Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com Tune up your brain, heart, energy, waistline, and sex life! Thu, 29 Jul 2021 18:16:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://drmasley.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/cropped-PAN1360re-32x32.jpg Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com 32 32 Tips to Cope with Grief https://drmasley.com/tips-to-cope-with-grief/ https://drmasley.com/tips-to-cope-with-grief/#respond Thu, 29 Jul 2021 18:14:35 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9193 The post Tips to Cope with Grief appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Here are some tips that will help you cope with a loss in your life.

Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering that occurs when you lose something or someone dear. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. Grief can disrupt your sleep, appetite, and energy, making it harder to cope with your loss.

In my own life, I recently lost my mom at age 91. Her health had been gradually declining, and she told me in advance that she was ready to pass. Nobody thought this would occur anytime soon and then came the phone call that she was gone. As much as I am grateful that she died peacefully, her loss has been hard to bear.

I am grateful that after 16 months of being isolated in her retirement home due to covid, and being fully vaccinated, she was able to travel and stay with my sisters and me, visiting most of her grandchildren and her great-grandson. My wife and I spent a week with her just two days before she passed, making her loss more of a shock.

For me, the worst part about losing my mom is realizing that I can’t just pick up the phone and talk to her anymore.

Many types of loss can result in grief:

  • The death of a loved one
  • A miscarriage
  • The death of a pet
  • Divorce or breakup
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of health
  • Grave illness of a loved one
  • Emotional trauma
  • Selling the family home
  • Even minor losses in life can cause a sense of grief

The Stages of Grief

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.”

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening.”
  • Anger: “Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

The concept is that we move through each of these phases one at a time, yet everyone copes with grief differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and not everyone goes through all these stages.

You might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, with ups and downs. Worse in the beginning and the difficult lows should become less intense and shorter as time goes on. And there are triggers, like holidays and birthdays, that deepen the times of grief.

There are many tips that can help one deal with grief.

  • Accept that it hurts and that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. Acceptance promotes healing.
  • Instead of withdrawing into a shell, turn to friends and family for support. Share hugs, tears, and feelings openly.
  • If you follow a religious tradition, use it for support. Prayer and spiritual guidance can strengthen you.
  • Take especially good care of your physical health while grieving. Eat well, take your supplements, get some exercise, and get enough sleep. This is the wrong time to let yourself go.
  • Avoid excess use of alcohol and drugs that can leave you feeling more depressed.
  • If your symptoms are severe, join a support group or seek counseling. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers.
  • Plan for holidays and special dates and seek support from family and friends in advance. Consider a change in tradition for these annual events.

Be aware of the difference between grief and depression.

They may initially feel the same, but there are important differences between grief and depression, and keep in mind that grief can progress into prolonged depression over time.

With bereavement after a loss:

  • There are typically good days and bad days with a mixture of tears and fun, while with depression the feeling of loss seems constant.
  • Although your performance might be decreased, over time you are typically able to get through your essential to-do list, while with depression, you may be unable to accomplish anything for an extended period.
  • Often the highs and lows start to decrease over a couple months, while with depression over time the symptoms may be getting worse.
  • With both grief and depression, you may notice insomnia, change in appetite, fatigue, decreased libido, and brain fog.

Signs of depression may include:

  • Intense sense of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty trusting others since your loss
  • Being unable to perform your normal daily activities

If you are experiencing signs of depression during your bereavement, seek help from a mental health professional. Depression is very challenging to manage on your own.

There is no specific time frame as to how long to grieve, it is different for everyone. Yet, most people gradually adapt to their loss over two to six months and sometimes up to one year. Sometimes a major loss can be an opportunity for personal growth.

Hopefully, if you or a loved one is dealing with grief, these tips will help to reduce the initial pain and speed a long-term recovery.

In honor of my mom, I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS 

 

 

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Watermelon Salad with Cucumber, Feta, and Herbs https://drmasley.com/watermelon-salad-with-cucumber-feta-and-herbs/ https://drmasley.com/watermelon-salad-with-cucumber-feta-and-herbs/#respond Fri, 09 Jul 2021 23:28:50 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9178 The post Watermelon Salad with Cucumber, Feta, and Herbs appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Summer has officially arrived, and watermelon season is here. Watermelon is a fantastic food on a summer day—juicy and sweet yet loaded with hydration, nutrients, and fiber. This dish makes a refreshing and delicious salad.

Summer 2019 in Greece, I tried a variation of this salad for the first time, and now I look forward to preparing it when watermelons are at their peak.

The feta cheese and spicy chili are optional ingredients that add a whole extra dimension of flavor. Whether to add some chili heat to this dish is up to you. Some people love this salad with added heat, others not at all; if unsure, then try a little on the side to clarify which you prefer.

I prefer English cucumbers in this dish as they have less seeds and a thinner skin, although any cucumber will do.

Chef’s Note—How to Pick a Great Watermelon: Picking a sweet and juicy watermelon with just the right crunch is a bit of a challenge. Here are seven tips to make finding a great watermelon more successful:

  1. First check to see that the skin is free of scratches, bruises, and dents, which are signs that it may have been damaged or punctured.
  2. It should be symmetrical without lumps or bumps. Irregularly shaped watermelons likely had inadequate sunshine and/or water.
  3. The watermelon should have a dark green, dull color. A shinny surface color suggests that it is not ripe.
  4. It should also have a field spot. This will be a yellow splotch on the underside of a watermelon where it lied on the ground. Ideally, the spot should be a creamy yellow color. The darker the yellow, the sweeter the melon.
  5. It should not have a stem. When watermelons become ripe they drop the stem. A watermelon with the stem attached may have been picked before it was ripe.
  6. Gently knock on the watermelon like knocking gently on a door. A ripe watermelon should have a full, deep, and hollow sound. An under-ripe melon will make a duller one. Feel the surface when you knock on it as well. It should be firm to the touch—a soft watermelon may be mushy on the inside.
  7. Lastly, pick it up and feel its weight. It should feel heavy for its size because it is full of water, meaning that it is ripe and juicy.

Recipe:

Serves: Six (Makes 7-8 cups)

Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes

 Ingredients:

5 cups watermelon, peeled, cubed (or use a melon baller to make melon balls)

1 medium to small English cucumber, cubed

1 small red onion red onion, cut into thin slices

20 fresh mint leaves, chopped

12 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 Jalapeño pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced (optional)

Dressing

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Optional Garnish

1/2 cup cubed feta cheese (sliced into 1/2-inch cubes)

Directions:

Combine watermelon, cucumber, red onion, mint, and basil in a salad bowl.

Whisk dressing and mix with the salad.

Garnish with feta cheese.

If you are taking this dish to a party (great for a picnic). Keep it refrigerated or on ice and add the dressing and feta cheese just prior to serving.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Tips to Lower Blood Sugar Levels https://drmasley.com/tips-to-lower-blood-sugar-levels/ https://drmasley.com/tips-to-lower-blood-sugar-levels/#respond Mon, 05 Jul 2021 22:24:48 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9163 The post Tips to Lower Blood Sugar Levels appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Elevated blood sugar levels are the #1 cause for heart disease, memory loss, and diabetes. They increase the risk for cancer, weight gain, and hypertension.

High blood sugar levels also deprive people of energy, vitality, and sex drive. This is a condition everyone should want to avoid!

Tips to improve blood sugar control was one of the top requests in a recent survey sent to readers of my blog.  

Fortunately, there are several straight-forward steps that will keep blood sugar levels normal and lower them if needed.

While genetic factors can increase the risk for high blood sugar levels, they do not cause diabetes by themselves. The lifestyle choices we make are the primary reason that people have high blood sugar levels or not, often overpowering our genetic make-up.

The hormone that controls blood sugar levels is insulin. When you consume energy (whether it is protein or carbs), it passes from your gut into the blood stream, and insulin levels spike and push that energy out of the blood stream and into your tissues converting it primarily into muscle and fat.

If over time you continue to consume more energy than you burn through activity, eventually your muscle cells will be totally loaded with energy in the form of glycogen, and the muscle cells will become resistant to insulin’s message to store more energy, especially if the energy comes from sugar and flour. Insulin resistance starts within muscle cells, but quickly expands to nearly all the cells in the body.

Once your cells become insulin resistant:

  • Brain cells are unable to use glucose as energy and they become dysfunctional and die. Initially this results in brain fog and mental sluggishness and over time leads to brain shrinkage and long-term memory loss.
  • You start growing arterial plaque at an accelerated rate.
  • Blood sugar levels start to rise and become elevated.
  • As your proteins become sugar coated, inflammation and oxidation levels increase—resulting in a downward spiral of worsening health body wide.

Here Are Three Tips to Lower Blood Sugar Levels

The first two are the most important, yet all contribute to elevated blood sugar levels.

  1. Avoid sugar and grain flour, and eat more fiber
  2. Add more activity
  3. Meet your nutrient needs

Avoid Sugar and Grain Flour, and Eat More Fiber

Most people know that they should avoid sugar, but they either underestimate how much they are getting, or are fooled by the many forms of sugar that are in processed foods. If your blood sugar levels are even mildly elevated (greater than 99 mg/dL), you are eating far too much!

Sugar does not only come from table sugar, but from many other ingredients including: corn syrup, corn starch, fruit juices, cane products, honey, fructose, potato starch and agave.

Worse than eating sugar from food is to consume it in beverages. Drinking a sugar loaded drink (such as a soda, sweetened tea, or fruit juice) is especially harmful.  Unlike junk food, you do not get any sense of fullness (satiety) from these drinks and the energy pours into your body as you continue to be hungry and eat more food. Diet sodas are no better, as chemical sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin (blue, yellow, and pink packs), kill healthy gut microbiomes and cause long term weight gain and insulin resistance.

Many people think whole grain flour sources have a better impact on blood sugar than pure white flour foods. Please be aware that eating whole grain bread, crackers, and cereal that has been ground into grain flour will cause the same rise in blood sugar level as does eating pure table sugar. (Yes, whole grain flours have more nutrients than white grain flour, but they have the same impact on blood sugar levels.)

In contrast, when you eat fiber from vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts, it blocks your blood sugar levels from rising quickly as fiber slows the delivery of sugar from your gut to your blood stream.

This slow release allows your body to consume the energy as it is released, without causing a spike and a jump in insulin levels. You end up with a slow, steady source of glucose over time, instead of a sudden spike that causes a jump in insulin production.

This is why I am now substituting nut flours (such as almond meal) in most recipes that call for grain flour. That or avoiding foods made with grain flours as much as possible.

Cutting out any form of sugar and grain flour from your diet and eating more fiber from vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts will reduce blood sugar levels beautifully.

Add More Activity

Nearly everyone knows that adding more activity will improve blood sugar levels yet there are a couple of suggestions that will make this even more effective.

First, combining strength training and aerobic activity over time is more effective than either activity alone. Both activities deplete sugar stores inside muscles and fat. Aerobic activity improves insulin sensitivity and makes your insulin more effective at lowering blood sugar levels. Strength training builds muscle mass and increases your capacity to absorb blood sugar from the blood stream after a meal.

Ideally you would add some form of aerobic activity nearly every day and add some form of strength training 2-3 days per week.

Second, not all aerobic activity is equal. Higher intensity aerobic work outs will provide more benefit than low intensity, especially in terms of reversing insulin resistance.

