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Blog author, Solai Buchanan is an experienced Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with an MS from Columbia Teachers College. She specializes in treating heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome,and other chronic diseases. She is a provider at a full-service cardiology practice accepting most insurance and staffed with a primary care MD, pediatrician, and cardiologist. Call: 718.894.7907. NYCC is lead by Interventional Cardiologist Sanjeev Palta, MD, FSCAI, FACC. He trained at Cornell-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the State University Hospital of Brooklyn. He currently is an Attending Cardiologist at New York Methodist Hospital and Maimonides Medical Center. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Having performed over 2000 invasive cardiac procedures Dr. Palta’s patients know they are in trusted hands.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Millions of Americans attempt to lose weight each year, spending an estimated 66 billion on weight loss related products and services.  In a recent review, researchers examined the existing research on the weight loss and heart health effects of following Atkins, South Beach, Zone, or Weight Watchers. 

Atkins, Zone, and South Beach are all diets that emphasize carbohydrate restriction while Weight Watchers has more flexibility as to carbohydrate composition.  While the diets differ in the amount of carbohydrate allowed (with Atkins eliminating nearly all carbohydrate at the initial stages), all emphasize moderating energy intake and choosing slowly digested carbohydrates rather than refined grains and sugars.

The recent survey of the research on these diets found that after 12-months, all plans were similarly effective in producing modest weight loss but that individuals often regained most of the lost weight over time.  At 12-months out, the diets produced modest improvements in blood cholesterol and blood pressure though results varied across studies, with improvements varying more according to level of weight loss rather than diet type. 

While the diets yielded similar results, persons following Weight Watchers lost slightly more weight than those following the other plans.  Unlike the other plans, Weight Watchers, has a social component – individuals attend weekly meetings in which their progress is shared with a group.

What to do:  The fact that all four diets produced similar results indicates that weight loss is less about diet composition (i.e. low carb vs. low fat) and more about behavioral modification.  All the diets emphasized keeping a record of one’s intake and tracking one’s weight.  And, even if the diets vary significantly in their initial induction phases, long-term, they emphasize intake of high-volume low calorie foods like green vegetables, preparing foods at home rather than eating out, and limiting refined grains and sugars.  So, weight management is not about finding the magic food formula but making a long-term commitment to a healthy lifestyle and practicing the behaviors that keep you focused on making healthy food choices – making time to prepare food, tracking your weight and intake, and finding a supportive community.

Adapted from articles available at:

Atallah R, Filion KB, Wakil SM et al. Long-term effects of 4 popular diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.  2014; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.113.000723/-/DC1.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Recent studies have shown that kidney stone rates are on the rise across the country.  About 13% of men and 7% of women in the U.S. will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime. Without treatment, up to 50% of those people will have a recurrence within five years. The American College of Physicians (ACP) recently reviewed all research studies on kidney stones published since 1948 to formulate updated treatment recommendations.

Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that form inside your kidneys.  They are created when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together.  The most common symptom is severe pain. Most stones pass on their own, but medical procedures are necessary to remove some kidney stones.

What to do:  The APC advises the following to prevent stone recurrence:
  • The first and foremost line of defense against kidney stones is to drink plenty of water -- at least 12 cups but fluid needs vary depending on body size, weather, activity level, etc.  Drink enough that you produce at least 2 liters of urine.  Since most of us do not measure, make sure you are drinking enough to keep your urine very light. 
  • Talk with your doctor about prescription medications that help to prevent recurrence including thiazide diuretics, citrate, and allopurinol.
  • Moderate foods high in oxalate (such as chocolate, beets, nuts, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, tea, and wheat bran) and pair high oxalate foods with a calcium source such as dairy.  Do not limit calcium intake but instead eat a diet rich in calcium. 
  • Control sodium intake.  High sodium intake increases calcium losses and stone formation. 
  • Moderate intake of meat and animal proteins.  These foods are high in purines and increase the acidity of urine.  Organ meats, anchovies, sardines, bacon, beef, lobster, shrimp, cod, ham, veal and venison are especially high.
  • Minimize intake of dark colas such as Coke & Pepsi.  These are very acidic and increase calcium in the urine.  
Adapted from article found at:


Qaseem A, Dallas P, Forciea MA, Starkey M, Denberg TD. Dietary and pharmacologic management to prevent recurrent nephrolithiasis in adults: A clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal  Medicine. 2014;161:659-667. Doi:10.7326/M13-2908


A new study has found yet another reason to steer clear of sugary drinks.  Researchers found that independent of weight, drinking a daily 20-ounce soda is associated with an increased rate of cellular aging comparable to smoking.

Researchers assessed cellular "aging" by measuring telomere length.  Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. They are combinations of DNA and proteins that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. As they become shorter, and as their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker. Shorter telomeres are associated with decreased life  span as well as a host of chronic diseases including heart disease, vascular dementia, diabetes, and some types of cancer.   

In the study, researchers collected information on dietary intake and measured the telomere length of 5,309 participants, ages 20 to 65, with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.  They found that compared to those who drank less than an ounce of soda daily, those who drank an average of 8-ounces of soda experienced an additional 1.9 years of aging.   About 21% of the sample consumed on average at least 20-ounces of soda per day.  This level of consumption was equivalent to an average of 4.6 years of telomere shortening. This effect on telomere length is comparable to the effect of smoking, and to  the effect of regular exercise in the opposite, anti-aging direction. 

What to do:  Quit the sugary drinks already!  Diet drinks did not appear to be associated with telomere length so opt for these when you really need something sweet but most of the time, opt for water.  Try flavoring water or seltzer with lemon, oranges, mint, a splash of juice, cucumbers, or herbal tea to keep your taste buds satisfied.  In addition to consuming a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, minimizing stress, and not smoking help to preserve telomere length.     

Adapted from articles available at:  


Leung CW, Laraia BA, Needham BA, Rehkopf DH, Adler NE, Lin J, Blackburn EH, Epel ES.  Soda and cell aging: Associations between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and leukocyte telomere length in healthy adults from the national health and nutrition examination surveys. American Journal of Public Health. 2014.  doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302151