The Three Pillars of Health

What does it take to be healthy?  It takes some basic information and some basic habits. Yes, it is that simple.

But often the information you find about being healthy is conflicting and confusing.  Especially when it comes to nutrition, or how much exercise to do, or how to lose weight, or how to deal with thoughts that make you anxious…

That’s why I have sorted through all the noise and broken it down into a simple framework that makes the most sense to me.

All of the healthy practices that I teach follow a plan that I developed based on my years of oncology practice and my Integrative Medicine training.  This is the plan that I recommend for my patients and that I use in my own life every day.  So, if you are wondering if I practice what I preach, I do indeed.

This plan is the Three Pillars of Health and it will help you take control of your life now. The changes you will need to make are organized and the process is...

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To get healthy, don’t juice

juicing smoothies Feb 05, 2020

One of the things that a lot of people do when they try to get healthy is that they start drinking juices and smoothies. And this is not just people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Most of the public thinks that juices and smoothies are healthy.  But are they really?


First, let’s talk about juices.  By juices I mean separating the juices of a fruit or vegetable from the fiber (or pulp) in that fruit or vegetable.  This applies to the 100% all natural juices that you can buy at the grocery store and the juices you can make at home with a juicing machine. Or even by just squeezing the juice out of an orange for example (as in fresh squeezed orange juice).  What you have in a glass of juice is a bunch of vitamins and minerals but also a load of sugar.  And that sugar has no pulp or fiber to slow down its absorption once it hits your stomach.  So, you are taking in a sugar bomb that is slightly more nutritious than a soda....

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Oncotype DX® Score: What Does It Mean?

oncotype dx score Jan 29, 2020

The genes from your breast cancer can tell us whether or not you will benefit from chemotherapy. That is essentially what breast cancer genetic assays like the Oncotype DX® test are all about.


The Chemotherapy Decision


For a lot of women, the question of whether or not they will need chemotherapy looms large after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Months of treatment, nausea, hair loss, fatigue…not something to wish for unless you really need it. But now examining genetic assays of the tumor can guide oncologists in selecting just those patients who are truly going to reduce their risk of recurrence with chemotherapy and excluding those in whom treatment with chemotherapy would be too much treatment.


If you have been diagnosed with early stage invasive breast cancer in the past decade or so, you are probably familiar with some of the genetic assays that are available, and in the US, the Oncotype DX® test is the most commonly used. The Oncotype DX®...

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Triple Negative Breast Cancer: Why this is different?

If you have been told you have triple negative breast cancer, you might not understand what that means with regard to the treatment you will get and your prognosis.  Triple negative breast cancer is in a class by itself because the treatment is different.   

First let’s look at what the term “triple negative” means.  There are three tumor markers that all breast cancers are tested for.  Most breast cancer patients know what these markers are.  Tumors are tested for estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors and for overexpression of HER2 receptors.  The estrogen and progesterone receptors determine whether or not your cancer’s growth is hormone dependent and hence whether or not you will be treated with hormone blockers.  The HER2 status determines whether or not you will receive a year’s worth of a therapy called Herceptin or some other HER2 blocker.  Triple negative tumors do not have the hormone...

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What has sugar got to do with breast cancer?


Hi there!  I am Dr. Lisa Schwartz and today I am going to talk about the impact that sugar consumption can have on cancer and other chronic diseases.  This involves talking about something called the glycemic index and chronic inflammation.


Sugar is a carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates serve as an immediate source of energy for our cells.  When you eat a carbohydrate, it can release its sugar into the bloodstream very quickly or relatively slowly.  This fact alone plays a very important role in determining how healthy that carb will be for you. 


So carbohydrates can be categorized according to how quickly they release sugar into the bloodstream.  A spoonful of table sugar gets absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly and rapidly raises blood sugar levels. 


As a consequence, your body releases a big batch of insulin to bring the blood sugar down to a normal level.  Insulin takes the sugar out of the bloodstream and puts it...

