flu. The flu kills over 500,000 people worldwide every year.

Each year a vaccine is developed to either prevent or decrease the severity of illness when infected. The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from year to year, but typically it helps prevent the flu in 30-50% of cases—this year so far, it appears to be 38% effective, but even if it doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu, it likely reduces the length and severity of symptoms and decreases the chance of high-risk people dying from the flu.

So who should get the influenza vaccine (the flu shot)?

Clearly, people at highest risk for severe infections and possible death from influenza are those that absolutely should get the flu shot.

They include:

  • Children less than 5 years of age (especially infants less than 2 years)
  • People with impaired immune function, such as those with cancer who have had chemotherapy
  • People with advanced heart disease, in particular heart failure
  • People with advanced lung disease, such as emphysema and asthma
  • Frail elderly adults, starting after age 65
  • Women who are pregnant

The other group that absolutely should get the flu shot includes:

  • Caregivers, or family who come in contact with high-risk people, such as family caregivers for a sick relative, relatives who visit an infant, and medical caregivers. After all, you do not want to unintentionally give a frail loved one influenza.

Lastly, people who don’t want to miss work and don’t want to spend a week ill should consider this vaccine as an option.

Many of my patients can’t afford to miss up to one week of work if they were to get the flu, especially those flying frequently on airplanes are more at risk. They won’t die from the flu, but it could cost them on the financial side if they were out of work for an extended period of time. I offer the flu shot to any of my patients that want it.

I choose to get the flu shot every fall for two reasons. First, I feel an obligation to protect my patients  from me, as I could easily get the flu and be infectious (Along these lines, many hospitals and clinics require that their employees either get the influenza vaccine, or  wear a mask while at work, all day long, all winter long, if they refuse the vaccine.)

Second, I don’t have time to be sick and miss work, and if I can minimize my sick time by a few days, that is a greater benefit for me than the risk from the flu shot itself.

From a public health perspective, the more people that get the influenza vaccine, the less the disease is spread. Since high-risk people may not get full immunity from a flu shot, they depend on the people around them to not get sick and giving them the flu. Some alternative providers might say that for low-risk people, the flu shot has more risk than benefit, but I have never seen any definitive proof to support this claim.

What are the risks of the flu shot?

  • About 1 person in 1 million vaccinated could get Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neuropathy that can cause muscular weakness for weeks to months. This is a serious risk, yet, the chance of injury from getting sick with the flu is clearly higher than the risk of getting Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • Allergic reactions can occur, but this is predominantly in people who are allergic to eggs (don’t get the flu shot if you have an egg allergy).
  • Some people will get some aches and pains (and perhaps a local skin irritation) for a couple of days associated with activating their immune system after receiving a flu shot. However, for people with active auto-immune disease, or for those with high levels of inflammation, there is some controversy about whether the flu shot can trigger auto-immune activity—the more traditional medical groups would say it doesn’t; yet, in light of this concern, I don’t push my patients with auto-immune issues, or those that are highly inflamed or chemically sensitive to get the flu shot, unless they are otherwise in a high-risk category noted above.
  • I personally don’t recommend the live nasal inhaled form of the vaccine which can rarely give you a mild case of influenza. In the old days, the flu vaccine used a live virus, and you could get the flu from the vaccine. In my office, we do not use any live virus flu vaccines, and you can’t get the flu from most vaccines. The vaccine does take 7-14 days to be effective, so you could potentially get the vaccine and catch the flu before the vaccine becomes effective in your body.
  • What about mercury in vaccines? Some influenza vaccines have 20 doses per bottle, and they contain a mercury preservative to keep the bottle sterile. I think it is dumb to inject people with mercury, as mercury is a neurotoxin. Most chain pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics use flu shots with mercury as a preservative (it decreases the cost of the vaccination). In my clinic, we order a vaccine that comes in single-dose vials, no mercury included. You can order mercury-free flu vaccine yourself from your pharmacy, but often this must be requested in advance and costs extra; I think the few extra dollars are worth it to have a mercury-free vaccine.

If you get influenza (whether you had the flu shot or not), what treatment options are available?

The following are therapy options that I share with my own patients and this list is intended as information only; this is not a treatment plan for how you should treat an illness such as influenza on your own. Always check with your physician who knows you when deciding on the right therapy for a severe illness.

