Second August Man of the Month: Chef Bill Barum

chef billHippocrates is quoted as saying “let food be thy medicine.”  Disruptive Women’s August co-Man of the Month, Chef Bill Barum, has taken this philosophy to unprecedented levels, linking culinary excellence and better health at respected institutions and delivering measurable – and eye-opening – results.

That the Cleveland Clinic, under the leadership of CEO Toby Cosgrove, has become one of the world’s leading health and wellness facilities is well known.  A critical component of the Clinic’s success was the hiring of Chef Barum as the hospital’s Senior Director of Hospitality, Food and Retail Services.  Bringing Barum to the Clinic set in motion a re-imagining of the role of food in health care settings and a series of actions that are being replicated in multiple hospitals and clinics.

Dr. Cosgrove believed a hospital should not only be a disease recovery unit, but must be a center that advances wellness.  Thus, out went the deep fat fryers, the sugared beverages, the whole milk, vending confections and all Trans Fats to be replaced with food and beverages that pleased the palate while strengthening the body, for both patients and hospital staff.  (more…)

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A Simple Slice of Bread. Staff of Life for You. Poison for Me.

Glenna Crooks

Celiac Disease. Know of it?

Even if you do, you may not know it’s a serious genetic autoimmune condition. Because it can cause over 100 symptoms, it often masquerades as other conditions. For that reason, and despite availability of simple blood test to detect it, the average time to diagnosis is ten years for women and six years for men. The consequences in the meantime can be significant: miscarriage, stillbirth, osteopenia, neurological conditions, gastrointestinal symptoms, headache, fatigue, failure to thrive and stunted growth in children and, over the long term, increased risk of esophageal, stomach and colon cancer, or lymphoma.

There are no medicines or treatments for celiac disease.

Regardless, I was giddy when – after only five years of symptoms – I was diagnosed. What a relief to know it wasn’t osteoarthritis, or worse. I felt empowered! I could do something – namely, avoid gluten – the protein component of wheat, barley and rye.

Gluten is sticky, which is where ‘glue’ gets its name. Remember kindergarten paste? The ‘glue’ of those days might have been messy; the ‘glue’ of gluten is dangerous for those of us with this disease.

Those feelings of empowerment? Well, they’re gone now. These days, I know better about the subtle – but very substantial – burdens I’ve carried since the diagnosis. I may be healthier avoiding gluten, but I’m weary. I’m worried. And, I’m angry. (more…)

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Body Respect disrupts business as usual to advance nutritional wellbeing for all

lucyHow do we get from calorie counting and food preoccupation to relishing eating and enjoying body confidence? I’ll share three ways in which putting body respect at the centre can help turn the tide on body shame, weight stigma and rising health inequalities and promote enjoyable eating, and nutrition justice.

A powerful first step is to bring body knowledge back in to view. It’s traditional to teach cognitive restraint and willpower in pursuit of healthy eating, but this all too often backfires. Rational knowledge has its place – just ask someone living with a peanut allergy – but food rules become problematic when they encourage us to ignore body signals. It’s hardly surprising so many people feel out of control around eating when we eat with our heads. All those ‘shoulds’ ‘have to’ ‘mustn’ts’ fuel body-mind disconnect and play havoc with our internal regulation systems.

Tuning into body signals and sensations such as appetite, fullness, gut comfort, emotions and overall satisfaction, can help restore a healthy relationship with food. This means we eat in response to occasion, taste preference, energy levels and learn to trust ourselves to meet our needs. Shifting to this more intuitive, connected way of eating allows food and eating to meet non-nutritional roles, such as pleasure,  values, family and identity. (more…)

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American Hospitals Need to Stop Offering Fast Food, Quick!

heather farthingBan on Hospital Smoking: A Model

In the 1950′s the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published what was, at the time, an incredibly surprising finding: smoking is detrimental to health1. By 1964, the Surgeon General had publically acknowledged the linkage between smoking and cancer and, by the seventies, the smoking-cancer relationship was standard curricula in U.S. medical schools 2. Despite both medical and public awareness, however, hospital policy lagged behind the science; most healthcare centers had little to no official regulation regarding smoking in their facilities2. Reducing Smoking in Hospitals. A time for Action, published in a 1985 issue of the JAMA, declared a forceful criticism of this oversight:

Six years later, the Joint Commission: Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) ordered that all American hospitals be smoke free by the end of 19934. Today, American hospitals are plagued by a bad case of déjà vu. This time the paradox is not the presence of the cigarette at the bedside, but rather the burgers, the fries, and the soft drinks.

What’s Wrong With Fast Food? (more…)

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Foods that Nourish, Replenish and Repair

susan's photoThe food we eat serves many purposes.  It satisfies a primal need to fuel our bodies and quell hunger. It connects us to family and friends in lovely ways, during the holidays, in social situations and at the nightly dinner table.  It encourages us to be creative, to try new things, explore different cultures, and savor interesting tastes. And it comforts us, at least temporarily, when we are lonely, sad, anxious or otherwise spent.

