Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Can A Healthy Diet in Childhood Affect Health Risks Later in Life?

In Food and Health, Mindful Eating on November 27, 2011 at 11:25 pm

As always, what we eat makes us. Another study shows the long-term effects of our food choices. Here the choices made in high school make ripples years later.
I really am what I eat- and so are you!


If you want your child to avoid health risks later in life, it appears that eating a healthier diet early in life can have some beneficial effects, at least in young adult women.

Researchers studied 230 women aged 25 to 29 years old who had previously (nine years before) participated in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC).  The DISC was a randomized controlled clinical trial that limited total fat intake to 28% of daily calorie intake and increase fiber consumption by promoting a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Although few participants in the follow-up study met the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for heart disease, the participants who had undergone the earlier intervention had significantly lower systolic blood pressure readings and lower fasting plasma blood glucose levels compared to the control group (no earlier interventions).

The conclusion was that dietary intervention at an early…

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I Can See the Future (recycled post)

In Diet and Weight, Excercise, Family Doctor, Food and Health on November 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

A family Tree on doctorfoodtruth

One of the unique perspectives I get as a small-town family doctor comes from truly taking care of families.  My little town is a place people tend to stay to raise kids and their kids stay, too.  The stability of the community is one of its big attractions to new families as well.

For a Family Doc, this means I often know three or even four generations in a family.  What better way to know about someone’s medical family history than taking care of both their mother and son?  The great part for me is how quickly I start to feel like one of the family.  As I walk through illnesses, births, deaths, and other milestones with people, we learn a lot about each other and often become friends.

The hard part is watching health problems trickle down the generations.  Grandma’s diabetes is connected to mom’s insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) and her son’s obesity and acanthosis (a sign of coming insulin resistance.)  Sometimes it can feel like trying to move a mountain to get everyone to change.

What I know is that the eight-year-old is on the wrong path and heading straight for early health problems like the rest of the family.  What I also know is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

I have seen whole families choose differently and re-vamp their health together, I know it’s possible.  I also know it’s hard.

One day turns into the next, the TV is on, healthy food is harder to make and more expensive to buy — all these things and more can make change hard for families.

But I keep hoping, keep nudging, keep encouraging people to change.  Grandma can feel better and younger, mom can avoid diabetes altogether, and Junior can be a healthy kid without his weight and tiredness slowing him down.  I know it! Now if only I could show the future instead of just seeing it…

Change Your Family’s Food, Change Your Lives!

A Vegetable is a Vegetable

In factory farms, Food and Health, Organic Food on November 17, 2011 at 11:57 am

Pizza on doctorfoodtruth

A vegetable is a vegetable, unless …
– you are an elected official
– you work for a Big Food company
– money means more to you than kids do

Today, a rant.

Wednesday, Twitter was ablaze with disappointment over Congress apparently deciding pizza is a vegetable.  In the multi-billion dollar battle for kids taste buds and waistbands, school food plays a nationwide role.

What lands on the lunch tray shapes kids and their future health in obvious ways.  Unfortunately, what lands on those same trays affects some big companies bottom lines too.

When those two needs meet in Congress, money wins.  Faced with the chance to move food choices and health consequences in a positive direction for millions of kids and their families, our beloved leaders are letting food industry lobbyists cast the vote for them.

Was it the Tomato lobby, those upstanding corporate citizens who keep modern slavery alive, who will swing the vote to allow pizza to “count” as a vegetable?  Maybe the Grain lobby, worried about profits now that weeds are winning the Roundup GMO war, are leading the enlightened way.

Who knows?  What I know is that this is way more embarrassing than a politician who can’t spell ‘potatoe’ (Dan Quayle, VP for you youngsters.)

Vice President Quayle made a simple spelling error; these crooks are making a calculated decision that will reverberate in our nation’s health for years to come.


In Diet and Weight, Excercise, Family Doctor, Food and Health on November 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm

crossroads on doctorfoodtruth

I saw my patient Mary last week.  We’ve known each other four or five years now.  The appointment went pretty normally, us talking about her lab tests, her blood pressure, her weight.

She mentioned some minor road bumps that work had caused her and we chuckled at the difficulties that life can throw our way.  She admitted that her weight loss efforts we talked about at our last visit hadn’t gone very well.

