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Sleep Better, Starting Tonight

October 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nilong Vyas, MD

In our hard-driving culture, sleep is often seen as a sign of weakness, and some people even brag about how little sleep they get each night as if it’s a badge of honor. Yet there is no question that we need adequate sleep to perform at our best. What’s more, lack of sleep increases the risk of chronic diseases such as dementia and heart disease.

Even if you’re convinced of the benefits of a good night’s slumber, you might still find yourself struggling to fall asleep—and waking up feeling tired and groggy the next morning. If getting a restful night’s sleep has been a challenge for you, try the following tips.

  • Evaluate your bedroom. Create a cool, comfortable, and dark sleep environment that is free of clutter and noise.
  • Eliminate caffeine after noon, if possible.
  • Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. If that is not possible, use a blue light filter device on your screen to diminish the blue light emitted. Blue light can stimulate your retinas and cause wakefulness.
  • If you’re having difficulty sleeping, don’t try to force yourself to fall asleep. It is best to get out of bed, move around, and journal or read a book. Then try to get back to sleep once you’re feeling sleepy again. This process may take up to an hour and a half.
  • Aim for achieving seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Finally, prioritize sleep just as you would nutrition and exercise. The overall health impacts are truly great.

About the Author: Nilong Vyas, MD, is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Woman wit her eyes closed under the wind.

How’s your magnesium level? If you have no idea, you have plenty of company! Magnesium is a mineral that many of us don’t think about—even though it’s an essential mineral that your body needs to function properly.

Truth be told, even if you did know your magnesium level, there’s a good chance it would be too low. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium.

But here’s the good news: If you’re able to get enough magnesium, it can benefit your body in many ways. Magnesium can…

  • Offset the negative effects of stress: Most people suffer from the stress of trying to do too much, too perfectly, and too fast.
  • Soothe the gastrointestinal tract: Magnesium also offers laxative properties.
  • Boost brainpower: This is especially the case in people with memory problems.
  • Increase energy: If your magnesium level is low, your body has to work harder to do even basic tasks, which can make you feel tired. Studies have shown that women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks then they did after their magnesium levels were restored to normal.
  • Ease anxiety and/or insomnia: Magnesium helps to promote a sense of calm and can facilitate more restful sleep.
  • Cure a migraine pronto!

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is about 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. One way to get more magnesium is to eat a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews.

Another easy and tasty way is with a supplement called Natural Calm, which has been a best selling supplement for 9 years. It’s a flavorful powder that dissolves easily in water, tea, or other beverages. Natural Calm supports heart health, bone health, better sleep, and natural energy production. It comes in a variety of delicious, organic flavors that are naturally sweetened with organic stevia. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, and non GMO. You can buy Natural Calm online and in health food stores for around $15. Visit NaturalVitality.com/natural-calm for more information.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guide books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

No, Formula Doesn’t Need Warming!

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under J.Bright

Mother Feeding Her Baby ca. October 2000

And 5 other baby formula myths—debunked

By Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

The MythBusters on TV’s Discovery channel tackled hundreds—if not thousands—of myths in their 19 seasons on the air. If they talked about infant feeding, I must have missed that episode. Yet baby feeding has many pervasive myths—especially about infant formula. Here are five of my favorites.

Myth 1: Breast is best.

Fact: Not for every mother and baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved, and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found that more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, in reality, 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally – it can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief or used exclusively depending on mom and baby’s needs. Also, know that you can find help and support. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant, or a local La Leche League.

Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.

Fact: No. This is another time-saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for 5 minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.

Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.

Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.

Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (as long as it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.

Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal—just “eyeball it.”

Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each and every time.

Myth 5: Brand name formula is best.

Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store brand formula are practically identical—but have different effects on your family budget! Did you know that all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means store brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands. In fact, store brand formula is clinically proven to support baby’s growth and development and proven to be just as well tolerated by your baby as those other brands.

