Psychobiotics

by Christina on November 11, 2016

Have you heard of the term psychobiotics? I hadn’t until very recently.

It refers to prebiotics and probiotics that impact your mental health.

There was an article about it in the Huffington Post yesterday, and here’s a recent NBC news story about it:

We know probiotics can help our physical health. And now there’s a growing area of research looking at how our gut-bacteria affects our mental health.

What if we could use pre and probiotics to help treat anxiety, depression, memory and more?

There aren’t great studies on this yet, but the question is fascinating.

For more, here’s a nice review article about psychobiotics recently published in Trends in Neuroscience:

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Is your cholesterol too LOW?

by Christina on November 2, 2016

Many people are worried about their cholesterol being too high.

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A lot of the time I’m more worried about about your HDL cholesterol being too low.

HDL is high-density lipoprotein. It is referred to as the “good cholesterol” because it actually helps move cholesterol and plaque out of your blood. Low HDL is associated with a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

When I see a cholesterol panel, HDL is the number I look at first. It tells me a lot about your diet and exercise habits, and gives me a sense of your future risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

The higher your HDL the better.

Typically a “normal” HDL for women is over 50 and for men over 40. However, this is far from optimal — I like to see an HDL at least over 60 in both genders.

The fact is, there’s no good medication for raising HDL. But there is a lot you can do in your daily life.

Yes, exercising daily, limiting sugars, and eating more fiber will help. But the best way to improve your HDL cholesterol is to actually eat more FAT. I’m not talking about fried foods or red meat or trans fats, but healthy fats.

Below is a list of some of these healthy fats to work into your diet to eat EVERY DAY to help optimize your HDL cholesterol and your health in general:

  • Avocados – eat anytime for snack or part of a meal
  • Nuts – eat a handful daily, mix up walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, brazil nuts
  • Coconut oil – add it to your oatmeal, sauté your vegetables in it
  • Olive oil – drizzle this on your veggies
  • Eat fatty fish twice a week or take a fish oil supplement (and if you don’t eat fish you can find vegetarian omega 3 supplements)
  • Flax seeds and/or flax oil – add to oatmeal, salads, smoothies
  • Chia seeds – add to oatmeal or smoothies

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These foods help increase your healthy fats, increase your fiber intake (flax, chia, nuts all have lots of great fiber), and will naturally curb your desire for the extra sugars and carbs.

It’s a good idea to find out your HDL. If it’s low, you can make some changes and recheck it in three months so you can see how much power you actually have over improving it.

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The next 10 years in medicine

by Christina on October 31, 2016

Really loved reading this article by Vivek Wadhwa to get even more excited about what’s coming in the next 10 years of medicine.

It makes me appreciate practicing in Silicon Valley where a lot of this is happening and where a lot of my patients are working on these innovations.

He writes about gene sequencing, artificial intelligence, the tracking of our physical and mental health, and the microbiome. Check out the article:

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A major frustration in medicine is how long it takes for research findings to get translated into practice — this is where tech companies come in. As the author of the article says:

“Yes, it will take time for the inventions to get from the lab to people in need, and the technology elite will have these before the rest of us. But this will only be for a short period, because the way the tech industry builds value is by democratizing technology, reducing its cost and enabling it to reach billions. This is why I am so excited that companies such as IBM, Facebook, and Google are taking the mantle from the health-care industry. These companies have a motivation to keep us healthy: so that we download more applications rather than remain hooked on prescription medicines.” ~Vivek Wadhwa

 

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