15. December 2013 · Comments Off on Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins · Categories: Latest News

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins

by Dr Mark Hyman

Do vitamins kill people? How many people have died from taking vitamins? Should you stop your vitamins?

It depends. To be exact, it depends on the quality of the science, and the very nature of scientific research.  It is very hard to know things exactly through science. The waste bin of science is full of fallen heroes like Premarin, Vioxx and Avandia (which alone was responsible for 47,000 excess cardiac deaths since it was introduced in 1999).

That brings us to the latest apparent casualty, vitamins.  The recent media hype around vitamins is a classic case of drawing the wrong conclusions from good science.

Remember how doctors thought that hormone replacement therapy was the best thing since sliced bread and recommended it to every single post-menopausal woman? These recommendations were predicated on studies that found a correlation between using hormones and reduced risk of heart attacks.  But correlation does not prove cause and effect. It wasn’t until we had controlled experiments like the Women’s Health Initiative that we learned Premarin (hormone replacement therapy) was killing women, not saving them.

A new study “proving” that vitamins kill people is hitting front pages and news broadcasts across the country.  This study does not prove anything.

This latest study from the Archives of Internal Medicine of 38,772 women found that “several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality”.  The greatest risk was from taking iron after menopause (which no doctor would ever recommend in a non-menstruating human without anemia).

The word “may” is critical here, because science is squirrelly. You only get the answers to the questions you ask.  And in this case, they asked if there was an association between taking vitamins and death in older woman.  This type of study is called an observational study or epidemiological study.  It is designed to look for or “observe” correlations. Studies like these look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations. All doctors and scientists know that this type of study does not prove cause and effect.

Why Scientists are Confused

At a recent medical conference, one of most respected scientists of this generation, Bruce Ames, made a joke.  He said that epidemiologists (people who do population-based observational studies) have a difficult time with their job and are easily confused. Dr. Ames joked that in Miami epidemiologists found everybody seems to be born Hispanic but dies Jewish. Why? Because if you looked at population data in the absence of the total history and culture of Florida during a given time, this would be the conclusion you would draw. This joke brings home the point that correlation does not equal causation.

Aside from the fact that it flies in the face of an overwhelming body of research that proves Americans are nutrient deficient as a whole, and that nutritional supplements can have significant impact in disease prevention and health promotion, the recent study on vitamins is flawed in similar ways.

How Vitamins Save Money and Save Lives

Overwhelming basic science and experimental data support the use of nutritional supplements for the prevention of disease and the support of optimal health.  The Lewin Group estimated a $24 billion savingsover 5 years if a few basic nutritional supplements were used in the elderly.  Extensive literature reviews in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine also support this view.  Interventional trials have proven benefit over and over again.

The concept that nutritional supplements “could be harmful” to women flies in the face of all reasonable facts from both intervention trials and outcome studies published over the past 40 years. Recent trials published within the last two years indicate that modest nutritional supplementation in middle age women found their telomeres didn’t shorten. Keeping your teleomeres (the little end caps on your DNA) long is the hallmark of longevity and reduced risk of disease.

A plethora of experimental controlled studies — which are the gold standard for proving cause and effect — over the last few years found positive outcomes in many diseases. These include the use of calcium and vitamin D in women with bone loss; folic acid in people with cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous lesions); iron for anemics, B-complex vitamins to improve cognitive function, zinc; vitamin C, E, and carotenoids to lower the risk of macular degeneration, and folate and vitamin B12 to treat depression. This is but a handful of examples. There are many more.

Why Most Vitamin Studies are Flawed

There is another important thing to understand about clinical trials that review the utility of vitamins in the treatment of disease. The studies that show harm are often designed like drugs studies. For example, a study may use a high dose of vitamin E and see what happens.  This is actually a prescient example also explored in recent media. Studies recently found that high doses of vitamin E and selenium didn’t prevent prostate cancer and may increase risk. What this study didn’t explore properly was the true biochemical nature of vitamin E and selenium. These nutrients work as antioxidants by donating an electron to protect or repair a damaged molecule or DNA. Once this has happened the molecules  become oxidants that can cause more damage if not supported by the complex family of antioxidants used in the human body. It’s sort of like passing a hot potato.  If you don’t keep passing it you will get burned. This study simply failed to take this into account.

Nature doesn’t work by giving you only one thing.  We all agree that broccoli is good for you, but if that were all you ate you would die in short order. The same is true of vitamins. Nutrients are not drugs and they can’t be studied as drugs. They are part of a biological system where all nutrients work as a team to support your biochemical processes.

