Healthy Chicken and Mushrooms Fricassee

To help busy people and families shop for, prepare, and serve healthy meals, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of NIH created and published Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Dinners. The new cookbook features 75 simple and delicious recipes influenced by Asian, Latino, Mediterranean, and American cuisine that are good for your heart and taste great, too.

Chicken and Mushroom FricasseePhoto: Keep the Beat Recipes

Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee

Serves 4


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 carton (10 oz) white button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
1 Cup leeks, split into quarters, then sliced into small squares and rinsed well
1 Cup potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Cup celery, rinsed and diced
1 Cup pearl onions, raw or frozen
3 Cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb skinless chicken legs or thighs (4 whole legs, split, or 8 thighs)
2 Tbsp each fresh herbs (such as parsley and chives), rinsed, dried, and minced (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottom roasting or braising pan (a large sauté pan with a metal handle will work as well).
  3. Add mushrooms to pan, and cook until golden brown, about 3–5 minutes. Add leeks, potatoes, celery, and pearl onions, and continue to cook until the vegetables become soft, about 3–5 additional minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth to the pan, and bring to a boil. Add chicken legs to the pan, cover, and place in the heated oven for about 20 minutes or until the chicken legs are tender when pierced with a fork (to a minimum internal temperature of 165° F).
  5. When chicken legs are tender, remove legs from the pan, return the pan to the stovetop, and bring the liquid to a boil. Add herbs and lemon juice.
  6. In a bowl, mix the cornstarch with the sour cream, and add to the pan. Bring back to a boil and then remove from the heat.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, and pour 1 cup of vegetables and sauce over chicken.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 242, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 42 mg, Sodium 430 mg, Fiber 3 g, Protein 20 g, Carbohydrates 24 g , Potassium 807 mg
* Recipe taken from Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Dinners, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Last Updated January 16, 2012 by Dr. Vee

The Search for Google: A Commentary on Social Media in our Lives

The Search For Google (Mt. Rushmore Road Show)

Ever notice how pervasive the internet is in our daily lives? And how one can lose track of time for hours with a single web search? A recent example: Halloween Trick or Treating. An age old American childhood tradition. It started out innocently enough.  I simply asked my son, “What do you think about dressing up as Abraham Lincoln for Halloween?” He is studying American history in Social Studies class so I thought this would be a respectable Halloween character, avoiding commercialized blockbuster movie or pop culture idols. I thought I would dress up as George Washington, his friends could dress up as Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt and we could have a Mount Rushmore Road Show. This did not go over big with my son.  He looked at me, rolled his eyes and said nothing. I was worried he might be on Facebook “blocking” me or placing an ad on Craig’s List, “For Sale, One Lame Mom. Rants against energy drinks.  Eats brown rice. Still uses whole sentences to text. Takes notes at Parent-Teacher conferences. No, It’s NOT OK to contact me with other services, products or commercial interests.” I checked Angie’s List and became concerned when I was not listed as a preferred vender (mother).

Later that day my son used the most common type of adolescent communication: he texted, “Mom Please don’t embarrass me in public.” (At least he said please.) I texted back “How about dressing up like Facebook?” “OMG LOL!” was his immediate reply.

I thought that maybe his mind, like the American advertising community, had already moved past Halloween onto the more important Christmas shopping season, which starts directly after Back to School shopping season (I am still trying to figure what to do with those ten protractors for $20* I bought in the Back to School Specials frenzy). But no, he then emailed, “I think I’d like to dress up as a Google toolbar.” And so started the search for Google. 

Of course, being internet savvy, he went directly to Wikipedia. When I moved to the United States from India at age five, one of my most prized possessions was a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It took my parents a long time to save up enough money to buy me a set. In fact, I have kept it until this day to peruse on those late nights when I don’t get 300 emails, 30 email newsletters from mailchimp or a notice urging me, “Read about Dr. Extraordinarily Smarter and More Accomplished than You and On the Verge of Winning a Nobel Prize’s updates on LinkedIn!” 

Today, it’s easier to search the internet than the Encyclopedia Britannica. So naturally we went to YouTube (My son on an I Pad, me on my IPhone) and searched, “How to dress up like Google toolbar. The search returned “Bert & Ernie try Gangsta-Rap.” We moved on to eBay. We put in a couple of bids for Einstein wigs after examining the complete 360 degree view of the hair.  Next we put up for sale 10 protractors, shipping included anywhere in the continental United States.

We even did an advanced search on Amazon (who was kind enough to offer me some suggestions of similar items that I might be interested in buying). I saved a couple of protractors (on sale for a mere 10 for $5 with $10 shipping!) on my Wish List and emailed the list to my relatives for Christmas present suggestions.  All courtesy of those helpful folks at Amazon.

We did a general search on “Healthy Halloween ideas” and were encouraged by advertisers to “Come on over to the dark side with dark chocolate mini candy bars.” The manufacturer told us that there was 1 gram of fiber per 5 mini chocolate bars. That means we only have to eat 150 mini candy bars to get the recommended daily intake of fiber.  After reading the label, my son thought the candy bars were practically a health food and plans on substituting them for broccoli! I find it annoying that manufacturers have jumped on the dark chocolate bandwagon (Fortunately they are interested in our health, not in their sales), trying to convince consumers that candy (of course when consumed “in moderation”) can be part of a sensible diet!

The manufacturer of this candy bar was even kind enough to provide a fascinating article on theobromine, “a compound closely related to caffeine that only has a mild stimulatory effect on the central nervous system.”  They told us, “Preliminary research indicates that even relatively high levels of theobromine does not interfere with attention or mood.”  For our further education, we find out that dogs metabolize theobromine very slowly and it “carries the same risk to dogs as coffee, tea, cola beverages and certain houseplants.”  I bet that piece of useful information was never included in the Encyclopedia Britannica! 

Of course I had to post that article on my Facebook wall so that everyone interested could “Like” theobromine! And I certainly could not leave Facebook (Keep me logged on, Check) without contacting the 5 friends with birthdays this month, see status updates on 22 friends, no lie, play a couple of games of word scramble,  learn how to make gazpacho from Bobby Flay (He might be traveling to my hometown for a Throwdown and I better be prepared!),  print out a couple of coupons for more protractors, start a new game of solitaire (advanced hand), say “maybe” to the 18 events I was invited to by people I’m not sure I know,  “Like” the 400th “Baby’s first steps” pictures of someone I don’t recognize (Baby’s Mom, who I don’t actually know, asked to “Friend” me on Facebook and I agreed, since one has to exceed 7 friends on Facebook in order to well, Save Face) and whew, I am exhausted!

I told my son we HAD to get off the internet because we had exceeded the two hour daily limit of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But not before we found websites to buy skull and crossbones ice cube trays, sour flush toilet candy, toxic waste candy, tongue tattoos, zombie blood energy drink, and a ketchup packet baby costume.

