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10 Things Your Doctor Doesn't Have time to Tell You!

By Jamie McManus M.D.
Women's Health Expert
Updated: December 10, 2008
With the average doctor's visit lasting less than 8 minutes, a full discussion on how to optimize your health isn't likely to happen. This is not meant to be a criticism of the medical profession – of which I am a member – but it is reality. To help, here are 10 pieces of advice that most physicians should tell their patients, but often don't.

1) Pharmaceuticals have risks and side effects, as well as benefits. A full discussion on prescribed pharmaceuticals should include a discussion of the risks and benefits as appropriate (in an urgent setting, this may not be possible). A 1998 study published in JAMA showed statistics relating to deaths from adverse drug reactions in one year (1994). The numbers were shocking---76,000-137,000 deaths were due to an adverse or idiosyncratic response to a properly prescribed medication(s). If you're doctor doesn't discuss the risks/side effects – be sure to ask for this information.

2) Fast food kills. The obesity epidemic has closely paralleled the rise in fast food consumption. Fast foods are a double negative for your health. First, they're loaded with extra calories, saturated fat, salt and harmful chemicals that WILL be detrimental to your health. Second, fast food is largely deficient in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. For example, a McDonald's Quarter-Pounder with cheese, large fries and a 16 oz soda provide 50-100% (depending on if you're a male or female) of your recommended daily calories, more than your daily intake of saturated fat and all of your daily sodium needs---in just one meal!! (IT WOULD BE GREAT IF WE COULD SHOW THE NUTRITIONAL CONTENT – OR LACK THEREOF FOR THIS MEAL, TOO.)

3 Switching from regular to diet soda is not enough. Drinking carbonated sodas increases osteoporosis risk and dental problems. Soda consumption is not a question asked on any patient information chart I've seen, but it should be! Carbonated colas contain high amounts of phosphoric acid, which binds to calcium in the body. There is mounting evidence of a direct correlation between bone density, fracture risk and soda intake. Increasingly, dentists are strongly recommending the avoidance of carbonated sodas because they de-mineralize enamel and weaken teeth.

4) Type 2 Diabetes need not require medication -- if you catch it early. There are 21 million Americans with diabetes and 250 million around the globe. A modest 10% weight loss can improve blood sugar control by more than 25%. Improving one's diet and maintaining a healthy weight can normalize blood sugar levels--without medication!

5) Whatever the diagnosis, a doctor should provide information on all treatments options--including dietary changes, supplements, mind-body options and holistic or naturopathic means. Because all this information can't be covered in eight minutes, physicians should identify reliable information resources such as Web sites or associations where patients can easily access further information.
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