For example, did you know that high intensity exercise for 20 minutes 3 days per week (60 minutes per week) has the same benefit as 25 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 5 days per week (125 minutes per week). That means getting the same benefit in less than half the time.

For people who are in excellent health and exercise regularly, increasing their intensity should be fairly easy to do. Importantly, if you have health problems always check with your medical provider before pushing your workout routine, and/or consider training with a professional exercise physiologist at your local gym to be assessed and learn how to benefit from a higher intensity work out.

Meet Your Nutrient Needs

Specific nutrients are essential for blood sugar control, in particular magnesium, zinc, selenium, and chromium. Nearly 80% of Americans do not consume enough magnesium, and zinc, selenium, and chromium deficiencies are also quite common.

Following a healthy version of a Mediterranean diet will provide many of the nutrients that you need, but as nutrient content in soil is decreasing worldwide, I think it is wise for everyone to take a good quality multivitamin to support even an excellent eating plan.

A good quality multivitamin will help to ensure that you meet your needs for zinc, selenium, and chromium.  Here is a link to the multivitamin that I take every day, which has a solid dosage of all three of these critical nutrients.

You can meet your magnesium needs from food, yet most of my patients will not meet their minimum requirement of 400 mg every day. Most multivitamins do not provide more than a trace of magnesium.

See the food chart below (adapted from The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up) with common magnesium sources:

Magnesium in Foods

Food                                                                                           Magnesium (mg)

Pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, 1 oz                       151

Brazil nuts, 1 oz (1 handful)                                                         107

Bran ready-to-eat cereal (100%), 1 oz                                         103

Halibut, cooked, 3 oz                                                                     91

Quinoa, dry, ¼ cup                                                                        89

Spinach, frozen, ½ cup                                                                  81

Almonds, 1 oz                                                                                 78

Spinach, cooked from fresh, ½ cup                                               78

Halibut, 3 oz                                                                                    78

Swiss chard                                                                                      76

Buckwheat flour, ¼ cup                                                                   75

Cashews, dry roasted, 1 oz                                                              74

Soybeans, mature, cooked, ½ cup                                                   74

Pine nuts, dried, 1 oz                                                                         71

Mixed nuts, oil roasted, with peanuts, 1 oz                                      67

White beans, canned, ½ cup                                                              67

Pollock, walleye, cooked, 3 oz                                                            62

Black beans, cooked, ½ cup                                                               60

Bulgur, dry, ¼ cup                                                                               57

Oat bran, raw, ¼ cup                                                                          55

Soybeans, green, cooked, ½ cup                                                        54

Artichokes (hearts), cooked, ½ cup                                                   50

Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 oz                                                                 50

Lima beans, baby, cooked from frozen, ½ cup                                50

 Add up what you get on a typical day:                     

If you consume more than 400 mg of magnesium every day from food—then great! However, if you will not consume at least this amount from food on most days, then you should be taking a magnesium supplement to meet your needs.

Many magnesium supplements are either irritating to your stomach or difficult to absorb, such as magnesium oxide. The best forms of magnesium are protein-bound, making them gentle on your intestines and with double the absorption. My preferred magnesium sources would be magnesium chelate, magnesium glycinate, or magnesium malate.

Many of my own patients who were taking oral diabetic medications and/or taking insulin shots daily and still had elevated blood sugar levels were able to slowly wean off their medications and restore normal blood sugar control by using these same tips with the right diet, activity, and nutrient support to restore normal blood sugar control. (If you are taking medications for blood sugar control, always work with your own medical provider to achieve the best and safest results.).

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to help thousands of people reverse type 2 diabetes and improve blood sugar control, returning them to normal and vibrant lives.

I hope this information can help you, as well.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

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Mexican Scrambled Eggs with Black Beans, Salsa, and Corn Tortillas https://drmasley.com/mexican-scrambled-eggs-with-black-beans-salsa-and-corn-tortillas/ https://drmasley.com/mexican-scrambled-eggs-with-black-beans-salsa-and-corn-tortillas/#respond Fri, 25 Jun 2021 19:19:44 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=5728 The post Mexican Scrambled Eggs with Black Beans, Salsa, and Corn Tortillas appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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A flavorful and filling breakfast, packed with nutrients and fiber. For the chili ingredient option below, I prefer poblano chilies for their flavor, but they vary from sweet to very spicy, and not every store carries them. Alternatives are canned green chilies or bell peppers, which are sold everywhere. This recipe is from my book: The 30 Day Heart Tune-Up 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves:
2

Ingredients:

1 cup black beans, cooked (see Black Bean Dip recipe, here)

4 medium organic corn tortillas

1 tsp avocado oil

½ medium sweet onion, diced

¼ tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground paprika

1 medium chili pepper (poblano chili, green chili, or ½ bell pepper)

Dash ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)

4 large eggs, free-range, organic, omega-3-enriched

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro or parsley

¼ cup prepared Mexican salsa

1 Tbsp organic low-fat plain yogurt

Directions: 

Heat black beans on medium for 5 minutes. In a separate pan, warm tortillas over low heat, flipping occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan to medium-high. Add avocado oil, then sauté onion, salt, and paprika for 1 to 2 minutes, until onion is nearly translucent. Add chili and cayenne pepper, if using, and heat another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whip eggs; then pour over vegetables in sauté pan, stirring occasionally, scrambling eggs gently. Garnish eggs with cilantro or parsley.

To serve, place eggs on a plate. Serve salsa and beans on the side. Garnish beans with a dollop of yogurt. Enjoy with warmed tortillas, spooning a mix of beans, eggs, and salsa into each tortilla.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley

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How Can Good Oral Health Decrease Memory Loss https://drmasley.com/how-can-good-oral-health-decrease-memory-loss/ https://drmasley.com/how-can-good-oral-health-decrease-memory-loss/#respond Mon, 21 Jun 2021 19:16:19 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9128 The post How Can Good Oral Health Decrease Memory Loss appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month—providing an opportunity to take steps to reduce your risk for dementia, often referred to as the scariest disease on the planet.

Did you know that the health of your gums is directly related to your risk for memory loss? In this blog, I’ll share how caring for your gums can reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Dementia is the most expensive disease in the western world today, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of advanced memory loss. Over 6 million people have Alzheimer’s disease in the USA and globally, by 2050, the numbers of afflicted persons will triple to 115 million.

Dementia doesn’t usually happen overnight. In fact, its stages progress slowly over about 20 years. The first stage typically has no symptoms and features a gradual cognitive decline over the first five years. The 2nd stage lasts about 10 years as a person becomes more forgetful to the point that the afflicted person and family become aware of the loss in cognitive function without being gross impaired. The 3rd stage lasts about 5 years and is technically called Mild Cognitive Impairment, when a person is more impaired, might lose their job, but can sometimes still live on their own. This third stage terminology of “Mild Cognitive Impairment” is somewhat misleading, as the loss in abilities is clearly more than mild. The 4th stage is dementia, when is a person is now mentally disabled and no longer able to care for themselves; a state we would all hope to avoid at this point, we become a burden on the people we love.

There are multiple factors that contribute to this gradual decline, and we are beginning to realize that if we act early, we should be able to prevent 60-80% of cases of dementia.

The most common cause for memory loss in people is insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels. The latest research has shown that just bringing blood sugar levels to normal and restoring proper insulin sensitivity would help avoid 60% of cases of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a dramatic finding! For details on this insulin resistance and cognitive decline connection, read The Better Brain Solution.

We have also discovered that nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, mixed folates, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fats, also contribute to memory loss. As does our exposure to common toxins in our environment such as mercury, lead, inorganic copper, and nitrosamines.

Another reversible cause of memory loss is inflammation. The largest source of inflammation in our body is our gut, especially when it leaks (leaky gut syndrome) or is loaded with the wrong microbes (dysbiosis of the gut microbiome).

Many of us do not realize that the second leading cause of inflammation in the body is the lining of your gums, called gingivitis. Imagine if one of your arms was covered in a bright red rash—that would get your attention, right? And do you know that the surface area of your gums inside your mouth is about the same size as the surface area of your arm?

While examining patients in my clinic, I have been astounded by the widespread gum inflammation I see and yet they often do not think it is a serious matter.

Over the last decade, the medical world has come to realize that gum (periodontal) health is a major risk factor for inflammation. Studies have shown that the more gum inflammation (gingivitis) you have, the higher your levels of hs-CRP become (a simple and inexpensive blood test and an excellent systemic marker for inflammation). Elevated hs-CRP levels are not only related to systemic inflammation, but they also increase your risk for heart disease and growth of arterial plaque. So, yes—taking better care of your gums will help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

More recently, studies have shown that gingivitis directly contributes to brain inflammation as well. Over the past 10 years, studies have shown that chronic periodontal disease increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 70%, similar to the risk for using tobacco or being obese.

Not only is the inflammation a problem, but inflamed gums promote the growth of bad bacteria, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis (P gingivalis), which is associated with the growth of beta-amyloid brain plaques.

What can you do to reduce your risk for gingivitis, inflammation, heart disease, and cognitive decline?

An easy approach would be to take better care of your gums, specifically:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice per day
  • Floss daily
  • Use a water pick daily
  • See your local dental hygienist 2-4 times per year for a cleaning (frequency varies with the health of your gums)

Eating the right foods is another important step to protect our heart and your brain.

Here is my Better Brain Solution list of a dozen foods to eat more often:

  1. Green leafy vegetables
  2. Other colorful vegetables
  3. Omega-3 rich seafood
  4. Olive oil and other healthy cooking oils
  5. Organic berries and cherries
  6. Cocoa and dark chocolate
  7. Tea and coffee in moderation
  8. Red wine in moderation
  9. Nuts
  10. Spices and herbs
  11. Beans (they have a low glycemic load)
  12. Probiotic sources

Combining the right foods with better periodontal health is a smart and important step to prevent cognitive decline.

Dr. Masley’s Six Steps to a Better Brain:

  1. Eat the right foods (plant-based, smart fats, with a low glycemic load), and avoid sugar.
  2. Meet essential nutrient needs (in particular magnesium, vitamin D, a good quality multivitamin, adequate fish oil, and a source of fiber and probiotics).
  3. Add activity, both aerobic & fitness strength training, and mentally challenging activities.
  4. Proactively manage stress.
  5. Avoid brain toxins (mercury, lead, inorganic copper, pesticides, and nitrosamines).
  6. Optimize the health of your gums.

In my clinic, this combination of interventions has been shown to increase brain processing speed by 25%, making you mentally sharper.

It also has the potential to prevent up to 80% of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and lead to a lifetime of vitality.

I wish you the best of health,

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

___________________________________________________________________________________________

References:

There is a strong association between periodontal health and cytokine levels. After the gut, the mouth is the second most common cause for inflammation. Those with periodontal disease have higher hs-CRP levels, and those with more gingivitis have higher carotid IMT scores (arterial plaque).  Franek E et al. Intima-media thickness in patients with type 2 diabetes & periodontal disease. Source Dept of Internal Diseases, Central Clinical Hospital Warsaw Poland, 2012

Cognitive testing in middle aged adults in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study (ARIC) has also shown that those with infrequent tooth brushing and increased gingival plaque over six years had lower cognitive scores for digital symbol substitution and word fluency.  Naorungroj et al. Cognitive Decline and Oral Health. J Dent Res 2013 Sep; 92(9): 795-801.