Michael Jordon may have been the best basketball player in history, but he couldn’t have won six NBA titles without a team.

Obesity is Linked to Malnutrition

The tragedy of media attention on poor studies like these is that they undermine possible solutions to some of the modern health epidemics we are facing today, and they point attention away from the real drivers of disease.

Take the case of obesity for example. Paradoxically Americans are becoming both more obese and more nutrient deficient at the same time. Obese children eating processed foods are nutrient depleted and increasingly get scurvy and rickets, diseases we thought were left behind in the 19th and 20th centuries.

After treating over 15,000 patients and performing extensive nutritional testing on them, it is clear Americans suffer from widespread nutrient deficiencies including vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, folate, and omega 3 fats.  This is supported by the government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on our population. In fact 13% of our population is vitamin C deficient.

Scurvy in Americans in 2011? Really? But if all you eat is processed food – and many Americans do— then you will be like the British sailors of the 17th century and get scurvy.

Unfortunately negative studies on vitamins get huge media attention, while the fact that over 100,000 Americans die and 2.2 million suffer serious adverse reactions from medication use in hospitals when used as prescribed is quietly ignored.  Did you know that anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen kill more people every year than AIDS or asthma or leukemia?

Flaws with the “Vitamins Kill You” Study

So what’s the bottom line on this study on vitamins in older white women in Iowa?

After a careful reading of this new study a number of major flaws were identified.

  1. Hormone replacement was not taken into consideration. Overall the women who took vitamins were a little healthier and probably more proactive about their health, which led them to use hormone replacement more often (based on recommendations in place when this study was done). 13.5% of vitamin users also used hormones, while 7.2% of non-vitamin users took hormones.   Remember the Women’s Health Initiative Study I mentioned above? It was a randomized controlled trial that found hormone therapy dramatically increases risk of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, and death.  In this Iowa women’s study on vitamins, the degree of the effect of harm noted from the vitamins was mostly insignificant for all vitamins except iron (see below) and calcium (which showed benefit contradicting many other studies).  In fact, the rates of death in this study were lower than predicted for women using hormone therapy, so in fact the vitamins may have been protective but the benefit of vitamins was drowned out because of the harmful effects of hormones in the vitamin users.
  2. Iron should not be given to older women. Older women should never take iron unless they have anemia. Iron is a known oxidant and excess iron causes oxidative stress and can lead to cardiovascular disease and more. This is no surprise, and should not make you stop taking a multivitamin. If you are an older woman, you simply need to look for one without iron. Most women’s vitamins do not contain it anyway.
  3. Patient background was ignored. In this observational study it was not known why people started supplements. Perhaps it was because of a decline in their health and thus they may have had a higher risk of death or disease that wasn’t associated with the vitamins they were taking at all. If you had a heart attack or cancer and then started taking vitamins, of course you are more likely to die than people without heart attacks or cancer.
  4. The population was not representative. The study looked only at older white women – clearly not representative of the whole population. This makes it impossible to generalize the conclusions.  Especially if you are an obese young African American male eating the average American diet.
  5. Forms and quality of vitamins were not identified. There was no accounting for the quality or forms or dosages of the vitamins used.  Taking vitamins that have biologically inactive or potentially toxic forms of nutrients may limit any benefit observed.  For example synthetic folic acid can cause cancer, while natural folate is protective.
  6. A realistic comparison between vitamins and other medications as cause of death was not made. 0ver 100,000 people die every year from properly prescribed medication in hospitals. These are not mistakes, but drugs taken as recommended.  And that doesn’t include out of hospital deaths.  TheCDC recently released a report that showed in 2009, the annual number of deaths (37,485) caused by improper/overprescribing and poor to non-existent monitoring of the use of tranquilizers, painkillers and stimulant drugs by American physicians now exceeds both the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents (36,284) and firearms (31,228).

In short, this recent study confuses not clarifies, and it has only served up a dose of media frenzy and superficial analysis. It has left the consumer afraid, dazed, bewildered and reaching for their next prescription drug.

Please, be smart, don’t stop taking your vitamins.  Every American needs a good quality multivitamin, vitamin D and omega-3 fat supplement. It is part of getting a metabolic tune up and keeping your telomeres long!

For more information on getting a metabolic tune up see www.drhyman.com.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you think about the recent media hype regarding vitamins?

Why do you think vitamins get this kind of media while pharmaceuticals, which have a much larger impact, are often ignored?

Why do you think the decades of research showing positive effects of vitamins is hidden?

