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Friday, March 30, 2007

Staying Busy

There are no recent posts because things have been very busy. This past weekend, I was at the American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans, learning about new trials, innovative ways to intervene on coronary arteries, and of course having a little bit of fun -- can't give you any bull about that!

So, with two busy days in the cath lab behind me, I am off to spend the holiday of Passover with my family.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Saving the Environment, One Burping Cow at a Time

This is about the most absurd thing I've heard in a while: A pill to decrease methane production from livestock cows.

Yet more evidence that a plant-based diet is better for the environment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Calcium and Vegan Diets

There's new data about calcium, fractures, and vegan diets. This study showed that vegans overall are 30% more likely to have a bone fracture than lacto-ovo vegetarians, fish-eaters, or meat-eaters:

Appleby P et al. Comparative fracture risk in vegetarians and nonvegetarians in EPIC-Oxford. Eur J Clin Nutr, Feb 7, 2007.

Jack Norris of Vegan Outreach has an excellent discussion of the results.

However, those vegans who consumed over 525 mg/day of calcium had the same risk of fracture as the other populations in the study.

When calcium is consumed with large amounts of protein, such as in milk, calcium excretion in the urine increases. Therefore, it has been suggested that vegans have lower dietary calcium requirements.

I think that this study suggests that perhaps we do need to be more diligent with our calcium consumption. Most people need 1000 mg/day of calcium; pregnant women, the elderly, and children may have higher requirements.

Also, be mindful of getting enough Vitamin D, which regulates calcium absorption. Fifteen minutes of sunlight a day will give you enough. But, if you are in a northern climate or do not get that much sunlight, make sure you are consuming either a multivitamin with Vitamin D or Vitamin-D fortified soy or rice milk.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My Talk at Boston Vegetarian Society

I gave my talk on "Vegetarian Diets and Heart Disease" to the Boston Vegetarian Society yesterday. The feedback that I've gotten is good. It's a good thing I did some reading in advance because there were some very challenging questions from the audience.

So, thanks for the suggestions of things you would want to hear about -- I did incorporate some ideas into the talk.

Back in the Pool

Master Swim is at 6:30 am. And I am not a morning person. So when the alarm went off at 5:30, I almost slammed it down, until I remembered that I had packed everything the night before.

I found a spot in the slowest lane, me and two other women. Having not swam in 2 months, I was apprehensive. The first 200 meters were tough; I wanted to just die about 150 meters into the warm-up. But then, somehow, it all came back. I think I swam about 1600 meters in an hour.

I was halfway through any given set, and I'd look over and the other lane swimmers were done, eagerly standing at the edge of the pool ready to do the next set. And here I'd have another 100 meters or so to swim.

I like our coach. She has lots of good feedback, even for us in the slow lane. For me, I guess I keep my arms straight under the water. I'll work on fixing that.

Tri training has begun.... Hyannis Sprint in June, here I come!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rollerblading and the Law

It was a beautiful New England day, partly sunny and in the high 60's. Not typical for mid-March. I felt the urge to rollerblade.

So, I grabbed my bag with my rollerblades and pads and walked the mile or so up to the Esplanade, the paths that run along the Charles River. I put on my rollerblades and padding and headed down the path, leaving my bag with my shoes and other rollerblade equipment behind a tree.

A half an hour and an awesome workout later, I return to see that my bag is gone. There is a State Trooper vehicle parked nearby, with my bag sitting on top of it. I rollerblade over, and the trooper gets out of the car.

Trooper: Is this your bag?
Me: Yes.
Trooper: You know, you shouldn't be leaving bags out here.
Me: There's nothing valuable. It's just shoes...
Trooper: We don't know what's in it. What if it was stolen? You'd be calling us up. In fact, I could be calling out the bomb squad.

Oh my... a big deal over a bag! Next time I'll just have to carry my blades and tuck my shoes behind a tree, without a bag of course.

