Grip strength can predict lifespan

How strong you can grip may be a better predictor of future health and longevity according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal. After accounting for age and a wide variety of other factors, such as diet, amount of time being sedentary, and socioeconomic status, researchers found that muscle weakness—defined by a grip-strength measurement of less than 26 kilograms (57 pounds) for men and less than 16 kilograms (35 pounds) for women—was associated with a higher risk of premature death and a higher risk of heart and lung disease, and cancer.

Researchers in Norway found that those who have excellent grip strength in their 80s and 90s are more likely to live in good health into their 100s. The role of skeletal muscle is often under-appreciated. It not only controls our body movement; skeletal muscle also stores protein and plays a major role in glucose and lipid metabolism.


Published July 30, 2018 by Dr. Daniel Thomas, DO, MS

Lack of sleep and sitting all day damages the brain

If you are sleep-deprived or if your job has you sitting all day, your brain is being damaged. If both apply to you, that is a double-whammy that no brain can withstand. Regularly getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night can cause the same long-term brain damage as alcohol abuse. Sitting at a desk all day or spending hours watching television damages the brain in a way that can increase the risk of dementia.

Recent research found that getting too little sleep causes the brain to literally eat itself. Specialized brain cells called astrocytes are more active in brains that are sleep-deprived. Astrocytes act like miniature vacuum cleaners, sucking up unwanted cellular debris. While normally this is good, when the vacuuming goes on too long, the astrocytes begin sucking up portions of the brain’s connections called synapses.

Sedentary behavior such as prolonged sitting has been found to be associated with thinning of the medial temporal lobe of the brain. This portion of the brain is crucial to the formation of new memories. Thinning of the medial temporal lobe can be an early sign of cognitive decline and dementia.


Published June 18, 2018 by Dr. Daniel Thomas, DO, MS

Beware of eating grapefruit with certain drugs

When taking certain medication, be sure to avoid eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice. While grapefruit is delicious and has many health benefits, it can interact with some common medication, causing serious side effects. It doesn’t take much either, as one-half grapefruit or a single glass of grapefruit juice is enough to cause this. And the effect can last for several days.

Medications are processed in your liver and small intestine by a group of proteins called cytochromes. Cytochromes break down medications, thereby reducing their levels. Grapefruit, as well as Seville oranges, tangelos, pomelos, and Minneolas, contain naturally-occurring compounds called furanocoumarins. Furanocoumarins can disrupt the activity of cytochromes. By slowing down the breakdown of medicines, grapefruit can increase the levels of these medications in your blood, thereby increasing their side effects.

Here are 33 common medications that can interact with grapefruit:

Some cholesterol medications:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • Simvastatin (Zocor)
Certain blood pressure medications:
  • Felodipine
  • Nifedipine (Procardia)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Eplerenone (Inspra)
A few heart rhythm medications:
  • Amiodarone
  • Dronedarone (Multaq)
Some anti-infection medications:
  • Erythromycin
  • Rilpivirine and related HIV drugs
  • Primaquine and related antimalarial drugs
  • Albendazole
Several mood medications:
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Lurasidone (Latuda)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • Buspirone (Buspar)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Midazolam (Versed)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
Certain blood thinners:
  • Apixaban (Eliquis)
  • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Ticagrelor (Brilinta)
  • Clopidogrel
Several pain medications:
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone
  • Colchicine
A few erectile dysfunction and prostate medications:
  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)
  • Tamsulosin (Flomax)
  • Silodosin (Rapaflo)


Published December 4, 2017 by 

6 nutrients that help keep your brain young

Diet plays an enormous role in preventing dementia and keeping your brain young. Scientists have pinpointed certain nutrients that are associated with improved cognition. Here are 6 nutrients that can help keep your brain young:

Cocoa: The flavanols found naturally in cocoa and dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) are very beneficial. These flavanols can stimulate the dentate gyrus in brain—a region involved in memory function.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Plant-based foods rich in omega-3’s, such as flax seeds and walnuts, are not only good for your heart, they’re also good for your brain. They help with object recognition memory, spatial and localized memory, and aversion response retention.

Magnesium: Getting insufficient magnesium can lead to cognitive decline, accelerated brain aging, and ultimately dementia. Foods high in magnesium include pumpkins seeds, chard, spinach, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, and dark chocolate.

Blueberries: Blueberries contain anthocyanins which are naturally occurring compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Anthocyanins can increase neuronal signaling in the brain’s memory areas.

Cruciferous vegetables: Eating a lot of vegetables can help prevent a whole host of chronic degenerative disease. Cruciferous vegetables in particular have been shown to reduce the rate of cognitive decline. Such vegetables include arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radishes, and turnips.

Green tea: Green tea is good for so many things. With regards to brain health, green tea has been found to enhance your thinking process and working memory. Green tea also enhances the connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortexes of the brain.


Published March 19, 2018 by 

Exercise: Myths vs. Facts

America doesn’t have an “over-fat” problem. America has an “under-muscled” problem. You can be overweight, but if you carry enough muscle, you can still be healthy. Over the past several decades, mainstream health experts have sold us a bill of goods by vigorously promoting aerobic exercise as the best activity. Despite that, we are a nation of fat and physically weak people. Aerobic exercise not only has a dismal track record at producing fat loss, it has been shown to cause fat gain, muscle loss, and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis).

Strength training—also known as weightlifting or resistance training—has distinct advantages over aerobic exercise when it comes to improving health. Strength training has a much greater ability to burn fat, build muscle mass, and improve strength. Studies have shown that strength is a far more accurate predictor of longevity and quality of life as you age compared to aerobic capacity (cardiopulmonary fitness). Furthermore, strength training, done correctly, dramatically increases aerobic capacity.

Besides a smaller waist and less body fat, greater muscle mass and strength translates to less cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. And while aerobic exercise increases aerobic capacity, it does almost nothing to combat two hallmarks of aging: sarcopenia (loss of muscle) and osteoporosis (loss of bone density). Strength training can halt and reverse sarcopenia and osteoporosis, and can stop older adults from becoming frail and can keep them independent and out of nursing homes. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that strength training promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity, improves memory, and reduces the risk of dementia.

Everyone should exercise with strength in mind. Whether you are young or old, strength training has far more to offer than any other exercise. There’s simply no better way to fight obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and frailty, and to impart self-confidence and get an attractive physique. If you’re not getting the results you want from your aerobic exercise, you should take up strength training instead.


Published October 13, 2017 by Dr. Daniel Thomas, DO, MS