In This Issue:

Dear Readers,

We hope you find the True North Tune-Up useful. The studies are from peer-reviewed scientific journals or from high quality evidence-based collaborative groups with rare exceptions. The bullet on the 4 healthy living characteristics is from an editorial in the April 18, 2006 Annals of Internal Medicine which is not available for free through a link. We hope True North providers are doing a better job at preventive, upstream medicine counseling than the average office physician.

To your health,
B. Joseph Semmes, MD
Director of Research, True North
Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine

Only 3% of U.S. citizens adhere to 4 healthy lifestyle characteristics: not smoking, adequate fruits and vegetables, weight control, regular exercise.
Doctors should be doing more to promote healthy behaviors. In a 1999 JAMA study of routine check-ups, physicians counseled just 42% of obese adults to lose weight. (According to the CDC they are three times as likely to succeed if they are advised to lose weight.) In 2004, the National Committee for Quality Assurance reported that only 66% of smokers received advice about quitting from their doctor.  More time spent with patients, written prescriptions for exercise, self-help manuals, diaries, a shared educational and motivational framework and support groups may all have roles to play. Perhaps even more important is awareness of this problem.

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Mediterranean diet wards off Alzheimer’s.
Diets rich in fruits, vegetable, cereals, legumes, some fish and alcohol, and low in red meat and dairy, protected New Yorkers from developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Those who were in the highest tertile (1/3rd) in consuming a “Mediterranean Diet” had a 40% !! reduction in the incidence of dementia when compared to the lowest 1/3rd of consumers.

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It would be interesting to know how many of the subjects such as Italians and Greeks had Mediterranean genes. The Functional Medicine approach is to see health as a complex multi-gene-environment interaction (our genes see nutrients as a large part of their environment). It is not known if individual food components are responsible for the protective effect. It might be a matter of synergy (where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts). Many components of such a diet could play a role. Virgin olive oil, and omega-3 fish oil are all known to be anti-inflammatory. Red wine has resveratrol and tomato sauce has lycopene both of which have anti-oxidant activity.  A review in the March 2006 Journal of Nutrition claims that garlic reduces both dementia and heart attack risk. 

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Click here for information about antioxidants and dementia

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Acupuncture is a useful addition to anti-nausea medicine during cancer chemotherapy.
This high quality analysis of 11 studies of over 1200 patients suggests that complementary approaches to control nausea and vomiting during cancer treatments are needed in spite of the improved effectiveness of newer ant-nausea medicines, many of which are very expensive.  Acupuncture point stimulation reduces vomiting overall; and self administered acupressure, which is easily taught and performed appears to protect patients from chemotherapy-induced nausea.

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Probiotics reduce flatulence and diarrhea in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
A recent study at the Mayo Clinic showed that probiotic (capsules of “healthy” gut bacteria) VSL#3 ( taken twice daily reduced flatulence and transit time in patients with irritable bowel syndrome; but did not effect bloating or abdominal pain when compared to the placebo group.

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No financial conflicts of interest to declare – though I suspect the probiotic and virgin olive oil studies may have been industry funded.


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Information provided in the True North Tune-Up is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The information and links in this e-publication are intended to provide general education on the topics listed, but you should not use the information or links to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare practitioner. True North advises you to always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioner prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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