It’s no secret that busy adults do not get enough sleep. In fact there are many adults who are trudging through life in a state of chronic sleep deprivation. It’s a badge of honor for some. Have you ever heard a colleague brag that he or she only needs 3 hours of sleep each night? Does this make him/her a super human or just a stupid human? Turns out, it is probably the latter.
While there are many serious chronic health issues that are associated with chronic sleep deprivation (we’ll get to those in a minute), a more insidious problem occurs with just even one night of not enough zzz’s. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night causes decreases in cognitive function. These cognitive problems accumulate over time. The less you sleep, the less smart you are. In fact, in one study of 48 healthy individuals who were limited to either 4 or 6 hours of sleep each night for 14 nights, the decline in cognitive...
In previous posts, we have talked about how important insulin resistance is in your risk for breast cancer recurrence. Insulin resistance is also associated with a condition known as chronic inflammation. This is different from acute inflammation. You are all probably familiar with what happens with acute inflammation since that is a normal body response. Let’s say you cut your hand. Your immune system sends out its army to create an inflammatory response which results in cells that stop the bleeding, fight any potential infection, and start healing the damage. Once the damage is healed, the inflammatory response dies down. That’s acute inflammation and it keeps us healthy.
Chronic inflammation is another story. It happens when there is a low grade irritation that smolders along in your body. The cells that were so useful at fighting infection and healing damage from a cut can actually start to cause damage in...
Most breast cancer survivors want to know what they should be eating after treatment. Unfortunately, when they ask their oncologists about what diet they should follow after treatment the answers generally range from “eat what you want” to “just eat more fruits and veggies.”
I know because this is what you have told me over the many years that I have seen patients as an integrative oncologist. And I have heard it directly from my oncology colleagues. Some just don’t think nutrition is all that important and others are as confused by the research as you are.
Well, as you might have guessed, there is more to the nutrition recommendation than just eat more fruits and veggies. In fact, there is a LOT more you need to know. Part of the confusion comes from docs not really knowing the results of the trials that have been done and the quality of those trials. While there has been some research on...
What are the “best” proteins?
As a breast cancer survivor, you should get enough protein. There have been several studies that show a relationship between protein intake in breast cancer survivors and a lower risk of recurrence. Just how much you should get is dependent on a number of factors but the range should be from 0.8 to 1.5 grams per kg of weight (there are 2.2 pounds in 1 kg). How much you need varies with age and activity level.
But what is the “best” protein to have? Goodness knows chicken can be added to almost anything, but are there better sources of protein that you are overlooking? Probably so. Here are a few for you to consider adding to your meal plans.
Eggs: Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years but we now know they don’t cause high cholesterol or heart disease. Eggs are a great source of protein and come packaged with some fat so they keep you full for a while. ...
Menopause. It just isn’t fair.
Not only do you get all of the lovely side effects of a decreasing supply of estrogen in your body, but your metabolism slows as well. This is when many women notice the slow accumulation of weight. The diet and exercise routine of yesteryear just isn’t cutting it anymore.
This can be especially problematic for breast cancer survivors who may have been thrown into early menopause with therapy or who are on hormone blockers as part of their treatment. Weight gain is a common side effect of chemotherapy as well.
So what’s a girl to do? Mother Nature doesn’t have to win this one, but losing the weight is going to be more difficult that it was before menopause. Just accept that and get to it.
What changes can you make to your diet? Here’s a checklist of things you want to make sure you are doing. The closer you adhere to these, the less...
Hi I’m Dr. Lisa Schwartz. Today I want to let you in on a little secret. There may be sugar hiding in your food and you don’t even know it. Whether you are trying to watch your waistline or just being mindful of consuming more natural and whole foods, you need to know if you are being sabotaged by hidden sugars.
Consuming added sugar in a food can lead to extra calories and an increase in insulin secretion which in some cases increases your risk for breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. So this is important.
It would be really helpful if food ingredient labels had to say “sugar” when they added sugar, but the truth is that sugar has many, many different names. And you may not recognize it in spite of your diligent label reading.
In my last post, I talked about processed foods, what they are, and why we should be avoiding them. One of the big reasons to avoid processed foods is that they...
Hi there! I’m Dr. Lisa Schwartz and today I would like to discuss what is probably the single most important dietary change you can make for your health. And that is cutting out processed food. So in this short video I am going to teach you how to recognize processed food, and you’ll find out why you want to avoid it.
So let’s start with what is meant by “processed food”. Well, it will probably help to contrast processed foods with what I consider to be their opposite. And that is a whole food. Whole foods are things like fruits and vegetables that you find in the produce aisle, whole meats without added sauces, flavoring, or chopped up into something that doesn’t look like it came from nature at all like bologna or hot dogs.
If you do any grocery shopping at all, you will see that grocery stores are laid out with fresh meats and produce on the outer edges of the store. That’s generally...
Hi there! I’m Dr. Lisa Schwartz. I often get asked about the wisdom of eating red meat. So many people love it but have been told they should limit what they eat. They also wonder about the difference between organic meat, grass fed beef, and grain fed beef. So let me address those questions
First, is red meat healthy?
If you were to rate protein sources according to the value they add to the diet, red meat would not be at the top of the list. That would be where vegetable proteins and wild caught, non-predatory, high content omega-3 fish come in. Some examples would be soy, salmon, sardines, herring, and anchovies.
Next on the list would be white meats like chicken and turkey. And yes, in last place, red meats like beef. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have it. You just need to limit how much of it you enjoy. Red meats are considered less healthy than the other options because...
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...
I've got a very special treat for you with this week's post.
If you have been following along with me for a little while and have read a few of these posts, then you know that my goal as a physician is to help patients get to wellness.
That will surely be defined differently for everyone, but it has at least these components: eating well to nourish your body, some physical activity to strengthen your body, and some mental practice to grow your mind.
I have done a little extra training to learn about these components of wellness. I've had the privilege of completing a fellowship in Integrative Medicine under Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona. That experience completely changed my practice and my approach to patient care.
One of the many lessons I took away from that training was how important it is for everyone to have some sort of relaxation practice. You may have heard people talk about meditation or mindfulness and wondered if their feet were firmly planted on the...