Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com Tune up your brain, heart, energy, waistline, and sex life! Mon, 18 Jun 2018 23:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 https://drmasley.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/cropped-PAN1360re-32x32.jpg Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com 32 32 How Does Your Gut Microbiome Impact Your Risk for Heart Disease https://drmasley.com/how-does-your-gut-microbiome-impact-your-risk-for-heart-disease/ https://drmasley.com/how-does-your-gut-microbiome-impact-your-risk-for-heart-disease/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 23:00:32 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5605 The post How Does Your Gut Microbiome Impact Your Risk for Heart Disease appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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There are hundreds of recent studies showing that the microbes (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) living in your gut impact your health. The right microbes benefit you, the bad ones cause you harm.

You have trillions of diverse microbes (with 10 times more DNA than the human body) living in your intestines. The proper microbes metabolize toxins and drugs, lower inflammation, help you absorb nutrients, and suppress appetite.

Little more than a decade ago, investigators proposed that the gut microbiome might be contributing to obesity. Since then, the microbiome has been linked to many other health issues, including depression, ADHD, memory loss, menopause symptoms, and most recently heart disease.

How does the microbiome impact risk factors for heart disease?

Risk factors for arterial plaque growth and heart disease include: obesity, elevated blood sugar levels, cholesterol profiles, inflammation, and blood pressure.

Obesity

It is not only the calories that people ingest that affect weight: more specifically it is the calories people absorb from the gut. By increasing or decreasing the amounts of digestible sources of energy, particularly monosaccharides and short-chain fatty acids, gut bacteria affect the number of calories that humans absorb.

Bad bacteria in the gut produce a chemical compound called proprionic acid. Proprionic acid will travel through the blood to the brain, and induce cravings for sugar and refined carbs, which in turn feeds the bad bacteria. Adding more beneficial gut microbes will block proprionic acid production.

Consider a study where lean mice were fed feces from human twins. Feces from the fat twins caused lean mice to become fat, and feces from the lean twins allowed mice to remain lean. When the fat and lean mice were housed together, and ate each other’s feces, the obese mice became lean and their gut flora came to resemble the flora of the lean mice (and the lean human twins).

We have recently discovered that with a fecal transplant (stool delivered from one person to another via an enema), people who are overweight will lose weight and become lean—FYI fecal transplants are not yet approved or available in the USA for weight loss. But this should give you an incentive to protect and promote your gut microbiome.

Elevated blood sugar levels

People with the wrong microbiome microbes will produce relatively more acetate and less butyrate, which increases insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.

In rodents, studies have shown that giving the right probiotic sources will improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

Cholesterol profiles

Cholesterol is converted to bile acids to help with fat digestion—if you are able to increase bile acid production, you lower cholesterol levels.

Since your gut microbiome will modify how many bile acids are produced, if you have the right gut microbes, your gut microbiome can lower your cholesterol levels.

Blood Pressure

Several studies have found that particular members of the right Lactobacillus species in the gut lower blood pressure levels.

Inflammation

Many forms of gut bacteria and fungi will trigger low-grade inflammation in the gut, allowing entry of bacteria and bacterial products into the circulation, and result in high levels of chronic systemic inflammation. Elevated inflammation levels are strongly associated with growth of arterial plaque and a greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. The right gut microbes have been shown to lower systemic inflammation levels.

Summary

Gut microbes influence and reduce multiple risk factors for heart disease (elevated blood sugar levels, obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation) and thus have the potential to help prevent the #1 killer for women and men.

Be sure to support your microbiome.

  • Eat an abundance of fiber (vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts). Without proper fiber intake, your gut microbiome microbes will starve
  • Avoid antibiotic use unless absolutely required for medical emergencies
  • Consume probiotic foods or supplements daily (sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, kefir)
  • Avoid toxins that hurt your microbiome, such as Splenda (an artificial sweetener)

I wish you the best of health!

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

 

References

  1. Komaroff  AL.  The microbiome and risk for obesity and diabetes. JAMA. 2017;317(4):355-356.
  2. Sayin  SI, Wahlström  A, Felin  J,  et al.  Gut microbiota regulates bile acid metabolism by reducing the levels of tauro-beta-muricholic acid, a naturally occurring FXR antagonist. Cell Metab. 2013;17(2):225-235.
  3. Pluznick  JL, Protzko  RJ, Gevorgyan  H,  et al.  Olfactory receptor responding to gut microbiota-derived signals plays a role in renin secretion and blood pressure regulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013;110(11):4410-4415.
  4. Wilck  N, Matus  MG, Kearney  SM,  et al.  Salt-responsive gut commensal modulates TH17 axis and disease. Nature. 2017;551(7682):585-589.
  5. Tang  WH, Wang  Z, Levison  BS,  et al.  Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(17):1575-1584.
  6. Li  DY, Tang  WHW.  Gut microbiota and atherosclerosis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2017;19(10):39.
  7. Heianza  Y, Ma  W, Manson  JE, Rexrode  KM, Qi  L.  Gut microbiota metabolites and risk of major adverse cardiovascular disease events and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6(7):e004947.
  8. Wang  Z, Roberts  AB, Buffa  JA,  et al.  Non-lethal inhibition of gut microbial trimethylamine production for the treatment of atherosclerosis. Cell. 2015;163(7):1585-1595.
  9. Loscalzo  J.  Gut microbiota, the genome, and diet in atherogenesis. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(17):1647-1649.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
  10. Boorstin  DJ. The Discoverers. New York, NY: Random House; 1983:330-331.