  1. Anti-Viral Medication for the flu is available and requires a prescription from your physician:
  • For it to be effective, you need to start it during the first 24-48 hours of getting sick, and the sooner you start it the more effective it will be.
  • Especially for high-risk people, taking an anti-viral medication (such as Tamiflu) will decrease the severity and duration of illness. For an average person, it will only shorten the duration of illness by ½ to 1 day, so from 7 days to 6-6.5 days, not huge, but if you happen to be high risk for a serious infection because you are frail, decreasing the severity could be life-saving or keep you out of the hospital.
  • Not every healthy person needs to take the anti-viral medication for the flu, but it is available to those who want to decrease the severity of their symptoms.
  • If you have a family member at home with documented influenza (they had a positive test for the flu) and you are exposed, you also have the option to take anti-viral medications to help you prevent from getting the flu. This is not 100% but fairly effective, and especially recommended for any high-risk people who might be exposed.
  1. Zinc Lozenges also decrease the severity and duration of viral respiratory symptoms, including the flu.
  • Look for zinc gluconate, the most effective form of zinc lozenges.
  • Aim for 10-25 mg lozenges every 3-4 hours for the first 3-4 days of an infection. Let them slowly dissolve in your mouth.
  • Some people notice nausea with zinc, so decrease the dosage as indicated, using half a lozenge or less as needed.
  • Meeting your zinc requirements daily will improve your immune function and help prevent the flu. This is yet one more reason that you should take a good quality multivitamin daily.
  1. Elderberry syrup (also called sambucol, a black elderberry extract) will help viral respiratory symptoms, including the flu.
  • Elderberry syrup appears very safe, and has been long established to help with upper respiratory illnesses (don’t use the leaves or stems, they may be toxic)
  • Aim for a dosage of syrup 3 to 4 times per day.
  • Sometimes you’ll see elderberry combined with Echinacea root extract—I am fine with this combination being used, but Echinacea root effectiveness has been debated in clinical studies.
  • You can buy pre-made syrup (it often contains sugar or honey, but I’m not concerned about its sugar content for a few days if you actually have the flu), or you can make your own from either fresh or dried elderberries, for a recipe, visit my friend Kate’s recipe at wellness mama: https://realfoodrn.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup/
  1. Vitamin D levels impact the severity of flu symptoms. People with low vitamin D levels are more likely to get the flu, and they get sicker if they get it.
  • Long term you should take between 2,000-5,000 IU daily; clarify your dosage with your own doctor. (Children should be taking at least 1,000 IU daily, but check with your child’s physician for the best dosage)
  • The high-quality multivitamin packages that I recommend all have 2000 IU of vitamin D. Get started today if you aren’t already taking one.
  1. Vitamin C seems to help people with a viral upper respiratory infection if they are deficient in Vitamin C.
  • For people who eat poorly and don’t take a supplement, take 3,000 mg of vitamin C daily if you become ill, for about 5 days.
  • Ideally, everyone should get 500 to 1000 mg of vitamin C daily from food and supplement intake combined. This is yet another reason to take a high-quality multivitamin and to eat your five cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
  1. Sage and Thyme infusions (make herbal tea with fresh sage and thyme) with honey will soothe your throat during a respiratory illness.

Beyond the flu shot, to help prevent the flu during the flu season, especially when you are out in public, frequent hand washing with soap and hot water will decrease your risk for getting the flu. Further, taking a probiotic daily has also been shown to improve your immune function and decrease your risk for infections.

I hope you don’t get the flu this winter, but if you do, you’ll have a better idea of treatment options that are available.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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5 Nutrients To Add Sizzle on Valentine’s Day! https://drmasley.com/5-nutrients-add-sizzle-valentines-day/ https://drmasley.com/5-nutrients-add-sizzle-valentines-day/#comments Fri, 09 Feb 2018 20:00:22 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4772 The post 5 Nutrients To Add Sizzle on Valentine’s Day! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Would you like to discover nutrients and foods that will add some sizzle to your romantic life on Valentine’s Day?

We’ve all heard of the aphrodisiac powers of oysters and chocolate. Old wives’ tales? Well, not really.

The keys to enhancing romantic and sexual performance in men and women include improving your blood circulation, your ability to experience pleasure, and your drive. You may be surprised to learn that five nutrients found in a variety of foods have been shown to give you a better sex life, and as these same foods improve blood flow, they are terrific for heart and brain health, too.

And just so you know, these do include the nutrients found in oysters and dark chocolate.

What are these elixirs of passion? Let’s start with those that improve your circulation:  nitrates and arginine.

#1: Nitrates: Sounds like a bad chemical that might be put in processed foods, but nitrates in natural plant foods are incredible for your health. Your body uses them to make nitric oxide, the master compound that regulates the function of your arteries. If you increase nitric oxide levels, your arteries will dilate, your blood vessel function will improve, and along with it, you will enhance your athletic, sexual, and blood vessel performance. When men consume foods with “good nitrates” they have better romantic performance. When women eat these foods, they feel more aroused and receptive.