I thought idly about “quickly” checking behind the scenes photographs of Lindsay Lohan’s  first day of community service as a morgue janitor (CNN Entertainment informed me that “Thursday was suppose to be Lohan’s first day of work as a morgue janitor, but she was sent away after showing up late for the morning’s orientation. Her publicist blamed her tardiness on a combination of not knowing what entrance to go through and confusion caused by the media waiting for her arrival.”) As an act of good citizenship, I recommended this on Facebook (along with 586 other people!) as well as shared it on Twitter. 

Next I had to check what those down to Earth Housewives of Beverly Hills are up to on their behind the scenes blog (shopping, shopping, nails, hair, shopping, Spa, shopping, restaurants, shopping).  Learn about the newest medical breakthroughs on “The Doctors” (Who needs Mayo Clinic Proceedings?), Check. Let’s see what Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Deepak Chopra, KevinMD and Dr. Oz are tweeting about (dark chocolate) and we’ll call it a night.

Fortunately, I am pleased to report that my son did not dress up like Tron, Harry Potter (Ok, I admit that’s who he was last year), Charlie Sheen, any vampire from Twilight, Jack Sparrow (SO last year) or an IPad 2. (Why dress up as an IPad 2 when one only has to enter 5 or 6 thousand internet advertising contests in order to have a “chance” to win one?)  He also nixed the Mt. Rushmore Road Show mother-son bonding idea (South Dakota or bust!) as well as, ultimately, the Google toolbar costume (If it’s not found on YouTube it can’t be worth making). I tweeted to the world @VeeMD “My son is dressing up as a Mad Scientist for Halloween and I am dressing up as a Petri dish.” (Less than140 characters.)

*when bought with qualifying $50 minimum purchase

Updated on October 30, 2011 by Dr. Vee

Antioxidants, Epigenetics and How to Decrease the Risk of Cancer

Photograph of Peapod Courtesy of Catherine Merulpie

How Antioxidant Foods Affect your Epigenetics

You are your genes. Better stated, you are your epigenetics. If you have DNA that may increase the risk of certain cancers, can you change your own risk? Epigenetics refers to the cellular environment of our genes—how the expression of the genes are affected without changing the underlying DNA sequences.

How do broccoli and other cruciferous vegetable such as Brussels sprouts or cauliflower decrease the risk of cancer? Certain nutrients, such as sulforaphanes in broccoli and diallyl in garlic affect epigenetics by activating genes involved in the development of cancer (tumor promoters, tumor suppressor genes, DNA repair genes). Selenium, vitamin A, folate and vitamin D are also believed to impact on the development of cancer by affecting epigenetics.

Could it really be that easy? Just eat a lot of broccoli? More coldwater fish? Grape Juice? Dark chocolate? Green tea? Vitamin D supplements?

Actually, at least four factors—Timing, Quantity, Combination and Organ Exposure—play a role in how phytonutrients (beneficial food substances) affect the development of certain cancers.


The actual timing of a body organ’s exposure to a cancer fighting substance makes a difference. For example, taking folic acid when there are underlying pre-cancerous colon cancer cells in the body actually increases the risk of developing colon cancer.

Regular soy intake (preferably whole soy products such as miso) by adolescent and young women decreases their risk of breast cancer by about 15 %. Isoflavones in soy attach to the estrogen receptor and block the body’s intrinsic estrogen from attaching to estrogen receptors. By blocking estrogen from attaching to receptors, isoflavones may prevent development of breast cancer.

However, in women who already have estrogen positive breast cancer or who are on tomoxifen, soy intake is generally not recommended. In these women with current or previous history of breast cancer, isoflavones are believed to attach to estrogen receptors and mimics the effect of estrogen to promote the development of breast cancer. (But even that conventional wisdom is evolving! Stay tuned for several recent studies in breast cancer survivors that suggest that soy intake is safe, even in women who are taking anti-estrogen/progesterone receptor therapy.)
In general, whole soy foods rather than soy supplements or powders are recommended. This is an active area of breast cancer research, so hopefully the true effects of soy in women at risk for breast cancer or who have had breast cancer can be more clearly understood.

Quantity of Antioxidants Ingested

The total amount of a potential cancer preventing nutrient that is ingested is also important. In general, increasing vitamin D intake decreases the risk of certain cancers, especially breast and prostate cancer. But more is not always better! Patients who have very high blood levels of vitamin D actually increase their risk of prostate cancer. Very high intake of the combination of selenium, beta carotene and vitamin E has been shown to increase the risk of death in patients with esophageal cancer. So be cautious in your intake of supplements –more is not always better, and it is possible to have toxicity from high levels of supplements.


Combining an antioxidant with other substances makes a difference. The prime example is the use of beta carotene supplements in smokers, which actually increases the risk of lung cancer more than in smokers who did not take beta carotene. Of course we all know that quitting tobacco makes the biggest difference in decreasing lung cancer risk.
Combining fruits and vegetables with unhealthy fats (such as trans fats) rather than olive and canola oils eliminate many of their beneficial antioxidant effects.

The Organ Exposed

Finally, the organ that is exposed to the antioxidants in foods is affected in different ways. For example, the calcium in milk is believed to decrease the risk of colon cancer but may increase the risk of prostate cancer. The effects of calcium in milk cannot be explained just by the fat content of milk because in general, high fat intake increases the risk of both colon and prostate cancer.

In summary, antioxidants in food can decrease the risk of cancer by affecting the epigenetics of DNA susceptible to promoting cancer, but attention must be paid to other factors that can affect these phytonutrients.

This post is not meant to diagnose, treat or recommend any course of therapy. It provides general information on cancer genetics and nutrition. Check with your physician how these factors may impact on your health.

Last updated by Dr. Vee on August 6, 2011

Super Fruits for Health (Or Why Purple is the New Green)

Photographs Courtesy of Albaflickr/J.Jorge

Super Fruits are fruits that are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.

Free radicals are toxic molecules created naturally in the body when food is digested and energy is utilized by the body. Antioxidants are ingredients in fruits that fight damage created by free radicals. Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and eye problems can develop if free radicals aren’t neutralized by antioxidants in the body. Super Fruits have antioxidants which scavenge free radicals and decrease inflammation in the body. Antioxidants also boost the immune system to help fight infections. Many fruits have high levels of potassium, which helps prevent high blood pressure.

1.Blackberries–Purple berries have the highest antioxidant content of any food, so when it comes to fruits and vegetables, purple is the new green! Anthocyanins are the antioxidants in blackberries (and black currants) that give berries their deep purple color and protect against heart disease and cancer. Blackberries also have high levels of vitamin C, which help boost the immune system. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries also have high levels of antioxidants. Cranberries may help prevent bladder infections.