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD




About Dr Mark Hyman

MARK HYMAN, MD is dedicated to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illnessthrough a groundbreaking whole-systems medicine approach called Functional Medicine. He is a family physician, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in his field. Through his private practice, education efforts, writing, research, and advocacy, he empowers others to stop managing symptoms and start treating the underlying causes of illness, thereby tackling our chronic-disease epidemic. More aboutDr. Hyman or on Functional Medicine. Click here to view all Press and Media Releases

View all posts by Dr Mark Hyman →


27. November 2013 · Comments Off on Fat does Not Make You Fat · Categories: Latest News

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Fat Does Not Make You Fat

If you’re feeling completely confused about whether you should cut fat from your diet, you are not alone.  But here’s the bottom line: fat does not make you fat or sick.

So, why do so many people believe that fat is bad for you and causes heart attacks?  This all started in the Dr. Key’s Seven Countries Study decades ago that examined heart risk based on lifestyle and dietary habits.  He found that in the countries where people ate more fat—especially saturated fat—there were more cases of heart disease, and he concluded that the fat caused the disease.  But here’s the problem with this study: correlation is not causation.  Just because both fat intake and heart disease were higher among the same population doesn’t mean the heart disease was caused by the fat consumption.  Here’s another way to look at it: Every day, you wake up and the sun comes up, but although these events happen at the same time, you waking up doesn’t cause the sun to come up.  A study that observed this would show a 100% correlation between these two events, but it would be wrong to conclude that you caused the sun to rise.

Because of studies like this, we became sidetracked into believing that saturated fat causes heart disease.  But in fact, we are now learning that sugar is the true culprit, not fat.  A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found there was no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease.  And a recent editorial in the British Journal of Medicine hammers home the same point and shatters the myth that fat causes obesity and heart disease.  Researchers have found that, while it’s true that lowering saturated fat in the diet may lower total cholesterol, it’s actually lowering the good kind of cholesterol, the light, fluffy, buoyant LDL that’s not a problem.  When people eat less fat, they tend to eat more starch or sugar instead, and this actually increases their levels of dangerous cholesterol, the small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks.

In fact, studies show that 75% of people who end up in the emergency room with a heart attack have normal overall cholesterol levels.  What they do have is pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.  So, what’s the conclusion here?  Eating a diet with good quality fat and protein prevents and even reverses diabetes and pre-diabetes (diabesity).  And eating sugar and refined carbs cause diabesity.

So, I encourage you to look at the issue of fat and sugar in a totally different way.  Don’t cut out the fat; enjoy it!

Eat good fats. Here are my favorite sources of fat:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts—walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (one recent study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 percent)
  • Seeds—pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp
  • Extra virgin olive oil (a large study showed that those who consumed 1 liter a week reduced heart attacks by 30 percent)
  • Enjoy grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products (I recommend the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to eating good quality animal products that are good for you and good for the planet).
  • You can even eat saturated fat like extra virgin coconut butter, which is a great plant-based source of saturated fat that has many benefits.  It fuels your mitochondria, is anti-inflammatory, and it doesn’t cause problems with your cholesterol.  In fact, it may help resolve them.  I have many diabetic patients whose health improves when I get them on diet that’s higher in fat.

I was just talking to researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center who told me that the low fat recommendations for diabetics promoted by the American Diabetic Association has in fact been harmful, bad advice making diabetes worse!  Their new research shows that diabetics should be switching to a diet that’s about 30% fat, 30% protein, and about 40% low starch vegetables and fruits (carbohydrates).  That turns their previous advice on its head.

So here’s the take-home message: Fat doesn’t make you fat.  Sugar makes you fat.  Eating good fats can actually help you stay healthy.  So, eat good quality fats and real, whole, fresh food, and don’t worry about it.

Now, I’d like to hear from you.  Send in your comments and share your experiences.  How have you noticed fat and sugar affecting you?  What happened with your cholesterol when you changed your diet?  I encourage you to share this newsletter with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.  And submit your questions so that, next week, I may make a House Call to you.

04. June 2013 · Comments Off on Chiropractic Beats Epidural Injections for Disc Herniations · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Lower Back Pain

Chiropractic Beats Epidural Injections for Disc Herniations

Chiropractic adjustments were just as effective as epidural injections for patients with back pain in a new study — without the risks and at lower cost.

The findings show that chiropractic can significantly reduce pain in patients with lumbar disc herniation, and is less expensive than medical treatment.

Lumbar epidural injections are frequently used for back pain and sciatica in patients with lumbar disc herniation, failed back surgery syndrome, and spinal stenosis. During the procedure, a physician injects a high dose of pain medication, and sometimes steroids, into the area of lumbar spine around the damaged nerve. This temporarily reduces inflammation and pain.

