Diets come and go, like fashion it seems..but the diet that grabbed the headlines last year was the Dukan Diet, said to be the reason the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, managed to shed those pounds to squeeze into her wedding dress for that royal do of the year.
It now transpires that the inventor of the diet, Dr Pierre Dukan,70, is to be hauled up by the French Ethics Council for breach of the medical ethics code. In a book out in January, the star nutritionist proposes bumping up A-level equivalent pupils’ marks if they manage to maintain an acceptable Body Mass Index, a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The French College of Physicians has lodged a complaint against Dr Dukan because his remarks could prove harmful for pupils already suffering from obesity or anorexia.
The good doctor’s intention is quite clear and should be lauded, what with the large proportion of obese children and the hazards it poses towards their health. he said: “There is nothing unhealthy about educating youngsters about nutrition.”
“My idea would change nothing for those who have no need to get thinner. But for those who do, it would only motivate them to lose weight.”
The Dukan Diet has been a rave favorite with celebrities worldwide – its followers include Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham. But it has also drawn quite a bit of controversy. The British Dietetic Diet has branded it the ‘worst diet of 2011′, claiming that there was no scientific basis and that it was harmful to cut out food groups.
What the diet entails is nothing new essentially, it bears resemblance to the time-tested Atkins Diet which has been around for decades. It comprises of a complicated four-stage approach based on eating lots of protein-rich meat and fish and cutting out carbohydrates : the “attack“, “cruise“, “consolidation” and “stabilisation” phases.
During “attack”, which lasts five to 10 days, participants are meant to eat nothing but lean meat, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products – plus a tablespoon and a half of oatbran a day.
In “cruise” they are allowed some vegetables every other day, but no spuds. Their oatbran allowance goes up half a tablespoon. This can go on for months, until a dieter’s “true weight” has been achieved.
Those strong-willed enough to achieve that aim can then start eating some bread and fruit once more, a period known as “consolidation”.
Finally, participants reach “stabilisation”, when they can eat whatever type of food they like – apart from on Thursdays.(don’t ask me why, but you can eat anything you like on the other days, provided its on the list of the first two phases).
Spotted recently – scientists are gathering evidence that sexual frustration drives males to drink. To be honest, this is nothing new – just drop in to any bar or pub and one can gather a lot of evidence of heart-broken guys drowning pint after pint of the stuff.
The latest issue of the journal Science not only provides further evidence of the same, it even tells why sexually-frustrated males(flies, that is) are driven to drink. And the publication even suggests that male humans might behave in the same manner!
The answer lies in a brain chemical – neuropeptide F – which was found higher in male fruit flies who had mated than comrades who didn’t have sex. Those who didn’t get it preferred foods that had a high content of alcohol.
Human brains have a similar chemical (neuropeptide y) which may react in a similar way, according to scientists. Work is ongoing to prove this hypothesis. Assuming this is proven true, the next thing scientists will have to prove is: what do teetotallers do?
The cost of healthcare delivery continues to rise unabated due to many factors, estimated to be at least 10% year-on-year. Some of the reasons are pretty obvious, such as newer medications where extensive research has been undertaken and new technology.
Costs aside, one can forsee that, in the near future, some trends in the way healthcare is provided, are emerging.
Take a look, for instance, at electronic health records – storing a patient’s medical history, medications, lab work and recent tests in the computer so that there is record sharing to improve safety and for convenience for patients. Throw away the thick patient folders and time-wasting in deciphering doctors’ handwriting!
Telehealth has also made great inroads, especially in rural or remote areas. Telecommunications technology (read ‘internet’) is used to provide and support in-home health care for those not easily reached.
Quite a new concept is that of the medical home, not a name for a building but more of a concept of medical care, where a primary care provider, like a GP,takes the lead on coordinating all aspects of a patient’s care, be it surgical wound dressings, flu shots, blood tests or emotional health. This avoids duplication of medications when a patient is seeing multiple doctors for various ailments.
Integrative medicine — The combining of conventional Western medicine with alternative treatments like acupuncture,homeopathic medicine have already entrenched themselves into some societies When conventional medicine doesn’t bring relief, more people are trying acupuncture, botanical remedies, dietary supplements or stress reduction techniques for help, thus addressing the patient as a whole person, not a person suffering from just one disease.
Of all recent trends I’ve noticed, the one that has the greatest potential, to my mind, is individualised medicine – the tailoring of treatment for a disease to each patient’s specific needs based on that patient’s gene profiling. After all, it does make sense – one pill does not fit all – that individual variations make it necessary to tailor doses and type of medications to one’s genetic makeup. By identifying the genetic makeup of an individual, doctors and reduce or increase doses of a particular medicine to give maximum effect minus the side-effects. In some leading medical centres, like Mayo Clinic, there are even Centres for Individualized Medicine. See here.