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Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Imagine if a pharmaceutical company introduced a drug that promised to cut your chances of contracting all diseases (including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease) by at least 80%? I imagine you would immediately have four questions: How much does it cost? What are the side effects? How can I get a prescription? And, How can I invest in the company? While such a drug is not available, you can achieve an incredible 80% reduction in your chance of developing a devastating disease by making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Disease Proof, a new book by preventive medicine specialist Dr. David Katz, provides a road map for making the diet and lifestyle changes that will “add years to life, and life to years.”

David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, is a remarkable physician. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. According to his website, Dr. Katz “helped develop and found one of the nation’s first combined residency training programs in Internal Medicine & Preventive Medicine, and formerly served as the program’s director. Dr. Katz currently co-directs a one-year post-doctoral residency program in Integrative Medicine at his center in Derby, CT.”

The basic premise of Disease Proof is that you can slash your risk of disease by making just four adjustments to your diet and lifestyle—don’t smoke, eat healthy foods, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. The book begins by analyzing the past 20 years worth of medical research and concludes, “the leading causes of death and disease are largely within our control because they result from what we do or don’t do with our feet, our forks, and our fingers—namely, whether they are physically active, consume a healthy diet, or smoke—on a daily basis.”

While it is true that some diseases are inherited (such as Huntington’s disease, sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis), the truth is that eight out of ten serious illnesses could have been prevented by changes in diet in lifestyle. And the fact is that most medical doctors find that prescribing drugs is a lot easier than instructing patients on how to develop a healthy lifestyle—and I really don’t blame doctors for this sad state of affairs! Thirteen years ago my physical health was horrible—I was morbidly obese and suffered from a multitude of major medical problems. My family practice doctor would load me up with prescription drugs and send me on my way. When I hit my lowest point I decided to turn my life around. I am not a physician, but I do know how to thoroughly research a subject, so I started reading dozens of books on health, exercise and nutrition. Then I went on a healthy diet and started a serious exercise program. The next time I saw my doctor he said I looked fifteen years younger than the last time I was in his office, so I explained what I had done. Before I left his office I asked him, “Why didn’t you tell me to eat healthy and exercise?” He cracked a smile and said, “You know, after telling that to thousands of patients and having them all ignore me I guess I just gave up.” He was probably right—the vast majority of people have to hit bottom before they are willing to even consider changing their diet and lifestyle.

While Disease Proof does discuss DNA, genetics and the Human Genome Project, it is not a difficult book to read (medical jargon is kept to a minimum). “One of the eye-opening revelations provided by the Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2003, is that the genes themselves don’t lead to disease. It’s the interaction of certain high-risk genes and unhealthy environmental influences (including poor diet, physical inactivity, and smoking) that combine to trigger disease.” Dr. Katz discusses how diet and exercise can literally change the behavior of our genes and how heart disease, cancer, stoke and diabetes are not really the cause of death, but rather “the results or effects of how people live.”

Over half of the book is spent on nutrition, and while it does not offer a strict Paleo diet, it is what I would call “Paleo friendly”, i.e., eat a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats and skip the pre-packaged garbage that makes up most of the typical American diet. Dr. Katz wisely observed, “The longer the shelf life of a food product (such as neon-orange cheese puffs), the shorter the shelf life of the person who consumes it regularly.”

I realize that most of the readers of this blog are probably already following a fairly healthy lifestyle, but I am certain you have a lot of family members who could use a bit of a nudge towards healthy living—this book would make a wonderful gift for them! The hardcover edition of Disease Proof retails for $26, but is available from Amazon.com for only $17. The Kindle edition sells for $12. This book was published in September of 2013 and was printed by Hudson Street Press (304 pages).

 

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Paleo Diet: The Proof Is In The Blood Tests

Time For My Annual Physical

Time For My Annual Physical

Because I love my wife and want to spend many more years with her I go to my doctor every November for my annual physical. About a week before the physical I go to a lab to get blood drawn (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Lipid Panel, and Hemogram). The health care group I use is fairly sophisticated so I can see the results of the blood work less than 24 hours after the blood was drawn. If you ever wondered how a Paleo Diet would impact your health I can sum it up in one word: fantastic!

You’ve probably read articles or blog posts from people who claimed that the Paleo Diet caused them to lose weight, gain energy and give them a general feeling of awesomeness—but this is just anecdotal evidence and it doesn’t do much for me. I live in a world of facts. Many diet programs lead to weight loss, but often at the expense of overall health. The placebo effect easily explains the “increased energy” that many people claim comes for their new diet plan. I’ve been on the Paleo Diet for a little over three months and, yes, I have experienced weight loss, increased energy and a significant decrease in recovery time after strenuous exercise—but what impresses me the most are the results of my blood tests!