Foods that are rich in nitrates include:

  • Beets are an incredible source
  • Cooked spinach (You need at least one cup of cooked spinach to make a difference. Raw spinach is mostly water. It takes 7.5 cups of raw spinach to equal 1 cup of cooked spinach).

Not surprising that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and rapture, recommended beets as an aphrodisiac. And the brothels of ancient Greece and Rome had pictures of beets on their walls—it seems beets were the first form of Viagra on the market.

#2: Arginine: Arginine is another compound the body uses to make nitric oxide. Clinical studies have shown that arginine improves romantic and sexual function. Increase arginine, and you will increase blood flow for men and women. Arginine is a simple amino acid (protein building block), so there are no real safety issues or many side effects with the moderate dosages I am suggesting. (Caution: If you have herpes Arginine may increase your chances of an outbreak.)

Foods that are rich in arginine and contain about 3,000 mg per 5 ounce serving, include:

  • Oysters
  • All other shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab)
  • Turkey

Studies show that when men take 1000 mg of an arginine supplement 1-2 capsules twice daily, they report improved sexual performance. An excellent quality form of L-arginine is Perfusia-SR.

Next are foods that increase your ability to feel physical pleasure.

The brain requires a chemical compound called dopamine for romantic desire and fulfillment. Endorphins are other compounds that increase relaxation and the sense of fulfillment. Endorphins allow us to feel relaxed, calm, and satisfied.

#3: Tyrosine: To make dopamine, you require a couple of nutrients. The most important is an amino acid called tyrosine.

Foods that are rich in tyrosine include:

  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Caviar
  • Turkey
  • Soy protein

#4: Endorphin precursorsA variety of foods including salmon, vanilla, and bananas have been reported to increase endorphin production, but by far the top rated is:

  • Dark chocolate. We are not talking milk chocolate; the chocolate has to have at least 74% cocoa mass to qualify.

Finally are foods that improve your libido.

#5: Zinc: Foods that enhance adrenal function stimulate sex drive and libido. To have drive, you need good adrenal function, and in particular, you need zinc.

Foods rich in zinc include:

  • Oysters
  • Dark chocolate

What undermines romantic performance? Well that would be too much alcohol. You need hydration, so enjoy sparkling water and iced green tea, but keep your alcohol intake moderate. Since you won’t be over-indulging, you might as well splurge and buy a special bottle of red wine or champagne. For your best performance, don’t exceed two servings per person.

Now that you know the top foods for romantic function and pleasure, you should be able to guess my recommended menu for Valentine’s Day. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Recipes for a Romantic Valentine’s Day

Don’t forget to set the mood with candles and flowers.

Appetizers: (Good choices include)

  • Smoked oysters
  • Smoked salmon
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Caviar
  • Borscht

Main Courses:

  • Shrimp or Lobster
  • Turkey

Side Dishes:

  • Roasted beets
  • Spinach, sautéed in virgin olive oil, with Italian herbs and fresh garlic

Desserts:

  • Try 1-2 ounce of dark chocolate per person, drizzled over fresh strawberries
  • Chocolate mousse

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Recipes

Cucumber with Smoked Oysters and Avocado  Instead of having oysters with crackers, try them with thinly sliced cucumber. Crunchy and refreshing! Oysters are smart to eat as they are loaded with zinc, protein, arginine, and omega-3 fats. If you can’t find canned smoked oysters in olive oil in your store, you may need to order them online (see our resources); if you can, avoid buying oysters canned in cottonseed oil (NOT a smart fat!)

Prep Time: 5 Minutes    Serves: Two

Ingredients:

3 ounces smoked oysters (canned in olive oil), drained

1 medium ripe avocado

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/8 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground paprika

1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro (or Italian parsley), finely chopped

1 medium cucumber, 1/8-1/4 inch slice

Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Directions:

Drain oysters. Meanwhile, mash avocado and mix with lemon juice, salt, paprika, garlic, and cilantro. Spread sliced cucumber on a serving plate. Add a spoonful of avocado mixture to each slice. Top with 1-2 smoked oysters. For a touch of heat, add a dash of your favorite hot sauce.  