2. Tomatoes–(fruit though we think of as vegetable). Red fruit such as tomatoes have an antioxidant called lycopene which helps prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. Cooking tomatoes increases antioxidant levels. Tomatoes contain high levels of Vitamin E, vitamin C and iron.

3. Avocado–also known as an alligator pear. Contains more protein than in a steak! Avocados have essential amino acids (can only eat in the food, not made naturally in the body) to build muscle. They contain heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The monosaturated oil in avacodos help lower bad cholesterol levels. Contains lutein, which helps preserve eyesight. The antioxidants in avocados are great for the skin when applied as a masque.

4. Red grapes and grape juice–Contains the same heart healthy antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine. Resveratrol is felt to help prevent heart disease and blood clots. The skin of red grapes are packed with polyphenol antioxidants so eat the grapes with the peels on!

5. Pomegranates–one of the earliest cultivated fruits. High in fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Contains antioxidants called polyphenols (tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid) that help prevent heart disease.

6. Kiwi–Can be mashed and spread on meat as a natural tenderizer. Good source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin E. Has antioxidants to help vision and prevent heart disease. Mild flavor so kids will enjoy. One study showed kiwi fruit helped reduce the inflammation of asthma in children.

7. Chili Peppers–All peppers have seeds so are considered fruit (though we often cook them like vegetables). Contain antioxidant called capsaicin, which treats inflammation pain due to osteoarthritis. It is also used as a natural remedy for nasal congestion. Also increases endorphins in the brain so may help improve mood. Peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges! They also have high levels of the antioxidants beta carotene (to help prevent cancer) and lutein (to preserve vision).

8. Figs–Contain lutein that helps maintain good vision. High in iron, fiber, potassium and calcium. Contain polyphenol antioxidants.

9. Oranges–high in fiber and vitamin C, which helps boost immune system. May be helpful in reducing the inflammation associated with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron from the stomach.

10. Apples–Contains pectin, a soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Pectin binds heavy metals like lead and mercury to help the body get rid of these toxins. Contain high levels of vitamin K which helps with clotting function, and vitamin C which helps make healthy connective tissue. Trace mineral selenium helps body’s natural antioxidant system. Antioxidants in apples help preserve brain and memory function. Lots of nutrients in the peel of apples. Consider splurging for organic apples to avoid possible pesticide exposure.

Last updated on March 15, 2011 by Dr. Vee

Restriction Elimination Diet Helps ADHD Without Medication

Photographs courtesy of

The INCA study was a placebo controlled study carried out in the Netherlands that showed a hypoallergenic diet helps treat hyperactivity, inattentiveness and oppositional defiant behavior (such as temper tantrums!) in children not on stimulant medication.

The restriction elimination diet included turkey, lamb, rice, water, salt and pepper, and many vegetables, including cauliflower and cabbage. Children were then challenged with foods, added back one by one, to see which foods caused worsening attention and behavior symptoms. Surprisingly, foods that worsened symptoms in an individual child did not correlate to high IgG immunoglobulin levels as would be expected in food allergy/intolerance. IgE allergy to food was not tested. The authors recommend that food allergy testing not be used to guide food therapy in children with ADHD, instead eliminating food that clinically caused problems in a particular child.

The details of the restriction elimination (RED) diet and the Food Journals used by families enrolled in the study are included n the appendix of the journal The Lancet.

An important detail of this study is that all children were screened to determine if they actually met criteria for ADHD, were of school age and did not take any stimulant medication.

Remember that many kids with ADHD have been found to have zinc deficiency, so it is a good idea to supplement with a multivitamin/mineral. High doses of zinc are not recommended.

Here is my WJXT Morning Show interview discussing a hypoallergenic diet and ADHD.


Dr Lidy M Pelsser MSc, Klaas Frankena PhD, Jan Toorman MD, Prof Huub F Savelkoul PhD, Prof Anthony E Dubois MD, Rob Rodrigues Pereira MD, Ton A Haagen MD, Nanda N Rommelse PhD, Prof Jan K Buitelaar MD. Effects of a restricted elimination diet on the behaviour of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (INCA study): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, Volume 377, 5 February 2011 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62227-1.

Last updated by Dr. Vee on October 22, 2012

Leptin, the Body Fat Hormone

Photograph of Assorted Nuts Courtesy of Stephen Orsillo
Photograph of Citrus and Parsley Courtesy of Sandra Cunningham
Photograph of Man Exercising Courtesy of Suhendra Utet
Photograph of Measuring Tape Courtesy of Irma Marren

Leptin is a protein secreted by adipose (fat) tissue. It was named after the Greek word leptos, meaning “thin.” The more stored fat a person has, the more leptin is secreted. Of course we used to think that fat just sort of, well, grew around the midline and thighs, and was inert. Now scientists know that fat is actually an active organ and makes hormones such as leptin.

Leptin binds specific receptors in the body tissues and organs. High leptin levels also signal the brain to decrease appetite and food intake. Leptin also interacts with the areas of the brain that involves motivation to eat and reward for eating as well as the feeling of being full.

Overeating, high sugar levels, high insulin levels, internal steroids and estrogens all increase leptin levels in the bloodstream.

Losing weight, a lack of body fat such as in patients with anorexia, HIV related weight loss, fasting state, adrenaline, thyroid hormones, testosterone all decrease leptin levels in the body.

Many of us think we have a hormonal reason for being overweight. The truth is that leptin deficiency is exceedingly rare. Rare cases of leptin deficiency are seen in childhood when children eat tremendous amounts of food and become morbidly obese. Because of their leptin deficiency, these children do not enter puberty. It is essential in obese children to determine if leptin deficiency is playing a role. These children respond to pharmaceutical replacement with leptin.

So how about the rest of us? Can leptin injections help with weight loss? Well, the truth is, most people who are obese already have very high levels of circulating leptin. They should lose weight due to the effects of leptin on the appetite and satiety centers in the brain but they don’t! Unfortunately, most people’s brains become resistant to the effects of chronically elevated leptin levels, just like diabetics become resistant to the effects of high insulin in their bloodstream. The exact mechanisms for this leptin resistance is unknown.

So it turns out that leptin is not the magic weight loss drug we thought it could be. Early studies with high dose leptin admininstration did not lead to significant weight loss. Some researchers propose that the addition of a pancreatic hormone called amylin may sensitize the body’s response to leptin. Preliminary studies suggest that the addition of an analogue of amylin called pramlintide may help aid weight loss, although like most weight loss studies, the patient withdrawal rate in this study was high, making conclusions difficult to interpret.