Although the injections are widely used, controversy lingers due to the lack of a studies with placebo controls, and questions about the effects of steroids versus anesthetic alone. Side effects of steroids include a weakening of muscles and spinal bones around the affected nerve and a  disruption of the body’s natural hormone balance. It’s also unclear whether epidural injections are more effective than other conservative treatments for lumbar disc herniation.

While a number of studies have established the efficacy of chiropractic for low-back pain, fewer have tested its comparative effective with other treatments for lumbar disc herniation.

In a new study from the Journal of Manual and Physiological Therapeutics, researchers from Switzerland compared the effects of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and epidural nerve root injections (NRI). The study included 102 with symptomatic, MRI-confirmed lumbar disc herniation who were treated with either SMT or NRI.

After one month of treatment, both groups experienced significant improvements. Of the patients under chiropractic care, 76.5% said they were “much better” or  “better” compared to 62.7% of NRI patients. Sixty percent of chiropractic patients had a significant reduction in pain compared to 53% of NRI patients. These slight differences were not statistically significant.

While none of the chiropractic patients received surgery, three of the NRI patients eventually opted for an operation.

Since the treatments were considered equally effective, the cost analysis became even more important for comparing both treatments, the researchers pointed out.  On average, one month of chiropractic adjustments was less expensive than NRI ($558 vs. $729). Their analysis included only the “minimum cost” of NRIs, and did not take into account other costs that are frequently tacked on like additional consultations with clinicians, multiple injections, or possible surgery. Additionally, treatment cost for chiropractic patients may have been slightly higher than normal since they were required to receive in MRI to be in the study. Many chiropractic patients do not receive MRI because imaging guidelines do not recommend MRIs for patients with lumbar disc herniation in most cases. In contrast, MRIs are typically performed before injections or other more invasive procedures.

Although randomized trials are needed to confirm these results, the authors concluded that, “There were no significant differences in outcomes between the more universally accepted treatment procedure of NRI compared to SMT.”

This study suggest that patients can experience substantial relief from chiropractic care without worrying about the side effects of steroids or drugs. It may even save them money, since research suggests that chiropractic patients have lower annual medical costs compared to patients under traditional care.



Peterson, CK, et al. Symptomatic Magnetic Resonance Imaging-confirmed lumbar disk herniation patients: a comparative effectiveness prospective observational study of 2 age- and sex-matched cohorts treated with either high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulative therapy or imaging-guided lumbar nerve root injections. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2013;May 22.


27. March 2013 · Comments Off on Aerobic Exercise Programming for Patients With Metabolic Syndrome · Categories: Latest News, Nutrition, Wellness

Aerobic Exercise Programming for Patients With Metabolic Syndrome

By K. Jeffrey Miller, DC, DABCO

Metabolic syndrome is a multifaceted condition that requires a multifaceted approach to treatment. The syndrome is made up of five conditions; hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia and obesity. Individually, these conditions are significant health problems; together, their effect can be devastating.



Most health care providers understand the benefits of exercise, and often suggest patients exercise and lose weight. However, minimal (if any) instructions are typically provided with this directive. In all fairness to the doctor giving the weight-loss directive, exercise programming is not a subject taught or emphasized in school. This means there is a gap to bridge for clinicians treating patients with metabolic syndrome.

metabolic syndromeA bridge for the gap is offered here through instruction in aerobic exercise programming. Aerobic training is the easiest type of exercise to begin, and has the greatest effect on weight loss and controlling obesity. Other fitness components, such as flexibility, strength training, etc., can be added in once an aerobic base has been established.


Regardless of the patient’s physical status at the beginning of a program, a thorough physical examination is necessary. The examination should include heart, lung and blood pressure assessment. An ECG and general lab work should also be performed in order to clear the way for an aerobic conditioning plan.

Pulse rate, body weight and circumferential measurements of the neck, arms, waist, hips and thighs should also be recorded. The waist-to-hip ratio should be calculated from waist and hip measurements. (Table 1) These baseline numbers will serve as the reference for improvement throughout the program.


Table 1: Calculating and Interpreting Waist-to-Hip RatioWaist measurement: circumference of the body at the waist, measured midway between the lowest ribs and the crest of the ilium in inches

Hip measurement: circumference of the body at the widest point of the hips (greater trochanter area) in inches

Waist-to-hip ratio: The waist measurement is then divided by the hip measurement. The resulting number for men should be less than .90; the resulting number for women should be less than .80

Mode of Exercise


When most people think of aerobic exercise, they picture aerobic dance classes. There are many other choices. Table 2 lists several types of aerobic exercise readily available to most patients.