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Roasted Beets with Spicy Goat Cheese https://drmasley.com/roasted-beets-with-spicy-goat-cheese/ https://drmasley.com/roasted-beets-with-spicy-goat-cheese/#respond Thu, 14 Jun 2018 14:00:38 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5592 The post Roasted Beets with Spicy Goat Cheese appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This side dish is packed with wonderful flavors: sweet (beets), spicy (the pepper), and tart (goat cheese) all at once. If you don’t appreciate spicy, then you can substitute a regular green pepper for the Poblano pepper suggested below.  

Caution handling spicy peppers as if you touch one and then touch your face or eyes with your fingers, you can burn your face or eyes. Some people use gloves when handling hot chilis; I just aim to be careful and wash my hands well after handling.

Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes       Baking Time: 60-70 minutes       Serves: Two

Ingredients:

2 large beets, peeled, sliced vertically into quarters

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 poblano chili (or alternatively a green bell pepper)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

4 teaspoons pumpkin seeds

1/8 teaspoon ground paprika

1/16 teaspoon ground cayenne (add to taste)

2 ounces (4 tbsp) goat cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° (F).  Rub olive oil over beets and poblano chili and sprinkle on salt and Italian herbs. In an ovenproof baking dish, bake beets and chili for 60-70 minutes, until a fork inserts easily and they are tender.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan to medium heat and heat pumpkin seeds until lightly toasted, not browned. Sprinkle paprika and cayenne over pumpkin seeds. Set aside.

When beets and pepper are baked. Peel skin from pepper, and remove seeds, then dice pepper into pea-sized pieces. In a small mixing bowl, combine diced pepper with goat cheese. Bake (cheese mixture) in the oven for 2 minutes to warm the cheese mixture (or microwave for 30 seconds). Spoon the goat cheese onto two medium serving plates, serve beets over goat cheese mixture, and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper with Eggs Sunny Side Up https://drmasley.com/zucchini-and-red-bell-pepper-with-eggs-sunny-side-up/ https://drmasley.com/zucchini-and-red-bell-pepper-with-eggs-sunny-side-up/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2018 19:10:20 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5560 The post Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper with Eggs Sunny Side Up appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This dish is super easy to make and very satisfying.

Serves: Two

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon avocado oil

½ medium onion, diced

2 cups zucchini, diced

1 red bell pepper

1 tsp Italian herb seasoning

½ tsp sea salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 large cage-free, organically raised eggs

1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped

Optional: few dashes of hot sauce

Directions:

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add avocado oil, onion, zucchini, bell pepper, herbs, and salt and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, then add bell pepper, reduce heat to medium, and saute another 2-3 minutes. Stir in olive oil.

With a wooden spoon, create 4 openings in your veggie mixture in the skillet big enough for each egg, then crack an egg into each. Cover the sauté pan and heat over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, until eggs are cooked. Garnish with basil, and serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Should You Start Eating Chilled Potatoes for the Resistant Starch? https://drmasley.com/should-you-start-eating-chilled-potatoes-for-the-resistant-starch/ https://drmasley.com/should-you-start-eating-chilled-potatoes-for-the-resistant-starch/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2018 16:12:13 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5549 The post Should You Start Eating Chilled Potatoes for the Resistant Starch? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Lately, I’ve heard a variety of health experts suggest that it’s healthy to eat potatoes if they are first cooked, and then refrigerated. Let’s break down this claim, and see how much holds true.

First, let’s address resistant starch.

Resistant starch is starch that you can’t digest. It passes through your intestinal tract without being absorbed and your gut bacteria feed on it, breaking it down and fermenting it into short chain fatty acids (such as butyrate), thus feeding and supporting healthy gut bacteria. These short chain fatty acids also support your large intestine, even decreasing your risk for colon cancer.

Sources of resistant starch are beans and lentils, green bananas, rice, oats, and potatoes (sweet and purple potatoes have a bit more resistant starch than white potatoes).

Next, how does chilling a potato impact the glycemic load (sugar load) of eating a potato?

Potatoes have a high sugar load. This is true if we look at the glycemic index (which is the amount of sugar in your bloodstream after consuming 50 grams of carb from a food) and glycemic load (a far more practical measure, which is the amount of sugar in your bloodstream from eating one serving of food).

When you chill a cooked potato, the structure of some of the starch is changed and this process increases the resistant starch load by about 2%, increasing it from 3.3% to 5.2%. So although a 1.9% increase isn’t a big change in overall potato starch, it does increase the resistant starch content by 55%. So if you are going to eat a potato, it makes sense to chill it after cooking, then reheat it, or eat it cold.

Studies have shown that the glycemic index in chilled potatoes is about 25-35% less than in freshly cooked potatoes that are still warm. Keep in mind that 50 grams of carb in a potato is about 1.5 medium sized red potatoes, which is only about 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup—not a very big serving. So if you ate such a small portion, it would lower the glycemic index from high to medium for that food. If you eat a normal sized portion of potato (I’d say at least one cup), the glycemic index would be less if it was chilled before you ate it, but it would still have a high glycemic load and raise your blood sugar level significantly.

What about the type of potato and how to cook it?

White potatoes that are baked and mashed have the highest glycemic load, as they have a glycemic load that is equal to table sugar. Boiled potatoes have 20-25% less glycemic load than baked and baked potatoes. Sweet potatoes and purple potatoes also have about a 20-35% lower glycemic load than white potatoes, and a russet potato has the highest glycemic load of all.

Further, small potatoes have a higher ratio of skin to flesh. Since potato skins have a much lower glycemic load than the flesh, eating small potatoes means getting a lower glycemic load.

Eating your potato with protein and fat can also decrease the glycemic load by another 10%. Again, not a big reduction, but every bit helps.