Where leptin may play a role is in the maintenance of weight loss. It is hypothesized that decreasing leptin levels in people who have lost weight increases their appetite and reverses the weight loss they attained. Hence the yo-yo weight loss/weight gain cycle that is so familiar to many of us. So in the future, it may be possible to maintain that hard earned weight loss with the use of exogenous leptin. For right now though, eating healthy portions and exercising are the best way to maintain that weight loss!

Last updated by Dr. Vee on February 27, 2011

Super Foods for Kids

Photograph of Pumpkin Soup Courtesy of Egal

Superfoods are foods packed with higher than average nutrients and antioxidants to fight cancer and heart disease

1. Berries. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries—rich in antioxidants.

• Chokeberries and elderberries (difficult to find) are berries with the greatest antioxidant content

2. Pumpkin—use canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix).

• Has antioxidants vitamin A, E and beta carotene.
• Use in pumpkin pancakes, soup, pumpkin ravioli (fun to make with the kids).

3. Dark Chocolate

• Avoid chocolate with refined sugar, milk fats and hydrogenated oils.
• Want high purity cocoa powder that is high in antioxidants. Avoid cocoa that has been alkalinized by the Dutching process (boils away nutrients). Label should state cocoa/dark chocolate has not been alkalized, has been dried and cold pressed rather than roasted.
• Should consist of at least 70% cocoa
• use cocoa butter instead of milk fats or hydrogenated oils
• contain natural, low glycemic sweeteners such as raw sugar cane rather than refined sugars

4. Nuts have omega 3 Fatty acids.

• Almonds and walnuts are the healthiest source. Almond butter.
• Child’s handful daily.

5. Popcorn—lots of fiber.

• Use unsalted and unbuttered.
• No more than three cup serving (not the huge bag at the theater!).
• It is better to pop popcorn yourself (and more fun with the kids!) than to eat pre-packaged microwave kind. Microwave containers have perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a fluorotelmer in the lining of the bag. Can leak into popcorn during microwave cooking. to infertility, liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Popcorn manufacturers have promised to voluntarily phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan. Accumulates in the body and stays there for years.
• Wait until age one to serve corn and age four for popcorn to avoid choking hazard

6. Antioxidant Lycopene in tomatoes (and tomato ketchup—does that make it a health food????).

•prevention of cancers of the prostate, pancreas, stomach, breast, cervix and lung
•prevention of heart disease
•Better available when tomatoes are cooked, packed in oil or in tomato juice (but these forms have high levels of sodium or dietary salt)
Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce is a good source of lycopene

7.Cruciferous (like a cross) vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts)—steam lightly–nutrients remain even after cooking. (Nutritious value of broccoli INCREASES when cooked).

Vitamin C and K, beta carotene (powerful antioxidant converted to vitamin A in the body), iron, folic acid and potassium.

Contains phytochemicals which prevent cancer by preventing damage to cell DNA. Sulphorophanes prevent damage from carcinogens.

Broccoli sprouts have more sulphorophanes than bean sprouts.
Healthiest cruciferous plant is kale, which is a superfood because it is a great source of antioxidant vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and micronutrients that help eye health (lutein and zeaxanthin). Mix a little in a fruit smoothie or mix in cooked dishes.

8. Beans/lentils-Black beans have the highest concentration of the antioxidant anthocyanin phytonutrients. Other beans with high levels of antioxidants include soybeans, navy beans, split peas, lentils, pinto beans and garbanzo beans.

•Can make soups and hummus.
•Packed with protein, complex carbohydrates (low glycemic index) and fiber.
•Good source of iron, magnesium, folate, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Use in hummus, soups.

9. Sweet potatoes
•twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A
•42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C
•four times the RDA for beta carotene,
•When eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal.
•130 to 160 calories for small to medium sweet potato
•Cinnamon added to sweet potato helps stabilize blood sugar.
•Sweet potato digests more slowly than white potatoes so they are lower glycemic load.

10.Whole grain breads instead of wheat or white bread. Whole grains are rich in fiber and vitamin E

•very low in fat
•The germ and outer coating in wheat and other grains has most nutritional value. Avoid refined grain foods such as white bread and certain breakfast cereals.
•Whole grains typically fortified with folic acid, B vitamins, iron, and whole grain breakfast cereals contain added calcium and vitamin D, too.
•Give kids whole grain breakfast cereals instead of highly processed, sugary cereals. Use whole grain breads for toast and sandwiches, whole grain crackers for snacks, oat bran muffins.
•brown rice instead of white
•quinoa, buckwheat, barley
•whole wheat pasta.
•Add roiled oats to meat loaf

11. Red grape juice—has resveratrol (a flavenoid antioxidant that protects agains blood clots and heart disease) like in red red wine.

• Be careful of sugar—dilute with water and limit intake, especially in toddlers.
•Cranberries and pomegranate juice provides antioxidants, but be careful of the concentrated sugar in juices.

Fatty Cold Water Fish– heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

• Choose wild-caught Alaska salmon over farmed salmon. Farmed salmon has been shown to contain 10 times more toxins, including Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and dioxin, than wild salmon. Farmed salmon are fatter, and the PCBs are stored in this fat. In addition, salmon farms can harbor parasites. Some salmon farms use artificial colorings, which may be harmful to health.
• No more than two or three ounces fish/week for children between the ages of two and six years old.
• Canned tuna is composed of smaller tuna types such as skipjack and albacore (more mercury in albacore than white tuna). In general, the smaller the fish, the less potential for mercury.
• Stick with one tuna fish sandwich weekly in children
• Careful with tuna steaks (made from larger, older tuna which have accumulated mercury).
• Avoid fish such as grouper, tilefish, shark due to high mercury content

Last Updated by Dr. Vee on February 14, 2011

Mirror Mirror On the Wall, Which Friday is Blackest of Them All?

Photograph Courtesy of Gina Smith

I’m in a panic because it is November and I have already missed the “first” Black Friday and now am about to miss the “second” Black Friday of the holiday season. I am fascinated by the marketing phenomenon of this year’s “early” Black Friday. “Traditional” Black Friday (I am waiting for the greeting card industry to get in on this one so I have yet another card to send during the year) is, of course as every smart American shopper knows, the day after Thanksgiving. (Another requirement for a greeting card, I rest my case.)

Last year, a few “genius” manufacturers decided to advertise an “early” Black Friday and they scored a home run in sales. In response, this year, many retailers, desperate for business in difficult economic times, started “early” Black Friday advertising (AKA “sales” and “deep discounts”) as early as July.

No wonder parents feel like a pawn in the endless sea of toy and electronic gadget advertising, aimlessly trying to determine which toys will be “the IT toy” of the holiday season. (Hint: Cabbage patch dolls are NOT hot this year!). Not necessarily the most fun toy, but the item that one “must have.” Kids are still determining which toys they “must have” from Santa this year while manufacturers jockey for position to be the “ultimate number one” toy to have in 2010. (Ta Da!)