Before I explain the results I need to set the stage first. Thirteen years ago I was a morbidly obese workaholic and was experiencing more health problems than time would allow me explain here. The doctor I had at the time was a nice guy, but he was content to load me up with prescription drugs and send me on my way. Somehow I came across of copy of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution and it changed my life! I took up cycling, weight lifting and kayaking—and in just a few months I dropped most of my excess weight (and also dropped most of the prescriptions). As I became an endurance athlete I started eating healthier foods and have basically followed the Atkins’ Diet until three months ago.

Switching from the Atkins’ Diet to the Paleo Diet was not a problem at all—basically I just had to give up dairy products and cereal grains. The surgeon who repaired my esophagus back in June had already told me I needed to give up dairy products, and I’ve always felt uncomfortable after eating cereal grains anyway. So, switching to the Paleo Diet was easy.

In the past few months on the Paleo Diet I’ve eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with red meat, fish, turkey, chicken, sausage and bacon (mmm…bacon). In fact, about one-third of my calories now come from fats and protein. So, you have to wonder, what did eating all that meat do to my blood work? Drum roll please… not only did my cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop, but so did my fasting blood sugar level! None of these things were a problem with me before, but the point is that the numbers got even better on the Paleo Diet!

In the spirit of full disclosure I believe that the testing of cholesterol levels is probably the most worthless thing your doctor does (well, except for hanging up that stupid “Food Pyramid” chart in the waiting room). As a group physicians are among the brightest people in the country—but, in general, what they don’t know about nutrition could fill volumes! If your doctor wants to measure something that really impacts your health have them check your homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a common amino acid—high homocysteine levels lead to vascular inflammation and is associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, and folate (more about this in a future article).

 
 

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Cave Wraps: 40 Fast And Easy Paleo Recipes by Ivy Martin

Cave Wraps: 40 Fast And Easy Paleo Recipes by Ivy Martin

Cave Wraps: 40 Fast And Easy Paleo Recipes by Ivy Martin

Like a growing number of athletes, I follow a Paleo Diet—some people refer to it as a “high fat” diet, but I prefer the phrase “nutrient rich” since the emphasis is on vegetables, fruit, nuts and healthy portions of meat. My lovely wife is an incredible cook who can take just about any normal recipe and turn it into something that is both tasty and healthy (we sure have a lot of almond flour, flax meal, coconut oil and raw honey in the kitchen cabinets now). However, my wife works during the day and I am left to fend for myself at lunch—I work in my office at home in the mornings and usually go to my real office in the afternoons. I used to go out to eat at local restaurants for lunch, but I thought it would be easier to stay on my diet if I ate at home. Unfortunately, my culinary skills are pretty much limited to use on a Weber charcoal grill so I started looking for things I could make at home and when I found Cave Wraps: 40 Fast & Easy Paleo Recipes For The Best Damn Wraps Ever by Ivy Martin I felt like I had struck gold!

As the name of the book suggests, there are 40 recipes for making wraps—most of the wraps use slices of thick meat (turkey, chicken, ham, beef, salmon, etc.) to hold the ingredients together instead of bread, but some of the recipes call for large pieces of Romaine lettuce leaves. I’ve made nearly every wrap listed in this book (all by myself) and, to quote the old GEICO commercial, they are “so easy a caveman could do it.” Not only are they easy to make, but they taste fantastic! The Maple, Bacon & Ham Wrap is better that any breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had at a restaurant, and the Apple Festival Turkey Wrap is now my favorite meal! Bacon lovers rejoice—a lot of the recipes call for that blessed ingredient! Other frequently used ingredients include pecans, walnuts, maple syrup, apples, pineapples, coconut, honey, and eggs.

When I started trying to make these wraps I was having trouble finding high quality cut meats to use. It’s hard for me to believe, but some of the healthiest cut meats on the market are sold at Wal-Mart! The Prima Della brand uses whole muscle cut meats and are gluten-free, soy-free, and contain no fillers or MSG. Another good brand is Boar’s Head, but I’ve had trouble finding a store in my area that sells it. When you buy meat for your wraps you will want it cut thick, so tell the folks at the deli counter that you want either number three or number four thickness (on most commercial meat slicers the number one setting is very thin and the number four is about 1/8″ thick).

Cave Wraps: 40 Fast & Easy Paleo Recipes For The Best Damn Wraps Ever by Ivy Martin is a 93-page paperback book and has beautiful full-color photos to go along with every recipe. This book retails for $20, but I only paid $17 for it on Amazon.com. You can buy the Kindle edition for only $9.

If you are not familiar with the Paleo diet I would suggest you read the Paleo Diet for Athletes—this book really changed my life and way of thinking about nutrition.

 
26 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Book Reviews, Sports Nutrition

 

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