But seriously, I hate to be equated to the guys who paralyzed the city with their Cartoon Network advertisement devices. After all, there is real crime in this city to be fought too. People are getting stabbed on the orange line, among other things.

Leave me alone. Go fight crime, and let me rollerblade.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Getting Serious about Training

It's time to start triathlon training again......

I've taken the first step by joining the triathlon club at my gym. It's serious business -- there's a coach for each discipline, several group workouts a week, and they come up with a tailored workout plan toward our individual goals.

I have a ways to go. The iliotibial band is getting better, but isn't 100%. I can run 15 minutes at a time pain-free. I haven't swam in over a month, because I just don't like swimming by myself. It's the whole rat on a wheel feeling of swimming laps in a pool without external stimulation. However, I've been training my weakness, which is biking, by doing a few spin classes each week.

It's going to be tough, but I'm ready. I need the structure, and I'm excited for the challenge.

Advice for Doctors

My friend Dr. Krupali Tejura, a radiation oncology resident, submitted a question to Leroy Sievers, an NPR journalist who blogs about his fight against cancer. She asks what patients want from their doctors. The answers she gets are interesting. Read on.

It's great food for thought. If you don't know the answer to a question, you can always look it up. But personal interaction can't be replaced.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spinach and Potstickers


Sometimes it's all about convenience... tonight's one of those nights. We just finished a complicated case in the lab, and I'm hungry and tired.
So, I sauteed some frozen spinach in olive oil, with sea salt, ground pepper, garam masala, garlic, and a little chili powder. The potstickers are Ling Ling brand, and easily heated in boiling water. The whole thing took ten minutes. Easy, filling, and delicious.


Bold Ideas for NYC Restaurants

The New York City Department of Health has made two recent proposals. The first is to eliminate trans fats from all NYC restaurants. Second, restaurants would be required to list the number of calories in each meun item clearly on the menu next to each item.

I think these are great ideas. Trans fats are more atherogenic, in other words are more likely to lead to plaque buildup in the arteries. I'm especially excited about listing calorie content of menu items -- I think that even the simplest of consumers would be wary of a menu item with 1,500 calories. Or, those who think they're having a "light dinner" by ordering an appetizer with 2,500 calories might think again.

Last night I was at a dinner with a few interventional cardiology fellows, and we were discussing this topic. One was particularly adamant that Americans could care less about the calorie content of what they're eating and would make no changes based on that information.

I disagree -- I think that with this information, people for the most part would make wiser choices. As a result, restaurants would have to think twice about how they're preparing food and consider changing their menues to include healthier items.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What if....

....a vegan cardiologist was coming to your local vegetarian society to give a talk. What would you want to hear about?

I am revamping my talk that I've given in the past. I have some great ideas, but would love to hear yours.

Tune in March 18 at Grasshopper in Allston. I'll be speaking to the Boston Vegetarian Society.

Hamantashen from Grandma

My grandmother sent these to me for the Jewish holiday of Purim. They are called hamantashen, to commemorate Haman, the bad guy who wanted to kill the Jews, but who was hanged instead. The cookies are in the shape of his three-point hat. And yes, Grandma made them vegan.

Grandma is 92 years old and still bakes. She's the healthiest 92 year-old I know. In fact, she walks on a treadmill for half an hour a day. People where she lives are in awe of her, and every so often she has "pupils" who join her to exercise. I can only hope I'm that healthy when I get to be her age.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fitness Rituals

My weekend mornings are about working out. When I was actively running, one of those mornings was always a long run. As I've been recovering from my IT band issues, I've created new rituals.

Saturday morning is one and a half to two hours at the gym. There are two spinning classes, 9 am and 10 am, and I go to one of those, whichever I wake up in time for. Then I do some weights and abs for 30-45 minutes.

Sunday morning is kickboxing! There's a great 10:30-11:30 class at my gym, and lots of punching and kicking. I almost skipped kickboxing this morning to do my taxes, but I'm so glad I went -- I feel so energized!

Once I start running again, these rituals will change. But for now, they keep me charged up for my weekends.