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Lobster Kabobs (adapted from The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up)

Grilling lobster, shrimp or meat with vegetables on a skewer is easy. Just make sure to marinate for at least 10 to 15 minutes in advance. For a special occasion, my wife and I will have lobster, but you can also choose shrimp, large scallops, chicken, or lean steak. Serve with a mixed green salad and your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Marinating Time: 15 (up to 60) minutes

Grilling Time: 8-11 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

12 ounces lobster tail meat (which would be 16 ounces with the shell; or 12 ounces shrimp, large scallops, or sirloin steak), cut into 18 pieces, about 1-inch each

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ounces baby-bella mushrooms (or small crimini whole mushrooms)

18 cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup)

1 large red onion, skin removed, and cut into quarters and separated into thin layers

Marinade

3 Tbsp virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp paprika, ground

1 tsp Italian herbs

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp black pepper ground

1/8 tsp cayenne, ground (optional—for those who like heat, but I don’t use with lobster as it diminishes the subtle flavors)

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

Directions: 

Prepare seafood and vegetables as noted above. Whisk marinade ingredients together. Set grill at 450°F or turn on the broiler. Combine seafood, vegetables, and marinade in a bowl, turning occasionally for 15 minutes while grill/broiler heats. Grease 6 metal skewers and skewer red and yellow pepper, red onion, mushrooms, alternating with 3 pieces of seafood and 3 tomatoes per skewer. In truth, you could easily grill or broil without the skewers, but the skewers make it easy to turn everything uniformly, plus they make a great presentation when serving. Grill or broil for 8 to 11 minutes, until protein is cooked, but not dry, turning 2 or 3 times. Meanwhile toss a mixed green salad with your favorite vinaigrette dressing. Serve the salad on the plates and align the kebobs over the salad.

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Roasted Beets Beets become sweeter when roasted, and they improve your circulation for several hours after eating them.  

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Baking Time: 40-45 minutes

Serves: 2  

Ingredients: 

3 medium beets, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces

2 Tbsp Virgin olive oil

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp Italian herb seasoning

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400° (F). Combine beets with oil, salt, pepper, and Italian herbs in an oven-proof dish. Bake until beets are tender, about 40-45 minutes.  

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Strawberries with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

A terrific dessert for Valentine’s Day.

Serves: 2

Ingredients: 

2 ounces dark chocolate

1 tablespoon organic butter

2 cups fruit (strawberries are perfect, but you can also try orange, or pitted cherries), cut into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons chopped nuts of your choice

Directions: 

In a double boiler, melt chocolate, then add butter and stir together; alternatively, melt slowly together in a glass bowl in the microwave. Spread fruit pieces over a plate and drizzle with chocolate; sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve immediately or chill and save for later.

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Chocolate Mousse (adapted from The Better Brain Solution)

Here is one of my wife’s desserts, and my favorite. It’s delicious and packed with zinc, tyrosine, and endorphin boosting chocolate. Use unprocessed cocoa for greater flavonoid content. Caution, as consuming excess xylitol can cause gastrointestinal distress; avoid having multiple servings with xylitol as an ingredient.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Chill Time: 2-24 hours in the refrigerator

Serves: Six

Ingredients:

½ cup Coffee (espresso or filtered, decaf or regular)

1/3 cup Xylitol

1/8 tsp Sea salt

4 ounces dark chocolate chips (at least 74% cocoa, or use a dark chocolate bar)

½ cup cocoa powder (unprocessed)

12 ounces silken tofu

3 Tbsp Grand Marnier (or brandy)

3 Tbsp Orange rind (divided, process 2 Tbsp, and save 1 Tbsp for a garnish)

Directions: In a saucepan, heat coffee, xylitol, and salt until gently bubbling. Meanwhile in a food processor, process cocoa and chocolate chips until finely chopped, almost powdered. Slowly pour hot coffee into the food processor and process until the chocolate has melted. Add tofu, Grand Marnier, and 2 Tbsp of orange rind and process until smooth. Pour into serving containers, garnish with remaining orange rind. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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What 5 Foods Are Fantastic for Your Heart https://drmasley.com/5-foods-fantastic-heart/ Mon, 05 Feb 2018 07:00:07 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4725 The post What 5 Foods Are Fantastic for Your Heart appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Heart disease is the #1 killer of women and men and has an enormous impact on health worldwide, even though we can prevent it with lifestyle 90% of the time.  Equally important is that the same factors that lead to heart disease play a dramatic role in your quality of life. The good news is that when you take steps to tune up your heart, you benefit your circulation, and consequently you enhance your energy, waistline, brain speed, and romantic function.

