Why do you suggest taking public transit even if you have a car?

Great question! because it isn’t door to door. you have to walk stairs to take the subway, walk to the train or bus. move about. it keeps you on your feet. (it’s also better for the planet – as we’ve seen with Sandy, resources are not unlimited!)

What do you think? Would love your thoughts too!

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Don’t Take Your Legs for Granted: How Hurricane Sandy Reminds Us to Stay Light on Our Feet

On wednesday – day two of the Sandy Black out – I walked from my apartment at 9th and Broadway up to 44th and 6th to find an open Radio Shack, in order to bring my 80-something year old neighbor back an FM/AM tape-deck and headphones. Mrs. H hadn’t had any way to contact the outside world since Monday night and cannot walk down six flights of stairs with her walker. 

Our doormen had been checking in on her daily, which is lucky, but they couldn’t leave their post to get her things. That morning when we knocked and asked if she needed anything she said if we came across a radio she would be so grateful -she felt like she was losing her mind trapped in her apartment without any news or contact. We only knew she was there because we asked the doorman if there were elderly on our floor. I had never met her before. 

The message I posted on Facebook was this: As you – our friends with young legs- freely escape your dark buildings downtown remember that behind all those anonymous hallway doors there may be people who could use a hand, especially as the fray lasts longer than we thought. 
…Now it is Friday and the lights are still out. I am thinking of Mrs. H often because I haven’t been home since I left her the radio and I don’t know how she is. 
I’m also weary of always being on the move, and of sleeping on my future mother in law’s couch. That said, I’m so grateful that I can move – rove really – up and down the city, bad knee and all. 

This storm should be a reminder to all of us. Don’t get complacent. Don’t take your ability to walk far and sweat for granted.

You think life will always come with a hot shower and a ride but now we know there WILL be times when it won’t. It’s hard to combat the way that our jobs and lifestyles literally force us to be sedentary and constantly make it easy to eat more than we need. 

You actually have to fight back. Not just hope you’ll be healthy by having a salad now and then, but work on it. Demand that your body be useful to you. Put it under some pressure sometimes.

I recommend the following.

1. Always take the stairs if it’s 5 flights or less.

2. Use a standing desk.

3. Use public transportation even if you have a car.

4. Leave your office at least once per day for a walk even if you bring lunch, even if it’s cold out.

5. Dedicate at minimum five full hours to vigorous exercise per week, spread out however you like. Vigorous means actually sweating. 

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An APPROPRIATELY sized dessert

– Dr. Robin, Health Uncensored

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Part II: A Two Week Road Map to Happiness Via Your Belly

In my last post I talked about the connection between the gut and the brain, and how your enteric neuro-endocrine system (see last post if this term is eye-crossing), is affected by what you eat and then impacts your mood.

The reality is that eating refined sugar, preservatives, food dyes, other inorganic chemicals that are hidden in processed food, and even what I call “calorie-bombs” like fruit smoothies and bagels, whose simple sugars stream into your system at warp speed, is like waging toxic warfare on your gut.

And when your gut is unhappy, the neurotransmitters and hormones in your gut head off to your brain to make sure you are unhappy too.

If you are skeptical, try the following road trip away from your old food habits and see what happens to your outlook on life. Take two full weeks – enough time to acclimate – and cut out the toxic.

This means strictly avoiding all foods that come in plastic-wrap, tinfoil, cans, frozen containers, and airtight bags, and any other foods that have the capacity to sit in a fridge or on a shelf for more than a week without spoiling.

This does not apply to dried goods like whole-wheat pasta or quinoa.

This does apply to ice cream, canned soup, frozen dinners, any type of chips regardless of whether they say “healthy” or “baked” on the label, “energy” and “protein” bars, deep-fried foods, and drinks other than water or unsweetened tea.

This also applies to alcohol of any kind, and recreational drugs if you use them habitually.

If you’re wondering what’s left to eat, don’t freak out.

Step 1: Go to epicurious.com and write down some recipes that contain kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, endive, turnips, and beets.

Step 2: If you’re someone who feels better eating meat, for these two weeks limit yourself to wild-caught, non-heavy metal-burdened fish like salmon, trout, and sole. Or go for cage-free vegetarian-fed chicken from your local farm if you must.

Step 3: Add some new whole grains into your diet like wheat berries, quinoa, steel-cut slow-cooking oats, and wild rice. Note: instant oatmeal has the fiber cooked out of it so avoid!

 Step 4: Make sure the only sugar you eat comes pre-packaged by Nature. This means tomatoes (organic ones in-season are sweet!), sweet potatoes, apples, pears, and carrots. Local and seasonal are better for your body, because we all evolved adjusting our meals with the seasons – Nature knows what she is doing. But, if you miss the tropics, bananas and mangoes make great desserts.

