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COVID-19 update: The situation is changing at incredible speed and the enormous disruptions in our lives are hard to fully comprehend. Many businesses will never recover. In a few days I’ll provide some more information that will  help you avoid becoming infected, what NOT to believe and what to expect in the next couple of months.

The new buzzword: Fasting.

Fasting does work to help you to lose weight but what does “fasting” really mean?  A “fast day” in the Christian tradition means having only one regular meal per day and two smaller meals that together would not amount to a full meal – and no snacking! I’m willing to bet that no one loses weight during Lent.

A medical fast prior to next morning’s blood tests means nothing to eat after dinner the prior evening until completion of the blood test or other procedure. Some people fast by eating nothing one day per week, maybe two. A three-day or longer fast leaves you grumpy and constipated. Anything longer than that might cause hallucinations.

Here’s my version of the Goldilock’s Fast: don’t eat anything between dinner and breakfast – that’s about 12-13 hours. A small study (19 overweight or obese women) from the Salk Institute of La Jolla bears this out. The women were instructed to limit their food consumption to 10 hours per day, so that they fasted for 14 hours for 12 weeks. They were not instructed to limit their food intake during those 10 pleasurable hours.

Their weight loss was consistent but not very much – about 3 percent reduction in BMI (Body Mass Index), body fat, visceral fat – the most dangerous kind – and a 4 percent reduction in waist size. The weight loss was not dramatic, only about one-half pound per week over the twelve weeks. But think about this: that would amount to about 25 pounds in a year, which in most persons would bring down blood pressure and blood sugar, which is exactly what happened in the study group in only three months.

There were other important changes. Total and LDL cholesterol came down by an average of 11 percent; HbA1c, a measure of blood sugar levels, was lower by about 4 percent. Over a year or two those changes could mean better health and a lower risk of heart disease.

And nobody became grumpy or constipated! Priceless!

This is a “fasting” routine that is easy for the whole family to do, has no side effects, and can be maintained for a lifetime.



Another in the series of annoyances of aging: cracked fingernails

          Cracked fingernails are common among older persons but before you accept this as one of those changes that are inevitable as we get older, you should know that it might indicate a medical problem. Three conditions in particular are dangerous because they can proceed for a long time with few other symptoms except for fatigue, which most people feel is just part of aging.

Iron deficiency can have several causes, from poor diet to intestinal bleeding. A good friend was once hospitalized when his blood count dropped to 25 percent (!) of normal. The only other symptom was a feeling of being tired all the time.

Thyroid disease is another problem that may occur over a period of many weeks or months. There may be other symptoms but these too might be written off as due to aging – weight gain, constipation and intolerance to cold.

Kidney disease has many causes but one of the most common these days is type 2 diabetes, which now affects 13.3 percent of persons over the age of 18. By the time a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, more than half are likely to have at least one complication of diabetes, one of which is deteriorating kidney function.

Keep in mind that your doctor isn’t likely to check your fingernails as part of the physical exam. Your cracked fingernails may be normal, but maybe not.










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