The Potato Chip Study

July 12, 2011

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the link between specific foods and weight loss or gain.    This paper squashes the notion that weight gain or loss is just a simple equation of caloric intake versus energy expenditure. What we eat matters too!

The Details:

120,877 U.S. people including 22,557 men, who were free of chronic diseases and not obese at baseline, were followed in this study. They were enrolled in 1 of 3 separate cohort studies with follow-up periods of either 1986 to 2006, 1991 to 2003, or 1986 to 2006.

The Foods:

Researchers looked at the dietary consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, refined grains, potatoes (including boiled or mashed potatoes and French fries), potato chips, whole-fat dairy products, low-fat dairy products, sugar sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, processed meats, unprocessed red meats, fried foods, trans fats, nuts, 100% fruit juice, and diet soda.

The Results:

Individuals who ate the fewest potato chips, potatoes, sugar -sweetened beverages, processed meat, and trans fat gained the least amount of weight over time.

In this study, consuming a serving of potato chips each day led to a 1.69 lb weight gain over a 4-year period.  Eating french fries was even worse, leading to a 3.35 lb weight gain!

Not surprisingly, the highest weight gain occurred in individuals with the lowest overall consumption of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, or yogurt.    The researchers discovered that daily consumption of nuts was associated with slightly more than half a pound of weight loss (-0.57 lb) over a 4-year period, and yogurt a -0.82 lb loss.

The Quick and Dirty Take Home Message:

To look and feel your best, eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and yogurt.  Limit your consumption of simple carbohydrates, sugars, refined grains, desserts, and especially fried simple carbohydrates like French fries and potato chips.


1.  The Potato Chip Study: Commentary by Jacob Schor, ND FABNO; Natural Medicine Journal. 7/6/2011

2.  Mozaffarian D. Tao Hao PH. Rimm EB.Willett WC. Hu PH. Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404.

-Dr. Carly Bridge


Summer Ready Skin

June 2, 2011

Bring on the shorts, sundresses and bikinis…but only if your skin is ready. We all love showing off our summer glow. Unfortunately, at this time of year your skin might not really be glowing yet. What to do? Exfoliate!

There are many products on the market for this very important step in every woman’s beauty routine, but you have to be careful. So many beauty products contain unnatural and unsafe ingredients. Many of these ingredients are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. When reading labels, always ask yourself “could I eat this ingredient?” If not, then it absolutely does not belong on your skin.

My favorite exfoliating treatment is one that I make myself. It’s so easy to do, so inexpensive and so effective. I recommend you try it at home and get a jump start on your summer glow. Always use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Dr. Amy’s Herbal Exfoliant

  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup raw almond
  • ¼ cup dried rose petals
  • ¼ cup dried calendula flowers

If you struggle with acne or rosacea, then I recommend that you also add ¼ cup of chamomile flowers for their anti-inflammatory action.

If you can’t tolerate gluten in your diet, then use finely ground cornmeal (polenta) instead of oats.

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you have a uniform semi-coarse powder. Transfer to a jar for storage.

When you’re ready to exfoliate, put about one Tablespoon of the powder into the palm of your hand and add enough honey to make a paste. Rub gently on your face, neck, chest, arms…anywhere that you need to shed some winter layers.

If you want to really harness the antimicrobial and moisturizing properties of honey, the skin-building action of almond and the skin clarifying properties of rose and calendula, then try leaving the mixture on your skin for a few minutes before rinsing.

This herbal exfoliant is safe enough to use every day, even if you have sensitive skin. Mix some up and give it a try…you’ll thank me when you see your summer glow!

–Dr. Amy Hawkins

(Excerpted from “Real Age” website)

Think outside the sports-drink bottle when you’re looking for a workout beverage. New research puts the “gives you an edge” spotlight on this vegetable drink: beet juice.

In a small study, people who drank the juice daily for 6 days needed much less oxygen during a treadmill exercise test. Translation: Exercise actually felt easier to them.

A Fitness Elixir?
Beet juice’s exercise-enhancing power likely comes from the nitrates in beets. This bears out in the study, where the participants were split into two groups — one drinking regular beet juice each day and the other drinking beet juice stripped of its nitrate content. And exercise became easier only for the juice-with-nitrates group. Compared with the no-nitrates group, the nitrates group needed about 12 percent less oxygen during the treadmill exercise test. The nitrate group was also able to run longer at fast speeds before reaching exhaustion.

Big Beet Benefits
Our bodies convert the nitrates in beet juice to nitrites — helpful little compounds that help dilate blood vessels, increase blood flow, and help reduce the amount of oxygen muscles need to do work. So it’s not surprising that the nitrates group in the study also experienced a dip in their blood pressure after drinking the juice regularly. Beets also contain quercetin and resveratrol — two powerful antioxidants that may help protect against oxidative stress caused by exercise.

Happy New Year! What’s on your list of resolutions? Many of you probably have “lose a few pounds” somewhere near the top of the list. And since 2011 is still fresh and new, chances are that you’re actively working toward that goal. We all know that we can accomplish healthy and safe weight loss by being conscious of good nutrition and spending some extra time burning calories at the gym. But did you know that sleep also plays a huge role in weight loss and maintenance of healthy weight?