When you compare a potato with other vegetables, notice the difference in glycemic load in the table below: (Below are 1 cup portions)

Glycemic load from 0 to 9.9 is low, 10 to 19.9 is medium, and 20 and above is high:

Food:                                       Glycemic Load:

Asparagus                                          3

Bell pepper                                        2

Broccoli                                              0

Peas                                                    5

Carrot                                                 2

Small, purple potato, boiled        14-18

Sweet potato, baked                     20-22

Boiled large white potato                21

Baked large white potato              26-33

If you are considering whether to eat potatoes or skip them, hopefully this table will guide you to make the best choice that works for you. Eating other vegetables is still by far the better choice!

If you do eat potatoes on occasion, it is better if they are small instead of large, purple or sweet potato instead of white potatoes, and chill the potato first in the refrigerator and serve it cold or hot later.

Keep in mind that potatoes are also on the dirty dozen list, so if you buy potatoes, be sure to buy organic!

Here is how my wife, Nicole, and I on occasion use potatoes at home. We often make a soup of the week on weekends and eat it for lunch during the week. If we choose to include potatoes in the soup, we buy small, organic purple or red potatoes, and cook them in the soup (boiled). We store and refrigerate them in glass containers, and we likely only get one-quarter of a cup of potatoes per lunch serving. We add lots of other vegetables and either cooked beans or other clean animal protein to the soup as well, allowing a few delightful potato bites, but with an overall low glycemic load, and loaded with fantastic flavors.

What about selecting and chilling other sources of resistant starch, such as beans, oats, rice, and pasta?

If you are disappointed that even chilled potatoes have a fairly high glycemic load, keep in mind that beans, oats, and unripe bananas have a lower glycemic load than potatoes, and they are also a good source of resistant starch. So if you’d like to benefit from eating more resistant starch, then eat more beans, oats, and unripe bananas.

Glycemic Load and Resistant Starch Content of Other Foods: (1 cup serving)  

Glycemic Load 1st # and then Resistant Starch Content (grams/100 grams food)

Steel-cut oats                         9                                  11

Beans                                     10                                3-6

Brown rice                             22                                2-3

Boiled potato                         21                                3

Boiled, cooled, white potato  16-17                        5

Banana (unripe)                     10                                5

Whole grain pasta                 15-18                           2-3

Chilling beans, rice, and pasta lowers the glycemic load of these foods as well. Thus, serving chilled beans, pasta, and brown rice that has been chilled and then served in a salad or re-heated in a stir fry will lower the glycemic load as well.

I wish you the best of health!

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

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Avocado, Cucumber, and Garbanzo Salad https://drmasley.com/avocado-cucumber-and-garbanzo-salad/ https://drmasley.com/avocado-cucumber-and-garbanzo-salad/#comments Fri, 01 Jun 2018 20:26:01 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5544 The post Avocado, Cucumber, and Garbanzo Salad appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are packed with taste and nutrition, and we make good use of them in the Smart Fat Solution. You can use ones that are canned if you don’t cook your own—just rinse them well. This salad is easy to put together; enjoy it as either a side dish or a light meal. Lightly toasting the almonds (or any raw nuts you use in recipes) always brings out their flavor.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

½ medium seedless cucumber, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

½ cup Italian parsley, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

⅛ teaspoon sea salt

⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 medium avocado, sliced

1–2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Directions:

Combine garbanzo beans, cucumber, tomatoes, and parsley (reserve 2 tablespoons parsley for garnish) in a salad bowl. Whisk together garlic, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl and add to salad. Toss well and divide between two plates. Garnish each salad with avocado, almond slivers, and remaining parsley. Serve immediately.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Why Does Gum Inflammation Cause Heart Attacks & Memory Loss? https://drmasley.com/why-does-gum-inflammation-cause-heart-attacks-memory-loss/ https://drmasley.com/why-does-gum-inflammation-cause-heart-attacks-memory-loss/#comments Tue, 29 May 2018 03:16:22 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5531 The post Why Does Gum Inflammation Cause Heart Attacks & Memory Loss? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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The gum surface area of your mouth is about the same size as the surface area of your arm. If your entire right arm had a red rash, you would notice and seek medical attention, yet too often I see patients who don’t even notice when their gums are red and inflamed.

Gum inflammation is called gingivitis, inflammation of the gums. The cause of this inflammation is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms between the teeth and the gums, creating a layer of plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed daily by brushing, flossing, and/or water picking, it produces toxins that can irritate the gum tissue.

Over time, the gums will bleed and recede, meaning more and more tooth is exposed, and less and less is protected by the gums. Long term, this can lead to a person losing their teeth.

Yet this inflammation is not only limited to your gums. Studies have shown that gingivitis will increase body-wide inflammation dramatically, as people with gum inflammation have nearly double the high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) blood levels compared to people with healthy gums. This inflammation makes you achier, it slows your calorie burn rate and injures your tissues body wide. The good news is that proper dental care will heal your gums and bring your hs-CRP levels back to normal.

Studies have also shown that not only does gingivitis make you achy and cause you to gain weight; it increases your risk for arterial plaque growth as well. Dr. Desvarieux and colleagues followed 420 subjects over 3 years. Those with the most gum inflammation showed the most arterial plaque growth, as measured with carotid intima-media thickness scores (carotid IMT). Other studies have shown that not only does gingivitis cause plaque growth, but it increases your risk of heart attack and stroke by 25-30%.

Gum disease is also associated with an increased risk of memory loss and a drop in cognitive scores.

Several recent studies have shown that people with the most gum inflammation also have:     

• Lower scores in the Mini-Mental State Examination test. (Sochocka, Curr Alzheimer Res, 2017).
• Decreased word fluency test scores (Naorungroj, J Am Dent Ass, 2016)
• And after 10 years of gum inflammation, a 70% greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease. (Chang-Kai Chen, Alzheimers Res Ther, 2017).