After I did what I needed to do and she asked what she wanted to ask, I was about to tell her I’d see her in a few months when I was suddenly gripped by the need to add something else.

Mary and I are almost exactly the same age.  While I’m not quite 40, I definitely feel the hands of the clock moving faster and faster.  I know that when it comes to health, habit changes and exercise regimens that might be easy when you’re young are not when you get older.

So I said, “Mary, I need to tell you something else and I’m just going to be really honest with you.  I think that you are at a crossroads.  I think if you look this direction, the one prescription medicine that you need now will multiply to five or even ten prescriptions within a few short years.  You can see knee replacement surgeries and a slower, much more painful old age.

“But if you look the other way, you can see what would happen if you choose differently now.  You could have a completely different future.  You can fix you knee pain and avoid early arthritis by losing the weight that needs to come off.  You can heal your system and be able to stop your diabetes medicine within six months if you put your mind to it.  You can avoid the blood pressure and cholesterol pills we talked about today.

“In short, you get to decide how your life goes from here.  But you have to decide now.  Pretty soon, your body will have been damaged by your lifestyle and changing won’t be so healing.  It will be kind of too late.  Please don’t let that happen to you, please don’t wait to make the changes your body needs.  Please take advantage of the opportunity you have and choose to do something different.”

“Yes, Dr. Marcotte, I hear you.  I think you’re right.”

And you know what?  I think I may have actually gotten through to her with that.

We’ll see, I sure hope so.

Change Your Food, Change Your Life!

Pruning Season

In Family Doctor, Mindful Eating on November 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Pruning shears.

I’ve got a scraggly tree I planted a few years ago that desperately needs pruning. A house down the street has beautiful 30-year-old maples in the front yard that look like somebody took good care of them when they were young trees like mine. It’s an inspiration.

I think I can do this – I’ve never done it before, but I think I can do this and make it look good for the future. Of course, I don’t know that I’ll be in this house or even around to see my work thirty years from now, but building for the future is important.

I realize that a lot of what I do at the office is building for the future too. Someone’s cholesterol I try to help with nutritional counseling and a prescription isn’t going to affect this person today or tomorrow or next week. It’s going to have an impact 10, 20, even 50 years from now and it’s the future we’re working for together.

The weight that I’m helping someone else come to grips with, it’s not really affecting them too much right now. Maybe it slows them down a little, maybe it makes their knees hurt a little more than they should, but again it’s really the future we’re worrying about when a patient and I agree to work on health goals together.

That’s one of the things I most want to communicate to my patients too. This is about the future, their future. It’s about how their day-to-day life is going to be decades from now. The choices they make today are absolutely what’s going to decide how they feel, how they function, how they live, whether they live.

So I’ll keep pruning here, fertilizing there, maybe giving out a little butt-kickin’ here or there where it’s needed, knowing this is the future that I’m helping my patients build. It couldn’t be more important.

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!

4 out of 5 Doctors Can’t Estimate Calories!

In Food Diary on November 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm


My medical instrument

4 out of 5 Doctors Can’t Estimate Calories!.

Drkay is one of my favorite bloggers.  She is a pediatrician, mom, and nearly a black belt!  Quite a combo.

This link is to a recent post about how poorly her doctor friends did counting calories.  She has another post, Calories Count, that I tweeted earlier today out of sheer joy.

Her instant personal poll of people who ought to know better agrees with lots of research about how well we do (you, me and the mailman) at estimating calories.   If you read the data, 20% accuracy is generous!

Almost all of us will dramatically underestimate the calories in food and the bigger the meal or plate/bowl it’s in, the worse we do.  Dr. Brian Wansink is my favorite source of these studies but you can find other scientists saying the same thing with a simple Google search.

So what to do?

Despair?  Give up?  Eat more McDonald’s?  No!!!

I’ve found a simple food diary can often help people start to understand their personal food downfalls.  Harvard has developed PlateMate, a crowd-sourced food estimator that “is nearly as accurate as a trained dietitian” according to their website.

Of course, a desire to change, a willingness to learn and be different is required if these techniques are going to work.  Those that don’t want to change, won’t.

Don’t be that guy/girl!

Change Your Food, Change Your Life!