Over the past few years, many studies have linked reduced sleep with increased weight. This data comes in all shapes and sizes (pun intended). Women (and men) who get less sleep gain more weight, gain weight faster, have a harder time losing weight and have much higher risk for current and future obesity.

Most of us are guilty of not getting enough sleep. Modern life provides us with light and activity well into the night. We stay up late going out with friends, watching TV, working and checking email. But at what cost?

Well, since we’re focusing on weight loss, I’ll lay it on the line. Inadequate sleep totally undermines any effort at losing weight. A study released in October reported that “sleep curtailment decreased the proportion of weight lost as fat by 55% and increased the loss of fat-free body mass by 60%.” Whoa. In non-scientific terms: if you don’t get enough sleep, then you burn muscle instead of fat.

Inadequate sleep also causes hormonal changes including higher levels of cortisol, increased ghrelin and decreased leptin. This is a bad combination. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Chronically high cortisol levels tell your body to move fat to your abdomen. Increased ghrelin and decreased leptin result in increased appetite. Consider these hormonal shifts along with the fact that those who burn the midnight oil tend to go for a late night snack to keep their motor running. Hmmmm…

Most of the studies that have been done on the negative effects of sleep deprivation have examined less than 5.5 hours vs. more than 7-8 hours of sleep and the data is staggering. We’re learning so much more every day about the importance of sleep. We now consider lack of sleep to be a significant contributing factor in high blood pressure, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and high cholesterol in addition to obesity. We even know that exposure to altered light/dark cycles (which is what we do to ourselves when we stay up late with the lights and/or TV on) can actually make nerve cells shrink, altering thoughts and emotions. Not good. You seriously want to sleep more than 7-8 hours every night. Trust me.

In my opinion, it’s even better to sleep around nine hours per night. Why? An adult sleep cycle is three hours long. When our sleep cycles are interrupted, we don’t get the restorative benefits of all the different levels of sleep. So why not let yourself get three full cycles and go for nine hours? I know that sounds crazy, but do the math. If you have to get up at 7 am, then you go to bed at 10 pm. That’s totally manageable.

If you have a hard time winding down at night, then establish a bedtime ritual. Lower the lights about 30-60 minutes before you want to go to bed. Have a warm bath, brew some chamomile tea, read a good book. It’s best to avoid computers and TV during this time. Light in your eyes = less melatonin production. Melatonin is your natural sleep hormone. You get the idea.

To help you sleep better and for longer, make sure your bedroom is quiet and totally dark. If you have city noise that keeps you up at night, get a white noise machine or an air filter. If you have ambient light that comes in your window, get a blackout curtain. If you have a digital alarm clock with bright lights, cover it up.

Yep, you’re going to sleep your way into those skinny jeans. And even if you’re already in skinny jeans (you lucky girl), adequate sleep will provide a myriad of other benefits. Sweet dreams.

-Dr. Amy Hawkins

Spa-ahhhhh day

December 27, 2010

Our bodies have four major routes of elimination: the colon, the liver and kidneys, the lungs, and the skin.

The largest of these systems is our skin, which excretes up to a third of all the body’s impurities. Fat and water soluble toxicants and toxins, including insecticides, herbicides, solvents, toxic metals (like mercury) and natural body waste, can all be encouraged to leave the body more rapidly by stimulating sweating. Numerous studies support these findings and have demonstrated that heat-induced sweating (i.e. sauna’s) increases the sweat content of many toxicants [Ishiyama 1979, Henderson 1973, Root 1987, Schnare 1986, Tretjak 1990 Human & Exper Toxicol, Tretjak 1990 J Environ Sci, others]. Not surprisingly, vigorous exercise also reproduces these effects.

Most of us however don’t utilize our eliminatory organs as often as we should. My professor, Dr. John Hibbs said, “We eat fiber-poor, nutrient-poor diets, we don’t drink enough water, we don’t breathe deeply, we don’t sweat enough, and we don’t relax enough.” So today, Dr. Cullen and I are headed to the Olympus Spa to sweat and relax!

 The Olympus Spa is a Korean-style women’s only facility that has heated rooms, hydrotherapy pools, and saunas. Dr. Cullen and I both love the 140 degree salt room, as well as the ice plunge pool that allows us to practice an old nature cure technique called Contrast Hydrotherapy.

Contrast Hydrotherapy is a simple therapeutic technique used to increase circulation and promote detoxification. The contrasting application of hot and cold creates a pumping action that moves blood throughout the body. This increase in circulation brings nutrients, oxygen and immune cells to stressed and damaged tissues; at the same time metabolic wastes and inflammatory mediators are carried away.

Best of all, contrast hydrotherapy can be anywhere, not just at the spa. Here’s how to do it at home:

  1. At the end of your hot shower turn the water temperature to cold for 30 seconds.
  2. Switch the water temperature back to hot for 3 minutes; then cold for 30 seconds
  3. Repeat for a total of three hot-cold cycles, finishing with cold water.

So the next time you are in serious need of a spa day, please GO!    Doctor’s orders.

-Dr. Carly Bridge