Fortunately, the solution to preventing gingivitis is pretty darn easy:
1. Avoid eating sugar and refined processed foods that feed the bacteria that grow between your gums and teeth.
2. Brush your teeth twice per day.
3. Floss your teeth once per day.
4. Use a water pick once per day.
5. See your dental hygienist 2-4 times per year to help clean away plaque that forms between your teeth and gums.

Your smile will be brighter and whiter, your breath fresher, and taking care of your teeth and gums will help you to feel better and prevent both heart disease and memory loss.

I wish you the best of health!
Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

PS: If you found this blog helpful, or you think a friend or family member would benefit from this information, please forward this blog to them.

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Chocolate Mousse https://drmasley.com/chocolate-mousse/ https://drmasley.com/chocolate-mousse/#comments Thu, 24 May 2018 18:57:40 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5522 The post Chocolate Mousse appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Here is one of my wife’s best desserts. Nicole’s father was French, and he loved dessert. She has spent years working on a healthy version of this fantastic recipe. This recipe adapted from my latest book, The Better Brain Solution—(available where books are sold). Cautionary Note: avoid consuming multiple servings of this dessert as when xylitol is consumed in excess it can cause gastrointestinal distress. Alternatively, use maple syrup instead of xylitol.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Chill Time: 1-24 hours

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

½ cup freshly brewed organic coffee (decaf or regular)

1/3 cup xylitol (alternatively to avoid xylitol, you can use ½ cup maple syrup)

1/8 tsp sea salt

4 ounces dark chocolate (aim for 80% cacao)

½ cup unprocessed, unsweetened cocoa powder

12 ounces organic silken (soft) tofu

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or brandy)

3 tablespoons grated organic orange zest

Directions:

Heat the coffee, xylitol (or maple syrup), and salt in a saucepan, until gently bubbling.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, process the chocolate chips and cocoa until finely chopped, almost powdered. With the processor running, slowly and cautiously pour in the hot coffee mixture and process until the chocolate has melted. Turn off the processor.

Add the tofu, Grand Marnier, and 2 tablespoons of the orange zest and process until smooth. Pour the mixture into six serving containers. Garnish with the remaining orange zest. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours before serving.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley

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Is Mercury Hurting Your Brain? https://drmasley.com/is-mercury-hurting-your-brain/ https://drmasley.com/is-mercury-hurting-your-brain/#comments Mon, 21 May 2018 20:31:41 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5504 The post Is Mercury Hurting Your Brain? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Mercury is a common element on planet Earth, and it is concentrated in coal. As the planet burns coal to generate 40% of the world’s energy supply (over 4 billion tons per year), we release thousands of tons of mercury into the atmosphere and as a result, mercury levels are increasing worldwide in our planet’s oceans.

Unfortunately, mercury is a neurological toxin, meaning it is harmful to your brain and your nerves. High levels over time can cause brain injury and neuropathy (diffuse nerve disease).

As part of my comprehensive medical evaluation, I measure mercury levels in all my patients at the first visit. After over 1000 evaluations, I’ve discovered that about 30% of my patients have elevated mercury levels, and 5-10% have early signs of harm related to high mercury levels, so it’s feasible that this includes you.

Where does mercury come from, and who is at risk for mercury toxicity?

Algae (seaweed) absorbs mercury from the water in a form called methylmercury, which is toxic to human brains. As small fish and shrimp eat algae, they accumulate methylmercury in their tissues. As larger and larger fish eat bigger fish as they move up the food chain, methylmercury levels increase substantially. Typically, the larger the mouth of a fish, the higher fish eat on the food chain, and usually the higher their tissue level of mercury.

Shark, tilefish, bluefin tuna, and swordfish are at the top of the food chain and have very high mercury levels. Grouper, snapper, bass, and albacore tuna have moderate methylmercury levels. In contrast, fish that eat low on the food chain (wild salmon, trout, sole, cod, and shellfish) have low methylmercury levels.

People will detoxify and eliminate some of the mercury eaten, but the challenge is whether you consume more than your liver can eliminate. Everyone is different.  People with normal mercury elimination can eat seafood such as salmon or shrimp 2-3 times per week, plus consume grouper or snapper 3-4 times per month without accumulating mercury in their tissues, yet for a few people, grouper and snapper even 2-3 times per month may be too much.

Most laboratories set normal ranges for whole blood mercury levels and a level less than 11 µg/L (sometimes called parts per million, ppm) would be considered normal. Some of my clinic patients who consume tuna, grouper, or swordfish 1-2 time per week may have mercury levels that are 2-3 times the normal level, sometimes with levels are as high as 25-45 µg/L. This would put them at risk for permanent neurological injury.

Another source of mercury is dental fillings that contain amalgam. While substantial controversy exists regarding the toxicity and safety of dental amalgam fillings (I recommend avoiding them), amalgam fillings have been shown to release mercury into the bloodstream and can be measured in the blood and the urine. In contrast to big mouth fish intake, dental fillings likely don’t increase whole blood mercury levels more than 2-4 µg/L points.

What are signs of mercury toxicity?

As mercury is a neurological toxin, the first signs of neurotoxicity relate to these tissues. Mercury toxicity signs include:

  • Decreased brain function (published research from my clinic has shown significant decreases in brain information processing speed when mercury levels are >15 µg/L
  • Memory loss
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Hearing loss
  • Paresthesias (tingling or burning in the feet or toes from neuropathy)

How to Measure Mercury Levels?

