Site Search


Other Sites for More Information




Worried About Diabetes? Focus on Diet

Mindfully managing diabetes means more than just monitoring blood sugar levels. It also means making prudent choices in your diet to address the risk factors of common diseases associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, making this a good time to work with your physician and a dietician to create a meal plan that best suits your needs if you are at risk for diabetes. Research has shown that several nutritional elements may be helpful in managing diabetes-related issues:

  1. Eat more magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli, lentils, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  2. Increase intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially cold-water oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon. While providing much less omega 3s than fish, vegetarian sources such as walnuts and freshly ground flaxseed are also good choices
  3. Choose foods that are lower on the glycemic index and have a low glycemic load, such as beans, lentils and true whole-grains (that is, grains such as brown rice or bulgur wheat that are intact or in large pieces, not ground into flour).

More detail on managing diabetes through diet.


Secondhand Smoke and Your Hearing

Here's another reason to stay away from secondhand smoke: even if you never smoked or quit smoking years ago, just being around someone who does can increase your risk of hearing loss. A study conducted by a hearing aid company using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey collected from 1999 to 2004 showed that secondhand smoke could boost the risk of hearing loss in the low to mid frequencies for both former smokers and people who never smoked. Earlier studies have shown that hearing loss is a risk for active smokers, but this is the first one to look at the effects of secondhand smoke on hearing. The prevalence of hearing loss among former smokers was 14 percent for low to middle frequencies and 46.6 percent for high frequencies. Losses seen among those who never smoked were 8.6 percent for low to middle frequencies and 26.6 percent for high frequencies. More studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Antioxidants to counter secondhand smoke.


4 Healthy Beverages

Yesterday we discussed four unhealthy drinks that you should minimize or avoid. Today we cover four healthy beverages - experiment to find the best ways to incorporate them into your daily routine:

  1. Green tea. My beverage of choice, green tea is a potent source of catechins - healthy antioxidants which can inhibit cancer cell activity and help boost immunity. Replace your morning coffee with a cup of tea for a healthier wake-up.
  2. Cranberry juice. Cranberries are a rich source of vitamin C and contain a substance that hinders the attachment of bacteria to bladder walls, which can help prevent urinary tract infections. Instead of cranberry juice cocktail, opt for unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate and dilute with water or sparkling water.
  3. Red wine. The antioxidant activity of red wine has been linked to heart health benefits, reduced stress, and even preserving memory. If you enjoy an occasional drink, limit your intake to 1-2 glasses a day. If you don't drink, don't start - there are other ways to get antioxidants in your diet, including fresh, whole fruits and vegetables.
  4. Pure, filtered water. Staying well hydrated is essential to optimal health and overall functioning. Drink as much as you want throughout the day, and in the warmer months, be sure to drink water when exercising to avoid dehydration.

4 Unhealthy Beverages

Whether you are watching your weight or just want to eat healthier, taking a look at what you drink is key. Empty calories can lurk in all types of beverages - especially these: 

  1. Coffee drinks with full-fat dairy, artificial flavorings, and extras such as chocolate sprinkles. These can pack as many calories as a meal. A better option is a plain coffee with soy milk or, better yet, antioxidant-rich green tea.
  2. Sugary cocktails. Whether it’s a margarita or a pina colada, these drinks pack a double dose of calories due to alcohol and sugar - some can top 800 calories in one drink.  Better options are a glass of red wine (60-100 calories) or a light beer (about 100 calories).
  3. Non-juice "juice drinks." Before buying juice, read the label and make sure it is 100 percent juice (not just “made with” real juice) and check for sweeteners and calories. Many of these products are no better than drinking sugar water. Even 100 percent juice can spike blood sugar and promote weight gain, so mix it with plain or sparkling water, or green tea, to lower the glycemic load.
  4. Soda. There just isn’t anything nutritious about soda, whether it’s diet or regular. If you’re a soda addict, break the habit by eliminating soda as a treat, and stop reaching for it automatically with a meal or as a thirst quencher.