Frequency / Rest

Some modes of aerobic exercise can be performed daily. Walking is the best example. It is low impact and requires minimal training or equipment. Other modes of exercise cannot be performed daily and require a lower frequency. Running is the best example. It is high impact and requires more training. Days of exercise must be mixed with days of rest.

Strenuous aerobic exercise can be performed every other day or in patterns, such as two days of exercise followed by a day of rest, or three days of exercise followed by a day of rest. Exercise can also be recommended as a number of sessions per week. The patient can be instructed to exercise at least five days a week, with the patient selecting the days that best fit their weekly schedule.


Table 2: Modes of Aerobic ExerciseAerobic dance classes
Cycling (road)
Cycling (stationary)
Dancing (multiple types)
Elliptical trainers
Jumping rope
Rowing (boat)
Rowing (machine)
Running (road)
Running (treadmill)
Ski machines
Stair climbing (actual stairs)
Stair climbing (step machine)
Walking (outdoors)
Walk / run intervals
Walking (the mall / track)
Walking (treadmill)
Water aerobics

Patients who are also involved in other types of exercise can alternate days between those exercises and aerobic exercise. The alternation of activities provides a degree of rest for the body, even if some form of exercise is performed daily by altering activities and body regions exercised.


Exercise frequency must also be planned beyond weekly sessions. The number of weeks the patient should exercise before the frequency and overall exercise program are reassessed must be considered from the start. Reassessment should occur in four- to 12-week intervals depending upon the patient’s condition and goals. Patients who are just beginning a program or who are returning from an injury should be reassessed frequently (4-6 weeks). Patients who have been exercising for longer periods and are in better shape do not require reassessment as frequently (6-12 weeks).

Duration / Distance

The length of an exercise session can be measured in time or distance. Time is the most practical method. Walking 20 minutes sounds better than walking 1mile. This is more encouraging and seems more attainable to the patient, especially the novice exerciser.

Since schedules and daily activities are tracked by time, it is easier for patients to plan exercise based on time. This is especially important for patients who are not used to exercising. Patients know immediately how to plan for 30 minutes of exercise, but may not know initially how long it may take them to walk a mile or bike 5 miles.

Tracking time is also more practical when aerobic equipment does not have the capability to track distance, the tracking mechanism is broken or the mode of exercise does not result in measurable displacement (water aerobics, jumping rope).

Exercise Intensity

There are two simple rules for determining appropriate intensity. The rule for determining minimal intensity is that the patient must be sweating within the first 10 minutes of exercise. If the patient is not sweating at this point, the intensity is too low. The rule for determining maximal intensity is that the patient must be able to carry on a conversation while exercising. If the patient cannot converse readily, the intensity is too high.


Table 3: Determining Maximum Heart Rate for Aerobic ExerciseDetermining the maximum heart rate for a 40-year-old male with a resting heart rate of 70 and an exercise goal of weight reduction and fat burning is accomplished as follows:

Resting heart rate: 70 beats per minute (bpm)

Maximum heart rate: Patient’s age subtracted from 220 (220-40) = 180 bpm

Resting heart rate subtracted from maximum heart rate (180 – 70) = 110

To find the heart rate required to burn fat, multiply 100 x .70 (70 percent) =77

The number based on the goal-percentage is then added to the resting heart rate: 77 + 70 = 147 bpm

Thus, the target heart rate during exercise for the patient in question is 147 bpm

An additional method for determining intensity is monitoring target heart rate. Monitoring target heart rate helps assure the patient that their exercise goals are being met. To determine a patient’s target heart rate, subtract the patient’s age from 220. Then subtract the patient’s resting heart rate from this number.


Once the above number is determined, the exercise goal can be considered. To burn fat, the number is usually multiplied by 60-70 percent. To build endurance and stamina, the number is usually multiplied by 80 percent. Then add the patient’s resting heart rate to determine the final number. (Table 3)


The final step in aerobic exercise is to keep track of activity and progress. The patient should record the dates and duration of each exercise session. The record will later serve as a reminder to the patient of how far they have progressed, and it will help the doctor track patient compliance and progress.

While these suggestions are intended to help the doctor address metabolic syndrome through aerobic exercise, the method of exercise programming recommended here can apply to almost any patient. For a sample travel card to assist with exercise programming and record-keeping, visit my website, www.examdoc.com.