If you need a sweetener use a bit of raw honey, which is medicinal, pro-digestive, and pro-fertility. Avoid it if you have a lot of inflammation in your body as it is heating.

Step 5: For fats, cook with olive oil, or ghee (clarified butter). Dress your salads with flax oil and sunflower oil as a base. Snack on raw unsalted almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds just a few at a time.

Step 6: Add some love. Avoid foods make in unhappy places by unhappy people. Their energies are pervasive and affect the energy of the food you eat. Instead make your own food for two weeks and be sure to send it some positive thinking as you prepare and eat it, because it’s going to BE you soon enough.

Each day notice how you feel having changed your diet, and write it down. When you crave a beer, go for a walk and drink a glass of water. Start to notice when your instinct is to eat for emotional reasons, boredom, or in response to stress. These two weeks might undo some of those impulses.

Most of all, notice if the way you see the world – or react to life – has shifted at all. You can always go back to your old way of eating.

In the long run two weeks will blow by while you give this plan a shot. Your happiness is worth it.

 – Dr. Robin

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America – this sh*t will kill you.

Cheers,

Dr. Robin/Health Uncensored

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Feed Your Head – Why the Food You Eat Determines What You Feel and How You Deal: Part I

There are only two physical access points between the outside world and the inside of your body. One is your skin. The other is the mysterious tunnel that starts at your mouth and ends at your anus.

Your skin is absolutely important – it absorbs everything from nicotine to sunlight. But leaving it aside for now let’s look at what happens when food ventures from your mouth to your gut and how it impacts everything you feel on a daily basis.

Thanks in large part to the research done by Dr. Michael Gershon at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in NYC, we know that you have a second brain in your gut, called the enteric nervous system. At least 95% of the serotonin in your entire body lives in your intestines and your brain and your gut communicate with each other constantly.

Also living in walls of your gut are hormones referred to as entero-hormones. All hormones, regardless of where they are made in the body, by definition are chemical messengers that swim through your bloodstream and influence every system in your body to some degree. To what degree, exactly, depends on the receptor density in a particular organ or tissue for a particular hormone.

The lining of your intestine is also microscopically thin – one cell layer thick – and creates an intelligent membrane that, in a more intricately choreographed dance than any Russian ballet, absorbs the liquefied broken down version of what you chewed and swallowed into your blood, changing it’s address from external to internal. If you have even a low-grade allergy to one of the substances in what you ate, this – the point of absorption – is when your immune system goes on the attack, leading to unpleasantness.  

Two super crucial points here:

One, there is an enteric (i.e. intestinal) neuro-hormonal system that cross talks with the rest of the systems in your body and impacts those systems, either promoting equilibrium or throwing it off.

Two, the food you eat gets absorbed into your body for processing. From there, if the food contains any toxic materials, those toxic waste products flood first your blood and then your liver and your kidneys, which have to deal with the crisis. If the food is usable on a molecular level, it gets literally repackaged and turned into your tissues.

All of this is a tiny fraction of the evidence for why there is no separation between the food you eat and you, from your bones to your feelings.

 The good news is you have a choice of what items from the external world you put into your internal environment.

 Stay tuned for Part II, where we’ll talk about what foods to eat and what to avoid, to keep your head in line. 

Peace,

Dr. Robin/Health Uncensored


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WTF I’m A Doctor and I Can’t Afford Health Insurance

Today I went online to pay for COBRA, the program that will extend my health insurance from my last job for a monthly fee. That fee is $743.97

At my last job as a resident in a New York City hospital, my insurance came with the job, I had good coverage, and I didn’t have to worry about it, or even think about it.

Now because I’m a consultant, my job doesn’t pay for my health insurance. To keep the same insurance coverage I had before, the out of pocket insurance cost is, after I pay taxes, almost 20% of my income. Even if I never see a doctor. Even if I never fill a prescription.

WTF.

Let’s start here. I am 31, with no major medical problems. I take one medication, the pill, and I take it like you’re supposed to – I’ve never been pregnant.

My BMI is 18.5. My blood pressure is typically 100/60 and my resting heart rate is 60. By every basic metric that we in medicine track to be sure you are doing ok, I am beyond ok.

And that doesn’t even get into my blood work, which so far has been perfect. My HDL is twice as high as my LDL and my total cholesterol is at the very low end of normal. (Normal by the way, is warped in our society – our “normal” ranges are based on a very overfed group of people. No one checked your LDL in the year 1600… our norms have become exaggerated based on very recent steady states that in reality aren’t so steady.)