So, what’s the main difference? Store brand formula costs less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing – think about all the ads you see on TV and all the samples that get handed out in doctors’ offices.  In the case of those big brands, those marketing costs are passed on to you in the form of a higher price tag on each container of formula.

Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit www.storebrandformula.com.

Total savings with Store Brand Infant Formula calculations based on a price per fl. oz. comparison of Store Brand Infant Formulas and their comparable national brands. Retail prices are from a May 2017 retail price survey of assorted stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.


My Breastfeeding Turning Point

June 15, 2017 by  
Filed under J.Bright

My mom with my son Tyler

My mom with my son Tyler

I recently came across a blog on the Honest Company’s site about  Honest Moments. That got me thinking: What are MY parenting honest moments? I can honestly say I have had lots of them! Here’s one of my favorites…

My mom had a theory. She and I were always very close. My mom and I were dear friends who had the tremendous fortune to be mother and daughter. My mom attributed this to the fact that she nursed me.

Because of this, I was determined to nurse my son. Little did I know how hard that resolve would be tested!

My son started to cry the moment he was born. He cried—screamed really—the entire time we were in the hospital. At times, I wondered if the nurses might come take him away! I tried so hard to nurse, but it was challenging and painful.

I was determined to nurse, so I kept trying. And he kept crying—most of his waking hours. Nursing soothed him a bit, as did walking around carrying him in my arms. So I did both, for hours on end.

That ironically made nursing even harder! My nipples got sore and cracked, and I developed mastitis. In desperation, when my son was around a week old, I called my sister, whose children were older than mine.

“Keep trying,” she advised. “I promise, if you stick with it, in a week or two, he will become so comfortable nursing he’ll be hanging off of you like a little monkey.”

I found that extremely hard to believe, but the image amused me at least. The promise of that gave me the strength to stick with it.

My greatest fear was that my son was crying because he was starving. He was nursing often, but was he actually getting any milk? Nursing wasn’t working well for us, and I was almost ready to quit.

The hospital had given me the name and phone number for a local lactation consultant. I called and set up an appointment for her to come to my house.

When the lactation consultant arrived the next day, it was like a breath of fresh air. She was warm, comforting, confident. She talked to me for a few minutes and asked me some questions.

And then she did something completely unexpected.  She weighed my son. Then she had me nurse him. And then she weighed him again! Voila! He weighed more! That was the proof I needed that nursing was working, he was getting milk. I knew that I could do this.

Shortly after that aha moment, nursing clicked for us. I felt so much better, and my baby stopped crying quite so much. I nursed him for over a year—until I got pregnant with his brother.

He took to nursing right away. I nursed him for almost two years. I have the wonderful memory that the last time I ever nursed a baby was on vacation at Walt Disney World. Knowing I’d have that treasured memory made it easier to wean my youngest for good.

About the author: Jennifer Bright is cofounder of Momosa Publishing LLC, publisher of the Mommy MD Guides books, featuring tips that doctors who are also mothers use for their own families—and more. She lives with her two sons in Bethlehem, PA.

Feeding Baby the First Year: What Pediatricians Actually Do At Home

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Mother Feeding BabyIt’s one of the great ironies of parenting: feeding your baby.  Something that should be so simple, so often isn’t. In fact, deciding how to feed your baby in the first year may appear, at first glance, to be one of the great divides of parenting. Many parents think that you  must choose between breastfeeding OR formula feeding, but that’s simply not true.

Think of it as a continuum with exclusively breastfeeding on one end and exclusively bottle-feeding with formula on the other with a wide range of combinations in between.  It may be surprising to learn that most babies fall within the latter, with parents choosing to do a combination of both.

Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula, recently conducted a nationwide survey of 2,000 moms with children between the ages of one and three to gain insight into mom’s thoughts on baby’s first year. Interestingly, the survey found that although three out of four moms said they used infant formula during baby’s first year, one out of 10 new moms weren’t completely honest about breastfeeding baby to avoid criticism from family and friends. As parents, we face many pressures each day.  We talked to some of our Mommy MD Guides—doctors who are also mothers— to share some of their own personal feeding experiences. What we learned? It’s a personal decision and there’s no right or wrong choice. Here’s what they had to say…

“I had really set out to breastfeed my son. But from the very beginning, breastfeeding was very challenging,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician and mom of two, in Seattle. “It was extremely emotional for me; on some level it was even devastating. When my son was a few weeks old, I got such severe mastitis that I was hospitalized. After I went home, I continued to pump for several months. It was pure misery for me. The moment both my son and I started to thrive was when I finally stopped and switched to formula”

“Although I nursed both of my daughters for their first six or seven months, I found it helpful not to be rigid with only breast milk,” said Darlene Gaynor-Krupnick, DO, urologist and mom of two in northern Virginia. “Formula was heavier, and my daughters seemed to sleep better when they were ‘topped off’ with a bottle before bedtime.”

“I breastfed and gave my babies formula as a supplement early on and switched to formula all the way by 4 months,“ says Sigrid Payne DaVeiga, MD, a pediatric allergist and mom of three,  in Philadelphia, PA.

“I had planned to breastfeed for the first six months, but unfortunately I was only able to breastfeed for approximately four months,” said Kathleen Moline, DO, a family physician and mom of one in Winfield, IL. “Pumping at work was challenging, and eventually my daughter preferred bottles to breastfeeding. Part of the learning process was that what I had planned or expected wasn’t always the way it worked out, and that was okay.”

“I breastfed my son, but to give myself more flexibility time-wise, I pumped often,” said Leigh Andrea DeLair, MD, a family physician and mom of one in Danville, KY. “I also supplemented my son’s diet with formula. He thrived.”

At the end of the day, choosing how to feed your baby is a great microcosm for the parenting experience in general: You do the best that you can, you learn as you go, and flexibility is the key. You—and your baby—will be happier and healthier if every now and then you have a tincture of patience and a cup of calm, two of the best medicines.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, from where these tips were excerpted.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.


Does Sugar’s State of Matter Really Matter?

January 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Liquid or solid, sugar has 4 calories per gram, but most weight loss and healthy lifestyle programs target the liquid form of sugar first.

The Western diet contains lots of sugar, and while sugar is added to many foods, most of the added sugar hides in drinks – soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavored milk and fruit juices – and that might be enough to explain why sugary drinks are linked so tightly with obesity.

But studies have shown that there is something distinctive about getting calories in liquid form. Solid sugars affect satiety, while studies have demonstrated that liquid sugar doesn’t suppress appetite — sugary drinks’ calories are just added, and the meals eaten with the them will be just as large, if not larger.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, obesity is a well known major risk factor, but several studies have suggested that sugary drinks are an independent risk factor for the widespread disease.

So is it just that liquid sugar lends itself to overconsumption, or does sugar in liquid form pose an especially tough burden on our body’s metabolism?

Sugary drinks, glucose intolerance and diabetes

A new study in the Journal of Nutrition followed 564 Canadian kids aged 10-12 years at the start of the study for 2 years, assessing their liquid and solid added sugar intake, and looking at their fasting sugar, fasting insulin, insulin resistance and weight. The kids were healthy but at risk for obesity because at least one of their parents was obese, and about 40 percent of the kids were already overweight or obese when the study began.

The results show that sugar in liquid rather than in solid form was associated with higher levels of fasting glucose and fasting insulin, and also with greater insulin resistance. Insulin sensitivity, which was assessed with an index that used the kids’ oral glucose tolerance tests, was reduced with higher dietary intakes of sugary drinks. Insulin resistance grew with higher intakes of liquid sugar.

The way our body deals with sugar is a good predictor of type 2 diabetes risk. High levels of fasting glucose and fasting insulin show that the cells are not responding properly to insulin (insulin, secreted in reaction to food, normally pushes sugar into cells, and its levels during fasting are supposed to be low.) Impaired glucose tolerance is a prediabetic state, and untreated, may develop into full-blown type 2 diabetes. So the results of this study suggest that liquid — rather than solid — added sugar predisposes to diabetes, independent of obesity rates, which in this study’s 2-year follow up were no different between the groups.

