Weight loss means gains in health, life expectancy

Dear Dr. Gott: I just wanted you to know that I have lost 155 pounds using your no-flour, no-sugar diet. I think I should be your spokesperson!
Seriously, I am a 56-year-old female teacher, and I wanted to get in shape before I retired a year ago. I also wanted to be healthier and have a long retirement life. At my previous weight, I was unhappy, unhealthy and unfit to do anything physical, so I tried your diet plan. It worked and it has just kept on working.
It took me two years to get the weight off, and I still have around 27 pounds to go, but my doctor says I have probably added 10 years to my life. I used to be on three different high-blood-pressure medications and had to use a c-pap machine every night because of sleep apnea. Now I am medication-free, and my sleep apnea has disappeared.
I have taken up walking each day now, and last week, even at my age of 56, was able to walk 34 miles! I truly believe you have saved my life, so I wanted to send you my belated thanks. You rock, Dr. Gott!
Dear Reader: Congratulations! You have made a remarkable change in your life, and I commend your efforts. Making the decision to turn your life around and work toward better health is often the most difficult part of losing weight.
Healthful weight loss will not happen overnight. It takes time to gain weight and it takes time to lose it. You averaged a weight loss of about 1-1/2 pounds per week, which is appropriate.
I am pleased to hear that you are now able to be more active. If you continue to walk four to five miles a day, you will increase your muscle tone and further improve your health.
Keep up the good work and enjoy your retirement. You deserve it.
Readers interested in learning more about my
no-flour, no-sugar diet should order my Health Report “A Strategy for Losing Weight: An Introduction to the No Flour, No Sugar Diet” by sending a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a $2 check or money order to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title or print an order form off my website at www.AskDrGottMD.com.

Dear Dr. Gott: Sometime ago, you published a formula of four natural ingredients to combat constipation. I gave this to a friend who suffers from this but she has lost it. Could you please reprint this? Thank you for your great work.
Dear Reader: I believe the recipe you are looking for is that of my colon cocktail. It consists of equal portions of applesauce, prune juice and bran. One to 2 tablespoons taken daily in the morning should relieve symptoms of constipation. I often advise that it be made in small batches in order to keep it fresh because it does not have a long shelf life. It must also be stored in the refrigerator.
Other home remedies include a mug of warm water a half-hour before breakfast each morning, warm apple juice, prune juice (warm or cold), whole prunes, powdered fiber drink mixes and even consuming more raw fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber.

Dear Dr. Gott: Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy due to numbness on the bottoms of both feet. My podiatrist made the diagnosis. Because I was not a diabetic or an alcoholic, he diagnosed idiopathic PN. I was 75 at the time. He wanted to do muscle tests, which I turned down in favor of a second opinion at the local Mayo Clinic. Their tests showed the neuropathy to be present, and they suggested I take 600 milligrams per day of alpha-lipoic acid from my health-food store and exercise.
My neurologist prescribed 10 milligrams of baclofen for the few leg cramps I was getting at night. I declined after hearing the side effects from my pharmacist. Because the weather was hot, I decided to try a high-carb sports drink, which took away the cramps until the weather changed.
I have always been a heavy user of Vicks VapoRub, so I began massaging it onto both feet — bottom and top, heels and toes. My chiropractor also suggested 1/8th teaspoon of cream of tartar mixed with water at night.
Seven years later, I have a little numbness in spots but no pain and only cramps at night when my feet get cold. I also take 100 milligrams of vitamin B6 along with the alpha-lipoic acid per day. My neurologist agrees that the Vicks will keep the nerves alive, and the exercise by massaging keeps the muscles strong. Please tell people. I do. Thank you.
Dear Reader: Let’s start with the simple case of your leg cramps. Many people experience cramping of the feet and calves after exercising or profuse sweating because the body’s electrolyte balance is disturbed. Sports drinks can help bring this back into balance, thus eliminating the cramps. Other home remedies include soap under the sheets, pickles, pickle juice, supplemental potassium and several others.
Now, on to your peripheral neuropathy. This condition is caused by damage to the peripheral nerves in the feet, legs, hands and/or arms. Causes can be untreated or poorly controlled diabetes, chemotherapy or radiation side effects, improper diet or injury. When the cause cannot be found, the condition is labeled idiopathic.
Common treatment includes prescription nerve blockers such as gabapentin. Another treatment that has received a lot of positive review is Anodyne therapy. Home remedies range from topical mentholated chest rubs to dietary vitamin and mineral supplements and topical ointments containing capsaicin. Massage may also be beneficial since its aids circulation.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant made by the body and is present in every cell. It is both fat- and water-soluble. It has been shown to lower blood-sugar levels, kill free radicals and improve symptoms of autonomic neuropathy (damage to the nerves of the heart associated with diabetes). It is currently being studied as a part of a treatment program for glaucoma, stroke, brain disorders and liver disease. It is too early yet to tell whether it is beneficial.