A whole blood sample is a good indicator of methylmercury levels. Red blood cells are formed in the bone marrow and live about 120 days. As mercury tends to accumulate in deep tissues, such as brain and bone marrow, sampling red blood cells for methylmercury levels provides an excellent means to assess continuous low-level mercury consumption and accumulation levels. A physician simply orders a laboratory test for mercury from whole blood or from red blood cells. Some medical providers prefer hair or toenail mercury levels, but I find these less reliable. Please make sure that your doctor does not accidentally order a serum mercury level (happens often) as a serum blood levels filters out the red blood cells, and it is not an appropriate measurement.

Testing mercury levels is not a routine part of usual health care. Yet, if you have either symptoms of memory loss, tinnitus, or paresthesias, or if you eat big mouth fish more than 3-4 times per month, asking your doctor to check your mercury level makes good sense.

Again, hopefully, you’ll find that you have a normal mercury level, which would be less than 11 µg/L.

How to Make Sure Mercury Isn’t Hurting Your Brain?

If you have symptoms of memory loss, tinnitus, or neuropathy, ask your doctor to measure your mercury with a whole blood mercury level).

If you eat big mouth fish more than 3 times per month, preferably eat less, or if that isn’t realistic, then check your mercury level, before you get in trouble. It is much easier to prevent problems than to treat them, especially those that are associated with your brain!

How to Treat High Mercury Levels and Mercury Toxicity? There are three primary ways to treat mercury toxicity:

If you have elevated mercury, especially if you also have neurological symptoms:

  • Stop ingesting so much mercury and eat less big mouth fish
  • If you have amalgam fillings, talk to your dentist about gradually removing them over time, and replacing with porcelain material
  • Increase your ability to detoxify and remove mercury. Foods and supplements help; see the link below.
  • You can also use oral chelation (chemically bind and remove it), but with chelation be cautious. INTRAVENOUS CHELATION CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH IF NOT DONE PROPERLY!     

Be cautious regarding how chelation is performed and who offers your treatment.

For additional information on how to treat elevated mercury levels, please visit my Dr. Masley website resource section with details on Mercury Rx at: https://drmasley.com/mercury/

I wish you the best of health!

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

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Brussels Sprouts with Lemon-Yogurt Sauce https://drmasley.com/brussels-sprouts-with-lemon-yogurt-sauce/ https://drmasley.com/brussels-sprouts-with-lemon-yogurt-sauce/#comments Fri, 18 May 2018 16:08:18 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5491 The post Brussels Sprouts with Lemon-Yogurt Sauce appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This side dish combines wonderful classic flavors: savory roasted Brussels sprouts with the tartness of lemon juice and creaminess of yogurt—it is lovely. It is also packed with brain supporting nutrients and fats.

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Roasting Time: 25 minutes

Serves: Four

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground paprika

1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts (6 cups or 680 grams), stems trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise

½ medium red onion, sliced into long thin strips

Sauce:

½ medium organic lemon, grated zest and juice

¼ cup organic, low-fat yogurt

½ teaspoon sesame seeds

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° (F). In a large bowl, combine olive oil, Italian herbs, salt, black pepper, and paprika. Add Brussels sprouts and toss until evenly coated with oil and herbs. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a roasting pan. Roast in the oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Switch to broil and heat for another 5 minutes, until lightly golden, but not heavily browned.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, lemon zest, and yogurt together until creamy.

Serve Brussels sprouts on a plate, drizzle sauce over them. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Do You Need to Detox? https://drmasley.com/do-you-need-to-detox/ https://drmasley.com/do-you-need-to-detox/#comments Mon, 14 May 2018 22:22:00 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5478 The post Do You Need to Detox? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Spring is in the air. Is it time for spring cleaning in your home?  At least once per year, my wife and I go through the spice drawer, check out cooking oils in the pantry, look at condiments and jars in the refrigerator, and throw out items that are old and/or expired.

We’ll clean out closets and unused spaces, bang the dust out of our carpets outside, get the blower and clean out the garage. We change the filters in the air system, too.

And then,,,,,,,,,,I start thinking about an internal spring cleaning.

Do we need to do a detox?

Even if we are careful, we likely accumulate toxins, and typically they are hiding in our fat, liver, and bone marrow, slowly leaking into our bloodstream.

We accumulate heavy minerals and PCB toxins from big mouth fish (especially mercury). We get BPA from the linings of cans and cartons, and pesticides build up in our system rapidly if we consume meat, poultry, or dairy from animals fed in feedlots. We will still get trace amounts of pesticides even if we focus on wild and free-range animal products, and/or organic fruits and vegetables, beans, and other foods.

I think all of us would benefit from an annual internal spring cleaning to help get rid of toxins that we have accumulated over time. This practice is commonly called a detox, and I highly recommend that you do this for at least 5-7 days each year.

To push toxins out of our fat and liver so that we can metabolize and excrete them, I recommend partial intermittent fasting each day. Don’t eat anything after 9 pm at night, and continue to avoid eating until noon the next day. Ideally, load up on vegetables with dinner before starting your fast. It isn’t that hard to do, as you can have coffee or tea in the morning, just don’t add sugar, a sweetener, or milk, and make sure you use organic coffee or tea.

If you can’t make it to noon because you are too hungry during the first few days, it’s ok to add a tablespoon of organic ghee (clarified butter) to your coffee or tea as well, and that will keep you breaking down fat for energy, but take away that sense of hunger.

This form of fasting will break down fat, release ketones, and flush toxins out of your system. Be sure to hydrate with ample fluid.  I recommend drinking at least four liters of fluid daily (such as pure water or green tea).

