Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Interesting Facts About Hypertension

Hypertension is basically abnormally high blood pressure and it is a symptom, a circulatory disturbance, rather than a disease. It occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is stronger than it should be. 90 percent of hypertensive people have primary or essential hypertension, which is in some ways a misnomer because in no way is hypertension essential, and each case of hypertension likely has a cause that at present eludes our limited knowledge.1 However, factors such as diet, obesity, heredity, race, and stress appear to be involved. 

Hypertension forces the heart to pump against increased resistance. You can clearly see it in action once you understand what the systolic and the diastolic numbers mean. The systolic number is a measurement of your blood pressure while your heart pumps blood, and is the number that appears on the top of the equation. The diastolic number is a blood pressure measurement while your heart rests between beats, and it is the number that appears on the bottom of the equation. The heart works harder, and over time the myocardium enlarges. Once it is strained beyond its capacity to respond, the heart weakens and its walls become flabby. 

Hypertension ravages blood vessels causing small tears in the endothelium,
the cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels, which accelerates the progress of atherosclerosis, the early stage of arteriosclerosis.2 There are a number of risk factors that increase the chances of having hypertension. These are being over 60, being overweight, being sedentary, being emotionally stressed, consuming a high-sodium diet, and having other contributing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or enlargement of the heart. The lifetime risk for hypertension is the same for men and women, but men are more likely to develop hypertension at a younger age.3  
A low-sodium diet is effective in reducing the risk of hypertension, but it is interesting to note the effect that potassium levels have on sodium levels. According to Lawrence Appel, lead researcher on the DASH diet 4 and director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins, a person’s diet as a whole is the key to controlling hypertension, not just salt reduction alone. He believes a major part of the equation is this balance of minerals; most people need less sodium and more potassium, calcium, and magnesium. According to Appel, "Higher levels of potassium blunt the effects of sodium. If you can't reduce or won't reduce sodium, adding potassium may help. But doing both is better.” 5 To sum things up, a modern processed food diet pretty much guarantees you'll have an excess of sodium compared to potassium.

The other problem with consuming processed foods is that many of them contain high fructose corn syrup, and there is an established link between fructose and high blood pressure. A 2010 study found that those who consumed 74 grams or more per day of fructose (the equivalent of about 2.5 sugary drinks) had a 77 percent greater risk of having blood pressure levels of 160/100 mmHg (stage 2 hypertension). Consuming 74 grams or more of fructose per day also increased the risk of a 135/85 blood pressure reading by 26 percent, and a reading of 140/90 by 30 percent.
6 Eliminating these sugars also addresses insulin and leptin resistance, as well as elevated uric acid levels,7 all of which are also connected to high blood pressure.8, 9, 10 

The best thing that a person can do is to try and engage in some sort of moderate exercise a couple of days a week and avoid tobacco and caffeine completely. If you drink, drink sensibly as alcohol in excess can cause electrolyte abnormalities that have an impact on the heart,11 however, red wine in moderate amounts may actually be of benefit to the heart.12 I would highly recommend learning to prepare meals at home and avoiding processed and fast foods at all cost. I would also recommend daily meditation and relaxation exercises that have been shown to lower blood pressure over time. Yoga is an excellent choice for those who have difficulty with more strenuous forms of exercise.13 Recent studies conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have confirmed that sauna bathing lowers the risk of developing elevated blood pressure as well lowering the risk for sudden cardiac death, and cardiovascular as well as all-cause mortality. These findings were published recently in the American Journal of Hypertension.14


1. Dustan, H. P. (1970, April). Etiology and pathogenesis of hypertension. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1501321/

2. Marieb, E. N., & Keller, S. M. (2015). Essentials of human anatomy & physiology. NY, NY: Pearson. 

3. Carretero, O. A., & Oparil, S. (2000, January 25). Essential Hypertension. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/101/3/329 
4. National Institute of Health. (2003, May). Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/hbp_low.pdf

5. Painter, K. (2014, May 18). Diet and blood pressure: It's not all about the salt. Retrieved from http://www.13wmaz.com/news/health/diet-and-blood-pressure-its-not-all-about-the-salt/299104271
6. Jalal, D. I., Smits, G., Johnson, R. J., & Chonchol, M. (2010, September). Increased fructose associates with elevated blood pressure. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20595676