  • Byrns CD, Wild SH. The Metabolic Syndrome and Primary Care. Wiley; Hoboken, NJ, 2007.
  • American Council on Exercise. ACE Personal Trainer Manual, American Council on Exercise; San Diego, CA, 1997.
  • Baechle TR, Earle RW. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd Edition. National Strength and Conditioning Association; Lincoln, NE, 2008.
  • Bryant CX, Franklin BA, Conviser JM. Exercise Testing and Program Design: A Fitness Professional’s Handbook. Healthy Learning; Monterey, CA, 2002.
28. November 2012 · Comments Off on Tips to Achieve Wellness, Improved Health · Categories: Latest News, Wellness

Tips to Achieve Wellness, Improved Health

Forget about health fads, gimmicks and diet books that come and go as quick as the latest fashion trends, scientists say that wellness is ultimately the key to good health. Although there is no universally accepted definition for wellness, essentially it means “a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being,” says Charles B. Corbin of Arizona State University, acknowledged as the father of the conceptual physical education movement.

Wellness includes not only having sound physical and mental health, but also encompasses financial, mental, medical, intellectual, physical, occupational, social and environmental dimensions too. Wellness is an active process of always striving to achieve a more successful life, and the following tips aim to help you led a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

  1. Eat nutritious foods. Instead of snacking on junk food throughout the day, try fruit or vegetables. It’s OK to indulge in some unhealthy fare every once in a while, but be sure to make those food occasional treats and not a part of your daily diet.
  2. Exercise. Exercise is key to achieving good health. If you have any health issues, consult with your physician to come up with an exercise plan that will be ideal for you. And if you don’t exercise regularly, start slowly.

Walking is a great activity for exercise-newbies. To start off with, try walking briskly for 30 to 45 minutes, three to five times a week. If that is too much for you to complete in the beginning, try breaking down the exercise into short bouts throughout the day. For example, try walking for 10 minutes three times a day, 15 minutes twice a day and so on until you build up to 30 consecutive minutes.

Stress Reduction. Finding constructive ways of dealing with stressful situations is another key factor in achieving good health. When you mind relaxes, your body will follow suit. The following relaxation techniques aim to help you successfully deal with stressful thoughts or situations.

1.     Progressive Relaxation. Tense individual muscle groups for several seconds and then release them. This allows your muscles to gradually relax, reducing tension and anxiety.

2.     Deep Breathing. Next time you feel stressed, try deep breathing. Sit in a comfortable position and take measured breaths. Inhale while counting from one to four and exhale while counting from four to one. Repeat until you feel calmer. Deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen in the body and allows you to relax.

3.     Visualization. If you find that you’re thinking anxious thoughts, use your imagination to focus on positive, healing images. Find a comfortable position, shut your eyes and visualize a scene or place that you associate with safety and relaxation. You can imagine whatever you wish, as long as it is calming to you.

4.     Thought Stopping. When you notice you’re having negative thoughts or are beating yourself up over something or someone, focus on those thoughts for a few minutes, and let them go. Then try focusing on something positive.

12. November 2012 · Comments Off on How to Rewire Your Brain to End Food Cravings · Categories: Latest News, Nutrition

How to Rewire Your Brain to End Food Cravings


I’m a food addict. We all are. Our brains are biologically driven to seek and devour high-calorie, fatty foods. The difference is that I have learned how to control those primitive parts of my brain. Anyone can this if they know how.

In this article, I will share three steps to help you counteract those primitive parts of your brain that have you chasing high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods. But before you can update your brain’s biological software, you’ve got to understand why it developed in the first place.

Calories = Survival

The brain’s desire to binge on rich food is a genetic holdover from the days of hunter-gatherers. Given what scientists know today about our early ancestors it makes sense that our brains are hardwired to fixate on high-calorie foods.

It’s a survival mechanism. Eating as many calories as possible, whenever possible, allowed our ancestors to store excess calories as fat and survive lean times. That approach worked well for 2.4 million years, but today it’s making us sick and fat.

That’s because our brains haven’t evolved as fast as our food environment. The human brain evolved over 2.5 million years ago. And, with the exception of the last 10,000 years, people only ate animals they could hunt and wild-plants they could gather.

Imagine if you could only eat what you caught or picked! The variety of foods hunter-gatherers ate paled in comparison to the 40,000 different food items we can buy in the average big-box grocery store today.(1)

No cinnamon buns for them!

And whereas we have easy access to food 24/7, drive-thru meals were not an option for hunter-gatherers. Not to mention that hunting and gathering was hard work. Early humans expended lots of calories acquiring their food, so they needed to eat high-calorie foods to offset the loss.