I am embarrassed to say that as a pediatrician and a parent, I too have succumbed to the pressure of finding the “IT” toy before the item “runs out” and I have to buy it online for ten times the suggested retail price. Of course, suggested retail price is a relative term, determined primarily by the phenomenon of the “sale” price. I’d rather spend $30 on a toy that is “slashed” from the suggested retail price of $60 than actually buy an item that costs the suggested retail price of $30. And if I can find a coupon for $5 off, well, I am in parents’ retail heaven.

Whew, I am sweating at the mere thought of not being able to get the “right toy” so that my child is not an outcast at school for getting that “educational” holiday present (AKA books or “reading material”). Parents (AKA “consumers”) are now used to the annual ritual of fighting for a small supply of the most popular toys (which will surely be determined by a multitude of manufacturing experts writing online articles now that the first two “early” Black Fridays are over so that one may prepare for the “original” Black Friday, followed by the “late” Black Fridays of the holiday season.) Parents are forced by manufacturers to believe that a toy can’t be valuable unless it is in short supply. The aura of a holiday present is not quite the same unless your Santa gets it when other kids’ Santas were unable to find it in time for the holidays! (Of course finding a coupon and a “drastic reduction” in price helps. None of us wants to admit going overboard on holiday presents!).

Of course the unknown deciding factors this year are the holiday movies geared toward children and teenagers. Can one really accurately determine the “best toys of 2010” until after the movies have come out? (Surely they will be released on what will be known as the third and fourth “early” Black Fridays of this year.) That’s a lot for parents to think about (along with internet safety, bullying and underage drinking)!

How is a parent to deal with all of this? Well go on the internet of course! Right after each Black Friday, there will be plenty of retail “experts” writing internet articles telling us which items are the “official” “must have” items for 2010. I have already read ten “Top Ten Toys of 2010” lists online in the time it took me to write this blog post!

For a second there, I toyed with the idea of dawdling enough to get presents at the “the last and final early Black Friday” of 2010, also known as the “Day after Christmas sale,” which I now believe will be called “the first earliest Black Friday of 2011.” Nah…

Last Updated by Dr. Vee on November 26, 2010

Dr. Vee’s Radio Show Interview About Feeling Good During Menopause: Conversation with Dr. Nancy on Womenspeak.Com

Photograph of Couple Walking on Australian Beach Courtesy of Susinder

Photograph of Woman Courtesy of Ioana Grecu

Timeless Women Speak: Feeling Youthful At Any Age

Dr. Vee speaks with psychologist Dr. Nancy D. O’ Reilly about menopausal symptoms, healthy diet and exercise. Staying healthy mind and body are equally important!

Last updated by Dr. Vee on June 16, 2010

Non-Hormonal Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms and Four Leaf Clovers

Photograph of Woman doing Yoga Courtesy of Invictus999
Healthy Menopausal Woman Photograph Courtesy of Kathy Wynn
Photograph of Rabbit in Clover Patch Courtesy of Jack Dagley

Menopausal symptoms, primarily hot flashes, can be treated with vitamins, specific foods (soy), non-estrogenic herbs (which stimulate the body’s own estrogen levels) and phytoestrogenic herbs (natural non-hormonal agents that have estrogen like effects in the body).

Phytoestrogenic agents should not be used in women with breast cancer or other hormonally related cancers or women with blood clots. Women at high risk of getting hormone related cancers or blood clots should also not use phytoestrogens.

Food that may Relieve Menopausal Symptoms

Soy foods have isoflavins, compounds which binds to the estrogen receptor and relieve hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Tofu, soy milk, tempeh and soy nuts are good sources of soy.

Oh Not Again, Exercise Helps Menopause??

Regular exercise is a must for women experiencing fatigue, weight gain and hot flashes related to menopause. 30 minutes of walking five days a week is recommended.

Vitamins Useful to Menopausal Women

400 IU vitamin E may help hot flashes and night sweats. Vitamin C helps the absorption of vitamin E. B vitamins may help menopausal symptoms. Calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D are essential to prevent thinning of bones in menopausal women. Probiotics (good bacteria) such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacter species help with metabolism and utilization of estrogen and may help reduce vaginal yeast infections.

Ligans in flaxseed oil can stabilize hormone levels in menopausal women. Evening primrose oil or black currant oil are sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that treats menopausal symptoms.

Non-Estrogen formulations

Black cohosh (Cumicifuga racemosa) does not have estrogenic activity. Women who have gone through natural menopause rather than surgical menopause (hysterectomy) seem to respond better to this agent. Black cohosh molecules bind to receptors in the human body which regulate body temperature and hot flashes.

Black Cohosh also helps mood swings and sleep disturbances common in menopausal women. It is commonly taken in tablet form and is known to have the equivalent to 20 mg of root per tablet. Recent trials found that around 40 milligrams per day of such tablets lessened menopause symptoms in 70% of the women tested.

Black Cohosh may reduce weight gained as a result of hormone imbalance. During menopause, as estrogen levels drop, the body looks for other stores of estrogen. Fat cells contain large amounts of this hormone. The body begins to produce more fat cells as a way to boost estrogen levels. Black cohosh balances estrogen levels. It may, in turn, stop the production of fat cells.

Macafem root is a non-estrogenic herb grown in the Andean plateaus of Peru. It increases level of natural hormones in the body. Macafem can help hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, loss of libido and irregular periods.

Keishi-bukuryo-gan, a traditional formula made up of four herbs and a mushroom, is widely used in Japan for treatment of peri-menopausal hot flashes. A variant of it in the United States can be bought over the counter as H25. However, Keishi-bukuryo-gan has not been tested in women with hot flashes related to tamoxifen and other anti-estrogen medications. It is especially effective in women who always feel cold.


Ginkgo biloba boosts blood flow to the brain and improves concentration and cognitive function, which is important for menopausal women who often suffer from memory lapses. Ginkgo contains phytoestrogens (vegetable sources with a similar chemical structure to estrogen) which relace human hormones with plant substitutes. Because ginko is a phytoestrogen, it may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Dong quai helps painful menstrual periods and normalize irregular periods. It can increase risk of bleeding, so it should be used cautiously in women with heavy bleeding or on blood thinners. Dong quai is a phytoestrogen which may increase the risk of breast cancer

There are three common varieties of ginsing available: Native American, Korean and Chinese. They are phytoestrogens which have estrogen like effect in vagina and so they can help relieve vaginal dryness common in menopausal women. Korean ginseng is especially popular among athletes for improving performance and stamina. Ginseng is used to treat decreased libido common in menopausal women.

