Monday, October 26, 2009

New Journal for Health Professionals and Patients Launches with Ambitious Ideas

Last week at the Connected Health Symposium in Boston, a new journal was launched, The Journal of Participatory Medicine ( This journal's mission is to transform the culture of medicine to be more participatory. This special introductory issue is a collection of essays that will serve as the 'launch pad' from which the journal will grow. I would like to ask you to log on and read these essays and help us as we connect patients, caregivers, and health professionals.

I am one of the Journal's Co Editors. The other is Jessie Gruman, PhD, founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health, a Washington-based nonprofit organization funded by the Annenberg, Macarthur, Kellogg Foundations and others. The Center works to increase patient engagement. She holds BA from Vassar College and a PhD from Columbia University teaches at The George Washington University. Jessie authored The Experience of the American Patient: Risk, Trust and Choice (2009); Behavior Matters (2008) and AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You -- or Someone You Love -- a Devastating Diagnosis (2007).

Please take a look and send us your ideas.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What is Your Daily Glycemic Load?

I've written before here about the glycemic index, that measure of how fast a food causes your blood sugar to rise. High glycemic foods, like simple sugars, cause our blood sugars to rise quickly resulting in a pouring out of insulin, a rapid fall in our blood sugar, and we become hungry again soon. Protein in our diet blunts this glycemic index effect, as does eating more complex carbohydrates such as in vegetables.

An new concept has emerged that complements the glycemic index, called the glycemic load. The glycemic load reflects how much total carbohydrate is released in your body from various foods. While carbohydrates, sugars and starches, are a core part of our nutrition, we know that eating a lot of them results in more hunger and we end up eating more calories and gaining weight. Low carbohydrate diet plans have shown some advantage over low fat diet plans for losing weight, although both work if the total calories eaten are reduced.

Dr. Mabel Blades has written a simple book that can be used as a guide to the glycemic load of common foods. I have used it to reduce my glycemic load, for example how much Cheerios I put into my morning cereal. I have increased the ratio of protein from yogurt to the amount of grains, keeping enough grains to give me the desired amount of fiber. I have also cut down on how much bread I eat, one of the first dietary interventions of low carbohydrate diet plans like the South Beach Diet. If you would like to order this simple handbook, you can find it from any online book source:

The Glycemic Load Counter. Mabel Blades. Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA 2008. My doctor actually gave me a copy as part of my physical exam and health assessment. I'm five pounds lighter after just a couple of weeks.