We are constantly bombarded with headlines on TV and social media claiming the benefits of some new and radical diet. The number of diets is more than can be listed. So where should you start? What is the optimal diet that has been scientifically proven to reverse chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, autoimmune diseases among others and maintain an optimal weight?
First, let’s define what your body needs to maintain ideal health. Your body requires certain macronutrients called protein, carbohydrates and fat, but also needs micronutrients including vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Macronutrients are required in large amounts and provide the body with energy through calories. Micronutrients are required in small amounts and are essential for chemical reactions to occur in the body. Deficiencies of macro or micronutrients can lead to malnutrition and a variety of diseases. Many Americans eating the standard American diet are unknowingly suffering from malnutrition due to their poor diet.
The healthiest foods will contain a high nutrient density to a low calorie ratio, thus supplying the body with required nutrition without excess calories that can lead to obesity. This means foods should have many nutrients for every calorie, instead of empty calories such as processed foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Now, which foods contain the highest nutrient density? The answer is simple and is supplied to us by nature, unprocessed whole plant foods especially dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and collard greens.
Whole plant foods are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans or legumes. A healthy diet will contain all of these foods every day and contain colors that cover the rainbow. This will ensure that all the nutrients required for optimal health will be consumed on a daily basis. Animal derived foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk and dairy products are full of saturated fats and cholesterol with a low nutrient density per calorie. Thus, to getting the biggest bang for your buck, focus on plants!
Measles, What You Need to Know
It is hard to imagine that just over 50 years ago there was not a measles vaccine available in the United States and most children contracted measles by age 15. That means that approximately 3 to 4 million Americans were infected annually, that 400 to 500 died, 48,000 ended up in the hospital and 4,000 developed encephalitis which is swelling of the brain according to the CDC. Even though measles was declared eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) in the United States in 2000 we continue to have outbreaks with the largest occurring last year with 644 cases. This year we already have 84 cases that have been linked to an outbreak at Disneyland in California. Although, the investigation is ongoing it appears the majority of infected individuals were not vaccinated.
The vaccine is 97% effective after two doses of the vaccine, the first at 12-15 months old and the second at 4 to 6 years old. Only 3 out of every 100 people vaccinated will contract the measles and the disease is typically much milder than those who are unvaccinated. So your best protection is vaccination.
Here are the facts about measles.
• Symptoms appear 7 to 14 days after exposure.
• Symptoms begin with high fever up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes.
• Two to three days later small white spots may appear in the mouth called Koplik spots.
• During days three to five the trademark rash will appear, starting as flat red spots at the hairline spreading downward to the neck, body and then outward to the arms, legs and feet.
• The flat red spots may become raised and then the spots may run together as the rash spreads.
• Symptoms may last up to a week.
• The measles is spread through coughing, sneezing and contacting a contaminated surface as the virus can survive up to two hours outside its human host.
• The measles is highly contagious infecting up to 90% of unimmunized people who come into contact with an infected person.
• Infected individuals are contagious for four days before and four days after the rash appears.
• Complications of the measles include pneumonia, encephalitis, diarrhea, ear infections and death.
• A very rare and serious complication is subacute sclerosing pancephalitis (SSPE) that occurs 7 to 10 years after a person has contracted and recovered from the measles. It affects the central nervous system and is fatal.
Remember vaccination is your best protection and if you are unsure if you are immune or had the vaccination ask your doctor for laboratory confirmation that you are immune or you can get the vaccine. There is no harm in receiving the vaccine again if you did as a child. You will need to receive two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine separated by 28 days.