Red Clover (Trifolium Pratensei) is a phytoestrogen which contains the chemical compound called coumarins, which can thin blood. Use cautiously in women on blood thinners. Red Clover is used in China and Russia to treat upper respiratory illnesses. Ancient Romans and Greeks wore clover on their chest for good luck and as a way to ward off evil. Four leaf clovers felt to be especially lucky.

Last Updated by Dr. Vee on February 18, 2011

The Art of Aging Well: Build Strength and Muscle Tone

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Photograph of Skeeter Lifting Weight Courtesy of Trish BrakkoBrats

Photograph of Man Lifting Weight Courtesy of Paul Moore

How to Age Well by Building Strength and Muscle Tone

Guest Blog (Part Two in the Strength Training Series) by Kim Miller, American Council of Excercise Personal Trainer

Our muscles have an innate capacity to respond to stimuli by growing in size, density, and strength. Here’s how to smartly proceed in a healthy aging strength training program weeks 4-12.

Weeks 1-3 of a Strength Training Program

The first 3-4 weeks are designed to learn proper technique as well as allow the ligaments, tendons, and muscles to adjust to the increased stress that will be placed on them incrementally in ongoing weeks. These opening 4 weeks lay the foundation not only for the body physically, but for the mind mentally.

Strength Training Weeks 4-12

There are pros and cons of using machine weights and free weights. As a novice, machine weights will be a much better option in weeks 4 through 12 of your strength training program. Since this time period is primarily to build strength progressively, machine weights will offer more convenience increasing your chance of continuing your new program, as well as allow you to focus more intensely on working each muscle group rather than on correct body positioning. With machine weights, once you are set up properly, there is little room for misalignment.

Basic Machine Set Up With a Trainer

If you haven’t already hired a personal trainer to get you set up properly in each machine, then now would be a good time. At a minimum have the trainer show you the appropriate settings. You should write them down and have the trainer allow you to practice setting each machine as well as executing each machine so that he may provide feedback. This feedback will be invaluable in ensuring you will practice correctly on your own thus decreasing injury occurrences.

It will take a minimum of 4- 5 sessions with a trainer to acquire the basics. During these sessions, ask the trainer for detailed specifics on how and when to with weights and reps. A good trainer will not overwhelm you but will help you make sense of these opening 12 weeks of base strength training and will assist you in making adjustments for physical limitations.

Machines For Base Strength Training

• Leg Extension
• Leg Curl
• Hip Abductor
• Hip Adductor
• Leg Press
• Chest Press
• Lattisimus Dorsi Pull Down
• Shoulder Press
• Bicep Curl
• Tricep Press Down

Days of Training

For progressive strength gains aim for training 2-3 days per week implementing all of the above exercises in the order indicated. It will be necessary to take a day or two off in between to allow your muscles to rest.


Perform each exercise one time aiming for 10 – 12 repetitions for upper body and 12 -15 for the lower body. You should strive to use a weight that is heavy enough that by time you get to the 10th -12th repetition for upper body and 12 -15 for lower body, the muscle is moderately fatigued.

After you have been doing the upper repetitions in three consecutively training sessions then move up in weight. Most weight machines will have increments of 5 and 10 lbs. If you can at least perform 8 repetitions for the upper body, and 10 for the lower body then keep the increased weight and proceed from there.


Since your objective during this 12 week period is to gain strength primarily for healthier aging, one set of exercise performed to fatigue, according to research, is the most effective means for increasing strength. (The reason many people need to do multiple sets is that they didn’t perform the first one at maximum intensity.)

Your main priority should be to focus intently on each exercise and fatique each muscle group thoroughly. Quality, not quantity, is paramount in gaining muscle and bone strength, density, and most importantly a body that ages well!

Until the next posting, think about this, “Healthy aging may not imply living longer, but do you think it can mean living with less disease, more fun and more vitality?” If so, make just one healthy aging change in your life today.

Don’t push yourself to change everthing all at once. There’s no hurry. One change is good. We’ll work on others later. Life is good. Call if you need to. 904-501-6002

Kim Miller, American Council of Exercise Certified Personal Trainer, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Cleveland State University. ACE is one of the top three accreditation groups in the United States. Kim is also certified as a wellness coach with Wellcoaches. Wellcoaches has earned the coveted endorsement of the American College of Sportsmedicine.

Kim is the owner of BodySmart Inc., and has been writing a weekly health e-newsletter for over a year and a half to an ever increasing readership that extends the globe.

Last Updated May 10, 2010 by Dr. Vee

Oh, My Aching Back! (Dr. Vee Contributed to AOL Health Article)

Photograph of Golfer by Elena Weber

Photograph of Woman Exercising on the Beach by Dusan Zidar

10 Questions About Lower Back Pain

By Deborah Huso (AOL Health Writer)

According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and for most of us, that means lower back pain. While a fair number of people suffering from chronic lower back pain often end up taking the surgical route, more than half of those surgeries result in no change in pain and sometimes even increase pain.

The reason, according to Mitchell Yass, physical trainer and owner of PT2 Physical Therapy & Personal Training in Farmingdale, N.Y., is that most back pain is the result of muscle weakness or imbalance.

So if you’re suffering from persistent lower back pain and seek a doctor’s advice, here are 10 questions you should ask to help get yourself on the mend, hopefully without surgical intervention:

1. What is causing my lower back pain? It’s best to rule out simple causes first. Those might include muscle weakness or spasms, spinal stenosis or disc pain, all of which can be successfully treated without surgery. Ask your doctor to give you a full physical examination.

2. What are the signs my back pain is dangerous? If you’re experiencing loss of bladder or bowel control or numbness around the anus, you may have a more serious problem, and an MRI may be necessary to diagnose the cause.

3. Could stress be causing my lower back pain? New studies have shown that lower back pain is often linked to stress. This manifestation of stress as physical pain in the body is called tension myoneural syndrome.

Craig Antell, osteopathic physician and founder of New York Rehabilitation & Wellness, says he always recommends that patients with chronic back pain who have an obvious stress factor in their lives read “Healing Back Pain” by John E. Sarno, M.D., which helps patients discover and address the link between chronic pain and mental stress.

By addressing stress, one can often relieve the muscle tension in the back that causes pain.

4. Should I use heat or ice to treat back pain? Ice will help relieve pain in the case of muscle spasm or inflammation. With chronic back pain, heat can help. Neither will treat the pain, however, but they will relieve symptoms and make you more comfortable while you recover.

5. Should I be on bed rest? Vandana Bhide, M.D., who practices internal medicine in St. Augustine, Fla., says bed rest is the worst possible prescription and can actually slow recovery.

6. Should I perform exercises to relieve and address lower back pain? Bhide recommends stretching every day before getting out of bed. While your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises for your specific condition, one simple thing you can do before rising in the morning is to lie on your back and pull one leg to your chest and then the other, doing each side 10 times. Then perform the same movement with both legs. Once you get out of bed, perform a cat stretch (curling and flattening your back while on all fours) 10 times.