To boost my fat burn, I aim for a workout each morning during a detox. Not only will I burn more calories during my fast and break down additional fat as energy, but my workout induced sweat helps to eliminate some of the toxins as well. Exercise also speeds up metabolism and helps enhance toxin metabolism (More on the benefits, risks, and limitations of sweating during a detox in a moment).

Certain foods and supplements increase your ability to remove, detoxify and excrete heavy metals and toxins.

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, and cabbage) are high on the list, as they contain sulfuranes, which help your liver remove toxins from your system.

Garlic, shallots, and onions are another source of potent detoxifying foods. They are loaded with sulfur, which helps you rid the body of toxins. Garlic, in particular, has been used for thousands of years to detox and improve health. To benefit, don’t use deodorized garlic, as the garlic fragrance has the active agents. And avoid overcooking garlic, since it turns bitter when overcooked and loses its detoxification activity—best is to add it during the last one or two minutes of cooking on low heat. Onions and shallots retain much of their nutrient content with cooking, so you can use them any way you choose.

Green tea is also a potent detoxifier, so drink it during the day.

For lunch and dinner, curry spices enhance detoxification, so if you like curry, this is the time to enjoy curry dishes.

During a 5-7 day detox, I recommend that you consume:

  • Two garlic cloves per person daily; try mincing raw garlic and adding it to a salad or side of vegetables, with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
  • ¼ to ½ onion per person daily, used in stir-fry dishes and served any way you like them.
  • 1-2 cups of cruciferous veggies per person per day.
  • Plus, ¼ to ½ cup of broccoli spouts sprinkled on salads or blended in a smoothie every day.
  • 6-8 cups of green tea per day. I typically have 3-4 cups of organic regular green tea in the morning, and then decaf green tea in the afternoon and evening. If you are caffeine sensitive, then just drink decaf green tea all day, and either hot tea or iced tea is fine.
  • Obviously, if you have a food intolerance to something listed above, then continue to avoid those foods.

There are also some foods that you should avoid during a fast. Nightshade plants can slow down some key aspects of liver detoxification: these include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, including cayenne pepper and paprika. On a daily basis, you don’t have to avoid nightshade plants, unless you have a specific intolerance to them, but during a detox, avoid them.

Even more important is that you absolutely avoid all alcohol during a detox. Alcohol blocks liver detoxification. The last thing you want during a detox, when you are releasing toxins from your fat stores into your bloodstream, is to delay your ability to metabolize and eliminate them. This means zero alcohol from start to finish.

Some supplements are excellent additions to a detox; take them during the detox and for at least one week afterward to help clear away any lingering toxins in your system.

  • To support your detox process, take a curcumin supplement with 1000 mg daily.
  • A good quality fiber supplement will also help pull toxins from your system into your gut and can be eliminated in your stool. Consider adding 1-2 tablespoons of Fiber-Blend with water or in a smoothie as well.
  • Milk thistle provides liver support and is useful during a detox as well. A good milk thistle option that also provides additional detox support with added N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, methionine, L-cysteine, and taurine would be Hepato-Thera.

Beyond food and supplements, sweating is another way to help remove toxins. Aim to sweat during a workout every day. Humans have also used sweat lodges for tens of thousands of years to improve many aspects of health. It remains a great tradition. During a 5-7 day detox, schedule time for a sauna or steam bath, or enjoy a steamy hot bath instead.

Although it is scientifically correct to say that you do remove some toxins with your sweat glands, most of the toxin removal daily and during a detox occurs through your liver and kidneys. Yes, studies have shown that sweat contains bi-phenol-acetate (BPA) and heavy metals, and in fact, sweat has been shown to have more than 10 times the concentration of lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium than blood. However, the reality is that sweat is 98-99% water, and most toxins are removed by your liver and kidneys. So thinking that the only thing you need to do to get rid of toxins is sweat would be silly.

I have read articles where doctors are concerned that patients overuse sweating with a detox and make themselves dehydrated to the point that they become dizzy, and I share this concern, as that is clearly overdoing a good thing. Sweating is only one of the many tools to help you detox, and your liver and kidneys will do most of that work. A good sweat is nice, excess is overdoing it.

During a detox, keep in mind that you are pulling toxins from bone and fat and eliminating them. Many people experience some short-term symptoms while they are eliminating toxins, as toxins are circulating in the bloodstream when they are removed. Common symptoms during a detox can include skin rashes, smelly stools and urine, congestion, headaches, and muscle aches. Despite these short-term issues, the benefits of removing toxins outweigh these discomforts. If your symptoms are severe, you might be more sensitive, or you might suffer from a heavier toxin load. If this applies to you, stop the detox, and talk to your doctor for guidance.

Now that you know what to do, are you ready?

I wish you the best of health!

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

PS: If you have a friend or family member who needs help doing a fast, or should consider a fast, please forward this blog to them.

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Avocado with Eggs en Cocotte https://drmasley.com/avocado-with-eggs-en-cocette/ https://drmasley.com/avocado-with-eggs-en-cocette/#comments Thu, 10 May 2018 19:25:44 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5466 The post Avocado with Eggs en Cocotte appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Baked eggs with avocado creates awesome flavors and a creamy texture. This is super easy to make. In French, “oeufs en cocotte” refers to cooking eggs in single ramekin containers, and classically with cream or butter added to the ramekin as well. I think this is even better with avocado.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Baking Time: 15 minutes

Serves: Two

Ingredients:

2 Haas Avocados

4 large cage-free, organically raised eggs

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon flat leaf parsley, diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).  Slice avocados in half lengthwise, remove the pits. Remove 3-4 teaspoons of avocado from the center to form a bigger hole.