In addition to all of that, I am vegetarian, and I don’t eat fast foot or junk food or even processed food. I spend $150 or more a month on yoga classes – if you look at my bank statements, you see that I keep paying Kula Yoga Project, Strala Yoga, and Vira Yoga money, so I must be using them. I also do some sort of cardio every couple of weeks, and would join a gym, but between the yoga, and how much I dislike the gym vibe, it doesn’t make sense financially.

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Yes I should pay something for health insurance. I should pay for catastrophic coverage in case an accident should happen or a prolonged hospitalization should be required. I should pay something for prescription drugs. Drugs for high cholesterol, a preventable disease, should I need them, should be covered, but covered less than drugs for say, Cystic Fibrosis, which is genetically inherited.

I should pay something for the ability to go to the doctor’s office for a reasonable co-pay if I need to, and something so that if I need a procedure of some kind that is covered in some part too.

Insurance should be what it’s meant to be. A shared cost in society. A benefit to me in that it creates a collective bargaining power amongst all of us who put into the pool. Yes I should pay up something in advance, so I can get a life saving procedure I could never afford otherwise.

But I should also be rewarded for how I live. For the chronic diseases I will never get that are upwards of 90% of our health care burden. I should not pay 20% of my salary for services I will never use.

And while the example I cite, COBRA, is not the cheapest out there, it, or something just as expensive, is the only way I can continue to see the doctors I have been seeing for the past year — the ones who know me, the ones with whom I have a relationship.

Trust me, as a doctor, when you know your patient, when they are NOT a stranger showing up out of the blue whose history, context, and personality are foreign entities and therefore important but unknown variables that will influence their care and their outcomes, you do your job so much better. You are happier, your patient is happier, and the process is infinitely less wasteful. 

I don’t have all the answers. I do think people should be rewarded for good behavior. I do think what I pay to Kula Yoga should be deducted from my health insurance costs because yoga keeps me both fit, and sane. And the absence of any fast food on my credit card statement should factor in, too.

So should my stats, ie the basic metrics by which we judge anyone’s baseline health  in medicine – BMI, heart rate, blood pressure, and fasting blood sugar.

I believe when we start taking people seriously who take their health seriously, our overall health care costs will be lower, and we will stop the insane waste that is me paying 20% of my salary to an administrative system I don’t use, for care I generally never need. 

Food for thought,

Robin Friedlander MD/Health Uncensored

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WTF I’m A Doctor and I Can’t Afford Health Insurance

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Eating Well is Giving a Present to Yourself

Think of each meal this way. The food you eat literally becomes your tissues, creating your skin, hair, muscles, fat, hormones, heart, bones, senses of smell taste and touch, and emotions. (The latter being just as much you as your eyeballs by the way). 

Eating healthy therefore isn’t about denial. It’s about giving a present to your body from nature every single time you chew.

Eliminate the toxic foods, because you don’t want a toxic corroding body.

Instead choose foods that are delicious and beautiful, and note that beautiful foods (like these tomatoes) are usually the ones that are the least processed and come most directly from nature. They are therefore packed with nutrition.

These are the foods that your body has the easiest time digesting and that create the least toxic waste for your system to clear out. 

Health is a present you give to yourself. It’s not that hard. You don’t need to be an expert in nutrition. Go to the grocery store and look around. These baby tomatoes with olive oil and crumbled feta are fast simple and one of the nicest gifts my boyfriend has ever given to me. 

No lie,

Health Uncensored

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Weight Loss Tip #1 – Avoid COLD Foods and Drinks

I’m studying a Ayurveda right now pretty intensively. Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India. It emphasizes knowing your individual constitution – the unique tendencies you are born with, from how your immune system functions, to the foods you crave and why, to the way you metabolize food.

Because of this there are few blanket statements in Ayurveda, and this is why I love this medicine. Unlike in western medicine where we prize treating everyone in a standardized way, in Ayurveda, what is good for my constitution is not necessarily good for yours, and we should all tailor what we eat and how we live based on our individuality.

That said, one weight loss tip from Ayurveda that is a strategy worth trying for anyone who needs to lose weight is this. Avoid cold drinks and foods. Because when cold matter hits your digestive system it dulls and constricts the metabolic fire you need to assimilate food, and the cold shock tells the body to add more fat as insulation, in preparation for next time! You should even avoid too cold A/C!

Rather than drinking cold water, try warm or hot water with a teaspoon of raw honey, a squeezed wedge of lemon and a dash of black pepper. This will keep you full and warm and tell your body it’s ok to shed pounds.

This does NOT meant drink ten bottles of honey-lemon-pepper water a day. In Ayurveda, too much of something is as bad as too little, and balance is the key to health. Just 2 or 3 cups to curb hunger, warm you up, and keep your metabolism running.

Love,

Health Uncensored

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