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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, March 25, 2015


Researchers have found that making simple changes to the way rice is cooked can lower its calorie content, by converting some of its digestible starch to a type of starch that our gut enzymes cannot break down.
Rice is made up of both digestible starch and starch that cannot be digested, called resistant starch.  When starchy foods such as potato, rice, and pasta are cooled after cooking, some of the digestible starch becomes resistant starch, thus reducing the calorie and carbohydrate load of the food.  In this study, researchers experimented with different cooking and cooling methods to maximize the conversion of rice starch to resistant starch.  When they added half cup of white uncooked rice (not quick-cooking or fortified rice) to boiling water with a teaspoon of coconut oil (but other oils likely work similarly), then simmered (instead of boiling) the rice for 40 minutes, and then refrigerated the rice for 12 hours, the resistant starch in the rice increased 10-fold.  Briefly reheating the cooled rice for consumption did not decrease the resistant starch content.
How can such a simple change in cooking methods result in a lower-calorie food?  When rice is cooked with oil, the oil penetrates the starch granules, changing the structure of the granules making it harder for our digestive enzymes to break them down. And, when cooled, amylose, the soluble part of the starch, leaves the granules during gelatinization.  During the extended cooling period, the liberated amylose forms bonds that cannot be digested. 
Resistant starches are also beneficial because they fuel the healthy bacteria in our colons.  When consumed by the bacteria, they produce healthy substances nourish the intestinal cells and result in improved insulin resistance, immune function, mineral absorption.
What to do:  To reduce the starch content of carbs like potato, rice, and pasta, try cooking and cooling the items for a day before reheating or enjoying them cold.  Supplementing with resistant starches such as unmodified raw potato starch (e.g. Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch), plantain flour, green banana flour, and cassava/tapioca starch has been found to help reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar spikes after meals.  For best results take the resistant starch with water 30 minutes before meals.  To prevent gas and bloating, start by supplementing with 1 teaspoon once a day and gradually increase to 1 tablespoon three times per day.

Adapted from articles available at:
James S et al. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) resistant starch and novel processing methods to increase resistant starch concentration.  249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, March 2015. Press release & abstract available at:  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/acs-nlr021915.php

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Many population studies have found a strong link between inadequate sleep and rates of obesity and diabetes.  A recent  research trial has found that this relationship may be in part due to the fact that inadequate sleep interferes with fat metabolism and the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.  In the study sleep deprivation lead to increased blood levels of substances called free fatty acids that are known to decrease the sensitivity of cells to insulin.

The study included 19 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 30. The volunteers participated in two sleep scenarios. In one, they got a full night's sleep -- about eight hours a night -- for four nights. In the other, they only got slightly more than four hours of sleep a night.
After a few consecutive nights of getting too little sleep, the men's blood levels of fatty acids increased and stayed high for about five hours in the early morning hours.  During this time, the body had to produce excess insulin in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels.  In the sleep deprived healthy young men, free fatty acid levels and insulin levels resembled what is typically seen in the early stages of diabetes.

Another recent trial found that sleeping just 30 minutes less than recommended increases rates of obesity and high blood sugar among diabetics.  The researchers studied 522 patients at high risk for diabetes.  Participants recorded their sleep patterns throughout the study.  At the start of the study, compared with participants who had no weekday sleep debt, those with sleep debt were 72% more likely to be obese, and by the 6-month mark, weekday sleep debt was significantly associated with obesity and insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance, the hallmark metabolic problem that precedes the development of full-blown type 2 diabetes, occurs when the body's cells fail to respond to insulin, causing blood sugar to remain elevated.   At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance was significantly increased by 17% and 39%, respectively. 

While it is increasingly being recognized that sleep is integral to metabolic as well as immune, cardiovascular, neurological, and nearly all other aspects of health, Americans are getting less sleep.  In the 1960's the average adult got approximately 8.5 hours of sleep but today the average is close to 6 hours. 

What to do:  Make time for sleep.  Your health depends on it.  Limit leisure TV and computer time if it cuts into your sleep and prioritize keeping to consistent sleep patterns.  Getting regular activity and creating a quiet sleeping environment can help those who have difficulty sleeping.  The current daily sleep recommendations are as follows:

Preschoolers (3-5 yrs.) à10-13 hours
School-aged children (6-13 yrs.) à9-11 hours
Adolescents (14-17 yrs.) à8-10 hours
Adults (18-64 yrs.) à7-9 hours
Older adults (65+ yrs.) à 7-8 hours

Adapted from articles available at:

Broussard JL, Chapotot F, Abraham V, et al. Sleep restriction increases free fatty acids in healthy men.  Diabetologia.  April 2015; Volume 58 (4): 791-798.  DOI: 10.1007/s00125-015-3500-4

Endocrine Society.  Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and adversely affect blood sugar control. ENDO March 2015.  Available at:  http://www.newswise.com/articles/losing-30-minutes-of-sleep-per-day-may-promote-weight-gain-and-adversely-affect-blood-sugar-control

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Findings from a new analysis indicate smoking is even more detrimental to health than previous estimates.  It had been estimated that smoking-related diseases kill about half of smokers early, but newer research has put the figure as high as 67%. Data of more than 200,000 Australians,  found that compared to nonsmokers,  smokers who consume a pack each day are four to five times more likely to die prematurely and will, on average, die 10 years earlier than the average non-smoker.  Even just smoking 10 cigarettes each day doubles the risk of premature death.

In addition to the well-known hazards of smoking such as lung, throat, & other cancers, vascular disease, heart attacks, chronic lung disease and stroke, the researchers found that smoking was linked to significantly increased risks of infection, kidney disease, intestinal disease caused by inadequate blood flow, and heart and respiratory ailments not previously attributed to tobacco.

According to the CDC about 42 million Americans --15% of women and 21% of men -- smoke.  Given the additional health problems researchers have linked to smoking, an estimated 600,000 Americans die each year due to smoking related causes.  Despite the damaging effects of tobacco use, quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits including improved circulation and a drop in heart rate. Even quitting late in life can have positive effects. At age 65, giving up tobacco can reduce a smoker's risk of dying of related disease by 50%.

What to do:  If you smoke, try to quit.  Previous unsuccessful efforts to quit do not mean that you cannot succeed.  Keep trying.  Discuss smoking cessation treatment options with your healthcare provider.  Check out  www.nyc.gov/nycquits or call x311 to learn about the many free resources available including local tobacco cessation programs & support groups, and free nicotine patches.

Adapted from articles available at:

Banks E, Joshy G, Weber MF, et al. Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. BMC Medicine2015; 13(1), 38.  DOI:10.1186/s12916-015-0281-z

Carter BD, Abnet CC, Feskanich D.  Smoking and mortality — Beyond established causes.  New England Journal of Medicine. 2015; 372:631-640.  Published online Feb. 12, 2015.  DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1407211