7. Johnson, R. J., Nakagawa, T., Sanchez-Lozada, L. G., Shafiu, M., Sundaram, S., Le, M., Lanaspa, M. A. (2013, October). Sugar, Uric Acid, and the Etiology of Diabetes and Obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3781481/

8. Salvetti, A., Brogi, G., Di, V., & Bernini, G. P. (1993). The inter-relationship between insulin resistance and hypertension. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7512468

9. Bravo, P. E., Morse, S., Borne, D. M., Aguilar, E. A., & Reisin, E. (2006, June). Leptin and Hypertension in Obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1993994/

10. Mazzali, M., Kanbay, M., Segal, M. S., Shafiu, M., Jalal, D., Feig, D. I., & Johnson, R. J. (2010, April). Uric acid and hypertension: cause or effect? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20425019
11. Ragland, G. (1990, November). Electrolyte abnormalities in the alcoholic patient. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2226285

12. Saleem, T. M., & Basha, S. D. (2010). Red wine: A drink to your heart. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023893/

13. Micozzi, M. S. (2015). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

14. University of Eastern Finland. (2017, September 29). Frequent sauna bathing keeps blood pressure in check. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170929093346.htm


Friday, June 21, 2019

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Background and Principles

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a healing system of Eastern medicine developed in China around 2000 BC, which incorporates therapies that are in some cases millennia older. It is guided by several principles, one of which is to “dispel evil and support the good.” It is used to treat illness and it focuses on strengthening the body’s defenses as well as enhancing its capacity for healing and maintaining good health. In the United States, people use TCM primarily as a complementary health approach, meaning that it is often used in conjunction with other therapies including traditional biomedicine.

TCM is based upon a number of certain beliefs. The human body is seen as a microcosm of the vast universe which surrounds us. There are two opposing yet complementary forces called yin and yang. Balance between the two forces is essential for wellness, and all disease stems from an imbalance between the two.

In TCM there are five cosmic elements: fire, earth, wood, metal, and water. These elements or phases symbolically represent all phenomena, including the stages of human life, and explain the functioning of the body and how it changes during disease.

Qi, 其, is symbolized as vapor or steam rising over rice. It has the dynamic qualities of "flow" and "balance" and is the vital energy that flows throughout the body. It has no fixed concept from one patient to the next or from one day to the other. Qi maintains all life activities.

Treatment Methods

Acupuncture - a therapy which regulates qi through the use of strategically placed needles to unblock congested energy pathways.

Moxibustion - a therapy which involves the burning of dried herbs directly on the skin or indirectly above the skin over certain acupuncture points. It is used to treat yang deficiency, feelings of cold, and to nourish the blood.

Cupping - an ancient treatment used by folk healers and modern therapists. Used to treat headaches, dizziness, coughs, rheumatic pain, and pain from digestive issues. It is often used in conjunction with acupuncture.

Acupressure - a therapy based on the same principles a acupuncture, but this method utilizes massage instead of needles to regulate qi.

Herbalism - an essential part of TCM which utilizes more than 1000 different herbs for medicinal purposes. These herbal remedies can be made from plants, animal parts, and mineral parts. The use of herbal preparations to heal individuals dates back to 2000 BC.

Qigong - is similar to yoga and has been referred to as acupuncture without needles. Qigong works with the mind, body, and spirit to achieve harmony and in doing so, a healthy life filled with vitality.

Tai Chi Chuan - is a type of exercise used to promote the unfettered, peaceful flow of energy throughout the body as a way of maintaining wellness. It originated as a fighting art in 14th century China by Taoist Master, Chang San Feng.

Lifestle Modifications - consist of proper exercise, healthy eating, relaxation techniques like meditation, and having a supportive network of friends and family. Doing so supports the flow and balance of qi. 