So while too much sugar is a problem, this study adds to the body of evidence that demonstrates that sugary drinks are especially harmful; their high availability, low price and effective marketing make them an important contributor not only to obesity, but also to prediabetes in kids. Mind you, type 2 diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes, and was unheard of in pediatric practice several decades ago. Nowadays, it is estimated that 1 in 4 teens has prediabetes or diabetes.

Full disclosure: I’m vice president of product development for Herbal Water, where we make organic herb-infused waters that have zero calories and no sugar or artificial ingredients. I’m also a pediatrician and have been promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyle for many years.–Dr. Ayala

Dr. Ayala is a pediatrician, mother, artist, serious home cook, and founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA. Dr. Ayala is known for her extensive knowledge of nutrition and food, as well as her practical approach to improving health and preventing obesity and disease.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD? Here’s her recent blog about salt.

10 Tips for Reducing Stress and Managing Picky Eaters During Holiday Meals

December 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

Now that food-focused holidays are here, here are some tips for helping picky eaters and reducing mealtime stress. With a little planning, a day focused on food can be fun, not frustrating!

  • Emphasize to your child that these holidays are about family, not food. Reinforce that no food requirements or expectations will be placed on the child. This allows your child to enjoy the family celebration, instead of worrying about the meal.
  • Be sure there are one or two items on the table that your child will enjoy, but do not cater to the picky eater (this could be bread and butter, milk, corn, etc.). If you will be a guest, offer to bring a side you know your child will eat.
  • If family members frequently comment on your child’s eating habits, gently explain, “We are working on expanding Jane’s food repertoire and therefore we are not making food-focused comments during meals. We would really appreciate it if you could follow our lead!”  (This includes all iterations of “just try this,” “eat more,”  “clean your plate,” and “you are wasting food” comments.)  Along this line, be sure you let your child enjoy the holiday and avoid pressuring or commenting on food to your child.
  • If the thought of eating with all the grownups overwhelms your child, consider a kiddie table, but do not feed children before the big meal or serve them different food.
  • Let your child fill his/her own plate, if old enough. This gives your child control and reduces food anxiety.
  • Children learn a lot from parents. If the holidays stress you, it will stress them. Relax and set a good example.
  • A great way to encourage children to enjoy the meal is to have them help prepare for the meal. This could be help with meal planning, cooking, setting the table, or shopping.
  • A child that comes to the holiday table hungry (but not starving) is more likely to eat, so don’t overdo the appetizers.
  • If you have not already, teach your child to say “no thank you,” instead of “YUCK” to avoid a critical eye cast on your child by family members!
  • While we normally recommend that children take one bite of all new foods served, avoid this at holiday meals. (This “one bite rule” allows children to  put any food they don’t like into a napkin. It is best to avoid this around guests that may not be aware of this rule and be offended.)

Teach your child that at mealtime it is socially acceptable to:

● Pick and choose from what is offered that meal or snack.
● Decline certain foods, once a bite is sampled.
● Choose to eat only one or two food items.
● Leave uneaten food on the plate.
● Take more of one food even if other food is left uneaten.

It is not acceptable for your child to:

● Make an issue or scene around food refusal.
● Request food that is not on the table.
● Fidget or fuss during meals.

It is not acceptable for you to:

● Bribe, guilt, force, or cajole your child to eat.
● Discuss what your child is eating (or not eating!) or focus the topic of food at meals. (This one is hard at holiday meals, when everyone comments on the food.)
● Withhold dessert based on not eating a proper amount (whatever you think this is).

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about Halloween safety tips.


Maine Pumpkin Spice Bread

December 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

There are so many great versions of pumpkin bread, but this one is truly delicious. Just the right amount of sweetness and spice. This bread is actually moister and more delicious the next day, so it’s a great make-ahead recipe. This recipe will make 2 loaves, 4 mini-loaves, or 24 muffins, and freezes exceptionally well as loaves or individual slices.