7. Is physical therapy helpful? Physical therapy is generally the primary and most effective treatment for lower back pain, as it involves hands-on manual exercise in which a therapist will teach you exercises to address your specific pain issue. To be effective, however, you must practice the back exercise regimen at home whenever you experience back pain or to prevent it from recurring.

8. Is any over-the-counter pain medication helpful or necessary? Avoid pain medications if at all possible because they do nothing to address healing. If you need temporary relief, try ibuprofen or naproxen. Your doctor may also prescribe a muscle relaxant or steroids.

9. Should I get an X-ray or MRI? An X-ray or MRI is only necessary if your doctor has ruled out muscle weakness or spasms, bulging disc, or spinal stenosis after a complete physical examination. An MRI is essential if you’ve experienced trauma, have night pain, and or loss of bowel or bladder function, any of which can point to a severe neurological disorder or even cancer.

10. At what point may surgery be necessary, and will it help? Surgery may be necessary if you are experiencing the above symptoms, and it will help in those cases. The reason so many people who have back surgery experience no relief of symptoms is because they have been misdiagnosed. “Always make sure your physician knows the objective cause of the back pain,” says Antell. “Just treating the pain won’t fix back pain for the long-term.”

Last Updated on May 9, 2010 by Dr. Vee

The Tylenol Recall–What a Headache!

This week I went to my sample closet looking for recalled versions of McNeil children’s products. Yes, even some samples were recalled! Fortunately, I found out that I don’t have samples of any of the items. I used to be upset that I rarely received samples of Tylenol or Motrin brands, because it is nice to be able to give some to a parent when their child has a fever (or after immunizations) so that the parent does not have to stop at the store on their way home.

I guess I should be glad that I do not have to track down any patients to whom I have given samples. Since I have received a lot of telephone calls from anxious parents, I thought I better research the recalled items further.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare is initiating this voluntary recall because some of these products may not meet required quality standards. This recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse medical events…Consumers can contact the company at 1-888-222-6036 and also at”

McNeil products websites go on to say, “Some of the products included in the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified; others may contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles.”

McNeil has also recalled certain forms of Motrin Infant Drops (berry flavored) and Children’s Motrin ® berry flavored, dye free suspension. Remember that the infants’ version of any pain reliever is typically more concentrated than the children’s version, and so should not be used in children over the age of one year.

Even certain hospital versions of Children’s Motrin have been recalled, as well as doctors’ samples. Children’s Motrin Cold Formulas have been recalled as well. Remember, over the counter cold medicines are not safe (and also not found to be effective) in children under the age of nine. I wrote about the 2008 recall of over the counter cold medicines on the American Academy of Pediatrics website.

Other products recalled include Children’s Zyrtec Sugar Free Dye Free Bubble Gum flavor and Zyrtec grape flavored syrup in several size bottles.

To find out if you have the formulation that is recalled, enter the NDC (identification) number from your bottle body=/zyrtec/pages/ndc_finder.jsp here.

Children’s Benadryl and Infants’ Benadryl drops were also recalled.

You can get a refund or coupon for future purchase by filling out the McNeil form here.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the recalled medications, including how to dispose of unused medicine and what to do if you have given these agents to your child, are also available.

The recall brings up some really important points for doctors and parents. First, any medication ingested potentially could have side effects or cause problems. So you should only take a medicine or give it to your child if you absolutely need it. That goes double for medications like antibiotics, which are often prescribed without thought to sick patients.

Second, in some cases, there are generic versions which can be used instead of the brand name Motrin (ibuprofen), Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Tylenol (acetaminophen). Other non-sedating antihistamines (except brand name Benadryl) such as loratadine can be used instead of Zyrtec (certirizine).

Last Updated May 9, 2010 by Dr. Vee

The Children’s Television Act 1990-2010

Picture of children watching television courtesy of Heartfelt

Photograph of Mr. Rogers Courtesy of Thoth

The Children’s Television Act (CTA) was passed by Congress in 1990 with the goal of providing educational programming to children that “furthers the positive development of the child in any respect, including the child’s cognitive/intellectual or emotional/social needs 1.”  

In return for providing such educational programming, broadcast stations were given free access to public airwaves.  The Act also required that commercials be limited to 10 minutes an hour on weekends and 12.5 minutes an hour on weekdays. It was hoped that major networks would promote educational/academic shows similar to Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  

However, broadcasters reported shows of questionable educational value as their E/I choices.  For example,  The Jetsons was a show promoted as educational because it dealt with the futue and The Flintstones because it dealt with history.  Although the show GI Joe had violent content, it was hearalded by broadcasters as having pro-social themes.  Leave it to Beaver  was also descibed as educational by networks because it had pro-social messages.

In 1991, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required the clear separation of commercials  and television show host sales from children’s programming, since children have a difficult time distinguishing commercial content from the educational content of a show.

In 1996, broadcasters were required to provide a minimum of three hours per week of educational and informational shows targeted to children under the age of 16 during their prime viewing hours of 7 AM to 10 PM.  Since that time, most major broadcasters, other than PBS and Nickelodean have limited their educational children’s programming to just three hours per week. Most shows have pro-social themes that promote self-esteem and altruism rather than academic/educational themes.

In 2004, the FCC delineated educational programming requirements as television transitioned from analog to digital.  Broadcasters, who can have up to six channels of programming in digital instead of one channel in analog, were required to provide the commensurate  amount of children’s educational/informational programming on each of the channels.

In 2005, the FCC required that educational/informational children’s shows had to show the “E/I” label on the television screen the entire length of the show.

The Commission, in 2006, restricted the display of internet websites that contain commercial matter during children’s programming.

In 2007, the FCC entered into a consent decree with Univision to resolve petitions by children’s and media organizations to deny the broadcaster’s license renewal applications.  It was alleged that Univision’s children’s programming did not comply with the educational requirements of the Children’s Television Act.   Univision voluntarily paid $24 million and developed a children’s educational programming initiative.

Children Now, a non-partisan children’s media research and advocacy organization, evaluated educational shows broadcast by the four major networks from 1997-2008 (2).  Findings included a significant decrease in the number of shows found to be “high quality” and an increase in “moderate quality” shows during this time period. 

In 2007-2008, only 13 % of programming described by networks as educational and informational were determined to have high quality measure.   Health and nutrition messages, especially those that addressed childhood obesity prevention, were “extremely rare.”