In a five-year study of men and women averaging 80 years of age, severe periodontal disease and periodontal inflammation are both associated with an increased risk for cognitive decline. This Alzheimer’s disease risk is similar to the risk associated from tobacco use (50-70% ↑ risk) or for obesity (70-100% ↑ risk). Kimura Y, Ogawa H, Yamaga, T, et al. Periodontitis, periodontal inflammation, and mild cognitive impairment: A 5-year cohort study. J Periodontal Res. 2019 Jun;54(3):233-240.

Similar to how abnormal microbes within the gut microbiome have been identified as a risk factor for cognitive decline, specific periodontal microbes are similarly linked. Especially, Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), a type of periodontitis-related bacteria, was frequently detected in autopsy brain tissues of patients with AD. In contrast, the bacteria were not detected in normal human brain tissue. Matsushita K, et al. Periodontal Disease and Periodontal Disease-Related Bacteria Involved in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease. J Inflamm Res 2020; 13: 275–283.

 

 

 

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Green Beans with Sliced Almonds https://drmasley.com/green-beans-with-sliced-almonds/ https://drmasley.com/green-beans-with-sliced-almonds/#comments Sat, 12 Jun 2021 04:58:22 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9117 The post Green Beans with Sliced Almonds appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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June is peak season for green beans (also called French beans, string beans, and snap beans). They are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Whether you blanch them, sauté them, eat them raw, or even after thawing them from the freezer, green beans are a nutritious and delicious side dish that nearly everyone will enjoy.

Blanching is a great way to serve many chilled vegetables either in a salad or as a side dish. You could also substitute asparagus, baby carrots, or broccoli for green beans, just blanch and chill them as you would the green beans in the recipe below and you will have a lovely side dish.

Green beans originated in Peru and spread to South and Central America. Spanish explorers from the “New World” introduced them to Europe in the 16th century and then to all parts of the world by trading. When selecting green beans in the market, look for beans that are bright green and free of black spots and blemishes. They should feel firm and crisp. The tastiest green beans will snap easily and cleanly when fresh. Avoid green beans with swollen pods as they will be tough.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes       

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2 cups (about 10 ounces) green beans

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)

1 medium garlic clove, smashed under a wooden spoon or knife, peeled, and minced

Directions:

Line up green beans on a cutting board and trim away the stems. Rinse in a colander and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a vigorous boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with cold water (tap water is OK) and some ice.

Add beans to boiling water and continue to boil for about 2-3 minutes, until they are bright green, crisp, and tender. Avoid overcooking until they become soft.

Transfer the green beans to the ice bath to cool for 4 to 5 minutes. Then drain the beans.

Heat a small sauté pan to medium heat. Add sliced almonds and toast with an occasional stir for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper, thyme, and garlic in a salad bowl and whisk together. Toss blanched green beans with the dressing. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds and serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Caribbean Fruit Salad with Orange Liqueur https://drmasley.com/caribbean-fruit-salad-with-orange-liqueur/ https://drmasley.com/caribbean-fruit-salad-with-orange-liqueur/#comments Sat, 29 May 2021 04:24:53 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9089 The post Caribbean Fruit Salad with Orange Liqueur appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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In the French Caribbean islands, we were frequently offered a delightful fruit salad with orange liqueur for dessert—simple yet amazing. You can include any fruits you have handy, but in this recipe, I focused on the commonly served Caribbean fruits: mango, pineapple, and banana. If you can find other Caribbean fruits such as soursop, passion fruit, or guava, I highly recommend you try them as well. Melons are also used frequently in the Caribbean, especially watermelon and cantaloupe.

If you prefer this recipe without alcohol, substitute freshly squeezed orange juice instead.

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Serves: Four

Ingredients:

2 medium mangos, about 2 cups, cubed into bite-sized pieces (See note on mangos below)

2 medium bananas, sliced

2 cups pineapple chunks

1 cup watermelon, cubed (or use berries)

2 tablespoons of fresh mint, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4-6 tablespoons orange liqueur (to taste)

1 passion fruit, scooped out of the shell (seasonal, so optional)

Directions:

In a bowl, combine mango, banana, pineapple, and watermelon.

Combine mint, lemon juice, orange liqueur, and passion fruit (if available) in a separate bowl and whisk together. Then combine with the fruit and serve.

Chef’s Note on Selecting and Preparing Mangos

There are many types of mangos, just like different varieties of apples and oranges. Some mangos are far stringier while others simply melt in your mouth.

If you have the option, choose the less fibrous honey mango. It is sweeter, less stringy, and essentially melts in your mouth. Although it is a bit smaller, it has a smaller seed, making up for the lesser size. In the photo on the right, the traditional larger stringy mango is on the left, and the smaller and more yellow-orange honey mango is on the right.

When preparing to slice a mango, I suggest holding it vertically and slicing the mango

into three parts, a central seed, and two lateral sides.

See this video for details on preparing a mango.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Callaloo Soup with Nutmeg, Bay Leaf, and Coconut Milk https://drmasley.com/callaloo-soup-with-nutmeg-bay-leaf-and-coconut-milk/ https://drmasley.com/callaloo-soup-with-nutmeg-bay-leaf-and-coconut-milk/#comments Sat, 15 May 2021 02:29:13 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9068 The post Callaloo Soup with Nutmeg, Bay Leaf, and Coconut Milk appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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My favorite soup while sailing along the eastern Caribbean island chain was Callaloo Soup with a gentle blend of Caribbean spices. It is easy to prepare, savory, and flavorful.

Callaloo leaves come from taro or amaranth plants. The leave is packed with healthy nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C, K, and are high in potassium, fiber, iron, and calcium. Although finding callaloo leaves in the United States might be a challenge; using either spinach and/or collard greens provides a similar alternative to this delicious soup with comparable flavor and nutrient value.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Simmering Time: 25 Minutes

Makes: 4 Cups

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,

1 medium onion, chopped

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

10 ounces fresh Callaloo leaves, stems removed – (Alternatively use 7 ounces (7 cups) fresh spinach leaves and 3 ounces (3 cups) collard greens, chopped (or use all spinach if collard greens are not available)

2 tablespoons water

1.5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

½ cup whole coconut milk

Directions:

Heat a large soup pot to medium heat. Add olive oil, then onion, salt, black pepper, and ground nutmeg. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes until onion softens.

Add either callaloo/spinach/or collard greens and water to the pot and heat with an occasional stir until leaves wilt. Remove pot from heat.

Transfer onion and cooked leaves to a blender, add broth and blend until fairly smooth.

Return to the pot, add a bay leaf, heat until bubbling gently, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add coconut milk, simmer for another five minutes, remove bay leaf, and serve.

(Use only low heat after you add the coconut milk as with high heat it will curdle.)

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

 

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TIPS TO PREVENT MIGRAINE HEADACHES https://drmasley.com/tips-to-prevent-migraine-headaches/ https://drmasley.com/tips-to-prevent-migraine-headaches/#comments Tue, 11 May 2021 00:25:40 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9055 The post TIPS TO PREVENT MIGRAINE HEADACHES appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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A migraine headache can cause severe throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. In contrast to other types of headaches, migraine headaches are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for several hours and up to a few days. The pain is often so intense that it interferes with your daily activities.

About 39 million Americans have migraines, making it quite common. We recently did a survey from people who receive my blogs, and info on preventing migraines was at the top of the topic list, which is why I selected this subject.

Migraines occur three times more often in women than in men and can begin at any age. Most commonly the first migraine headache occurs in teenagers. Migraines often become more intense during your 30s, and gradually become less severe and less frequent after age 50.

For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the headache. An aura can include visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots, or focal neurological symptoms with tingling on one side of the face, or in an arm or leg, or difficulty speaking. Shortly after the aura occurs, the headache begins.

Sensitivity to light is bothersome, but also reassuring. Most other headaches (tension and sinus headaches or more rarely a headache from a brain tumor) do not become more intense with bright light exposure. If in doubt about what type of headache you have, especially if they are worsening over time, always see your physician to discuss the diagnosis and treatment options.

Common Triggers That Cause Migraine Headache to Occur Include:

  • Specific foods (deli meats like hot dogs, sausage, and bacon, aged cheese, red wine, and chocolate)
  • Food additives (such as MSG) and artificial sweeteners
  • Lack of sleep or irregular sleep hours
  • Bright intense lights or flashing lights (such as glare from bright sunlight, driving at night with oncoming headlights, strobe lights)
  • Loud noises
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Dramatic changes in the weather
  • For women, changes in menstrual cycle. Many women tend to experience more migraine headaches during, or just before, their menstrual period. Some women notice a significant improvement in migraine intensity and frequency when they go through menopause.
  • Inactivity (and in contrast, over-exertion from very intense activity)
  • High levels of acute stress

By identifying and avoiding specific triggers, many people can minimize their chances of having a migraine.

Tips to Decrease Migraine Frequency and Intensity:

1. Sleep well and consistently. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep nightly, and some people need 8-9 hours of sleep daily. Aim to go to bed and wake up within one hour every day. Irregular sleep cycles and lack of sleep have been shown to cause migraine headaches.

2. Choose moderate activity daily. Inactivity appears to increase the frequency of migraines, and daily moderate activity helps to prevent migraine headaches. Stay active, but avoid extreme activity levels.

3. Avoid food triggers and skipping meals. Specific foods impact people differently. Identify foods that appear to trigger your migraines and avoid them. Also, avoid skipping meals. For people with frequent migraines, I recommend following an elimination diet, especially avoiding gluten, and diary products, for at least 3 weeks to see how you respond. It can also be very helpful to make a food diary and write down what you have eaten 24 hours before a migraine occurs—looking for food patterns that might help you identify food triggers.

4. Take Magnesium. 70% of Americans and people from western countries are magnesium deficient, causing migraine headaches along with many other health issues. Good food sources for magnesium are nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Yet even healthy eaters often benefit from taking a magnesium supplement (such as magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, or magnesium chelate) with 200 to 400 mg daily. Cheap sources of magnesium, such as magnesium oxide, can cause gastro-intestinal distress. Excess magnesium can cause loose stools.

5. Proactively Manage Your Stress. It is hard to avoid all stress, but you can take steps to proactively manage it with yoga, meditation, and software tools like HeartMath.

6. Consider Taking a Butterbur Supplement. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is an herbal remedy that comes as a purified root extract in pill form to treat headaches and migraines. A 2012 study published in Neurology concluded that it is effective for migraine prevention when taken as 50- to 75-milligram doses twice daily. Although it does help some people, not everyone will improve with this therapy. If you live in Europe, Butterbur might be hard for you to obtain — the U.K. and Germany have both banned butterbur from being sold because of safety concerns with the leading manufacturers.

What to Do When You Have a Migraine Headache

Consider the following treatment options.

