Dr. Finkelstein’s F.A.Q.

Dr. Finkelstein’s F.A.Q.

by Dr. Michael B. Finkelstein, M.D., F.A.C.P., A.B.H.M.
posted on February 02nd 2010

Q: Sodium in my diet: What effect is this having on me? 

Well lets start with the facts, sodium levels at many of the popular breakfast spots throughout the US are twice the level recommended by the CDC. The CDC recommends that most adults need no more than 1,500 milligrams per day of sodium. In a recent US survey, it was determined that certain fast food dishes contain double the recommended amount. Many chains serve ham, eggs and cheese sandwiches, which have 2,580 milligrams of sodium. 

Answer:

Sodium is one half of the “salt” molecule (the other being chloride) and is critical in fluid balance and the function of the membrane between every cell in our body and the fluid that surrounds them. In the body, given the central nature of these functions, sodium levels are tightly regulated. Over the course of any given day, depending on our activity level and the amount we sweat and urinate, we need to consume a certain amount to replace what is lost. The fact is this amount is far less than what we typically get from our diets. Thus, when you read statistics like the one above, you should be alarmed. While the body does have the ability to get rid of some excess sodium, many of us are literally drowning in it! And this has significant health consequences, only some of which are well known, like high blood pressure and heart disease. And, don’t be fooled, the reason the question above uses the phrase me and “my family” is that if you are doing this to yourself, your family is at risk for losing you, or at least, having you less healthy and for a lot shorter time. 

In general, you can be sure that anything in a box or processed in a fast food restaurant will put you at risk. Marinated and pickled foods often contain high amounts of sodium (in the form of salt) as a means of preservation. While these are tasty and can be healthy in small quantities, you need to be careful. Even some “healthier” alternatives, like a fine dining establishment or some packaged or canned “health products” still can use far too much sodium. It is up to you to read the labels and be smarter if you are truly interested in keeping your body in the best shape possible. 

Q: What causes excessive sweating in men?

And what can I do about it, as it’s really embarrassing? 

Answer:

Well sweating can be embarrassing; it stains clothes, ruins romance, and complicates business and social interactions. Severe cases can have serious practical consequences as well, making it hard for people who suffer from it to hold a pen or shake hands. 

There are several possible causes of excessive sweating. Using antiperspirants on a daily basis can work to some extent although there is a growing concern that the talc and aluminum used in these products can have serious health implications, like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Of course, these products aren’t useful on the hands or feet. 

Only on rare occasion is there a serious medical condition to identify. What this means is that most men will need to find an “alternative” approach to dealing with this issue. My recommendation is that you begin by adjusting your diet to a whole fresh food diet, begin to exercise daily (to sweat a little), drink 6−8 glasses (8 oz each) of good quality water each day, e.g. spring water, and apply only natural products to your skin, including what you wash your clothes and linens in. I would also consider a vegetarian diet for several weeks to see if that doesn’t improve things as well; often both odor and sweat quantity are increased by the consumption of animal products which include: dairy and eggs as well as meat, fowl and fish. 

Finally, there may be mind−body techniques, such as guided imagery and biofeedback that can have significant effects on the glands that produce sweat. While this may not be familiar to you, you should keep in mind that the mind is the captain of our ship. Working with a practitioner who can help us train our minds is much the same as working with a trainer who helps us to become better at playing a sport. Indeed, this may be a critical component of an effective strategy to relieve the condition and improve the quality of your life. 

Q: Is a burger is packed really with more calories than most people need in two days?

Answer:

Burgers, at least those that are consumed in the “billions” at fast food restaurants, are unbelievably fattening foods. How they have captured the popular imagination around the world and spread like wild fire is a subject for sociological interest and debate. The sad fact is they are making us sick! In addition, shows like Man v. Food and Extreme: Pig Outs on the Travel Channel have showcased the sport of extreme eating. Restaurants like the Heart Attack Grill in Arizona and Mel’s Country Café in Texas have become infamous for their enormous portions. Customers are lured by media attention, the idea of getting their name on a "wall of fame," free meals, Tee shirts, or just bragging rights. Recently, headline news included the story of one man who consumed 13 pounds of pasta in 10 minutes! How extraordinary.....How dumb! 

Looking at the trends over the past several decades, since the introduction of “fast food”, there is no question that the public has been captivated, or more aptly, lulled into a trance, all in the name of convenience. For decades, there has been no attempt to conceal the unwholesome nature of the products sold. Simply stated, they are providing tasty treats while at the same time cultivating our cravings with their images and “scientific manipulation” of the flavors they offer. Now these same chains are beginning to make health claims. This makes me nervous since their “bread and butter”, literally speaking, still remains the burger; and the loss leader of a small bowl of lettuce hasn’t dampened our appetites one bit. 

Before we stuff ourselves to death, I would recommend we take a step back and closely examine how easily we have been seduced. It is time to wake up and take back control of our lives by making smarter choices. If necessary, turn off the TV during commercials to avoid the subliminal messages that are often too hard to suppress. In any case, if you consume a burger, take the next two days off...no need to eat anything more....how convenient is that?

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