TCM Chronology 


Koopsen, C., & Young, C., (2009). Integrative health: A holistic approach for health professionals. Sudbury,  MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Micozzi, M. S. (2001). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. New York: Churchill Livingstone

Ayurveda and Aging

Well-documented evidence exists for treating aging and age-related disorders, including dementia, with Ayurveda. The ancient Indian medical system included geriatrics as 1 of 8 medical divisions. Geriatrics was termed Rasayanatantra. Cognitive function was well-recognized and Sanskrit terms existed such as Buddhi for intelligence and Cittanasa (Citta meaning mind and nasa meaning loss of) for dementia. A normal human life span was considered to be 100 years, and it was believed that this could be lengthened to as long as 116-120 years through the use of preventive treatments, provided they had been started during late youth or middle-age. The full text of this 1999 study, entitled "Dementia and Ayurveda," can be viewed here.

Background and Principles

Ayurveda is a traditional medicine of India which is more than 5000 years old and is said to have divine origins from Lord Brahma which date back to the beginning of the human race. It is beyond a medical system in that it is seen as a "science of life" or longevity, and as such it is more similar to what we refer to as a lifestyle. Its concepts about health and disease promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices. As a Vedic science, its teachings are used for the development of full human physical, mental, and spiritual potential.

Ayurveda makes use of correspondences among five cosmic elements: earth, air, fire, water, and space.  One’s individual nature is mirrored by their body type or dosha. The doshas are bioenergetic forces that reflect the three main governing principles of nature. These are vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth-water). Every person is made from a unique combination of these three principles or doshas, and as a result, different proportions of each exist within each person. A person’s dosha depicts their eating, exercise, and sleep habits, and even where they prefer to live. There are three gunas, or qualities of the mind which determine spiritual and mental health, seven dhatus, or tissues that sustain the body, as well as three malas, or waste products. Additionally, there are ojas, or end products of perfect digestion, agnis, or enzymes, and srotas, which are channels and vessels within the body.  All of these energies must be balanced for an individual to achieve balance and optimum health.

Ayurvedic medicine supports the belief that spiritual growth begins with prevention based on a balanced lifestyle that is in harmony with the cycles of nature; all living creatures, whether human, plant or animal, must live in harmony with nature in order to survive.

Treatment Methods

Meditation - can include breath awareness, moving meditation, or yoga.

Prayama - is deep diaphragmatic breathing that is used to clear the body of carbon dioxide and increase oxygen intake to provide the body with vital energy.

Tongue Scraping - removes toxins and bacteria from the tongue more efficiently than a toothbrush.

Oil Pulling - removes toxins and bacteria from the mouth and helps detox the body. Organic, cold-pressed coconut or sesame oil is swished around in the mouth for 15 or 20 minutes and then expelled.

Massage - can lower blood pressure, increase muscle tone, decrease stress, and increase the flow of lymph which in turn reduces edema.

Sweating or Swedana - allows impurities to be released from the body via the sweat glands, exiting through the pores of the skin.

Basti or Enema - is a therapeutic treatment which introduces herbal oil through the rectum in order to lubricate the intestinal tract thereby flushing out toxins.

Lifestyle Recommendations

Eat your largest meal at lunchtime, because the digestive fire is at its peak when the sun is also at its highest peak, from 12 to 1 PM. Get plenty of sleep in a dark room, laugh out loud, drink warm water and ginger tea to increase Agni (digestive fire), and use 6 tastes - sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent - in every meal. These are considered the 6 tastes of Ayurveda. Don't eat while emotional and take your time while eating for proper and complete digestion of foods. Eat in silence in order to appreciate you food; there will be less of a chance of overeating.

Milestones in the Development of Ayurveda


Chandler, K. (1987). Modern science and Vedic science: An introduction. Modern Science and Vedic Science 1(1 ). Retrieved from https://research.mum.edu/modern-science-and-vedic-science-journal/modern-science-and-vedic-science-an-introduction/

Department of Ayurveda, Government of India. (n.d.). Milestones in the Development of Ayurveda. Retrieved from http://www.pxelsolutions.com/ayurvedic-medicine/milestones-in-the-development-of-ayurveda/

Koopsen, C., & Young, C., (2009). Integrative health: A holistic approach for health professionals. Sudbury,  MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Manyam, B. V. (1999) Dementia in Ayurveda. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 5(1). doi: http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.1999.5.81

Micozzi, M. S. (2001). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. New York: Churchill Livingstone

Sharma, H., Chandola, H., Singh, G., & Basisht, G. (2007, November 30). Utilization of Ayurveda in Health Care: An Approach for Prevention, Health Promotion, and Treatment of Disease. Part 1—Ayurveda, the Science of Life. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(9), 1011-1020. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.7017-a

The Chopra Center. (2017, April 21). 15 Ayurvedic practices to improve your health. Retrieved from https://chopra.com/articles/15-ayurvedic-practices-to-improve-your-health

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Can Science Connect Healing and Prayer?

