The real skinny on holistic bariatric surgery

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

I recently read a really well-done book by a highly successful bariatric surgeon in Dallas and former UTMB medical student.

Dr. Nick Nicholson’s book, “Weight Loss Surgery: The Real Skinny,” is an essential read for those of you who might be contemplating surgery for your weight problem, as well as for your family and friends. Such surgery has become the second most common general surgery procedure after gallbladder removal. So if you haven’t met someone who has had this surgery, you surely will.

Bariatric means relating to weight loss, thus bariatric surgery involves one of several types of procedures to help people lose weight. This is not a minor event. If your six-pack has turned into a 12-pack, you are 10-30 pounds overweight, don’t fit into your favorite dress or jeans, bariatric surgery is likely not for you. It is not a cosmetic treatment like getting a face-lift or getting a boob job.

Your BMI needs to be over 40, or over 35 if you have certain obesity related medical conditions to even qualify for this kind of surgery. Additionally, most insurances, if they cover this treatment, require psychological evaluation, documentation of failed attempts at diet, exercise, and the usual approaches to losing weight. Continue reading

Testosterone plays role in obesity for men

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Men, there is now a simple medical biomarker at-home test for you called CYCYP.

Look straight down and see if you can see your … mmm, anatomy. If not, likely you are suffering from visceral or belly fat, or maybe you have a vision problem.

For many years, we guys have thought of the obesity issue as something that mainly troubled the fairer sex.

It seems it has always been culturally appropriate for the ladies to be concerned about their shapely figures and how to stay attractive for us guys.

We men rarely, if ever, seem to be concerned or even discuss such matters outside of the gym.

However, the surprising news is that obesity or overweight rates for men are at 72 percent and rising, and for women it is 64 percent and stable.

Men also have a higher risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease with a life expectancy of 76 years compared to 81 for women. Continue reading

Yes, there is a weight-loss microbe living on and in us

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

John Donne wrote, “No man is an island.” Scientists would agree — man is more like a forest.

And just like the flora and fauna that call the forest home, each human body houses tons of other species in the form of microbes. In fact, most people have 10 times more microbes in and on them than their own cells!

These microscopic organisms live on skin, within the gastrointestinal tract, and inside mouths, helping the human body function and keeping it healthy. Now, new research shows that a certain microbe has huge influence on a person’s weight.

Science is just beginning to understand how the relationship between microbes and human cells, tissues, and organs contributes to good health. The key here is mutualism — the cooperation that benefits both the microbes and the human. Continue reading

A top 10 list to die for

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

How are you going to die?

The Centers for Disease Control would answer that life expectancy depends greatly on where someone lives. Life expectancy in the United States ranks 40th in the world with 77.97 years. That addresses when someone might die but what about how? Most likely, it will be from one of these top 10 causes, based on how many Americans they kill each year.

10) Suicide – 38,285. Many factors are now known to influence suicide: mental illnesses, genetics, certain pharmaceuticals, traumatic brain injuries, drug and alcohol abuse and chemical or hormonal imbalances. To decrease these rates, education about the signs preceding suicide and accessible treatment is necessary.

9) Kidney Disorders – 45,731. Although dialysis can help people survive a little longer without a kidney, it is no cure. Kidney damage can occur from infection, high blood pressure, or toxic reactions to drugs, leading to chronic kidney disease that affects more than 26 million Americans. Continue reading

Healthy Grilling: Barbecue can be good for you

Drs. Victor & Michelle Sierpina

Drs. Victor & Michelle Sierpina

Down here in Texas, barbecue is pretty much a religious ritual. You name it, from shrimp and seafood to the basic beef, pork, chicken and game meat, there is rarely a person who doesn’t love the smoky smells, social conviviality, and opportunity for creative cookery that grilling brings.

We love to soak wood chips, mesquite, cherry, apple or hickory and put them in a tray inside our gas-fired grill. The smoke smells so nice we usually open the screen to let it blow into the house for a “barbecue incense” experience!

Grilling is a fun, inexpensive form of home cooking, keeps the house cooler in the summer than cooking indoors, and can be a great time with family and friends. Sometimes, these intangible benefits are more important to our health and well-being than any other factor related to the foods themselves. Happiness and joy are good for our health. Continue reading

Kale: Can you really eat it?

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

At a recent fundraiser for Meals on Wheels, the wonderful chef at the Galveston Country Club served a lovely salad made with kale.

A friend sitting with us who runs one of Galveston’s finest healthy eating establishments expressed an opinion that many of us may hold about kale: it is a nice ornamental in your garden or a garnish on the plate, but who would eat that bitter stuff?

So why, when a friend of my wife’s gave us a couple big bunches of organically homegrown kale was I as happy as a 10-year-old with a new pony? Because kale is a really healthy, nutrient-dense addition to the menu plan and offers many ways to enjoy it. Americans are falling in love with kale like never before, even raw kale. Continue reading

Making diabetes care less costly

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Some good news came out recently for those with type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetics that will lower the burden and costs of your care. If your hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) level is under 8 and you are on oral medications, you don’t need to monitor your glucose daily beyond the first 6 months of starting therapy. This is also true of those on medical nutrition therapy. A review of multiple studies by the Cochrane Collaboration found that monitoring home blood sugars 4-7 times a week in such patients does not reduce the HbA1C more than less frequent self-monitoring of 1-2 times a week.

This is good news since the cost of glucose strips and the discomfort and inconvenience of daily finger sticks has long been a nuisance to patients. Diabetes is a costly disease already in terms of human suffering from serious issues such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and circulatory problems sometimes requiring amputation. It is also expensive to manage diabetes due to the costs of medications, monitoring, doctor visits, testing supplies, special shoes, and hospitalizations.

So at least, this one component of perhaps reducing your monitoring frequency should make your life easier.  Consult with your doctor about this change in recommendations to make sure it is appropriate in your case. Continue reading

Keeping that weight off

Americans don’t lack methods of dieting – South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Slim Fast, detoxing, juice cleanses – but not all are healthy. With public health organizations and the media constantly remarking on the obesity epidemic in the U.S., new studies on approaches to start and maintain weight loss couldn’t come at a better time.

A new study conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the weight loss and subsequent weight maintenance of three popular dieting approaches: low-carb diets, low-fat diets and low-glycemic diets.  Continue reading

7 simple steps for a healthy, happy 2013

By Lynn Maarouf

Statistics tell us the “average” American gains a lot of weight over the holidays. Many people who usually eat well are pressured by loving hosts to eat high-calorie foods they would never choose on an ordinary day.

Let’s look at a few simple steps to stay healthy and make it a lucky 2013:

1. Move it! The best time to exercise is before a holiday meal. It gets your metabolism revved-up to burn those calories off faster. Take a trip to the gym or spend an hour walking before you eat. A nice piece of cake will be at least 300 calories. It would take a minimum of 50 minutes of walking for most of us to burn that off.

2. Fill up with fiber and water. Eat a high-fiber cereal with at least 8 grams of fiber in the morning. This helps you feel less hungry and decreases the temptation to overeat. Aim for 20 grams of fiber a day and a big appetite won’t be a big problem. Break out those sandwich thins for five extra grams of fiber. And drink enough water to help that fiber swell and take up lots of room. Continue reading