The average hunter-gatherer got up to 60 percent of his calories from animal foods such as muscle meat, fat and organ meat, and the other 40 percent from plants.(2)

That balance between protein and carbohydrates in the diet is where the problem lies, but it’s not what you think. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, but they are the single most important nutrient for long-term health and weight loss.

But I’m not talking about bagels and donuts. I’m talking about plant foods that more closely resemble what our ancestors ate. Hunter-gatherers ate fruit, tubers, seeds, and nuts. These are whole foods. They are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and disease- and weight-busting colorful phytochemicals.

They also take time to digest. Therefore, they raise blood sugar slowly, which balances metabolism and offers a steady stream of energy. Whole foods have all the right information and turn on all the right genes.

But the past 10,000 years saw the advent of both agriculture and industrialization. And, in the blink of an eye (by evolutionary standards), the human diet got turned upside down. Today, 60 percent of our calories come from things that hunter-gatherers wouldn’t even recognize as food.

The bulk of those items—cereal grains, sugary drinks, refined oils and dressings—are simple carbohydrates.(3) The primitive brain sees an endless supply of easy energy. Left unchecked, our bodies pay the price. The result is a two-fronted epidemic of obesity and diabetes in our country—what I call diabesity.

The Blood Sugar Cascade

When you eat simple carbohydrates, whether as sugar or as starch, they pass almost instantaneously from the gut into the bloodstream. Within seconds blood sugar levels start to rise. To counter the increase in sugar, the body releases insulin. Insulin is the key that unlocks the cells and allows sugar to enter. As sugar enters the cells, the amount of sugar in the blood declines and the body restores homeostasis.

An abundance of simple sugars in the diet goads the body into releasing more and more insulin. Eventually, the cellular locks get worn down from overuse. Like a key that’s lost its teeth, insulin loses its ability to easily open the cellular door.

The cells become numb to the effects of insulin. As a result, the body pumps out more and more of the hormone to keep its blood sugar levels in check. Eventually, this cycle leads to a dangerous condition called insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance—at the root of diabesity—causes you to gain belly fat, raises your blood pressure, messes up your cholesterol, makes you infertile, kills your sex drive, makes you depressed, tired, and demented, and even causes cancer.

Three Ways to Reprogram your Brain

Luckily there are ways to rewire the primitive parts of your brain by making good food choices. Here are three ways to get started. For more suggestions on how to wrestle control from your reptilian brain, see Chapter 15 of The Blood Sugar Solution.

  • Balance blood sugar. Blood sugar highs and lows drive primitive food cravings. If you get famished between meals, that’s a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. When blood sugar is low, you’ll eat anything. To better balance blood sugar, eat a small meal or snack that includes healthy protein, like seeds or nuts, every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Eliminate liquid calories and artificial sweeteners. Early humans didn’t reach for soda or fruit juices when they got thirsty. Sodas are full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. Processed fruit juices are awash in sugar. Try sticking with water and green tea. Green tea contains plant chemicals that are good for your health. And, last but not least, don’t succumb to the diet-drink trap. The artificial sweeteners in diet drinks fool the body into thinking it is ingesting sugar, which creates the same insulin spike as regular sugar.
  • Eat a high-quality protein at breakfast. Ideally, you’re eating quality protein at every meal, but, if you need to prioritize one meal, choose breakfast. Studies show that waking up to a healthy protein, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters or a protein shake (see my UltraShake recipe) help people lose weight, reduce cravings, and burn calories.

Ultimately, you may not control your genes but you do control what and how you eat. Since taking control and changing my diet, my brain no longer caves in to the cravings and urgings that seduce the reptilian brain. The most powerful tool you have to transform your health is your fork! Use it well and you will thrive.

To learn more please see The Blood Sugar Solution. Get one book or get two and give one to someone you love – you might be saving their life. When you purchase the book from this link you will automatically receive access to the following special bonuses:

  • Special Report—Diabetes and Alzheimer’s: The Truth About “Type 3 Diabetes” and How You Can Avoid It.
  • More Delicious Recipes: 15 Additional Ways to Make The Blood Sugar Solution as Tasty as It’s Healthy!
  • Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Nutrition Coaching – FREE for 30 days!
  • Hour 1 of The Blood Sugar Solution Workshop DVD

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Do you binge eat?
Is your diet comprised of fast foods and sugar?
Do you drink soda and add artificial sweeteners to your beverages?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

(1) “What to Eat,” Marion Nestle, p 17
(2) “Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets,” L Cordain, et al American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71
(3) “Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets,” L Cordain, et al American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71