Spiritual and material healing have often been at odds with one another. There are those on the medical side who do not recognize mixing both as a practical option and there are those on the spiritual side, Christian Scientists come to mind, who believe that mixing material medicine with spiritual medicine dilutes or negates the power of spiritual medicine; that power is prayer. It is interesting to note that while relying on prayer hasn't always provided a solution for many, material medicine hasn’t always provided one either. 

In 2005, two researchers in India published a study in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry that examined several triple-blind, randomized controlled trials concerning prayer and healing. The outcomes of these studies were organized into four different categories: improved outcomes associated with prayer, absence of benefits with prayer, worse outcomes associated with prayer, and retrospective benefits with prayer. They concluded that research on the power of prayer was essentially worthless as it was plagued by contradictions, assumptions, and theological quandaries which could never be resolved within the constraints of scientific enquiry. Both researchers were quick to point out, however, that meditation with or without spiritual components had been clinically proven to provide physical, mental, and emotional benefits to patients dealing with conditions like stress, pain, and anxiety. They also suggested that the benefits of the placebo response might be influenced by therapeutic rituals like prayer.1

A 2008 study published in the British Journal of Nursing confirmed that fact that empirical studies have provided no conclusive results, even though prayer has been widely used for centuries as a method of healing and promoting wellness. Mind-body mechanisms involved in healing seem to be activated by prayer. These include physiological responses such as decreased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as decreased episodes of angina in heart patients.2 Still, many of these findings continue to elude scientific research and present many of the same contradictions as the 2005 study.

There are legal ramifications to consider when choosing prayer as the sole method of healing. Stephen L. Carter, a professor of law at Yale University who penned a book in 1994 entitled, The Culture of Disbelief, concludes that religious freedom is indeed a right for people to possess; American citizens should not be forced to pay ruinous damages as has been the case in lawsuits involving devout families who would rather pray than seek a physician’s care. While many believe that the states should be able to intervene when the life of a child is at stake, they do not believe that it should be done in a way that discourages parents from following the teachings of their faith. The courts in some states disagree, however, and in 1996 Christian Science practitioners were held liable in a Minnesota court for the death of their child even though they meant no harm. Despite the results of an ABC News/Gallup poll several months prior to this verdict which found that four out of five Americans believe prayer can cure disease, many medical doctors find this to be a ridiculous notion.3

To this day, several states have prosecuted at least 50 Christian Science parents on manslaughter, murder, or child abuse charges for refusing medical care to their dying children. However, there is still no judicial consensus over whether practitioners and parents are criminally negligent, or if they are free to deny medical care to children due to freedom of religion. As a result, many of these cases have ended in acquittal.4

Prayer and faith are intangible in that they cannot be measured using scientific means. However, since they are concepts claiming to have physiological effects, many feel that they should therefore be subject to scientific measurement.5 This presents us with a dilemma; while prayer may indeed heal, randomized controlled studies cannot be applied to the study of its efficacy in healing. There is no present form of scientific enquiry that can adequately address the subject at all,1 so it is likely that it will continue to present legal and social challenges for those who wish to practice it as a sole method of care, whether it be for themselves or for their children. 


1. Andrade, C., & Radhakrishnan, R. (2009). Prayer and healing: A medical and scientific perspective on randomized controlled trials. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 51(4), 247–253. http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.58288 

 2. Narayanasamy, A., & Narayanasamy, M. (2008). The healing power of prayer and its implications for nursing. British Journal of Nursing, 17(6), 394-398. doi:10.12968/bjon.2008.17.6.28907

3. Carter, S. (1996, January 31). The power of prayer, denied. The New York Times, 17. Retrieved from https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1996/01/31/issue.html

4. Harvard Divinity School. (2018). Christianity case study – Minority in America. Retrieved from https://rlp.hds.harvard.edu/files/hds-rlp/files/minority_religion_christianity.pdf

5. Smith, P. W. (2002). The effects of prayer: Scientific study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 162(12). doi:10.1001/archinte.162.12.1420-a

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Homemade Hummus

One of my favorite things to eat when I have a long day of work ahead of me at my computer, is hummus. It’s healthy for me, I can eat it with whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, and I don’t have to stop working in order to prepare a meal when I have some on hand.

