Dr. Richa Mittal
There is a lot of information out there on topics related to your health. Can you tell tell fiction from fact? Let's discuss a few statements below.
- Gluten-free is healthy.
If you have celiac disease (prevalence of celiac disease in adults is approximately 1–2% in Europe and 0.4–0.95% in the US), then your health is definitely affected by gluten in your diet.
What about the rest of us?
Gluten is the general name of a protein found in wheat. It is also present in barley, rye and oats. In those with a true sensitivity to gluten, it can cause malabsorption, abdominal pain and anemia, to name a few symptoms.
In their whole grain form, these are foods that provide heart-healthy fiber and we should be including in them small portions in our diet.
If you are not someone who is sensitive to gluten (i.e. have celiac disease), you do not need to avoid gluten.
- You can significantly improve your health with a 5%-10% weight loss (if you are overweight or have obesity)
So you've been told you are suffering from an unhealthy weight gain. Maybe you are embarking on a plan to lose weight to improve your health. What should your goals be?
Yes, it could be nice to be back at your lowest weight, but guess what? Even if you may aim for that goal for other reasons, studies show you can make significant improvements in your health with a 5%-10% weight loss.
You can increase HDL (your good cholesterol), lower triglycerides, lower your blood pressure by 5 points, decrease your hemoglobin A1C (a sign of diabetes and pre-diabetes), decrease insulin levels, improve sleep apnea and significantly lower inflammation.
So, if you have been told by your doctor to lose weight, even achieving a loss of 5-10% can improve your health significantly!
- Natural treatments are safe and risk-free.
If something is natural, it must be healthy. Right?
It is estimated over 40% of the US population uses herbal and dietary supplements.
Whether it comes to supplements that you may be taking under the guidance of your doctor or based on your own research, it is important to recognize that in order to be effective, they all have actions in your body. Some good and some potentially very bad. They are medications even if they come from natural sources!
The effects of supplements depend on your health conditions, what medications you are on and the chemical properties of the plant from which they come.
Also, it is important to recognize that there can be contamination with substances like heavy metals and other toxins, depending on manufacturing standards. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements with the same scrutiny as pharmaceuticals.
For example, bleeding is a potential side effect risk of garlic, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and Vitamin E. These supplements would be important to tell your doctor about and stop prior to surgery.
Country Mallow is a dangerous stimulant that contains Ephedra (both banned by the FDA) due to effects of increased blood pressure and stress on the heart. Many supplements have been linked to liver toxicity and sometimes even requiring liver transplant.
Bottom line, please discuss use of any supplements with your doctor and always mention them on your medication list, even if not "prescribed" to you.
Until next time, be well.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.