Posted on August 5, 2012. Filed under: diet, diet | Tags: , , , , , |

Many of us do not get adequate sleep. The routine of not getting enough sleep contributes to weight gain and make weight loss more difficult. Most people require seven (7!) hours of sleep each night for optimal health and weight management. Sometimes people on weight loss plans use more caffeine to reduce food intake. This may be counterproductive because increased caffeine intake may aggravate the weight problem. Often inadequate sleep is related to poor stress management. Good sleep “hygiene” or practices include: planning your bedtime so you will get seven hours of sleep each night; doing relaxing things like reading or listening to soothing music for 30 minutes before “to sleep time”; quiet meditation at bedtime; and not watching TV during this last 30 minutes before “to sleep time.” Good luck, Jim


1.   Leproult R, Copinschi G, Buxton O, Van CE. Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep 1997;20:865-70.

2.   Vgontzas AN, Bixler EO, Chrousos GP, Pejovic S. Obesity and sleep disturbances: meaningful sub-typing of obesity. Arch Physiol Biochem 2008;114:224-36.

3.   St-Onge MP, Roberts AL, Chen J et al. Short sleep duration increases energy intakes but does not change energy expenditure in normal-weight individuals. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:410-6.

4.   Patel SR, Hu FB. Short sleep duration and weight gain: a systematic review. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008;16:643-53.

5.   Chen X, Beydoun MA, Wang Y. Is sleep duration associated with childhood obesity? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008;16:265-74.

6.   Patel SR, Malhotra A, White DP, Gottlieb DJ, Hu FB. Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:947-54.



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Simple Lifetime Diet

Posted on June 9, 2012. Filed under: cholesterol, diabetes, diet, high blood pressure | Tags: , , , , |

The Simple Lifetime Diet is a health-promoting diet for everyone. It encourages use of high fiber fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods as well as protein sources such as low-fat dairy products and lean meats such as chicken, turkey, fish and very lean cuts of pork and beef. This diet is especially beneficial for persons with diabetes, high blood pressure or blood fat abnormalities. Our research, summarized at, documents these benefits: prevention and reversing diabetes, lowering blood pressure, and “fixing” blood lipid derangements. The Green Light Calorie Guide guides you in daily intake of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of whole grain cereal, bread, pasta or rice, two servings of low-fat dairy products and two three-ounce servings of lean meat such as chicken, turkey, fish or pork tenderloin. Eat to your heart’s content. Best, Nutdoc

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Why worry about your blood cholesterol?

Posted on February 28, 2011. Filed under: cholesterol, diet | Tags: , , , , , |

Your blood cholesterol level is a major indicator of the diet that you are eating. If your cholesterol is higher than 200 mg/dl (or your LDL-bad guy cholesterol is above 130 mg/dl) you probably are eating more saturated fat from meat and dairy products and too much cholesterol from eggs, meat, processed meats (sausage, lunch meat, etc.) and dairy products.

A high intake for saturated fat and cholesterol is associated with a very high risk for heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and cancer. These are major killer diseases for Western people. Vegetarians and societies that have low intakes of these animal products have much lower rates of all of these diseases.

Of course, you inherit genes from your parents that affect your blood cholesterol. I inherited high cholesterol genes from my mother and my LDL- (bad guy) cholesterol runs above 200 mg/dl if I do not watch my diet carefully. Since I inherited obesity genes from my dad who was very obese and high blood pressure genes from my dad (who had his first stoke at age 47), I need to watch my own diet very closely.

Most folks can reduce their risk for heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and cancer by 50 to 75% through diet, exercise and weight management. Even if your mother, aunts and sisters had breast cancer you can reduce your own risk by more than 50% through lifestyle measures.

Mark Twain said, “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you would rather not do.” On a recent cruise, we observed that most folks choose to do what they like rather than do what they don’t like.

In upcoming blogs I will share my recommendations taken from my upcoming book, The Simple Diet, and my research.

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Soy for your Heart

Posted on January 10, 2010. Filed under: benefits, cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, LDL-cholesterol, soy foods, statin drugs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

High intakes of animal protein are associated with high rates of coronary heart disease.  However, high intakes of soy protein are associated with low rates of the disease.  Research shows that soy foods offer more protection for your heart than any other food that can be consumed. 