I used to buy hummus from Walmart in small tubs, but one day I decided to ditch the tubs and make hummus from scratch. I read several recipes that talked about soaking the garbanzos in order to remove the skin, but I wasn’t too keen to do this as the by the time I decided to make hummus, I was already pretty hungry. I used organic garbanzo beans, which would end up making all the difference in the world.


2 15 oz cans of organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with liquid

1/2 cup organic tahini
1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons freshly juiced
3-4 garlic cloves (depending on how sociable you feel like being)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt

Possible garnishes: organic extra virgin olive oil, paprika, fresh parsley

I have an old Vita-mix which I absolutely adore. Basically, I just threw everything into it and blended it with the blade running in both directions in order to make sure nothing got stuck at the bottom. I added the liquid from one of the cans of garbanzos and held back on adding the liquid in the other can until I could check the consistency of the finished product. It is really a personal choice at this point how much liquid you want to add, some recipes put it at about 1/3 of a cup.

The hummus came out amazing, much lighter and sweeter than what I had purchased in tubs. I chose not to garnish it as I was in a hurry, but I am thinking now that smoked Spanish paprika might be a good choice next time. The garbanzos were very tender and the skins did not pose a problem at all. I have noticed since that the organic garbanzos are much softer and moister than the non-organic variety, so I was lucky to have made that choice initially.

On this particular afternoon, I chose to eat the hummus with flour tortillas toasted on the burner, hence the Mexican fiesta plate! Raw vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, would have been the ideal choice, but what is great about hummus is that not only can you add things to it as you blend it, it can also be consumed in a variety of ways, even as a condiment with meat.

Saw Palmetto and BPH

I have had great success in treating my beagle with saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition in which the prostate gland is enlarged which is the most common prostate disorder seen in intact male dogs. He displayed clinical symptoms so I began treating him right away with a supportive protocol of saw palmetto. He is much better now, but I am considering neutering him because it is really the only way to prevent a recurrence.

Is saw palmetto effective at improving symptoms of BPH in humans, too? 

Yes, as it contains phytotherapeutic agents that have a very long history of being effective. In the 1990s, phytotherapy, which is the use of plants and plant extracts for the treatment of medical conditions, became a common form of alternative therapy used in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Throughout the world, its prevalence rate is 50% , largely due to the increased availability via health food stores and online vitamin shops. Phytotherapeutic agents are commonly used in urology, especially in the treatment of BPH.1

Phytotherapeutic agents are commonly prescribed in Europe in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) with BPH. In the United States they are self-prescribed by patients because they are easily available over the counter without a prescription. Access to these agents has become easier with the expansion of health food stores and vitamin shops. Thirty to ninety percent of patients seen by urologists for BPH/LUTS are taking these agents, and one of the most commonly used agents is saw palmetto berry extract.2

Saw palmetto berry (SPB) extract is the most popular phytotherapeutic agent used in the treatment of BPH/LUTS and it is derived from the berry of the American dwarf tree or Serenoa repens. The plant is found primarily in areas of the southeastern United States. Its historical use in the treatment of prostatic conditions dates back to the 1800s.2

The n-hexane lipidosterolic extract of Serenoa repens called Permixon, is a drug that has been available for many years now for the treatment of men with BPH. It is a complex mixture of various compounds. Its multiple mechanisms of action include in vitro inhibition of both type 1 and type 2 isoenzymes of 5 alpha-reductase and interference with binding of dihydrotestosterone to cytosolic androgen receptors in prostate cells. In controlled clinical trials in men with BPH, the frequency of nocturia, or urinating at night, was reduced by 33 to 74%, while urinary frequency during the day decreased by 11 to 43% and peak urinary flow rate increased by 26 to 50% with the extract. The corresponding values for the placebo group were 13 to 39%, 1 to 29% and 2 to 35%.3