The report concluded that current television programming does not meet the original intentions of the Children’s Television Act.  Eight shows were found to contain highly educational content by Children Now:

Sesame Street (PBS)

Beakman’s World (Commercial)

Between the Lions (PBS)

3-2-1 Penguins (Commercial)

Cyberchase (PBS)

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (Commercial)

Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman (PBS)

Teen Kids News (Commercial)

On July 22, 2009, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation  Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., convened a hearing called “Rethinking the Children’s Television Act for a Digital Media Age.”   The Senator said he planned to introduce legislation to regulate children’s media content, citing his “grave concerns about violence and indecency in the media.”

Since 1990, there has developed an array of new screen media available to children–multichannel television such as cable and satellite TV, video games, video programming on mobile phones, interactive video, videos viewed on internet sites such as YouTube and Hulu, texting with pictures attached, digital multicasting of four to five streams of programming, and the potential for interactive programming made possible by the conversion of broadcasters from analog to digital.

At the Senate Commerce Committee hearing in July of 2009, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski spoke about the new landscape of video broadcasting and television.  He recommended empowering parents with tools and information to determine the appropriate video content for their children and teenagers rather than government regulation of video content. 

At the same hearing, James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, a non-partisan, not-for profit organization that advocates for educational children’s media content, said there were ways to regulate children’s media content without limiting broadcasters rights to free speech. 

A full report from the committee is expected to be released at the end of August 2009.

1. “Policies and Rules Concerning Children’s Television Programming Memorandum Opinion and Order,” Federal Communications Commission Record 6,(1991): p.2114.

2.  Executive Summary: Educationally/Insufficient?  An Analysis of the Availability & Educational Quality of Children’s E/I Programming.  Children Now.

Last Updated May 10, 2010 by Dr. Vee

Is It a Wash? Antibacterial VS Regular Soap

Photograph of Child Washing Hands courtesy of Rob Monroe
Photograph of Petri Dish Courtesy of Ruth Rogers

Should you use antibacterial or “regular” soap to wash your hands? Should you use soap at all? I had a teacher in medical school who believed that rinsing hands was as good as using soap. Wrong! Studies show that just rinsing with water may get rid of some superficial dirt, but doesn’t get rid of germs.

So if you have to use soap to remove germs, should you use antibacterial or “regular” soap?

If you are simply trying to prevent the spread of viruses such as rhinoviruses or influenza (cold and flu viruses), regular soap and water work just fine. The additional benefit is that regular soap and water washing does not encourage the development of resistant strains of bacteria.

Most healthcare workers SHOULD use antibacterial soap, because this prevents the spread of bacterial infections. Some important hospital acquired infections include methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile and (yikes!) vancomycin resistant Enterococcus. The concern, of course, is that using antibacterial soap will cause more resistant bacterial strains to develop.

These are very scary infections, because they represent highly virulent (hardy, infectious) bacteria which have developed in response to exposure to standard antibiotics. These strains require super antibiotic therapy to treat. Some strains are resistant to all known antibiotics. Healthcare workers definitely want to prevent the spread of these strains to other patients, themselves and other contacts (e.g. our family members!).

The other option when soap and water is not readily available is to use alcohol gel. It prevents the spread of bacteria and viruses. The only exception is to Clostridium difficile (Yikes again!), which is resistant to the alcohol gel.

Remember, hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of any infections. Twenty seconds (Sing Happy Birthday twice while washing) of vigorous hand washing, including the fingernails (which harbor a lot of bacteria) is needed to effectively remove germs from the hands.

And don’t forget the web spaces between the fingers, which are commonly missed areas during handwashing.

Last updated May 2, 2010 by Dr. Vee

No PayDay Loan Needed!

Photographs Courtesy of Renee Rendler-Kaplan

I love American ingenuity. There is always somebody ready to capitalize on somebody else’s misery.

First, thanks for the many kind words from people who had no idea about the “hamster on a wheel” life of a primary care doctor. I discussed how difficult primary care doctors (internists, pediatricians, family practitioners) are finding it to make a living (I am still waiting for that 10 % pay raise from President Obama. I find it hard to believe that is going to solve the primary care crisis!).

I had to laugh though, when I got a “friendly” comment (AKA Smam) telling me that I qualified for a payday loan.

“$1500 Cash Payday pickup Cash Wired to Your Bank in 1 Hour Apply, E-Sign, and Get Cash Today”

Ha! Free money!!!??? Thanks, you made my day. Laughter is always therapeutic (except during an IRS audit, I guess). I could make more money if I knew how to do internet advertising/spam (which I would, of course, never be ethically willing to do).

Last updated May 1, 2010 by Dr. Vee

Run and Eat–Race for the Taste 5K Run to Benefit EPIC Community Services

The first ever Race for the Taste 5K run was this past weekend. We had over six hundred runners and they were amazingly fast!!!! The setting was beautiful Anastasia State Park, where runners had a great view of the ocean as they ran!

The runners then had free admission to the Taste of St. Augustine, where people could sample different food items and vote for their best in category.

Thanks to Dr. Pineau and everyone at Borland-Groover Gastroenteroloy Clinic for being title sponsor. Orthopedic Associates of St. Augustine, Dr. Marema/Koppman and OB/GYN Associates of St. Augustine were other key sponsors, making this Race incredibly successful! I had fun creating and sponsoring the Runner’s bags (Featuring Ask Dr. Vee, your Holistic Medicine Expert). I also had fun (but was stressed to the max) handing out water to the runners during the race!

Local celebs who ran in the race (and were fashionably dressed to boot, and did not sweat at all despite the 84 degree Florida heat) were too numerous to list, but included Bill Abare (former EPIC Community Services President), Dr. Ram Eyyunni, Dr. Ben Pineau (and son, who runs faster than me!) and Dr. Bill Platko.

All proceeds went to EPIC Community Services, which strives to help patients and families battling addiction through Education, Counseling, Intervention and Prevention.

This year I am Vice President of the Board of EPIC Community Services and am getting on the job training from Bev Slough, St. John’s County School Board President and current EPIC Board of Directors President. Patrick Canan, former EPIC President, and local attorney, did not dress up like Elton John, but he was a sponsor of the Taste of St. Augustine.

Patrick of Gypsy Cab (yummy hummus!) and Lorna McDonald of Raintree Restaurant (yummy berry crepes) were there to help St. Augustine become more tasty.

Thanks to all the great restaurants who were there, Patti Greenough and Teresa Andrews who worked tirelessly to make the event successful!

Rebecca Romaine, was EPIC in helping mastermind such a fantastically successful race. Valerie Lee was the water gal–we are already planning on how to improve our water skills for next year (ok, yeah, garbage cans for the water cups would have been an obvious idea. Also, some of the cups were flimsy. Who knew that you had to test run the cups in advance???) Fortunately, Tara Smith-Vighetti and
Renee Wauldron were there to help pour and hand out water cups during the race!

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

Last updated April 28, 2010 by Dr. Vee