FIVE HEART HEALTHY FOOD GROUPS YOU SHOULD ENJOY EVERY DAY

#1. Feed on Fabulous Fiber:

If you only measured one nutrient, I would want you to pick FIBER. Fiber is the roughage that comes with vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts. These sources of fiber suppress appetite (helping you reduce weight), improves your blood sugar and cholesterol profile, decreases inflammation, and slows aging. Fiber is loaded with age-busting nutrients. Your challenge is to get 30 grams, which is about 10 servings of fiber-rich foods daily.

But don’t be fooled into getting your fiber in the form of processed grains (such as whole wheat flour), because any time you process a grain into flour, it acts just like sugar in your bloodstream, hurting your heart and your brain.

Best is to focus on enjoying daily:

  • 3 cups of vegetables (make sure one of those cups is a green leafy veggie)
  • 2 pieces of fruit (such as a cup of berries or an apple)
  • 2 handfuls of nuts and seeds
  • ½ to 1 cup of beans

 #2. Eat More Smart Fats:

You don't need to follow a low fat-diet, I would even say you shouldn’t be on a low-fat diet because you actually need more smart fats. Clinical studies show that enjoying fats from seafood, virgin olive oil, and nuts decreases your risk for a heart attack and stroke, and nourishes your brain, without gaining weight. Enjoy fats from avocado, seeds, and dark chocolate, too. These healthy fats are critical for your brain, and they improve your hormone balance and reduce inflammation.

#3. Eat Clean, Not Mean Protein:

Mean protein comes from commercial fatty meats and fatty dairy that are loaded with hormones and pesticides.

Clean protein can come from either protein powders, beans, organic dairy, or wild and/or pasture-raised animal products.

For wild seafood, consider grilled salmon, baked sole, and steamed shellfish.

For clean poultry, focus on free-range, organic-fed options, such chicken fajitas and roasted Cornish game hens with lovely herbs, and be sure to add extra herbs for both flavor and health.  Plus, organic, free-range, eggs are back on the menu, so you can enjoy a terrific omelet.

If you eat red meat, focus on grass-fed, grass-finished, organically raised beef and pork products.

For clean protein plus fiber, don’t forget beans, as they improve blood sugar and cholesterol profiles and are the most powerful anti-aging food ever tested. As an example, you’ll get to enjoy tasty bean dips, great chili, and a lovely hummus.

If you are in a restaurant and can’t find any clean protein options, then focus on lean, as the leaner (less fatty) cuts have fewer toxins. Aim for chicken and turkey breast options, seafood, and more vegetarian options.

#4. Enjoy More Beneficial Beverages:

Start with pure water, at least 4 cups per day, and for something with caffeine, green tea is the best. All unsweetened tea is great, and mint tea is lovely too. With this plan, you can still enjoy 1-3 cups of coffee per day, because in moderation those tea and coffee pigments are good for you. 

Don’t forget my favorite breakfast, a fiber and protein-rich smoothie (it only takes 2 minutes to make and includes protein powder, frozen-organic cherries or blueberries, and almond milk,—It is delicious, and you’ll be satisfied and revved up all morning!

You can have a glass of wine with dinner, just be sure to limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 servings. Red wine is the healthiest form of alcohol for your heart and brain, but no form of alcohol is healthy if you consume more than 3 servings per day.

Don’t be fooled into drinking juice, as without the fiber and pulp, fruit juice is closer to drinking soda than eating fruit.

#5. Savor More Fantastic Flavors:

One thing I discovered during my chef internship at the Four Seasons restaurant is that food must taste good for people to enjoy it. People won’t eat healthy foods if they taste like cardboard.

You may wonder if flavors are worthy of being a food group but, who would argue about making dark chocolate a food group? The fats in chocolate act like olive oil in your body and they are awesome for your heart and brain.  Yes, I’m asking you to eat some form of dark chocolate and/or drink cocoa every day! But not milk chocolate, that is just candy, it has to be made from at least 74% cacao.

Spices and herbs make your food taste great, and Italian herbs, curry spices, garlic, and hot chili spices all block arterial plaque growth, slow aging, rev your metabolism, and lower inflammation.

Overall, by adding these foods daily, you will nourish your heart, reduce your risk for a future heart attack and stroke, and you will find yourself becoming younger, trimmer, fitter, mentally sharper, and healthier every day.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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Top Foods to Better Manage Your Stress https://drmasley.com/top-foods-better-manage-stress/ https://drmasley.com/top-foods-better-manage-stress/#comments Mon, 29 Jan 2018 22:21:57 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4681 The post Top Foods to Better Manage Your Stress appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Stress levels are reported to be getting higher every year. 24/7 smartphone and e-mail access, the recent conflict packed news, national weather disasters, and demands to get more and more productive at home and work could easily stress out even a normally serene yoga instructor.