  • Soy foods reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke by lowering the bad LDL-cholesterol by 15 to 30 points and lowering triglycerides while raising the good HDL-cholesterol.
  • They also lower blood pressure, thus reducing risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Soy foods contain isoflavones with potent antioxidant properties that act to protect the arteries from oxidized fats by preventing the oxidation of lipid particles. 
  • Soy foods act to reverse hardening of the arteries in a similar manner to the statin drugs.  Evidence indicates that the combined use of soy protein, soluble fiber, and plant sterols have the potential to decrease serum LDL-cholesterol values by 25-30% which is equivalent to the effects of the statin drugs.    
  • They improve blood vessel health by helping the blood dilate to increase blood flow to the heart or brain. 

            After reviewing clinical studies of soy foods, the FDA approved the health claim that daily soy intake is heart-healthy.  There is an overwhelming amount of research supporting the claim that soy can help prevent heart disease.

            For a happy heart, enjoy two servings of soy protein per day, as I do.  Increasing your soy food intake can provide you with long-term heart protection; the sooner you start enjoying soy the better for your health.     

With Lacey Lamb 

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The Healthy Truth about Soy

Posted on January 10, 2010. Filed under: benefits, cancer, cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, LDL-cholesterol, nutrition, obesity, osteoporosis, soy foods | Tags: , , , , , , , |

            Soy foods have been used around the world for thousands of years because so many people realize its healthy qualities.  Extensive research documents the many health benefits of soy foods; the FDA approved the health claim that daily soy intake is heart-healthy.  Soy foods are produced from the soybeans grown in the United States and other countries.  These foods are nutrient-rich foods that contain the following:

  • high-quality protein
  • carbohydrates
  • fiber
  • healthy fats
  • plant estrogens (isoflavones)
  • vitamins and minerals
  • antioxidants 

            The advantages of whole soy foods, as opposed to foods with soy ingredients, are that the whole soybean has many health promoting benefits in addition to those provided by the ingredients alone.  Some popular whole soy foods include whole soybeans, green soybeans, also known as edamame, and dry roasted soy nuts.  In order to experience the benefits of soy foods, two of the following serving sizes are recommended per day:  ½ cup of cooked soybeans, 2/3 cup of green soybeans in the pod, 1 oz of roasted soy nuts, one glass of soy milk, ½ cup tofu, or six grams of isolated soy protein. 

            Research shows the following conditions and diseases benefit from soy foods:

  • Coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure: View blog, “Soy for your Heart” for more details.
  • Menopause, breast cancer, osteoporosis:  Read blog, “Soy and Women’s Health,” for more information.
  • Cancer:  See upcoming blog, “Cancer Fighting Food:  Soy.”
  • Diabetes, obesity, kidney disease:  Upcoming blog titled, “Soy for Renal Health,” will have more details. 

Soy foods are one of the healthiest foods you can put on the table and are a tasty way to add variety to your diet.

With Lacey Lamb

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High Carbohydrate, High Fiber Diet to Lower Cholesterol

Posted on November 19, 2009. Filed under: cholesterol, diet, LDL-cholesterol, oat bran | Tags: , , , , , , |

Many of my patients have dropped their total cholesterol by 80 points through an intense diet. Their LDL (bad-guy) cholesterol has decreased from 150 to 90 points! In our research in Kentucky we documented for hundreds of patients that we could lower the LDL cholesterol by 35-45% through our high carbohydrate, high fiber diet without weight loss or exercise. These diets were rich in oats (oatmeal and oatbran), beans (pinto and other dry beans), vegetables and fruits.

Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto has also demonstrated in hundreds of people that they can lower their LDL-cholesterol by 35-40% using his ‘Portfolio Diet.’

Both diets are high in complex carbohydrate and soluble fiber while being very low in red meat, processed meat, high fat dairy foods, and eggs.

And you do not have to lose weight to do this! But, if you are a few pounds overweight, this diet will help you make those love handles smaller.

So, with serious attention to your diet your can drop your cholesterol by 80 points and your LDL bad guys by 60 points.

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How To Lower Your Cholesterol By 30 Points

Posted on November 19, 2009. Filed under: cholesterol, diet, LDL-cholesterol, oat bran | Tags: , , , , , |

Your blood cholesterol level is a major cause of heart attacks. The foremost way to lower your cholesterol and protect yourself from heart attacks is to limit your intake of meats, processed meats (sausage, hamburger and lunch meat), high fat dairy foods (ice cream, milk and butter) and eggs.