Crack each egg into each avocado opening. If needed to ensure avocado doesn’t tip over, place in a muffin pan.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and parsley over egg and avocado. Bake for ~14-17 minutes and serve. My preference is to cook eggs such that the egg white is completely set, and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard.

 Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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What foods should you buy organic? https://drmasley.com/what-foods-should-you-buy-organic/ https://drmasley.com/what-foods-should-you-buy-organic/#comments Mon, 07 May 2018 22:05:45 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5462 Nobody will likely tell you to consume more pesticides, yet every single day, the average American eats foods that are sprayed with these nasty chemicals. The questions I get often from my patients about organic foods and pesticides are, “what should I buy organic?”, and “when can I save some money and buy non-organic products?” […]

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Nobody will likely tell you to consume more pesticides, yet every single day, the average American eats foods that are sprayed with these nasty chemicals. The questions I get often from my patients about organic foods and pesticides are, “what should I buy organic?”, and “when can I save some money and buy non-organic products?

It is hard to get statistics on the source of pesticides in the American food supply, but up to 80% of pesticides consumed by Americans today have been reported by non-governmental agencies (national groups promoting healthy eating) to come from eating meat, poultry, and dairy.

I was recently asked to speak at a physician education meeting on cancer and nutrition, and I had a challenging time researching this topic. I spoke to nearly a dozen people working for the FDA and couldn’t get a detailed answer on sources for pesticides.

We have known for some time that the more pesticides you consume, the greater your risk for cancer, which does not seem like a surprise.

But in researching for my new book, The Better Brain Solution, I was very surprised to discover that those who had the highest pesticide levels in their blood had a whopping 350% greater risk of getting dementia than people with low levels.  Another study published in Taiwan found that even a single acute incident of heavy pesticide exposure would double a person’s lifetime risk for dementia.

Why is pesticide exposure higher in animal protein than on vegetables? Because pesticides accumulate in animals in their fatty tissues over their lifetime. If you eat this animal fat, you consume that accumulated exposure all at once. With vegetables, some of the pesticides will wash away and they don’t accumulate nearly as much over time.

So if you really want to decrease your pesticide intake, start by either going vegetarian or avoiding animal protein unless it comes from wild or organically raised sources. This includes beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy products—especially if you are eating the fat. If you would like a source of animal protein that is organically and pasture raised, consider Butcher Box. They offer grass-fed and pasture-raised organic animal protein options. Click this link HERE to see for yourself.

With fruits and vegetables, an easy way to limit your pesticide exposure is to identify the dirty dozen list, created by the Environmental working group.

Produce with the highest levels of pesticides includes:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

For these foods, pick organic whenever possible.

If you are concerned that buying organic food is going to bust your budget, then buy foods from the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15”, as these foods are the least likely to have been sprayed with pesticides.

Clean Fifteen foods that you DO NOT need to buy organic include:

  1. Avocado
  2. Pineapple
  3. Cabbage
  4. Onions
  5. Sweet Peas
  6. Papaya
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mango
  9. Eggplant
  10. Honeydew Melon
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Cauliflower
  14. Grapefruit

#15 on the list is corn.

I am separating out corn because even though it may not be sprayed with pesticides, some GMO (genetically modified corn) corn can produce its own pesticides internally. So even though it isn’t sprayed, it could potentially be harmful. I only recommend non-GMO corn, differing from the Environmental Working Group’s recommendations.

Other products that are not on the toxic list from the Environmental Working Group, but are heavily sprayed, include coffee and tea. If you drink coffee and/or tea, buying it organic is better for you, the growers, and for the environment.

Can’t you just wash off the pesticides and not worry about organic products?

With fruits and vegetables, you can wash away some, but not all of the pesticides. Here is what I do with produce in my kitchen after shopping.

  1. First I fill the sink with cold water and I add hand soap. Then I wash all the organic produce and then rinse off the soap and set aside. Lastly, I put the washed produce in the refrigerator or in a basket on the kitchen counter (such as tomatoes).
  2. Then I rinse the non-organic produce in the same soapy water and rinse off the soap. Lastly, putting away this second round of washed produce.

This process obviously won’t work with meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy, as the pesticides are in the fat of the animal protein—you can’t just wash them away.

One strategy to lower your pesticide intake if you can’t find organically raised animal protein, is to buy lean instead, as most of the pesticides are in the fat. Non-fat dairy means far less pesticides, leaner cuts of meat and poultry have less as well.

You don’t have to break the bank to eat healthy food. But you do need to pay attention to the food you buy.  I hope these tips will help you and your family avoid toxic chemicals found in your own food.

I wish you the best of health!

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

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Berry Crumble https://drmasley.com/berry-crumble/ https://drmasley.com/berry-crumble/#comments Fri, 04 May 2018 20:13:18 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5446 The post Berry Crumble appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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When we invite company to our home, the most typical dessert I will serve is a berry crumble. You can combine any combo of fruit (blueberries, peaches, apples, or pears) with any type of nut (pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazel nuts, pistachios, or macadamias) and not only is it delicious, but it is also loaded with brain-boosting nutrients. If you want a touch of extra sweetness, you could add a few tablespoons of a natural sweetener, such as Xylitol, but honestly, I don’t think you’ll need it.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1/3 cup port wine

1 tablespoon organic lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

1 medium lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 medium bosc pears, cut into ¾ inch cubes

2 cups blueberries (fresh, or frozen)

2 cups raspberries (fresh, or frozen)

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° (F).

In a saucepan, combine port, lemon zest, lemon juice, tapioca, and cinnamon and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Add the cubed pears and simmer for 4 minutes. Add berries and remove from heat.

While the above sauce is simmering, heat a small saute pan to medium heat. Toast the pecans until warm and fragrant, but stop before they brown.