Because of your success, I am printing your letter in the hopes that it may help others. I also ask for feedback from my readers about their experiences.

Dear Dr. Gott: I’ve been a chemist and forensic scientist for more than 50 years, and in your column you address a woman’s questions regarding chronic vaginal inflammation and repeated yeast infections. Years ago, I had a legal case involving a woman who used Premarin cream packaged in metal-walled “toothpaste”-type tubes. Her complaints and symptoms were much the same as your reader’s. In working as her expert witness on that case, I opened up and examined the offending Premarin tubes she had used. What I found was a badly designed delivery system that could not fail to cause horrific injury to anyone that used the product down to its completely collapsed, scrolled-up endpoint.
Such tubes are made of soft metal-like zinc but with an internal layer of polymer plastic coating the interior surface to prevent metal contamination or any reactive ingredients from chemically reacting with the metal walls. The defect comes when the user squeezes and deforms the tube walls to such an extent that the internal plastic layer fractures into small chips and delaminates from its attachment to the wall. What results are a myriad of small and almost microscopic flakes of the lining plastic, with sharp points and razor-sharp edges like broken glass mixing into the cream product as it is delivered. Such a production of tissue-cutting particles will cause visible to microscopic lacerations in the delicate barrier tissues it comes into contact with and thus allow infections to occur or reoccur.
This should be the first thing a woman needing such a product should look at and demand an alternative to. Plastic-walled cream-delivery tubes or pre-filled syringe packaging would eliminate this kind of injury. Inform and warn your readers, please. Perhaps others have experienced the same, and an informed buying public has a great deal of economic clout when it comes to forcing improvements in product designs.
As an aside, the case was ultimately settled quietly after I demonstrated to both sides that this was the defect in the product leading to her injuries. I am not sure whether the makers of such products have changed from that design of packaging and delivery or not. But in my considerable experience with product-defect cases, including medical device-based cases, it is a rarity that the manufacturer has voluntarily eliminated such a defect. It’s usually an economic decision for them, and the cost of a few legal cases a year is just cranked into a slightly higher product price in the following years. The actual costs of their errors is in reality much greater when you factor in those who have sustained injury or worse but have not filed for or prevailed in legal actions.
Dear Reader: I have chosen to print your letter almost in its entirety because it is a well-written, informative piece. I thank you for bringing an alternate cause to the table, one I had never even thought to consider.
I, like you, am unaware of what type of packaging Premarin and similar estrogen creams come in; therefore, I am hoping that this letter is either late (in the case of newer, safer packaging) or will bring greater attention to this issue.
If packaging has not been improved, there may be many women suffering the effects who either don’t know the cause or are too embarrassed to bring up the issue with their general physicians or gynecologists.
Vaginal infections are often minor and disappear with treatment, but if left untreated can result in considerable symptoms and problems. I urge any woman who has symptoms of a vaginal infection to speak with her gynecologist so that she may receive appropriate treatment early before the infection can take hold and cause even greater discomfort, embarrassment and, perhaps, even damage.
As I have said many times in the past, there is no reason to be embarrassed by symptoms for any condition. Doctors have been there and done that. Any physician worth his salt will do his best to get to the bottom of the problem and offer help, support and treatment.

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