The American Heart Association recommends the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, which includes a diet limited in meat, animal fat and high fat dairy foods as well as walking 30 minutes daily. The goal also is to achieve a desirable, non-obese weight.

Know Your Numbers

  • LDL-cholesterol (the “bad guy” type)- desirable is less than 130 and ideal is less than 100 mg/dl (for persons with heart disease the goal is 70 mg/dl);
  • HDL-cholesterol (the “good guy” type)- desirable for women, more than 50; and for men, more than 40 mg/dl;
  • Triglycerides (the other type of blood fat), less than 150 mg/dl.

Most people can lower their “bad guy” (LDL) cholesterol by 25 to 45% by making changes to their eating habits. I lowered my high LDL cholesterol from 200 to 110 through diet alone.

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All fibers are not created equal

Posted on May 9, 2009. Filed under: cholesterol, diabetes, inulin, nutrition, oat bran, obesity, psyllium, resistant starch, weight |

Dietary fiber consumption has many health benefits. Persons who have the highest intakes of whole grains are significantly less likely to develop heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, and certain forms of cancer (Anderson JW, Nutrition Reviews, Apr. 2009). Currently scientists are actively testing various types of fiber to discern which types of fibers contribute to these health benefits.

Wheat bran was popularized by the late Dr. Denis Burkitt, a friend and mentor. Wheat bran has a major benefit for regularity—it keeps things moving. It also may lower blood pressure slightly and probably contributes to weight management. However, it does not lower blood cholesterol or smooth out the blood sugar after a meal. Oat bran is the most versatile type of fiber in that it has all the health benefits currently attributed to dietary fiber, namely: improves laxation, lowers blood cholesterol, lowers the blood glucose rise after meals (glycemic effects), lowers blood pressure, assists in weight loss and management, and is a prebiotic that enhances immune function. (I was called Dr. Oat Bran during the 1980’s, the Oat Bran Decade).

Psyllium is the most potent fiber supplement in that it improves laxation, lowers blood cholesterol, lowers the blood glucose rise after meals (glycemic effects), lowers blood pressure, and assists in weight loss and management. Psyllium does not appear to be a prebiotic or enhance immune function.

Many viscous, soluble fibers such as oat and barley gum, guar gum, pectins and konjac mannan have these benefits: lowers blood cholesterol, lowers the blood glucose rise after meals (glycemic effects), and assists in weight loss and management. Some of these fibers such as oat and barley gum (B-glucans) are prebiotics and enhance immune function.

Inulins and resistant starches are fairly new members of the fiber family. Inulin and similar carbohydrates are clearly prebiotics and enhance immune function. The other health benefits of inulin are uncertain but it does not appear to lower blood cholesterol.

Resistant starches include a wide variety of starches in foods and starches that are modified to make them resistant to the action of digestive enzymes in the small intestine. These starches are not digested but travel to the colon where they are completely fermented by bacteria. While most are fermented, like inulin, most are not prebiotics and do not enhance immune function. Further work is required in this area. The main benefit of the resistant starches is that they lower the blood glucose increase after a meal (glycemic effect). None of the resistant starches have been approved to make a claim that they have laxation benefits.

Thus, all fibers are not created equal and the consumer must decide what health benefits are most important. Currently oat bran foods and psyllium supplements appear to provide the widest range of health benefits.

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What is LDL cholesterol?

Posted on August 11, 2008. Filed under: cholesterol, diet, nutrition | Tags: , , , , |