I am feeling it too, in fact, this year, my 2018 New Year’s Resolution was to start using HeartMath daily, an app that helps us to meditate more effectively. So far I’m off to a good start with this needed proactive habit!

Waiting until you are totally stressed-out to do something about it is risky, as chronic stress hurts you physiologically in many ways. Chronic, unmanaged stress will:

  • Decrease bone and muscle mass
  • Increase visceral fat to form around your waistline (that tire that nobody likes)
  • Increase blood sugar levels
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Accelerate arterial plaque growth
  • Shrink the memory center of the brain (the hippocampus)
  • Increase your risk for major depression and anxiety

Clearly, waiting for stress to harm you, before you start doing something about it, is a bad idea, because once you are stressed out, it is hard to think clearly and take measures to resolve it. That sounds like having an evacuation plan that entails learning to ride a bicycle to escape an approaching hurricane, which is a bit late, as it is really hard to learn to ride a bicycle during a wind storm. Far better would be to practice managing your stress, before you get stressed out.

Some of my favorite techniques to manage your stress proactively are:

  1. Get a good work out each day. Exercise that makes you sweat also burns away tension.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep. Ensure that you wake rested in the morning.
  3. Schedule 10 minutes of stress management time each day: meditation, prayer, using an app like HeartMath (which gives you biofeedback on how effective you are at getting calm).
  4. Eat foods that help you manage stress.

Now for a special treat. I have a wonderful nutrition intern working at the Masley Optimal Health Center. She has written up a short article on foods that help you manage your stress.

See below and enjoy!

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS


Foods You Can Eat To Better Manage Your Stress

by Louanne Saraga Walters, BA- Nutrition Intern at the Masley Optimal Health Center

Do you know the answer to a stress-free life?  Neither do I!  But with stress-causing inflammation at the core of many diseases, I believe it’s time to arm ourselves with foods we can bring onto the stress battlefield.  I’m not advocating eating to soothe that anxiety in the pit of your stomach, but I am encouraging you to sharpen your taste buds with some foods that contain powerful, stress-fighting nutrients. The effects will not only relieve stress, but you may find you also become stressed less frequently – a two-way win!

Magnesium is at the top of our list of Super-Calmers able to relieve anxiety, improve moods, reduce PMS symptoms, and provide an overall feeling of well-being.

The majority of Americans – over 70% – are deficient in this vital mineral, and you guessed it, that can add fire to the flame of stress. The minimum RDA recommendation for Magnesium is 400 mg, which is the minimum “intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people.” As such, Dr. Masley recommends getting that 400 mg from whole foods, and supplementing with an additional 150-200 mg of a quality Magnesium supplement at bedtime.

Magnesium-rich foods include roasted pumpkin seeds, wild salmon, halibut, most nuts and seeds, black beans (cooked), and leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard. (Note: If you enjoy baths, I highly recommend a few nights a week soaking in an Epsom salt bath, allowing your skin to quickly absorb the magnesium and propel you into a wonderful night’s sleep!)

Omega-3 fats (also called n-3 fatty acids) seem to be all the rage these days, right? And for good reason. Omega-3 fatty acids also referred to as ‘fish oil’, are from the “good” n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) branch which helps your body fight inflammation – the trigger responsible for starting a cascade of anxiety. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help students studying for exams and to manage patient’s withdrawal symptoms in drug treatment programs.

Omega-3 fats come in two varieties, long chain (mostly from seafood) and medium-chain (mostly from seeds, grains, and vegetables) fatty acids. Long chain omega-3 fats are far more effective at lowering inflammation than medium chain omega-3 fats, and your brain is nearly 40% by weight made from these long chain omega-3 fats as well. These features make long chain omega-3 fats essential to control inflammation, which can set stress control on fire.

So, how much do you need? Dr. Masley recommends one to two grams per day of DHA and EPA, the most important forms of long chain omega-3 fats.  Typically you would need to eat 2-3 servings of fatty cold water fish per week to meet this goal, or if you don’t eat this amount, then you should be taking a fish oil supplement.

Good sources for omega-3 fats come from cold water seafood and include:

  • Wild salmon
  • Sardines
  • Sole
  • Trout
  • Oysters
  • Mussels

Vegetarians can meet their needs for long chain omega-3 fat needs from eating seaweed salad regularly, 1-2 cup servings per day, or by taking a DHA supplement from seaweed with 400-500 mg of DHA daily.  (seaweed source DHA link) Ground flax and hemp seeds are a good source of healthy fiber and nutrients, but they do not provide very much long chain omega-3 fat.