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Making Changes That Stick

Uncategorized Jan 08, 2020

Have you wondered why well-intentioned, intelligent, motivated people cannot keep New Year’s resolutions?

I mean you had a reason for making the resolution.  There is something you want to change in your life that gives you pain. And that pain is not going away until you change.

Somewhere around 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail in the first month.  Only about 8% of people actually keep their resolutions. So know that you are not alone if your New Year's resolution has already gone by the wayside.

What is the secret to the people who manage to commit to change and actually follow through?

Well, I certainly don’t know all of the secrets, but here are a few that behavioral science can back up and that you can remember.

1.     Make the change a habit. This sounds easy, but it requires that you have a trigger and an action that follows that trigger that you can consistently do. For example, if you want...

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The Ketogenic Diet and Cancer

Is there any benefit to a ketogenic diet for a cancer patient? That’s a question that some researchers have begun asking. Theoretically, there may be reasons to consider a ketogenic diet, and we have some evidence in primary brain tumors that being on a ketogenic diet might be helpful. To get to the heart of why this might be so, researchers are asking why the ketogenic diet seems to be especially helpful in treating one type of illness involving the brain, and that is epilepsy or a seizure disorder. (To review what a ketogenic diet is and how it is helpful for weight loss, read parts I and II of this series)


The Beginnings of the Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy


To talk about why the ketogenic diet may be useful in the treatment of epilepsy, we have to look at this diet’s cousin, fasting. Short term fasting has been used since Hippocrates (around 400 BCE) for the treatment of various ailments including seizure disorders. Like the ketogenic diet, fasting causes...

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Should you go keto to lose some weight?

The ketogenic diet has become very popular for weight loss. With good reason. If you can stick to it, it is an effective way to lose weight. In the last post we covered exactly what the ketogenic diet is and the many metabolic benefits of nutritional ketosis including the impact it can have on several chronic health conditions. To get all of that information, just click here.


Today though, we are going to cover the most common reason people think about going keto and that is to lose a little weight.


Why does keto work for weight loss?


Yes, the ketogenic diet does work for weight loss. There are several reasons for this.


  1. You are paying attention to what you eat.
  2. With fewer carbs you will lose some water weight in the first week or two.
  3. Eating fats and protein leaves you feeling fuller than consuming carbohydrates.
  4. Some people really do need to limit their carbs because their body has become “carbohydrate intolerant.”


The first reason...

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Should You Go Keto? (Ketogenic Diet)

ketogenic diet Nov 12, 2019

The ketogenic diet gets a lot of coverage in the health media. And that coverage is well-deserved. There have been very few dietary interventions that have the impact on blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight that the ketogenic diet does. Yet, the “medical establishment” still frowns upon its use largely because it requires that you consume fat. And for at least a generation, we have been misled by the unsubstantiated claims that low-fat diets are the healthy way to eat. First, let’s take a look at exactly what the ketogenic diet is. Then we’ll cover the pros and cons of the ketogenic diet with regard to heart health, diabetes, weight loss, and cancer.


What exactly is the ketogenic diet?


Most of you can probably answer “low-carb” right away.  But the real health benefits come from being on what has been called a “well-formulated ketogenic diet” and not just low-carb. The well-formulated...

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Are You at Risk for Broken Bones if You Are On an Aromatase Inhibitor?

This is the second post on bone health and why it is so important for breast cancer survivors.  In the first post, we covered the causes of bone loss, who is at risk, and what you can do to keep your bones strong. To read that post, just click here, and then you can come back to this one.


As you were going through breast cancer treatment, you knew to ask about the side effects of the chemotherapy and radiation, how long it would take to recover from surgery, and when you would be able to get back to a normal schedule.


But, as most of you have found out, the treatment can have subtle and long-term effects that you might not have thought of. Bone loss is one of those effects that can be overlooked. But you can’t blame treatment completely. Bone loss happens to us all as we age even if you are not a breast cancer survivor.


How do you know whether or not you have strong bones?  The easiest and most accurate way to know your bone strength is with a...

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