Recently a journalist asked me to explain the different forms of cholesterol. Sometimes explaining the cholesterol number is time consuming and health care professionals only mention the total cholesterol. I try to explain to my patients these numbers and goals.
The LDL ‘bad guy’ cholesterol is the most deadly form and a desirable number in less than 130 mg/dl and an ideal number is less than 100.
The HDL ‘good guy’ cholesterol is protective from heart attack and higher is better. Desirable for women is 50 or higher and for men is 40 or higher. A 60 mg/dl HDL number is ideal and protective. If the HDL number is more than half of the LDL number your probably are protected and in good shape.
Triglycerides, the other blood fat, should be lower than 150 mg/dl.
What is a good ratio?
An ideal LDL/HDL ratio for women is 100/55 or 1.8 while the ideal for men is 100/45 or 2.2. The lower the ratio the better.
How can I improve my cholesterol numbers?Smoking increases risk of heart attack and lowers HDL. Exercise increases the HDL.
To decrease LDL, diet is the answer. Lose weight to desirable weight, mimimize animal fat intake (red meat, cheese, butter), increase fiber intake from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, oat cereals. Soy protein, two servings per day from soy milk, edamame, soy nuts, or tofu lower cholesterol. Psyllium fiber supplements are ways for busy people to get in their soluble fiber. I recommend oat cereal for breakfast, 4 psyllium capsules with lunch and four with dinner.
Why is high cholesterol so bad? High cholesterol levels increase risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and circulation problems. The same habits that raise the cholesterol also bring on diabetes prematurely.
Is it OK to eat eggs? Eggs are a concentrated from of cholesterol in the diet that I recommend avoiding altogether. Egg substitutes make good omeletes and go into recipes. Even if your LDL cholesterol is low, eating eggs increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
In a nutshell, what are your recommendations?  The major things that affect LDL cholesterol are genes and diet. You can’t change your genes but most people can lower their LDL cholesterol by 30 to 70 points through diet, weight loss and exercise. Weight loss can lower the LDL by 20% (30 points) and raise the HDL by 10-25% (5-15 points). Exercise can raise the HDL by 25-50% (10-30 points). The diet to lower LDL cholesterol is low in animal fat (avoid the yellow death– eggs, butter, cheese), minmize intake of red meat, sausage, pork bacon, high fat dairy (full fat milk, ice cream) and excessive oil of any form (in salads, in cooking). Olive oil is very high in calories and should be used sparing. Be sure to get in three servings of whole grains, at least five servings of fruit or vegetables, and soluble fiber from oat products or psyllium fiber supplements.


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Cholesterol reduction

Posted on January 28, 2008. Filed under: cholesterol |

High blood cholesterol levels are major contributors to heart attacks and strokes. The major “bad guys” are the Low-Density-Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. I call these the Least Desirable Levels of cholesterol. Everyone should try to have their LDL-cholesterol below 100 mg/dl. If the value is above 130 mg/dl the risk for heart attack is increased.

While drugs are available (the ‘statin’ drugs), it is safer and more healthy to decrease LDL-levels by diet and lifestyle. I have lowered my own LDL-cholesterol levels by 100 points by diet and supplements (from 200 to 100 mg/dl); this is a 50% reduction! Many of my patients and friends have decreased their values by 50 points or more through diet and lifestyle changes.

This is what works:

  • Reduce animal fat and cholesterol intake by eating less red meat (fatty meat) and high fat dairy products. I refer to eggs, cheese, and butter as the ‘yellow death’.
  • Increase your intake of soluble fiber from oatmeal, oatbran, beans, and fruits. The target is to get 3 grams of concentrated soluble fiber twice daily from these sources. I have oatmeal every morning with fruit and soy milk.  For more information, go to and to .
  • Use a fiber supplement if you have trouble getting in 3 grams of concentrated soluble fiber twice daily, use a fiber supplement such as Metamucil in powder, wafer, or capsule form. OK, I’m on the National Fiber Council that obtains support from P&G.
  • Use soy protein, about 10 grams twice a day. I use soy milk in the morning in my oatmeal and coffee, I love edamame (green soybeans), I munch on soy nuts, and when available, I order tofu at restaurants. Purchase baked tofu.
  • Take plant sterol supplements, 1.2 grams, twice daily. I recommend the gel caps that enhance absorption of the plant sterols. Personally, I take 2 gel caps twice daily that I obtain as Heart Choice Plant Sterols from the Vitamin Shoppe, 1-800-223-1216 or I do not have connections with any of the companies that sell products like this.

My long-term friend and outstanding clinical investigator, David J. Jenkins, MD, PhD, ScD, of Toronto, Canada has extensively documented that these measures, which he calls the Portfolio diet (Google it or him), lowers LDL-cholesterol by 35%.

So good luck. Your cholesterol level is in your hands!

Your Nutdoc advisor, Jim.

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