  • Caffeine. Drink a caffeinated beverage. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen and aspirin. Be aware that excess caffeine intake can cause migraines to recur. Drinking too much caffeine too often can lead to withdrawal headaches later on. And having caffeine too late in the day may interfere with your sleep, which can also affect migraines.
  • Find a Dark and Quiet Room. Find a quiet, dark room, and lie down and relax.
  • Aromatherapy with Lavender. Known for its sweet smell, lavender oil (made from the flowers of the lavender plant) is highly fragrant. A 2012 study suggests that inhaling lavender oil during a migraine may help relieve symptoms quickly. To use lavender oil, best is to use an aromatherapy diffuser with a diluted solution, or apply a diluted solution to the temples. Undiluted lavender oil can irritate the skin and can be toxic if taken in excess dosages, so follow the product recommendations for dilution.
  • Over the Counter Medications (OTC). OTC medications such as Acetaminophen and NSAIDS (such as Naprosyn and Ibuprofen) can help with migraine headache pain but also have side effects. Always discuss these options with your doctor before using.

If your migraine headaches worsen in frequency or intensity over time, there are a variety of medications that can be used to help prevent your symptoms and abort headaches when they occur. Always check with your physician as to the best option for you.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

 

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Tamarind Chicken with Mixed Vegetables and Pineapple https://drmasley.com/tamarind-chicken-with-mixed-vegetables-and-pineapple/ https://drmasley.com/tamarind-chicken-with-mixed-vegetables-and-pineapple/#respond Sat, 01 May 2021 05:47:46 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9034 The post Tamarind Chicken with Mixed Vegetables and Pineapple appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Tamarind adds a lovely flavor to dishes. Tamarind trees grow throughout the Caribbean, and after peeling and discarding the outer shells from the dried tamarind pods, it makes a delightful snack. In this recipe, you can substitute shrimp or tofu for the chicken if desired. Once the skin and center seed are removed, cayote squash adds a pleasant flavor and texture to a mixed vegetable dish, although you can substitute nearly any squash if you do not find it in your market.

Prep Time: 25 Minutes

Serves: Two

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon avocado oil

14 ounces de-boned chicken thighs, sliced into 1-inch strips, pat and dry with paper towels

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 medium onion, chopped,

1 medium cayote squash, peeled, center seed removed, chopped (or use 1 medium zucchini, or yellow squash)

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium bell pepper (red, green, orange, or yellow), seeds and core removed, chopped

2 medium green onions, chopped

1 cup pineapple, chopped

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ cup tamarind concentrate (or paste)

½ cup low-sodium veggie broth (or white wine—if using wine or water, add an extra ¼ teaspoon of salt)

1/8 – ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add chicken, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Heat for 4-5 minutes with an occasional stir until chicken is lightly browned. Spoon chicken into a bowl and set aside.

Add onion to the sauté pan and heat for two minutes with an occasional stir, then add carrots and cayote, heat another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to medium and add bell pepper, green onions, pineapple, and nutmeg. Then add chicken back into the pan.

Combine tamarind and broth in a bowl and stir until well mixed.

Optionally add the crushed red pepper flakes to the solution. Add tamarind solution to the sauté pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer for five minutes.

Serve in a bowl.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Food, Health, and Travel Across the Eastern Caribbean https://drmasley.com/travel/ https://drmasley.com/travel/#comments Thu, 22 Apr 2021 03:51:34 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=9011 The post Food, Health, and Travel Across the Eastern Caribbean appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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My wife Nicole and I recently completed our zig-zag, 600-mile sailing trip from St Martin to Grenada, along the eastern edge of the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles Island chain. It was an amazing trip packed with beautiful tropical forests with rugged mountain peaks, stunning beaches, beautiful reefs, friendly people, and a wide variety of delicious food.

There were a variety of pleasant surprises along the way, especially many new Creole dishes that combined ingredients in a way that was new to us, and remarkable health ideas—such as finding an island in the Caribbean with the most 100+ year olds for its population on the planet.

The sail itself was a challenge, as due to all the covid travel restrictions, none of the guests who hoped to join us were able to come. Nicole and I managed to sail the entire distance by ourselves, and sail we did, as there was a strong easterly trade wind breeze day and night, at least 15 knots and sometimes 30-35, as well as occasional high seas when crossing from island to island, often up to 2-3 meters, or 6-10 feet. The breeze wasa blessing in many ways, as the trade winds keep the temperatures comfortable, and the breeze is especially welcome when it is hot and humid, day and night. Ironically, the best fishing was when the waves were at their highest while crossing from island to island, which made landing a fish with only two of us while under full sail, a real task—the reward was super fresh tuna for several meals.

Caribbean food is diverse, especially with its French, British,African, and local island influence. The common theme was the use of local fresh fish, local vegetables, and fruits. In particular, we learned to cook using more chayote (perhaps one of the most popular vegetable in the Caribbean which is also called mirliton squash or chocho), onion, eggplant, green bell peppers, tomatoes, callaloo greens (similar to spinach), and use of their featured spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, oregano, thyme, marjoram, and clove. They also cook with fruit and use mango, plantain, guava, and pineapple, plus coconut milk in many dishes.

Most of the Caribbean islands are influenced by Creole cuisine. Like the people, Creole food is a blend of the various cultures of West African, French, Spanish, Caribbean, and Native American ingredients and flavor. In the US, we can find Creole cooking most easily in New Orleans, although it is fairly unknown in the rest of the US.

There is a clear cultural, food, and financial divide between the French Antilles and the English-speaking Antilles islands. Not only do the French Islands (Saint Barthelemy, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, plus to a lesser degree St Martin) receive financial help from France with housing, roads, health care, and schools, but they also receive food shipped at discount prices from France. Additionally, the French culture has maintained the quality of many French foods, such as bread, pastries, cheese, cream, and wine—products that are hard to find at this level of quality and a discounted price compared to the English-speaking islands. Not surprisingly then, the French population in the French Antilles has a higher standard of living than we could see in the other unsupported islands. And of course, the dominant language spoken is French, although the tourist industries all speak English as well.

While visiting the French islands, the food was awesome almost everywhere. We enjoyed snorkeling and diving the most in Martinique, and the gardens and tropical forest hiking in Guadeloupe.

Several islands produce good quality, locally grown chocolate, in particular Dominica,  Grenada, and Martinique. I had seen cocoa pods before coming to the Caribbean, but I did not realize until we picked and sliced a few cocoa pods that the white milky and sticky substance inside the cocoa pods surrounding the cocoa beans is delicious to eat. I enjoyed tasting the milky substance surrounding the beans as much as I do the chocolate that is produced from the cocoa beans—although Nicole clearly prefers the chocolate.

Turns out that Dominica, an island in the middle of the eastern Caribbean island chain, holds the record for the highest number of centenarians in the world (centenarians are people who are more than 100 years old). In 2020, there were 27 centenarians living on this lovely island (with a total population of about 50,000 to 70,000). At one point, they had four centenarians living on the same street within a short walk of each other! Given that Dominica is one of the less wealthy countries in the Caribbean with an economy dependent upon agriculture and tourism, this is a remarkable achievement. For details on why people live so long in Dominica, please Click Here to read my recent blog on this topic.

Dominica is better known for its pristine and beautiful environment (nicknamed the “nature island” with good reason). It does not have mass tourism or as many immaculate beaches as seen across the Caribbean but has far more mountain hikes that are surrounded by lush tropical forest, waterfalls, and canyons, making it a lure for ecoadventure tourism.

The primary downside of travel in the Caribbean was the recurrent covid testing and repeated quarantines. Nicole and I had at least a dozen PCR covid nasal/oral tests over four months as we traveled from north to south through the islands. At least for now, if one is planning to fly from the US to the islands, best would be to get through the testing, the quarantine, and stay on one island, otherwise, every island requires repeated testing and quarantine periods. Hopefully, the quarantine requirements will disappear as more and more people become vaccinated. The advantage of traveling by boat was at least we were able to quarantine and stay on our boat, with an occasional swim to cool off.

Of all the islands, Dominica also had the most lenient and still effective covid quarantine requirements; you had to arrive with a negative PCR test, quarantine for 5 days, then get released when your repeat covid test comes back negative, but they allow you to stay in covid hotels that allow scuba diving and hiking, amusement while you wait to be released from your quarantine, in contrast to other islands that limit you to your own hotel room and room service, unable to leave your room.

St Vincent and the Grenadines with dozens of islands to explore was by far the most remote of the islands we explored. Pristine beaches on minimally inhabited islands with limited infrastructure were common. The views and bays where we anchored were stunning.

Our last stop was Grenada. The island is beautiful, the people friendly, with lots of infrastructure like hotels, and restaurants to complement the awesome beaches, fishing, and tropical mountain hikes. The main downside with our visit to Grenada was the prolonged quarantine, as they kept us locked up four days longer than the 5-6 days originally promised before we arrived. On the upside, Grenada has had only 38 cases of Covid from the beginning, nearly all of which were in tourists traveling to Grenada—the locals have remained mostly covid-free. We were delighted to get our clearance to explore some of the island and several restaurants before traveling home.

It was an amazing four-month voyage, and we are left with memories of trade winds, lush tropical forests, lovely beaches, colorful reefs, friendly people, and plenty of flavourful and creative food. We look forward to returning next year after the hurricane season.

Look for more Caribbean recipes to follow.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

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Caribbean Piña Colada https://drmasley.com/caribbean-pina-colada/ https://drmasley.com/caribbean-pina-colada/#respond Sat, 10 Apr 2021 00:43:33 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8963 The post Caribbean Piña Colada appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Piña Coladas appear to be one of the more popular drinks in the Caribbean. I have to admit that I am not a great fan of mixed drinks using hard liquor, as I cannot think of any health benefits to hard liquor, and there are several health risks if used regularly. But by adding fresh pineapple and coconut milk with the rum, this is about as good as a mixed drink can get (provided you don’t add sugar to it).

If you prefer a cocktail without alcohol, then just skip the rum, and you have an awesome and refreshing drink.

Piña Coladas originated in Puerto Rico—the recipe generally includes 3 parts pineapple juice, 1 part light rum, and 1 part coconut cream (typically with lots of sugar added). Adding the fresh pineapple, real coconut milk (no sugar added), and cinnamon adds valuable fiber, nutrients, and it tastes better too. The fresh pineapple adds plenty of natural sweetness. The cinnamon also can help block any rise in blood sugar level from the natural sugar in the pineapple.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Serves: Four

Ingredients:

1.5 cups fresh pineapple chunks

½ cup whole coconut milk

½ cup dark rum (optional)

½ cup ice

4 dashes cinnamon powder

Directions:

Combine pineapple, coconut milk, rum, and ice in a blender and blend until smooth.

Garnish each serving with a couple dashes of cinnamon powder and a pineapple wedge.

 

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

 

 

 

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Which Country Has the Highest Percentage of People Over 100 Years of Age? https://drmasley.com/which-country-has-the-highest-percentage-of-people-over-100-years-of-age/ https://drmasley.com/which-country-has-the-highest-percentage-of-people-over-100-years-of-age/#comments Tue, 06 Apr 2021 04:24:43 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8991 The post Which Country Has the Highest Percentage of People Over 100 Years of Age? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Who would have thought that a third-world country in the Caribbean would have the highest percentage of people who live to be more than 100 years of age!

I admit that I was pleasantly surprised, as I would not have guessed that it would be a beautiful Caribbean island with mountain peaks, rain forest walks, hot springs, windsurfing, and scuba diving.

Turns out that Dominica, an island in the eastern Caribbean island chain, holds the record for the highest number of centenarians in the world (centenarians are people who are more than 100 years old).