In addition to the inhibition of type 1 and type 2 isoenzymes of 5α-reductase and the antiandrogenic effects as described in Drugs and Aging (1996), SPB has anti-inflammatory effects and it inhibits prolactin and growth factors that affect cell division, causing involution - or shrinkage - of the prostatic epithelium.2,4

Evaluations of SPB extract in terms of safety have not been performed in the United States as they are not required by law. Herbal medicines are regulated as dietary supplements under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. This means that herbal products can be sold without any specified efficacy or safety testing, as long as the product was marketed in the United States before October 15, 1994. Product safety is the responsibility of the manufacturers. Approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not required to sell these products.5

1. Maccagnano, C., Salonia, A., Briganti, A., Teillac, P., Schulman, C., Montorsi, F., & Rigatti, P. (2006). A critical analysis of Permixon™ in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic enlargement. European Urology Supplements, 5(4), 430-440. doi:10.1016/j.eursup.2006.02.006

2. Fagelman, E., & Lowe, F. C. (2001). Saw palmetto berry as a treatment for BPH. Reviews in Urology, 3(3), 134-8. PMCID: PMC1476047

3. Plosker, G. L., & Brogden, R. N. (1996). Serenoa repens (Permixon®). Drugs & Aging, 9(5), 379-395. doi:10.2165/00002512-199609050-00008

4. Gordon, A., & Shaughnessy, A. (2003, April). Saw palmetto for prostate disorders. American Family Physician, 67(6), 1281-3. PMID: 12674456

5. Marks, L. S., & Tyler, V. E. (1999). Saw palmetto extract: newest (and oldest) treatment alternative for men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urology, 53(3), 457-461. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0090-4295(98)00635-9

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cuban Picadillo - A Keto Dish

This photo is of the Proyecto Cultural Muraleando in Havana, Cuba, taken during my study abroad program last year.

There is a lot of talk about the keto diet. Low-carb diets have been around for a long time, and there is ample research supporting the benefits of a keto diet. Personally, I know a man who lost 112 pounds on the keto diet who was also able to get off of 10 of the 11 medications he had been taking. Most astonishing of all, he was also able to reverse his diabetes. We will get more into the keto diet and examine what the latest studies have to say, but let me first share a recipe with you. It is a Cuban recipe and I have Cuba on my mind since I was there last December for a study abroad program in health care at ASU.

Picadillo is a dish that is common in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America. My mother, who was from Puerto Rico, used to make it when I was a child. Her version included slivered almonds. This dish in Cuba is traditionally topped with deep fried eggs or huevos estilo cubano, but we will focus here on the dish itself. It is fairly easy to prepare and is quite delicious.

To serve 4 people, you will need:
2 lbs. lean boneless beef, preferably chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch cubes
5 tsps. salt
Freshly  ground black pepper
4 Tbsps. annato oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 tsps. finely chopped garlic
4 meduim-sized green peppers, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh hot chili peppers
6 medium-sized firm ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 cup small pimento-stuffed olives
1/4 cup seedless raisins
2 Tbsps white distilled vinegar

Place the beef in a heavy 3 to 4-quart saucepan, add 1 teaspoon of the salt and a few grindings of the pepper, and pour enough water to cover the meat at least by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, meanwhile skimming the foam and scum as they rise to the surface. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pan, and simmer for about an hour, or until the beef is tender and shows no resistance when pierced with the point of a small, sharp knife. Drain the beef and, when cool enough to handle, chop it coarsely.

In a heavy 10 to 12-inch skillet, heat the annato oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Drop in the onions, garlic, green peppers and chili peppers and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Watch carefully for any sign of burning and regulate the heat accordingly. Add the tomatoes, ground cloves, the remaining 2 tsps. of salt, and a liberal grinding of pepper. Still stirring, cook briskly until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape almost solidly on the spoon.

Add the olives, raisins, and vinegar and stir for a minute or so. Then, add the chopped beef and stir until the  meat is heated through. Taste the picadillo for seasoning and serve, mounded attractively on a heated platter or individual plates. This dish can be accompanied by fried plantains, boiled rice, or a cucumber salad to cool things down.


Can Functional Medicine Help Us Live Longer?

Americans are not living longer, healthier lives. Can functional medicine change that? By LeeAnn Weintraub August 8, 2019 The Los Angel...