Vitamin C is a big player is reducing oxidative stress and limiting cortisol, two key ingredients in Stress Soup, and vitamin C also helps to improve mood. And you don’t need much! While the RDA puts the minimum at 60 mg, there is no upper limit on ascorbic acid. Dr. Masley recommends 250-500 mg from vegetables and fruits daily, plus an extra 250-500 mg from a multivitamin supplement as well.

You might consider Vitamin C to be one of the best-packaged stress busters if you like citric fruits! In addition to the standard oranges, pineapple and kiwi, papaya, strawberries, and cantaloupe are full of ascorbic acid, as are their vegetable ‘sisters’ bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Vitamin E gets the trophy for being probably the least understood and most under-appreciated vitamin. It is actually a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols, with each of those compounds handling different tasks. It reduces anxiety by serving as an antioxidant (helping relieve oxidative stress), balancing cholesterol, and keeping our hormones even-keeled. The RDA for Vitamin E is 15 mg, but most Americans fall well below that. The key is to aim for mixed tocopherols like we get in whole foods. And speaking of whole foods!

Some of the best Vitamin E whole foods may also be the tastiest: sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, avocado, peanuts, asparagus, turnip, beet or mustard greens. Yum!

Summary

Having a variety of these whole foods on hand will give you a variety of soothing, tasty and nutritious ways to reduce stress. So while not completely stress-free, you may find the stress more manageable and provide a bit of calm in your life.

With over 30 years in communications, tourism, finance, and the nonprofit industry, Louanne Saraga Walters has served as a TV news reporter/anchor, cruise director, financial advisor, nonprofit consultant and inspirational speaker.

 With a passion to use her communications skills to help empower people toward greater health, Louanne is working toward her MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. Earlier this year, she was appointed by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners to the Suncoast Health Council as Board Member. Louanne is grateful to be serving as an intern at Masley Optimal Health Center in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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What’s my New Years’ Resolution? https://drmasley.com/whats-new-years-resolution/ https://drmasley.com/whats-new-years-resolution/#comments Fri, 29 Dec 2017 19:22:13 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4319 I have found the New Year as great opportunity to improve my health by making resolutions that turn into daily habits. I like to focus on four pillars (healthy food, essential nutrients, excellent fitness, and optimal stress management) and select an area for improvement. Little by little, I become healthier, happier, and more productive each […]

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I have found the New Year as great opportunity to improve my health by making resolutions that turn into daily habits. I like to focus on four pillars (healthy food, essential nutrients, excellent fitness, and optimal stress management) and select an area for improvement. Little by little, I become healthier, happier, and more productive each year.

I am already good at eating vegetables, fruits, smart fats, clean protein, and avoiding junk food, exercising daily, and taking my supplements. These habits make me more productive and energetic every day.

In all honesty, what I need to improve upon is my stress management routine. If I make this happen, it should help me focus better, and I’ll likely be less stressed when I get home in the evening as well, something that would make my wife Nicole happy, too. And as they say, happy wife—happy life.

So for 2018, I resolve to:

1.     Add 10 minutes of HeartMath guided meditation daily.

2.     Expand my stretching and breathing routine at the end of my workout each day.

3.     Continue my exercise, supplement, and eating routine.

I invite you to pick a couple of areas of specific improvement for 2018 and make it a daily habit.

Great examples of resolutions that will help enhance your brain function, heart health, and waistline would be to:

1.  Eat at least 5 cups of non-starching vegetables and fruits every day

2.  Stop eating sugar and grain flour

3.  Add a specific exercise routine regularly, such as Pilates, yoga, strength training, or something aerobic

4.  Take your supplement pack daily (which should include a high-quality multivitamin with adequate vitamin D and vitamin B12, mixed folates, plus magnesium, a probiotic, and a source of DHA or fish oil daily

5. Add 10 minutes of meditation daily

6. Share a random act of joy, love, and/or kindness every day

It typically takes about 6 weeks to turn an activity into a habit. So be sure to schedule time to make this activity happen daily for the first 6 weeks—it won’t happen on its own unless you plan for it. And to increase your accountability, ask friends and family to join and support you with the new activity. After six weeks, it should be fairly easy to keep this healthy new habit going.

I wish you the best of health for 2018!