Some call this island the home of the fountain of youth. In 2020, there were 27 centenarians living on this lovely island (with a total population of about 72,000). At one point, they had four centenarians living on the same street within a short walk of each other!

This is nearly four people per 10,000, which is 50 percent higher than Japan, 65 percent higher than in the United States, and three times as many as in Great Britain.

Given that Dominica is one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean with an economy dependent upon agriculture and tourism, this is a remarkable achievement.

Why do people live so long in Dominica?

  • People have cited Dominica’s pristine, unspoiled environment as the main reason for longevity on the island. Dominica’s waters are unpolluted, and its vegetation is largely pesticide-free. There is no large-scale industry on this island.
  • A healthy diet also contributes to a high life expectancy. Traditionally, a Dominican’s diet includes natural foods that are grown in gardens, fruits and herbs that grow wild, and fish that are caught locally. Animal protein is largely wild or pasture-raised. Herbal teas (bush tea) and clear freshwater are consumed in abundance.
  • People on Dominica have also been very physically active. The islanders worked the land over their lifespan and today’s elderly had to walk long distances on rough terrain in their youth because there were few roads until well into the 1960s. Walking was a necessity of everyday life, along with hard physical work.
  • People benefit from community and spiritual support. They live within extended families and self-sufficient communities and they respect and care for their elders. They also have a deeply rooted belief in God.

Dominica is the home of the oldest documented person on the planet, Ma Pampo Israel, who died in 2003 at age 128. During an interview, she ascribed her long life to hard physical work, natural food straight from the earth without pesticides, and a relationship with God.

My wife, Nicole, and I arrived here in Dominica recently with our sailboat, Mariposa, and have been traveling across this lovely island, meeting the people and enjoying the pristine and beautiful environment (nicknamed the “nature island” with good reason). It does not have mass tourism or many pristine beaches as seen across the Caribbean. This has been a welcome change as its lure is geared more to ecoadventure tourism.

The population is friendly, English is the primary language spoken, with 86% percent of the population of African descent, 9% of mixed descent with European heritage, and 2.9% uniquely made up of indigenous Carib natives who lived on the island before Europeans or slaves arrived; this is one of the very few islands that has any Carib natives, as they were exterminated in the rest of the Caribbean by European settlers. Dominica was the last island to be colonized in the region.

Some fear that the story of Dominica’s remarkable centenarians will come to an end within the next couple decades. This is because of the lifestyle changes of the island’s younger generation. Younger adults show a tendency to eating American-style fast food, increased television viewing, and a rapid drop in outdoor agricultural work. Obesity, unheard of in older generations, is now becoming common in younger adults.

In contrast, Dominica still has most of the older generations who have not known life-shortening habits.

I feel that there is a great deal that we can learn from the traditional Dominican lifestyle.

I wish you the best of health,

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

 

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Caribbean Pineapple Curry https://drmasley.com/caribbean-pineapple-curry/ https://drmasley.com/caribbean-pineapple-curry/#comments Sat, 27 Mar 2021 06:40:34 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8975 The post Caribbean Pineapple Curry appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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I first saw this dish on a menu on the island of Dominica, home to the most centenarians on the planet, and was eager to try it. The flavors are fantastic, serving it in a carved-out pineapple shell really added flavor, not to mention, a lovely presentation. For protein, you can use chicken, fish, or tofu, whichever meets your needs, if using fresh fish, try snapper or cod.

Chayote (also called christophene or cho-cho in the Caribbean) is rich in fiber, vitamin C, and minerals, and is likely the most commonly used vegetable in the Caribbean; if you are unable to find chayote, I suggest using a cup of cauliflower florets or cubed sweet potato.

You will notice that a whole pineapple is double the amount of fruit needed for this recipe, so plan to use the rest for dessert, breakfast, or for a Caribbean Pina Colada—recipe to follow. You could make this without fresh pineapple using pineapple chunks, but using fresh pineapple provides a beautiful presentation and extra flavor.

Prep Time: 40 Minutes

Serves: Two

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons avocado oil

12 ounces chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium chayote, peeled, inner seed removed, and cubed

2 tablespoons curry powder (or 2 tablespoons of your own spice mixture)

1 large green bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

8 ounces coconut milk

1 medium-small pineapple, top removed, sliced in half lengthwise. With a paring knife, remove and discard fibrous center core, then carve out the pineapple in small pieces until the shell has been excavated. (gently scraping out pineapple and juice at the end with a spoon). Be careful not to puncture the shell, as then it will leak when the curry is added.

Garnish

2 tablespoons fresh mint and cilantro, chopped

4 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts

Directions:

Prep the pineapple as mentioned above and reserve 1 ½ cups of the fruit chunks, set aside. Keep remaining pineapple for another use.

Heat a large sauté pan with a lid to medium-high heat, add avocado oil, then chicken, salt, and black pepper, and with an occasional stir, heat until chicken is lightly browned.

Remove the chicken from the sauté pan and set aside. Add onion to the sauté pan and heat with an occasional stir for 2 minutes. Add carrot, chayote, and curry powder, stir, and heat about 3-4 minutes. Add bell pepper, tomato, and heat another two minutes with occasional stirring.

Add coconut milk, cooked chicken, and pineapple chunks to the sauté pan with vegetables and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

To serve, place carved out pineapple halves on a serving platter or individual plates and fill with curry mixture. Garnish with herbs and peanuts. There should be enough curry to refill each shell and have second helpings or refrigerate and enjoy the following day.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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The Latest State-of-the-Art Tips to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease! https://drmasley.com/the-latest-state-of-the-art-tips-to-prevent-and-reverse-heart-disease/ https://drmasley.com/the-latest-state-of-the-art-tips-to-prevent-and-reverse-heart-disease/#respond Tue, 23 Mar 2021 03:17:57 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8943 The post The Latest State-of-the-Art Tips to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Cardiovascular disease remains America’s #1 killer for both men and women, and while many doctors display tunnel vision focused on lowering cholesterol, they are overlooking the most critical culprits: arterial plaque growth, abnormal blood sugar levels, and poor gut health.

The good news is that everyone—regardless of size, genetics, gender, or age—can stop the growth of arterial plaque, improve overall health, and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Published, solid research shows that we can prevent 90% of heart issues with lifestyle.

Published findings from The Masley Optimal Health Center have shown that my average patient shrinks their arterial plaque over time and hundreds of my patients have had a whopping ten percent reduction in arterial plaque load—making their arteries 10 years younger! Now is your chance to achieve similar results.

I am proud to announce that the latest revision of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, is available wherever books are sold.

Inside this new revision you will discover:

  • A delicious diet designed to supercharge your heart
  • Exercises to improve circulation, fitness, and strengthen your entire cardiovascular system
  • Creative and effective techniques for stress management
  • A customized supplement plan
  • Steps to improve your circulation and romantic function—for women and men
  • Cutting-edge science on the fascinating ways the bacteria in your gut can enhance the health of your heart.
  • Many of my all-time favorite recipes

This fully revised and updated edition of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up includes the latest science on the surprising connections between your gut and your heart as well as tons of new information on reducing cardiovascular risk factors like obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol profiles, and chronic inflammation through diet, nutrients, stress management, and exercise. It will also clarify how abnormal cholesterol levels are more important than high cholesterol levels. This transformational program will help you get healthy—and stay healthy—for life.

Now is your chance to follow this easy, step-by-step program to optimize your cardiovascular health, boost your energy, slim your waistline, improve your brain function, and heat up your sex life—all while enjoying sixty delicious recipes!

GET YOUR COPY NOW, CLICK HERE!

I wish you and your loved ones the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

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Caribbean Mixed Salad https://drmasley.com/caribbean-mixed-salad/ https://drmasley.com/caribbean-mixed-salad/#respond Sat, 27 Feb 2021 05:42:26 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8886 The post Caribbean Mixed Salad appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Variation of the Caribbean Mixed Salad

There are numerous variations on this easy-to-prepare salad, yet fresh greens, pineapple, and
avocado seem to be the central theme with additional fresh vegetables and fruit as available. As an example, if you can’t find star fruit, consider using sliced grapefruit segments instead. It can be served as mentioned below, a simple salad, or as a full meal with shrimp, fish, beans, or chicken as added protein.

Prep Time: 15

Minutes Serves: Two

Ingredients:

Salad
3 cups mixed organic salad greens
1 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into thin slices
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium vine-ripened tomato, cut into thin slices
1 cup pineapple in bite-sized pieces
1 medium star fruit, cut into thin ¼-inch thick stars (or substitute with grapefruit)

Vinaigrette
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon citrus juice (orange, lemon, or grapefruit)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish
1 Haas avocado, cut into thin slices
¼ cup roasted peanuts

Directions:
Prep salad ingredients. Whisk dressing together then toss with salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Garnish with avocado and peanuts to serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

 

 

 

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​Caribbean Fish Ceviche with Coconut Milk https://drmasley.com/%e2%80%8bcaribbean-fish-ceviche-with-coconut-milk/ https://drmasley.com/%e2%80%8bcaribbean-fish-ceviche-with-coconut-milk/#comments Sat, 13 Feb 2021 03:30:50 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8867 The post ​Caribbean Fish Ceviche with Coconut Milk appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This dish originates from French Polynesia (Tahiti) where the fish is served nearly raw with perhaps 15-20 minutes of marinating time in lime juice—which is easier to do when you catch the fish (typically tuna) the same day and keep it on ice. From my restaurant experience in the French Antilles, the fish seems to have been marinated a bit longer, perhaps 30-60 minutes. If the fish you will use was caught during the last few days (not few hours) and is not super fresh from the sea, better to marinate it in lime juice a bit longer, for 1 hour and up to 2 hours, the longer it marinates the more cooked it will be and the stronger the lime flavor.

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Marinating Time: Varies from 30 minutes to 1 hour

Serves: 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer.

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh snapper (or ahi tuna, or other sushi-grade fish), diced into ½-inch cubes

4 limes juiced (barely enough juice to cover most of the fish in a bowl)

¼ medium red onion, minced

½ red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, diced finely

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium Haas avocado, sliced into ½-inch cubes

4-6 ounces coconut milk (chilled in the refrigerator)

2 tablespoons cilantro (or parsley), chopped

4-8 fresh lettuce leaves (or encircle the plate with endive leaves)

Optional garnish, dash of cayenne (less than 1/8 of a teaspoon), or use paprika

Directions:

Marinate cubed fish in a bowl with lime juice in the refrigerator for 30 minutes with an occasional stir and up to 1 hour as desired to your taste. Add onion, red bell pepper, salt and black pepper and return to the refrigerator, and marinate another 10 minutes.

Add avocado, coconut milk, and cilantro, stir gently and serve on a bed of lettuce. Garnish with a dash of cayenne, or if you prefer less heat use paprika.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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For 2021, What Is the Best Diet on the Planet? https://drmasley.com/for-2021-what-is-the-best-diet-on-the-planet/ https://drmasley.com/for-2021-what-is-the-best-diet-on-the-planet/#respond Wed, 03 Feb 2021 18:03:23 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8849 The post For 2021, What Is the Best Diet on the Planet? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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For 2021, The US News and World Report rated the Mediterranean diet as:

  • The best diet overall
  • Tied for 1st as:
    • The best heart-healthy diet
    • The best diabetes diet
    • The best diet for healthy eating
    • The best plant-based diet
  • And importantly, it is also rated as the easiest diet to follow

Let alone that the Mediterranean Diet provides delicious food that is fairly easy to prepare.