Pour fruit sauce into a pie plate. Sprinkle toasted pecans over the fruit. Bake for 15 minutes and serve in bowls.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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What Is the #1 Nutrient You Should Measure? https://drmasley.com/what-is-the-1-nutrient-you-should-measure/ https://drmasley.com/what-is-the-1-nutrient-you-should-measure/#comments Tue, 01 May 2018 21:32:20 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5324 The post What Is the #1 Nutrient You Should Measure? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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I recently asked several of my medical-nutrition colleagues if they could only track one nutrient/food measure, what would it be?

A few said carbs, as they were aiming for low carb intake, others said fat, as they had a specific fat level they recommended daily. I heard magnesium, as it is a super important mineral and 70% of people don’t get enough. Even omega-3 fats came up, as they have a very important anti-inflammatory role.

These are all very important nutrients to monitor, but when I look at what single indicator could have the most beneficial aspect on your health, I would pick…………………FIBER.

I’d pick fiber. Why?

  • First, eating fiber makes you full and satisfied. From the National Weight Loss Registry, a study that tracks people who have lost more than 10% of their body weight and kept the weight off long term, the single nutrient that best predicts “successful” weight loss is fiber intake.
  • Eating fiber improves blood sugar control and reduces insulin resistance. Basically, fiber binds sugars in your gut and releases them slowly into your bloodstream, rather than a blood sugar spike upwards stimulating excessive insulin production.
  • Eating fiber binds to cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol levels. Eating more fiber from vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts also increases the size of the cholesterol particles, yielding big, fluffy LDL and HDL cholesterol that form less arterial plaque.
  • Consuming the right fiber improves other cardiovascular risk factors too. Eating more fiber improves blood pressure control, decreases fibrinogen (a risk factor for blood clots) and lowers inflammation levels as well.
  • Fiber is also great for helping to detoxify the body. Heavy metals and toxins bind to fiber and are eliminated through your waste.

Is There Good and Bad Fiber?

Fibrous foods come from carbs. The key is that you want low-glycemic load fiber sources, as in foods that don’t raise your blood sugar levels.

All fruits (except a banana, and processed fruits—like juice or dried or canned fruits) have a low glycemic load, meaning they don’t increase blood sugar levels significantly when eaten in a normal 1 cup portion.

Eating vegetables has a very minimal impact on blood sugar levels, except for the potato, which has a high glycemic load; sweet potatoes and little-boiled potatoes have a medium glycemic load and are better choices than mashed potatoes or baked potatoes.

Beans and nuts both have a low glycemic load. In fact, eating beans with rice or corn, or other high glycemic load foods will decrease their overall impact on blood sugar control.

Sources of fiber that increase your blood sugar levels should be avoided, or at least limited to occasional small portions. These include potatoes, rice, corn, and grains, especially any grain that has been processed into flour; consuming grain flour, including whole wheat flour, has the same impact on your blood sugar levels as if you ate table sugar instead.

Which Is Better, Soluble or Insoluble Fiber?

Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Eating more insoluble fiber prevents constipation, and is loaded with nutrients.

Soluble fiber is found especially in citrus fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oats. Consuming more soluble fiber improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

The bottom line is that you want both soluble and insoluble fiber, and you get both from eating a combination of vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts.

How Much Fiber Should You Get Daily?

30 grams of fiber is the minimum daily goal for adults. That is about 10 servings of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.

As an example, to get 30 grams in a day, you would want to eat:

  • 3 cups of vegetables (three 4-ounce/110 gram servings)
  • 2 fruits, such as 1 cup of berries or cherries (4-5 ounces or 120 grams) plus one apple, orange, or pear
  • ½ cup of cooked beans
  • 2 handfuls of nuts (2 ounces or 60 grams)
  • 1 ounce of dark chocolate (30 grams)

If you don’t reach 30 grams daily, you can also take a fiber supplement in a smoothie or drink. A few examples for good sources of fiber include:

Sample Fiber Chart:

Below is a sample table with fiber sources. Pick the foods you like the best and aim to eat at least 30 grams of fiber every day.

I hope that you feel motivated to eat more fiber every day.

I wish you the best of health!

 

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

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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/#comments 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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Mushroom-Nut Pâté https://drmasley.com/mushroom-nut-pate/ https://drmasley.com/mushroom-nut-pate/#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2018 19:45:58 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5355 The post Mushroom-Nut Pâté appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes—rich, flavorful, and loaded with brain-boosting nutrients. Serve with steamed broccoli or Brussel sprouts on the side. You also have the option to serve with vegetarian mushroom gravy.

For a vegan/non-dairy option, substitute 6 ounces of firm organic tofu in place of eggs. Rinse and drain tofu and pat dry with a paper towel. Puree the tofu in a food processor, then combine as mentioned for the eggs. In place of dairy-based cheese, use grated soy cheese.

Prep Time: 30 minutes   Baking Time: 30 minutes    Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp avocado oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced

4 cups mushrooms, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp Italian herb seasoning

¼ cup parsley chopped

½ cup port wine

6 large, organic-fed, free-range whole eggs, beaten

1 cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, and/or hazelnuts)

1 cup grated organic Gruyere cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with avocado oil, or line with parchment paper.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, then the onion, mushrooms, carrots, salt, pepper, and Italian herb seasoning. Stirring occasionally.  Cook until mushrooms are soft and onion is translucent. Reduce heat to simmer, add parsley and port wine, stir, and simmer another 2-3 minutes, until the wine is mostly evaporated and a sauce forms. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the beaten eggs, nuts, and grated cheese, then combine with the mushroom and onion mixture. Pour the combined mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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 The post Soy products—should we eat them, or avoid them? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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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:

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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:

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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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