Steven Masley, MD

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What Are 4 Easy Steps to Prevent Cancer? https://drmasley.com/4-easy-steps-prevent-cancer/ https://drmasley.com/4-easy-steps-prevent-cancer/#comments Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:25:35 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=3694 I spent last week at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition, which is one of my favorite annual education meetings that I attend every year. The focus this year was on “Disrupting Cancer”. The conference has been great, and I’d like to share some of the key take-home points I heard. Not […]

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I spent last week at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition, which is one of my favorite annual education meetings that I attend every year. The focus this year was on “Disrupting Cancer”.

The conference has been great, and I’d like to share some of the key take-home points I heard. Not only was the conference content worth hearing, but I also managed to get to the gym every morning, ate fantastic food served during the breaks, and had a fantastic time dancing with friends I have know for years.

Here are the top four tips I heard to help you prevent cancer.

1. Get your Vitamin D
Vitamin D suppresses the formation of cancer cells and blocks cancer cell growth. If you fail to meet your vitamin D needs, you are basically increasing your chance of getting cancer by 40-60%. In particular, dangerous cancers are very sensitive to vitamin D levels, including cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, and pancreas.

Most people need at least 2000 IU of vitamin D every day, and some people will need 3000 to 5000 IU of vitamin D every day. The goal is not to just take the pill, but to achieve a vitamin D blood level (25-OH vitamin D level) that is at least 40 ng/ml and ideally 50-60 ng/ml. From the lecture by Dr. Cedric Garand, we heard that a level of 40 ng/ml decreases the risk of many cancers by 40-50%, and a level of 50-60 ng/ml decreases your cancer risk by 50-80%. That is a HUGE reduction in cancer risk from such a safe, inexpensive, and simple therapy, so don’t miss this opportunity.

Vitamin D is very safe. Although excess is not better, and if you take higher dosages, you do need to confirm that your level does not exceed 100, as levels above 100 ng/ml are associated with rare health problems, which I have never seen unless somebody was taking more than 7000 IU daily long term.

Vitamin D Take Home Message: Take at least 2000 IU of vitamin D daily, up to 5000 IU daily, and after 3-6 months of daily intake, check your vitamin D blood level to ensure you are getting the right amount of vitamin D.

2. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables
Colorful fruits and vegetables have pigments, called carotenoids and flavonoids, and eating more of these pigments reduces your risk for cancer.

Think of
• lycopene (red-orange pigment in watermelon and tomatoes)
• beta-carotene (orange pigment in carrots)
• lutein ( the green pigment in green leafy veggies)

Take Home Message: Eating five cups of colorful fruits and vegetables daily will decrease your risk of multiple cancers.

3. Get mixed folates (to promote methylation) from a multivitamin
B vitamins (folates) provide methyl groups which repair DNA damage. When we lack adequate methylation, our cellular DNA accumulates damage over time, cells grow in unrestrictive ways, and cancer cells are far more likely to grow and expand. Bathing your DNA with methyl groups basically tells your cells to stop growing when they touch neighbor cells and to behave. When you are methyl-deficient, cells lack the appropriate growth regulation and are more likely to convert into cancer cells with unrestricted growth.

Even taking a poor quality source of a multivitamin with folic acid (one specific form of folate) has been shown in large randomized trials to lower your risk for cancer, and from dying from cancer too.

Even better would be taking a good quality multivitamin with mixed folates (not just folic acid) as 40% of people have a limited ability to convert folic acid to the more active forms of folate, such as 5-methylenetetrahydrofolate.

Take Home Message: Take a good quality multivitamin with mixed folates (not just folic acid) and aim to get 400 to 800 mcg of mixed folates daily.

4. Eat cruciferous veggies (they contain sulforaphane)
Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy are cruciferous vegetables that contain an important compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane not only lowers inflammation and oxidative stress, but it also inhibits cancer cell growth.

Clearly, the most potent source for sulforaphane comes from broccoli sprouts—which are easy to grow on your own and can be blended with your daily smoothie, or sprinkled on a salad.

Not only are there sulforaphane compounds in cruciferous vegetables, but there is also a critical enzyme (myrosinase) that make sulforaphane active inside the human body, and this enzyme is destroyed by excessive heat. Just taking a sulforaphane supplement without this enzyme won’t work, so if you don’t eat these foods and prefer to take a sulforaphane supplement—make sure it comes with myrosinase as well.

You can lightly steam or cook cruciferous veggies (they need to be a bit crunchy when you chew them, basically still al dente), but if you overcook them and they become soft, the myrosinase will be destroyed and they will have lost their cancer-fighting properties.

Take home message: Eat at least one cup of raw or lightly cooked cruciferous vegetables every day. For the greatest benefit, try eating ¼ to ½ cup of broccoli sprouts daily.

To your best health,

Steven Masley, MD

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