The Mediterranean Diet is based upon the eating habits of people living around the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, as well as middle eastern and northern African countries. It provides a huge variety of foods to eat.

What these cuisines have in common is the consumption of fresh, whole foods featuring vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, herbs and spices; the predominate use of extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter, margarine, or vegetable oils; moderate amounts of seafood and poultry; and the moderate consumption of red wine. What the Mediterranean diet specifically has avoided is processed foods, sugar, and artificial flavors. Red meats are rarely on the menu or are used sparingly to flavor a dish.

These accolades should not be too surprising, as Mediterranean countries have some of the longest life spans on the planet, despite that they have higher rates of tobacco use, and they have lower rates of heart disease, memory loss, cancer, and obesity. The people of Spain, who follow the

Mediterranean diet closely, have the longest lifespan and the best health of any country in the Western world, and are anticipated to surpass Japan soon as the longest-lived country on the planet.

In light of all these benefits, I wrote a book to share how easy it can be to follow and benefit from the Mediterranean eating plan, The Mediterranean Method.

Preventing Heart Disease

Heart disease remains the #1 killer for men and women, even though studies have shown we can prevent 90 percent of heart disease with the right lifestyle changes—our biggest challenge is finding a diet and lifestyle that people are willing to follow long-term.

Back in the 1950s, the physiologist, Ancel Keys, became a vocal advocate for the Mediterranean diet, especially to prevent heart disease, which he expanded upon with his Seven Countries Study. A turning point for proof of the cardiac benefits of a Mediterranean diet was the Lyon Diet Heart Study, published in 1994, which showed that in a randomized clinical trial, compared to the more standard, low-fat, American Heart Association diet, a Mediterranean diet was more effective at preventing heart disease.

In 2003, the Greek EPIC trial showed that the closer subjects followed a Mediterranean eating plan, the lower their rate of cardiovascular events. Subsequent studies have shown that the closer people living outside the Mediterranean follow this same diet, the less heart disease and longer life they enjoy.

Then in 2018, the large-scale landmark PREDIMED study with over 7,000 subjects published in The New England Journal of Medicine affirmed the CVD-fighting reputation of the Mediterranean Diet; those who followed a Mediterranean diet and added extra nuts or olive oil had 30% fewer events than those following a low-fat diet.

Data published from my own clinic has shown that in patients who follow a low-glycemic version of a Mediterranean diet, the average person shows a regression of carotid intimal media thickness (IMT) scores, and hundreds of our patients had more than a 10% regression in their arterial plaque load.

Enhancing Cognition and Preventing Memory Loss

The most expensive disease in the U.S. is dementia; recent estimates are that the total bill to treat it exceeds $215,000 billion per year. More startling is that the rates of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease are predicted to double over the next 15 years.

Yet, just as we can prevent most cases or heart disease, there is now growing evidence that we can also prevent dementia and cognitive decline with the right lifestyle changes. PREDIMED researchers tracked the impact on cognition of the dietary interventions over 6.5 years on over 500 participants and controlled for multiple lifestyle and health factors. Those randomized to a low-fat diet had lower overall cognitive scores and more progression to dementia than those in the Mediterranean diet group, plus the Mediterranean group showed greater compliance following the diet recommendations.

Other studies have also shown cognitive improvement and/or reduced cognitive impairment with following a Mediterranean diet, including the FINGER trial, Three-City study in France, the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), and in a group of more than 1,200 Puerto Rican adults living in the U.S.

Data published from my own clinic confirmed that the closer a person follows these dietary recommendations, the better their brain processing speed and cognitive scores, results which have continued over 12 years of follow up.

Better Weight Control

In 2016, Dr. Joseph Mancini and his colleagues evaluated five randomized weight-loss trials with more than 1,000 subjects on various dietary regimens including low-fat, low-carb, and Mediterranean. These subjects were followed for at least 12 months, a meaningful length of time given most people lose weight in only the short term and regain it later. The research found that the Mediterranean Diet was more effective than the low-fat diet, and equally as effective as a low-carb diet over the long-term. What’s more, they concluded that those following the Mediterranean Diet not only lost weight, but they had the best improvements in lipid and metabolic profile. The typical weight loss ranged from 10 to 22 pounds lost throughout the 12-months.

In a separate meta-analysis of nine randomized dietary trials with over 1,000 patients in subjects with Type 2 diabetes, again researchers concluded that a Mediterranean diet was the best compared to other diets for weight loss and improvements in metabolic markers long-term.

Adapting the Mediterranean Diet to the 21st Century

Despite all these clear health benefits, there are some limitations and myths related to the Mediterranean diet that should be applied to living in the 21st century.

For instance, some think that the Mediterranean diet promotes large portions of pasta, bread, and pizza—and that adding olive oil, marinara sauce, and red wine will render any food healthy. These are truly myths.

First and foremost, the original Mediterranean diet was followed by farmers, fisherman, and herders–men and women who were physically active for 6 to 10 hours per day. Very few can achieve this much activity today. We, therefore, need to modify an eating plan with a lower sugar and grain flour intake (glycemic load) to match our activity level.

Second, studies that have evaluated the Mediterranean diet have also assessed what components of the traditional eating plan had the most and least benefit. Results from the EPIC trial showed that consuming vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, and olive oil provided the greatest benefit, and eating whole grains provided the least—likely related to their glycemic load.

A more recent study, The EPIC Greek Cohort study, published in 2012, analyzed adherence to a Mediterranean Diet, and glycemic load intake. It concluded that those who adhered to a Mediterranean Diet and had the lowest glycemic load intake had the best health benefits of all. And if the subjects were overweight, the benefits of following a low-glycemic load version of a Mediterranean Diet were even greater.

This low-glycemic version has the added advantage of appealing to many people who have already shifted towards a low-carb and/or Paleo eating plan.

Beyond Food

Though there are many proven benefits to following a low-glycemic version of a Mediterranean diet, the health benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle are not solely limited to food intake. Mediterranean people are more active than we are in the U.S., they spend more time walking and cycling to work and for daily shopping, and they spend more time outdoors and with nature.

How they eat is important as well. They enjoy long, leisurely meals typically with friends and family, which fosters close social connections, which is perhaps related to the fact that they have lower rates of anxiety and depression than are found in the U.S.

In summary, let me share my version of the food and lifestyle pyramid of a low-glycemic Mediterranean diet, adapted from my book, The Mediterranean Method.

The pyramid’s foundation is the lifestyle, which features activity, social interaction, cooking, and mindful-leisurely eating. Foods and beverages that are consumed daily include vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, olive oil, herbs and spices, yogurt, dark chocolate, and water, with moderate intake of red wine and coffee or tea. Seafood, poultry, eggs, and other probiotic-rich dairy products are on the menu several times a week, as are whole grains though in small portions (and gluten-free as needed). My pyramid limits but does not eliminate red meat, sweets, and potatoes.

The Mediterranean Diet is not just a short-term eating plan. It has been followed for centuries and tested in numerous long-term clinical studies and been found to be the best diet on the planet for long-term adherence and for healthy eating. The food is delicious, generally simple, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store. This is an eating plan that truly combines proven health benefits with delicious food—no other diet can embrace the saying as well.

If you have not yet purchased your own copy of The Mediterranean Method, containing 50-plus awesome recipes and many photos, now is your chance, click here.

To Your Health & Bon Appétit!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can You Reverse Thyroid Disease? https://drmasley.com/can-you-reverse-thyroid-disease/ https://drmasley.com/can-you-reverse-thyroid-disease/#respond Wed, 20 Jan 2021 16:45:29 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8816 The post Can You Reverse Thyroid Disease? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Thyroid disease is common for women and men—20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Many people struggle with thyroid symptoms without knowing that there is a potential dietary solution to reverse it.

Symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, hair loss, cold intolerance, and weight gain are not only bothersome, but too often these symptoms persist even after starting medication for thyroid conditions, and even after your doctor says that with thyroid therapy your levels are normal.

Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) is related to excess iodine intake. Overactive thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) is also related to iodine intake.

My good friend and medical colleague that I highly respect, Alan Christianson ND, has recently written a book about the relationship between iodine intake, thyroid function, and thyroid disease. His book is called The Thyroid Reset Diet and is the first nutrition plan that has been clinically shown to reverse thyroid disease and/or improve thyroid symptoms for two-thirds of people who suffer from thyroid problems.

How does it work? The key is to eat foods that are low in iodine because you may be exceeding your iodine requirements through the food you eat (in addition to products you might be applying to your skin). In his book, The Thyroid Reset Diet, Dr. Christianson provides a detailed and easy-to-follow plan to overcome excess iodine intake and to help restore thyroid function and symptoms.

The book provides useful information, 65 delicious recipes, weekly meal plans, and long-term maintenance information. I highly recommend that anyone with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, or hyperthyroidism read this book and that you share it with your loved ones if they suffer from thyroid disease.

Recently Dr. Christianson and I talked about iodine, thyroid disease, and his new book. If you would like to view my interview with Dr. Christianson, click here.

To simply buy his book, click here.

I wish you the best of health,

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

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Apple Pie with a Gluten Free Crust https://drmasley.com/apple-pie-with-a-gluten-free-crust/ https://drmasley.com/apple-pie-with-a-gluten-free-crust/#comments Sat, 16 Jan 2021 03:04:31 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8803 The post Apple Pie with a Gluten Free Crust appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Pre-baked pie crust

For a special occasion, I enjoy baking an apple pie and sharing with friends and family. This crust is much healthier without the inflammatory gluten compounds and it has a lower glycemic load than you would find with a traditional wheat flour crust. Yet for me this crust is still flaky and flavorful. You can substitute the apple with other fruit options in the pie as desired.

Prep Time: 50 Minutes

Refrigeration Time: 1 Hour

Baking Time: 30 Minutes

Crust:

1.5 cups almond flour (blanched, super finely ground almond meal)

½ cup oat flour

½ cup organic rolled oats

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cage-free organic-raised egg, whisked

¾ cup organic, unsalted, cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

Filling:

4 medium apples, sliced thinly

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons salted butter

2 tablespoons water

½ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons Kuzu powder (or 1 tablespoon cornstarch)

Optional garnish, organic whipped cream

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse almond flour, oat flour, rolled oats, and salt until well mixed. Whisk the egg in a bowl, then pulse the egg with the dried ingredients. Next, add cubed butter and pulse until pea-size pieces of butter and dough form. Press the dough into a ball and refrigerator for 45-60 minutes (or up to 3 days covered).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with parchment paper. Flatten dough in the pie plate, press into the bottom, and up along the sides. Indent the edges if desired. Poke holes in the bottom and sides using a fork to prevent bubbling. Trim any lose edges of the parchment paper.

Bake in the oven on a middle rack for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sliced apples and lemon juice together in a bowl and mix well until apple is coated with juice.

Add butter, water, maple syrup, cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until the butter melts. Add apples and lemon juice and stir. Heat for about 8-10 minutes with an occasional stir, until apples begin to soften.

Combine remaining 6 tablespoons of water with kuzu (or cornstarch) and stir until mixed. Stir into the apple mixture and heat another 2 minutes.