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About Dr Mark Hyman

MARK HYMAN, MD is dedicated to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illness through a groundbreaking whole-systems medicine approach called Functional Medicine. He is a family physician, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in his field. Through his private practice, education efforts, writing, research, and advocacy, he empowers others to stop managing symptoms and start treating the underlying causes of illness, thereby tackling our chronic-disease epidemic. More about Dr. Hyman or on Functional Medicine. Click hereto view all Press and Media Releases

27. June 2012 · Comments Off on Risk factors for medical complication after spine surgery. · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News, Lower Back Pain

Risk factors for medical complication after spine surgery: a multivariate analysis of 1,591 patients.  The Spine Journal; 2012; 12: 197–206. Lee MJ, MD et al.
A multivariate analysis of prospectively collected data to determine significant risk factors for complications for all Pts (n=1,591) who underwent spine surgery (cervical, thoracic, & lumbar) in our 2 institutions at the University of Washington – Jan 1, 2003 to Dec 31, 2004.  Pts were followed for at least 2 yrs after surgery.
The cumulative incidences of complication after spine surgery per organ system are as follows:
Cardiac = 8.4%;
Pulmonary = 13%;
GI = 3.9%;
Neurological = 7.35%;
Hematological = 10.75%;
Urological = 9.18%.
Total Complication Rate: 52.58%.
The occurrence of cardiac or respiratory complications after spine surgery was significantly associated with death within 2 yrs: 4.11 fold increase of death with cardiac complications, 10.76 fold increase of death with pulmonary complications.
Surgical invasiveness & age were significant risk factors for complications in five of the six organ systems evaluated.

Commentary: This chilling review of the complications form spinal surgeries demonstrates that there are many and frequent serious risks to these invasive procedures. These invasive surgeries, while being effective in appropriate patients, are neither simple nor necessarily benign and are associated with significant serious morbidity or mortality. The statistic that the total complication rate is 52.58% is shocking. It is also worth noting that the University of Washington’s Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is regarded as an excellent institution. Perhaps, complications from surgeries performed at less esteemed hospitals may be significantly worse.

11. May 2012 · Comments Off on Chiropractic Maintance Care best for Long Term Benefits · Categories: Chiropractic Care, Latest News

Senna MK, Machaly , SA. Does ‘maintained’ spinal manipulation therapy for chronic non-specific low back pain result in better long term outcome? Spine 2011;36: epub ahead of print.

This is a randomized, placebo controlled study to assess the effectiveness of spinal manipulation (SM) for non-specific chronic LBP (=/>6 mo) in 60 patients (Pts), as well as, the effectiveness of maintenance care in long-term reduction of pain & disability.

Pts were randomized into 3 Groups:
Group 1: 12 sham SM over 1 month,
Group 2: 12 SM visits over 1 month,
Group 3: 12 SM visits over 1 month + maintenance care (1 visit every 2 weeks for 9 months).

Outcomes: Oswestry, SF-36, Patient’s Global Assessment of Pain, Modified Schober’s Test, Lateral Flexion.

Results: Both SM without maintenance care & SM with maintenance care were significantly better on all outcome measures than the sham group at 1 month of follow-up, but only SM with maintenance care was significantly better on all outcome measures at 10 months of follow-up. Pts with maintenance SM had significantly lower pain and disability scores compared to the sham and SM without maintenance care at long-term follow-up.

Conclusions: SM is effective for nonspecific CLBP. To obtain long-term benefit, this study suggests maintenance SM after the initial intensive manipulative care.

Commentary: This is an important new study in the journal ‘Spine’ which demonstrates in a relatively small, but randomized controlled trial two key findings.

  1. Pts receiving a relatively intensive SM protocol of 3 visits/week for 4 weeks did significantly better on all outcome measures than the sham group at one month follow-up. This finding clearly documents that SM is effective for nonspecific CLBP and improves multiple outcomes compared to the same number of sham visits.
  2. The finding that SM with maintenance care was significantly better than either the sham or the initial 12 visits of SM in one month on both pain and disability at 10 months follow-up indicates that maintenance care (1 visit every 2 weeks for 9 months) may be necessary to achieve optimal long-term benefits from SM.

The sustained and progressive improvements in pain and disability scores over the subsequent 9 months of follow-up (see attached graphs) document the value of maintenance care.

Graphs of 10 months of follow-up for control, no maintained SM, & maitained SM care for CLBP patients:



10. May 2012 · Comments Off on Medical Inc, The Movie · Categories: Latest News

It is not very often that we find a movie project that impact chiropractic as directly as this film does.  I am very excited to share with all chiropractors a film that highlights the true value of what we do and where we should fit in the healthcare delivery system.