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, which has added spices)

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup vegetable oil (such as Smart Balance or canola)

2/3 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼–½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease/flour two 9- x 5-inch loaf pans (glass pans work best).
  2. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla, and sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Do not overmix!
  5. Bake on the center rack for approximately 60 minutes (it may take longer), until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean with no batter or crumbs. Watch that the top does not begin to burn (if it starts to brown, gently lay a piece of foil over the pan.)
  6. Place 2 large sheets of aluminum foil onto the counter. Allow the loaves to cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen, then invert onto a large dish or chopping board. Immediately invert onto the aluminum foil. After 10 minutes, wrap it in foil if you like moist bread, or wait until it’s cool to the touch if you prefer drier bread.
  • For a healthier, but still delicious bread: Replace up to half of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour. Substitute ½ cup oil with ½ cup applesauce. Reduce the sugar to 2 cups.
  • If you like nuts, add ½ to 1 cup chopped nuts.
  • If you like raisins, add ½ cup (I like golden raisins in this recipe). Dried cranberries work well, too!
  • This recipe can be doubled by using the 29-ounce can of pumpkin puree and doubling all other ingredients.
  • If you don’t have all of the spices, you can substitute 2½ teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about Halloween safety tips.

Does It Matter Which Fruit You Eat?

December 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Every decent guide for healthy eating encourages us to eat more fruits and veggies. Why? An abundance of fruits and veggies has been associated with lower risk of a whole range of conditions, from hypertension, to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Up-to-date guidelines don’t just encourage us to eat more plants; they suggest we eat a rainbow, they urge us to eat a variety of fruits and veggies. The latest superfruit trend has also hyped several supposedly high performers from the plant kingdom, touting their assumed powers above other humble, non-exotic varieties.

Does fruit choice matter? Should we eat what we like, what’s affordable and available, or should we carefully select specific, health-promoting fruit?

Two new studies, just published, address this question. Let’s take a look.

Quantity or Quality?

When it comes to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, some fruits are better than others, concludes a study in the British Medical Journal. The researchers pooled the findings of three large studies, following the diets and diseases of 185,000 people over 12 years. About 12,000 people developed diabetes during that time, and while people who ate more fruit also usually made other healthy lifestyle choices (such as exercise and eating fewer calories), after controlling for all these, the researchers found that specific whole fruits, especially blueberries, apples, and grapes, were associated with lower risk of diabetes, while other fruit, such as strawberries and cantaloupe, less so.

Fruit juice, though, didn’t confer the same protection. Greater fruit juice consumption was linked with greater risk of diabetes.

The other study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at fruit variety and coronary heart disease. This study followed a cohort of about 120,000 people for more than 20 years, during which about 6,000 developed heart disease. After controlling for other variables, this study found that the quantity of fruit was more important than the variety. The people who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 17 percent lower risk of ischemic heart disease. But quantity aside, some fruits and veggies, such as citrus fruit and green leafy veggies seemed to matter more—as long as quantity was maintained.

Superfoods and Miracle Foods and Plain Old Apples

A miracle, by definition, is something that happens very rarely (if at all). But nowadays, superfruits and miracle foods are ‘discovered’ weekly, and incorporated into processed foods and plastered with health claims promising eternal life.

Plants are very clever biochemical machines; it seems like there are many more mysteries within their cell walls that we have yet to discover, and the more research we do, the more benefits we find. (The opposite can be said of the Western, processed diet; the more we explore its effect, the more harm we find.) Not to take away from acai, blueberry, and chia, most fruits and veggies, once studied, become super. The love-of-my-kitchen tomato was thought to be poisonous and evil, but is now a superfood because we discovered its health-promoting lycopene.

It very well might be that certain fruits’ and veggies’ benefits are more targeted to certain conditions, but since our understanding of this is still limited, I’d stick to a simple plan: Eat more fruits and veggies and aim for variety, any variety. As long as you don’t confuse whole fruit with fruit juice, and don’t consider potatoes and corn a major veggie, I think you’ll be okay. Diet as a whole affects health—profoundly—but eating the latest fad miracle fruit, sensationalized by the media, is not likely to make much of a difference. Sorry, but shortcuts are improbable.