Tomorrow’s post covers four drinks that you should be reaching for!


Barley and Vegetable Soup

Barley has been cultivated since the Stone Age and was fermented to make beer soon after. Folk medicine prescribed the use of barley water as a tonic during convalescence. "Pearl" barley is the name of the grain when it's been polished, after the husk and bran have been removed. It's the form most commonly used in soups. Enjoy this healthful, old-fashioned hearty soup!


3/4 cup pearl barley
11 cups vegetable stock (see recipe for Roasted Vegetable Soup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
Salt to taste
1/2 bunch parsley


1. In a saucepan, combine the barley and 3 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the liquid is absorbed. 

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cover and cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. 

3. Add the remaining vegetable stock and simmer 30 minutes, covered. 

4. Add the barley and simmer 5 minutes more. Add salt to taste and ladle into bowls. Serve garnished with chopped fresh parsley.

Food as Medicine: Barley is high in healthy carbs, has a moderate amount of protein, and contains calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins. With its emphasis on vegetables and absence of meat, this soup is a natural fit for those who want to promote heart health.

More warming soup recipes from my Healthy Kitchen.


How Not to Watch Your Weight

So many women are overweight or obese these days that a surprising number of them just don't see a problem: a new study reveals that nearly 25 percent of overweight women mistakenly describe their weight as "normal." Their views aren't based on numbers on the scale, but on how they perceive themselves, say researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The researchers noted that more than half of reproductive-aged women in the United States are considered overweight or obese by body mass index (BMI) standards, and that 82 percent of African-American women and 75 percent of Mexican American women meet the criteria for being overweight or obese. The investigators analyzed data on more than 2,200 women 18 to 25 years old. In addition to BMI, they collected information from the women about their weight perceptions and weight-related behaviors such as dieting, skipping meals, smoking cigarettes, avoiding carbohydrates and exercise. The study was published in the December, 2010, issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

My take? Experts have suspected for some time that people look to their peers to determine what constitutes acceptable weight. The women in this new study may have drawn their perceptions of normal weight from the people they see around them, rather than any reliance on the scale, BMI or "ideal" height/weight charts. "Average" is not the same as "normal" or "healthy," and we're not going to make any progress against the obesity epidemic if individuals who are overweight or obese don't see their size realistically.

If you want to look to others for something, positive attitudes are a better alternative.


Worried about Lung Cancer?

Breathing properly is fundamental to good health, and you shouldn't take your respiratory system for granted, especially if you live in a big city. In addition to prudent supplementation and a diet rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants, simple lifestyle steps can help promote healthy lungs for a lifetime.

  1. Don't smoke. Tobacco addiction is the single greatest cause of preventable illness, greatly increasing the risks of developing lung cancer and respiratory diseases.
  2. Get regular exercise. It helps promote healthy lung function and optimal oxygen delivery throughout the body.
  3. Practice deep breathing exercises to increase lung capacity, improve respiratory efficiency, and promote general relaxation.
  4. Maintain a normal weight. Excess pounds tax both the heart and lungs. If you're overweight, you're more likely to experience shortness of breath.
  5. Avoid exposure to environmental air pollutants. High ozone levels, smog, car exhaust, asbestos and metal dusts are unhealthy for lungs and can lead to lung disease. Use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to reduce exposure to smoke and smog, and wear a protective mask when you are in close proximity to lung irritants such as drywall dust or fiberglass insulation fibers.
  6. Limit exposure to toxic household cleaners. Chlorine bleach, petroleum distillates, ammonia, formaldehyde and nitrobenzene can harm the lungs. Use safer alternatives for cleaning such as baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar.

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Newsletter

We have a new email newsletter! Everything you need to get started on the anti-inflammatory diet for healthy aging. Each Monday, receive actionable advice on getting started and sticking with this "eating plan for life," including seasonal food information, shopping checklists, cooking tips and foods for health. It's helpful for anyone who wants to eat for optimum health, regardless of age.

Sign up here.