When pie crust has baked for 15 minutes, remove from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour hot apple mixture into the crust. Place pie plate on a middle rack in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving. Optionally garnish with organic whipped cream and a dash of ground cinnamon.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Quiche with Mushrooms, Onion, and Spinach—Gluten Free https://drmasley.com/quiche-with-mushrooms-onion-and-spinach-gluten-free/ https://drmasley.com/quiche-with-mushrooms-onion-and-spinach-gluten-free/#comments Sat, 02 Jan 2021 00:32:30 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8785 The post Quiche with Mushrooms, Onion, and Spinach—Gluten Free appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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​People have been making quiche for hundreds of years. You can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is served for take-out, in fine restaurants, and with a little time is relatively easy to make at home. It is loaded with dairy, so please choose organic dairy options. The biggest health concern with traditional quiche is the crust, loaded with white wheat flour—full of sugar and inflammatory compounds. In this recipe, the egg provides a hint of protein, normally provided by the gluten protein, to hold the flour together. And this flour combination manages to provide a flaky crust—I have used this same pie crust to make dessert pies, too.

 

 

Prep Time: 50 Minutes

Refrigeration Time: 1 Hour 

Baking Time: 30 Minutes

Crust:

1.5 cups almond flour (blanched, super finely ground almond meal)

½ cup oat flour

½ cup organic rolled oats

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cage-free organic-raised egg, whisked

¾ cup organic, unsalted, cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

Filling:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium-large white onion, chopped finely

2 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 ounces fresh baby spinach

1 tablespoon almond flour

4 large organically-fed, free-range chicken eggs

½ cup half and half

4 ounces Conté cheese, grated (or grated Gruyère), divided

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse almond flour, oat flour, rolled oats, and salt until well mixed. Whisk the egg in a bowl, then pulse egg with the dried ingredients. Next, add cubed butter and pulse until pea-size pieces of butter and dough form. Press the dough into a ball and refrigerator for 45-60 minutes (or up to 3 days covered).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with parchment paper. Flatten dough in the pie plate, press into the bottom, and up along the sides. Indent the edges if desired. Poke holes in the bottom and sides using a fork to prevent bubbling. Trim any lose edges of the parchment paper.

Bake in the oven on a middle shelf for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan to medium heat, add olive oil, then onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes with an occasional stir until onions soften. (Don’t let the onions brown, reduce heat to low if needed.) Add mushrooms, salt, black pepper, thyme and heat at medium to low heat with an occasional stir for 5-6 minutes, until mushrooms have softened. Add spinach, stir, and heat until the spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in almond flour, reduce heat to simmer, and heat for an additional 5 minutes with an occasional stir. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk eggs, half and half, and half the grated cheese. Combine with sauteed onions and mushroom mixture.

When pie crust has baked for 15 minutes, remove from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Next pour onion, mushroom, egg, and half and half contents into the pie crust, then sprinkle the remaining half of the grated cheese on top.

Place pie plate on a middle shelf in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserts and comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Who Should Get the New Vaccine? Who Should Wait? https://drmasley.com/who-should-get-the-new-vaccine-who-should-wait/ https://drmasley.com/who-should-get-the-new-vaccine-who-should-wait/#comments Tue, 15 Dec 2020 02:36:24 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8774 The post Who Should Get the New Vaccine? Who Should Wait? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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The Covid-19 virus continues to ravage communities and spread around the world, especially in countries that have been unwilling or unable to follow common sense and effective public health measures. Despite being one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, the United States has led the world in new cases and deaths since April 2020, with rapidly increasing infections and death rates in recent weeks. After all that we have learned about the virus, right now there are more new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths than ever over the past year.

The rare, good news has been that several vaccines are on the way, and because the infection and death rates have been so exceedingly high, the clinical trials using the vaccines have yielded positive results in an extremely short period of time.

Over the last 12 months, we have learned that Covid-19 infections have hit the elderly and those with heart and lung disease the hardest, yet it has also killed young people, people who are healthy, and those who have chronic disease in often unpredictable ways. With improvements in therapy for hospitalized patients over the last 6-9 months, death rates have decreased from 3-4% of new reported cases to 1.5-2% of cases, an important but limited improvement, making a vaccine essential.

The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, called BNT162b2, as well as Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, called mRNA-1273, have made front-page news for the last few weeks as they represent a bright light at the end of what has been a long dark tunnel.

These new vaccines are made of a piece of modified RNA (virus genetic material) that encodes a version of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, a novel concept in vaccine development. As a protein, the vaccine cannot cause an infection, but can boost immunity and protect us from becoming sick.

Experience with previous coronaviruses (SARS in 2002 and the more deadly MERS in 2012) failed to produce an effective vaccine. This makes the recent publicity about the latest vaccine studies welcome news.

Just this week, the actual Pfizer vaccine results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine for all to review, and December 12th the FDA advisors recommended authorization of the vaccine for emergency use. Although this remains an ongoing study with results that are not yet final, the data thus far is highly encouraging. You can read the article for free with this link: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2034577?query=RP. The Moderna study results will likely be published and available very soon.

Highlights of Pfizer Vaccine Study Results

From the results published to date, findings show that the vaccine reduces infection rates by about 95%–truly amazing! In the primary analysis with over 40,000 subjects, only 8 cases of Covid-19 were seen in the vaccine group, as compared with 162 in the placebo group. These same results appear to be true for both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, with both vaccines produced in a similar way. Thus far, subjects who were either young or old, black or white, healthy or with chronic health problems have shown similar reductions in infection rates—more good news.

In the clinical trial published this week, 21,720 participants received the BNT162b2 vaccine and 21,728 received a placebo. The Moderna study will also share results from a similar large sample size, helping to reveal any safety concerns associated with the vaccine use. Both Pfizer vaccine groups received two injections spaced 21 days apart, the Moderna vaccine also used two injections 4 weeks apart. Persons with obesity or other coexisting conditions were well represented, as well as many different ethnic communities, and more than 40% of participants were older than 55 years of age.

One important limitation of this study is that to date, the Pfizer vaccine findings represent only 2 months of safety data after the second vaccine was given. Important to know is that the results presented are only initial findings and part of an ongoing study.

To me, two months does not initially sound like much time for a clinical study to determine safety, yet fortunately, from hundreds of previous vaccine studies, we know that most serious side effects (such as a heart attack or neurological injury) occur within the first couple of months. Reassuring is that in this study so far, the vaccine subjects have had less serious events occur than the placebo subjects. However, out of 21,000 vaccinated subjects so far with published results, there were 4 cases of Bell’s palsy reported, which is often a temporary weakness in a facial nerve, which represents 1 event per 5,000 people vaccinated, A 0.02% risk.

The common side effects reported have been a reaction to the vaccine at the local injection site with soreness and redness, fatigue, and headache over the first 24-48 hours, and more rarely fever, which is typical for many vaccines. After the second vaccine, about 25% more vaccine subjects had these reported common side effects compared to the placebo group. These side effects were more frequent after the second dosage than the first.

If you think about it, I believe a 25% increased chance of mild arm soreness and cold symptoms for 1-2 days is well worth the 95% protection I would get from a potentially life-threatening Covid-19 infection that could impact me or someone dear that I love!

Does the Vaccine Prevent Severe Infections?

The critical and most important question, “Does this new vaccine prevent severe infections?” has not been fully answered yet. Thus far, the data again is reassuring. Ten severe Covid infections have occurred in both Pfizer study groups thus far, 1 in the vaccine group and 9 in the placebo group, which appears to be a nearly 90% reduction in severe cases with the vaccine.

Yet, this is not enough information to draw any final conclusions on severe infection rates and researchers will have to continue to collect data to answer this critical question. The Moderna results have not yet been published, but their severe infection rate has been reported to show similar dramatic reductions in the vaccinated group.

Who Should Get the Vaccine Now?

The vaccine is already being offered to people in the United Kingdom and in Canada.

The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use, and assuming approval for the Moderna vaccine as well next week, in December 2020, 20 million doses from Pfizer and 20 million doses from Moderna will be available almost immediately, and as two shots are needed for each person, this will provide a vaccination for 20 million people in the US. Other countries will follow soon.

The CDC has recommended that the following two groups should be the first to get vaccinated:

  1. Health care workers (people at high risk for exposure and who are essential to treating new cases which are skyrocketing)
  2. The elderly with co-existing health disease (especially those living in nursing homes and those who receive medical assistance in retirement homes) that make them high risk for severe infections and death if they become infected.

Health care works and the elderly with co-existing health problems will likely use up the 40 million doses that are available initially.

In January 2021, another 50-100 million doses will be available for those the CDC believes are at high risk of infection, high risk of severe infections, and/or are essential workers, including:

  • School teachers and staff
  • Police and other emergency workers (fire departments, medics, etc)
  • Public transport drivers
  • Daycare workers
  • People over age 65-75 (age cut off to be determined)
  • People who are not elderly but have health conditions that increase their risk for severe complications if they become infected, including people with diabetes and heart disease.

Based upon the information available at this time, I am hopeful and optimistic that by the time the vaccine is available to the general public in February or March 2021, far more data will confirm its safety.

The bottom line is that the new Covid-19 vaccines being produced by Pfizer (as well as a similar vaccine created by Moderna) appear to have more benefit than risk!

Who Should Wait a Few Months or Longer Before Getting the Vaccine?

Children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people have not been included in studies thus far and should wait until the vaccine is proven to be safe for them. I anticipate a vaccine will be studied in children within the next year, and pregnant women and immunocompromised people will likely be included in future studies as well.

For now, everyone, but especially children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people should practice public health prevention measures (mask-wearing and social distancing) and hope that as many people as possible are vaccinated as soon as possible to protect them via herd immunity. If you fall into one of these unstudied groups, your unique situation will determine your risk and benefit with the vaccine and the best advice would be to talk to your physician who knows you personally.

Initial experience from the ongoing vaccination program in the United Kingdom with people who have a history of severe anaphylactic reactions (Anaphylaxis, which is a severe and rapidly progressive allergic reaction; people with this condition use an Epi-Pen when they have a life-threatening reaction to bee stings, peanut allergies, shellfish allergies, etc) suggests that they are at increased risk for a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine as well. If you have a history of anaphylactic reactions, check with your physician before getting the vaccine.

What Else Do We Need to Do Besides Get the Vaccine?

Until 80-90% of the population has developed immunity to Covid-19, infections will continue to ravage our economy and to kill people on a large scale. Likely 10% of people have already been infected and have developed some immunity, so until at least 70% of us have been vaccinated, the new infection rates will remain uncontrolled.

For the near future, we still need to:

  1. Wear masks whenever we leave our homes,
  2. Social distance,
  3. Avoid crowds and social gatherings (especially indoors), and
  4. Practice common sense measures like washing hands and using hand sanitizer when we touch anything in a public setting.

If we want to avoid unnecessary deaths and suffering, prevent shutdowns that harm our economy, and help get people back to work, following each of these four steps remains essential.

What Unknown Information Do We Need to Watch For?

Thus far, only about 20,000 people have received the Pfizer vaccine, and about another 20,000 people have received the Moderna vaccine, with only 2 months of safety information on the vaccine, yet what rare but serious side effects might occur long term? The truth is that we do not yet know.