Bear in mind, superfruit is a marketing—not a scientific—term, invented by the food industry for the sole purpose of selling products.

Here’s my prediction: the fruits and veggies you like and eat anyway might have their moment of fame, and be rebranded as superfruit once studied, and you’ll be able to say you believed in them all along.


Dr. Ayala is a pediatrician, mother, artist, serious home cook, and founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA. Dr. Ayala is known for her extensive knowledge of nutrition and food, as well as her practical approach to improving health and preventing obesity and disease.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD? Here’s her recent blog about salt.

Catching Up with Melina Jampolis, MD

October 3, 2013 by  
Filed under J.Bright

by Mommy MD Guides cofounder Jennifer Bright

I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to meet and talk with fascinating people and share their tips and experience with other moms to help them lead healthier, happier lives. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Melina Jampolis, MD. Dr. Jampolis is one of those people who does it all—so well. She’s a mother, physician, author, and entrepreneur. Here’s our recent chat.

How did you decide to specialize in physician nutrition?

When I finished my residency, I became very disillusioned with the practice of medicine. I felt that I spent 90 percent of my time putting patients on medications. I was making pharmaceutical companies money, but not doing a whole lot to impact patients’ health.

I took a position doing physicals at a weight-loss clinic, and I suddenly discovered that by helping people learn more about nutrition and better  manage their weight, I could profoundly change people’s health—and their lives. It was a “light bulb” moment for me.

Your book, The Calendar Diet, looks terrific! How did you come up with the idea for it?
I took some time to think about what I do that’s most successful in helping people to lose weight. I realized that it’s my month-by-month coaching, where I talk with people about the challenges they face at different times of the year and we brainstorm ways to meet those challenges.

Plus, I look at ways that you can work with the seasons to make weight loss easier, such as eating fruits and vegetables that are in season and combating winter cravings in a satisfying way.

I combined these healthy eating tips with cutting-edge exercise ideas, such as high-intensity interval training. The Calendar Diet isn’t a fad diet; it’s a lifestyle.

Your Dr. Melina Bars look great; I love that they have no trans fats or HFCS. Can you tell me more about them?

As a busy doctor, I find myself constantly suggesting that busy people eat protein bars as between-meal alternatives. But I couldn’t find the perfect bar on the market to recommend!

So I went to a food science lab and explained the bar I wanted to create. After months of trying different formulations, we came up with a great snack that keeps hunger at bay and blood sugar levels stable. The bars contain no trans fats or artificial sweeteners. My son loves to eat them too!

My coauthor and I are big believers in the importance of omega-3 fatty acids. I see you recommend Omax-3. What makes it unique and recommended?
While it is not always true with supplements, with omega-3s, you get what you pay for. Omax-3 has both purity and potency. For purity, it’s a pharmaceutical-grade, easy-to-swallow soft gel dietary supplement that delivers the highest omega-3 purity levels available

For potency, Omax-3 delivers 91 percent pure omega-3 content, as compared to many over-the-counter omega-3 capsules, which deliver only 30 to 50 percent purity—and mostly fillers.

Omax-3 also has a unique ratio of EPA to DHA, which has great health benefits. For example, it’s been shown to help reduce inflammation, an important contributor to diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, skin aging and heart disease, as well as maintain healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

It’s ironic that I’ve spent much of my career taking people off of the medications and supplements that they were taking, but omega-3s—in the right purity and potency—can really make a difference in people’s health.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I’m very excited about the concept of food as medicine. I look forward to learning more about how foods work on a cellular and molecular level. I’m also interested in the idea of nutrigenomics, which is learning more about gene-food interactions. We are moving toward people being able to have more personalized nutrition recommendations. This will help people to learn the optimal diet for them. That is really going to take “food as medicine” to the next level.

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