As an example, the influenza vaccine appears to cause Guillain Barré Syndrome once in every 500,000 people vaccinated, with clearly more benefit than harm, yet while there should be more benefit than risk, there are always rare hazards to any vaccination program. Similar rare side effects are likely to occur with this new Covid-19 vaccine as well.

We also do not know how effective 1 injection instead of 2 injections 3-4 weeks apart will be. For now, everyone who gets the first shot should plan to get the second injection, unless they develop a rare adverse reaction to the first shot.

Will the vaccine prevent asymptomatic infections and reduce the spread of infections? We do not yet know the answer to this question, but studies will collect antibody response data soon and this information will become available. The risk is that the vaccine reduces all symptoms and leaves people contagious to spread the disease. Until this is clear, everyone who gets the vaccine needs to wear a mask and practice social distancing!  I am optimistic that the vaccine will prevent asymptomatic carriers, but this needs to be confirmed, not just assumed.

How Long will the Vaccine Be Effective?

Many scientists expect the Covid-19 virus to mutate over time and predict that we may need annual Covid-19 vaccines, like we do with the annual new influenza vaccine. For now, we hope that this vaccine is effective for at least 1 year, hopefully longer. Time will tell.

What Am I Going to Do?

I am in my mid-60’s, so I plan to get this vaccine as soon as it becomes available to me.

I hope this blog gives you the information you need to decide what to do as the vaccine becomes available.

Please be safe and follow all the public health guidelines for at least the next several months.

 

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

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Cauliflower, Cheese, and Burger Casserole https://drmasley.com/cauliflower-cheese-and-burger-casserole/ https://drmasley.com/cauliflower-cheese-and-burger-casserole/#comments Sat, 12 Dec 2020 03:00:26 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8758 The post Cauliflower, Cheese, and Burger Casserole appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Casseroles are inviting, especially on a cold day. The oven warms the kitchen, sending a delicious aroma through the house, and the rich food is deeply satisfying for the whole family, plus this dish is easy to prepare. Traditionally this type of casserole would use potatoes or macaroni as a filler; here the cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts provide the added texture with a lovely flavor and a powerful load of nutrients without any gluten and without a huge load of sugar from the potatoes or pasta.

For burger options, you can use a plant-based burger (vegetarian), ground organic turkey, or free-range ground sirloin—please avoid ground hamburger as it is loaded with junk ingredients. Recently, I have been using plant-based burger products from Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger and I have been pleasantly surprised by how good these products taste. Both make amazing burgers, although I like the ingredients in Beyond Burger the best.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Baking Time: 30 Minutes

Serves: Six

Ingredients:

6 cups cauliflower florets, chopped into bite sized pieces (1 medium-large head cauliflower)

2 cups Brussel Sprouts, stem removed and sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups button mushrooms, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

1-pound burger (choose from plant-based, organic ground turkey, or free-range sirloin)

4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

 

3 organic-fed, free-range chicken eggs

1 cup organic full cream (or for a lower dairy fat option, organic low-fat milk)

10 ounces grated organic cheese, divided (For organic cheese options, I prefer Conte, Gruyere, or Sharp-Aged Cheddar, or use a blend of your favorite options that melt well.)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Prep cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts, add to a cookie sheet with sides, toss with olive oil. Place in the oven on a middle shelf and bake for 25-30 minutes, until veggies are tender but still al dente. After the initial 15 minutes of roasting, pull the tray out of the oven and stir to mix the veggies, then return to the oven to continue roasting.

While veggies are baking, heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat, add avocado oil, then onion, and sauté for 1 minute with an occasional stir, then add mushrooms, salt, black pepper, paprika, and Italian seasoning and heat with an occasional stir for another 2 minutes. Next, add the burger to the pan (plant-based, turkey, or sirloin), and with a wooden spoon break into small pieces. Continue to heat with occasional stirring until burger is lightly browned, reduce heat to low, stir in garlic and heat another 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Next whisk eggs in a bowl, add cream (or milk), and whisk again, then stir in half the grated cheese.

When the cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts have been roasted, reduce oven heat to 375°. Grease an oven-proof casserole dish, 9” x 13”, with extra-virgin olive oil. Add cooked burger, onion, and mushrooms to the bottom of the dish. Next, add cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts over the burger, then pour the mixture of egg, cream, and half the grated cheese over the pan contents. Sprinkle remaining half of grated cheese over the top.

Place dish in the oven on a middle shelf and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. If need be, switch from bake to broil for the final 4-5 minutes. Let stand on the counter for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Gluten-Free Crab Cakes https://drmasley.com/gluten-free-crab-cakes/ https://drmasley.com/gluten-free-crab-cakes/#comments Sat, 28 Nov 2020 00:36:33 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8747 The post Gluten-Free Crab Cakes appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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I have always liked crab cakes but have felt that the traditional use of breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs has ruined them by adding gluten and a large sugar load. In contrast, here is a lovely recipe, easy-to-make, delicious, and both gluten-free and low in refined carbs.

Prep Time: 25-30 Minutes

Serves: Four (Makes 8 cakes)

Ingredients:

2 large, organic-fed, cage-free eggs lightly beaten

1 pound fresh lump crabmeat

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ medium sweet onion, chopped finely

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

4 medium garlic cloves, chopped finely

¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped finely

¾ cup blanched finely ground almond flour

2 tablespoons ghee

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the egg. Mix in the crabmeat. Mix well with a fork, breaking up any large pieces, but be sure to leave small chunks of crab meat so that you can taste the crab. Mix in the mustard and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan (or skillet) to medium heat. Add olive oil, then onion, and heat for 2-3 minutes with an occasional stir. Add salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic, heat another 2 minutes, then set aside.

Add parsley to the crabmeat mixture. Then add sautéed onion mixture. Add flour and stir until well mixed.

Use a 1/4 cup scoop to portion out portions of the mixture. Use your hands to form the portions into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties and place on wax paper.

Reheat the large sauté pan to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of ghee and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Next, add 4 of the crab cakes. Heat them for about 4 minutes without moving, until the edges on the bottom are lightly browned.

Carefully, flip the crab cakes, use a second spatula if needed. Cook on the other side, about 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned.

Then cook the other 4 crab cakes in a second pan, or repeat and cook in the same pan using remaining ghee and olive oil.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

 

 

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Are artificial sweeteners worse than sugar? https://drmasley.com/are-artificial-sweeteners-worse-than-sugar/ https://drmasley.com/are-artificial-sweeteners-worse-than-sugar/#comments Tue, 24 Nov 2020 19:00:06 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8731 The post Are artificial sweeteners worse than sugar? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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For decades, we have known that consuming sugar increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, memory loss, cancer, and weight gain.

A recent study published in Circulation showed that women who had sugary beverages less than once per month, compared to those who had more than two servings a day — defined as a standard glass, bottle, or can — had a 63% increased risk of premature death. And those who only had 1 serving per day showed less risk than those with 2 or more servings per day, but much more than those who had none.

This risk has led many people and even many doctors to use diet drinks with artificial sweeteners and other food products instead of products with sugar.

Have diet products helped with weight loss? The reality is not much, and many would say long term that there is no sustained weight loss from choosing artificially sweetened products.

Now the latest study assessing the safety of artificially sweetened drinks was published in October 2020 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

French researchers published their initial results after following 105,000 people over the last 6.6 years in a prospective observational study that is still ongoing. Study subjects completed dietary records every six months. The results were assessed sugar intake with non-calorie sweetener intake. Their aim was to assess how sugar intake and sweetener intake affect the risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death.

In this study, sugary drinks consisted of all beverages containing at least 5% sugar (i.e., soft drinks, syrups, 100% juice, fruit drinks).

For sugar, they compared:

  • Non-consumers (less than 1 serving per month)
  • Occasional users (less than 2 servings per day)
  • High consumers (2 or more servings per day)

For non-caloric sweeteners, they compared:

  • Non-consumers (less than 1 serving per month)
  • Occasional users (less than 2 servings per day)
  • High consumers (2 or more servings per day)

For sugar, the results showed that occasional sugar users showed a 5% increased risk for cardiovascular events and high consumers had a 20% increased risk.

For sweetener use, the results showed that occasional sweetener users showed a 15% increased risk for cardiovascular events and high consumers had a 32% increased risk. The most common sweeteners used in this study appear to be the artificial sweeteners, aspartame (sold as Equal and NutraSweet) and Sucralose (sold as Splenda).

This initial data from an ongoing study shows that drinking beverages with artificial sweeteners are equally harmful to drinking beverages with sugar, and artificial sweeteners may be even worse for you.

It was not a surprise to anyone that drinking beverages with sugar increased the risk for serious cardiovascular events. Yet, the results showing harm from diet drinks should be eye-opening and a major wake-up call for people who use artificial sweeteners regularly.

The most likely mechanism for the harm caused by artificial sweeteners is that they have been shown to kill good bacteria in the gut and promote the growth of bad microbes, causing gut microbiome chaos and disorder.

We know that healthy gut microbes help us in many important ways:

  • They help us lose weight
  • Improve blood pressure levels
  • Reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels to normal
  • Improve blood sugar control
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Reduce levels of TMAO, a compound produced by gut bacteria that is associated with increasing cardiovascular events by 62%.

The bad gut microbes show the opposite harmful effects.

The reality is that artificial sweeteners kill the healthy gut microbes that protect us from nearly all the risk factors for cardiovascular events. With this in mind, we should not be surprised that consuming artificial sweeteners increase our risk for heart disease.

A previous study was published in Nature, showing that the most commonly used artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame all adversely impacted the gut microbiome and worsened blood sugar control.

One limitation of this ongoing French study is that researchers combined natural sweeteners, such as stevia, with artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame (sold as NutraSweet and Equal) and Sucralose (sold as Splenda). It would be far better if they were looking at them separately.

To date, there is no evidence that natural sweeteners (Stevia) harm the gut microbiome, or cause any other significant harm, yet this will require further observation over time. There is some limited information that stevia and other natural sweeteners (like Xylitol) may block the growth of some beneficial bacterial species, limiting their proliferation. Even though they do not appear to kill large numbers of good bacteria, they may inhibit some good bacteria from growing.

For now, I strongly recommend that all of us avoid the use of sugar and artificial sweeteners—including aspartame (blue packs), saccharin (pink packs), and sucralose (yellow packs). It is ironic that these artificial sweeteners were initially created to help prevent diabetes and weight gain, but that they may actually cause the same problem that they were intended to prevent.

Our best choice is to enjoy food that is unsweetened, natural, and unprocessed! Food can still taste delicious without overwhelming our taste buds with sweetness.

For an occasional treat when you want to celebrate a special occasion, stick with a natural ingredient, such as a small quantity of honey. If you use natural sweeteners, do so only occasionally.

Although not as sweet as sugar or artificial sweeteners, fresh fruit offers our palate some sweetness, without a jump in blood sugar levels and it nourishes our healthy gut microbes. Fresh fruit is good for us, and we should eat 2-3 servings daily.

HOLIDAY: We will celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday and if you are as well, I hope you have a wonderful holiday.  If you are looking for some Thanksgiving day recipes, click here!

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

References:

  1. Jotham Suez et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. NATURE 9 October 2014;514:181-86. doi:10.1038/nature13793
  2. Affect of stevia on Lactobacillus reuteri. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 2014;58.3: 278-284.

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