Food has another very important purpose: it cleanses, repairs, replenishes our body at the most basic cellular level.  In fact, the latest research from the field of  nutrigenomics[1], reveals that food has the ability to turn on and to turn off our genes.  Think about that!  Only two decades ago, scientists believed that we inherited a fixed set of genes that predisposed us to certain diseases and conditions and there was little that we could do to change our course.   Now, we know differently.  Food is Medicine! (more…)

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August Man of the Month: Dr. Timothy Harlan

dr harlanToday begins our Culinary Nutrition Series, through next Wednesday we will be running posts from experts who will explore the relationship between food and health. Bon appetit!

With an August theme of The Link Between Food and Health, Dr. Timothy Harlan was the natural choice as one of the two Disruptive Women in Health Care’s Man of the Month.  While many physicians have developed an interest in food, Dr. Harlan was a chef and restauranteur first, and then developed an interest in medicine.  As he puts it, “I kind of took a wrong turn” on his way to college for a hotel and restaurant management degree and wound up a physician instead.

In addition to being a trained chef, Dr. Harlan is a practicing, board-certified Internist and both the Executive Director of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University and Assistant Dean for Clinical Services at Tulane University School of Medicine.  Early in his career, he identified the links between food choices and health.  Initially, as an author and through the Emmy award-winning Dr. Gourmet Show television series and website, and now as executive director of the Goldring Center, Dr. Harlan is working tirelessly to spread the message of simple, actionable advice about food choices that will improve, rather than worsen, overall health. (more…)

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Confronting Scandalous Physician Behavior: The Annals Of Internal Medicine Takes The First Step

Val Jones, MD

This post first appeared on Better Health.

If you have not read the latest essay and editorial about scandalous physician behavior published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM), you must do so now. They describe horrific racist and sexist remarks made about patients by senior male physicians in front of their young peers. The physicians-in-training are scarred by the experience, partially because the behavior itself was so disgusting, but also because they felt powerless to stop it.

It is important for the medical community to come together over the sad reality that there are still some physicians and surgeons out there who are wildly inappropriate in their patient care. In my lifetime I have seen a noticeable decrease in misogyny and behaviors of the sort described in the Annals essay. I have written about racism in the Ob/Gyn arena on my blog previously (note that the perpetrators of those scandalous acts were women – so both genders are guilty). But there is one story that I always believed was too vile to tell. Not on this blog, and probably not anywhere. I will speak out now because the editors at AIM have opened the conversation. (more…)

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TBT: Blind to women’s sexual health

Phyllis Greenberger

Today’s TBT post ran over two years ago and addressed female dysfunction. Given the FDA’s recent approval of flibanserin, a pill that aims to increase a woman’s desire for sex, we thought it would be helpful to review some of the early conversations on the issue.

A recent article published in partnership with The Investigative Fund and Newsweek questioned the existence of “female dysfunction,” as if to say, who cares about women’s sexual health? If you can’t “see” it, apparently it doesn’t exist. This is one-sided, inaccurate and disparaging of women.

Why is it that when men are impotent it is taken seriously, but when women suffer from sexual dysfunction it is ridiculed and attributed to “Big Pharma’s” attempt to conjure a condition so they can make and sell a drug?  If Pharma is so bad, why do we depend upon them to research and manufacture drugs to prevent and treat cancer?

Why do we hope that one of the companies will be successful in developing a drug to prevent, delay or treat Alzheimer’s disease? Do you give your child an antibiotic when they have strep or do you ignore it? If there is a pandemic whom do we turn to? (more…)


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The Paintings of The Medical Advocacy Mural Project: 2009-2015

Regina Holliday

Regina first ran the post below on August 12 on her blog (Regina Holliday’s Medical Advocacy Blog).

I began my advocacy mission in 2009 inspired by my husband Fred Holliday II and our fight for patient data access while he was continuously hospitalized at five facilities in eleven weeks.  I started my advocacy by painting murals.  Thus began Medical Advocacy Mural Project.

Then I started to paint studio pieces on canvas.  At this point I have painted 29 canvases in my home studio.  It is a quiet thoughtful process but sometimes quite lonely.

In the fall of 2010, I began to live paint at conferences.  Live painting is such an amazing process.  I love the energy of the crowd and the speaker.  I love the frequent interruptions that add depth and story to the piece.  In the past five years I have painted 205 live paintings.  They vary greatly.  As I scroll through them, I can see my growth as an artist.  I thank every venue that has given me the space to paint and thereby allowed me to create hundreds of images while meeting so many amazing people.

(I also founded a movement called The Walking Gallery.  I have painted 340 jackets in that movement in four years. You can learn more about that here. There are 43 artists painting and we have painted 394 jackets.)

To see the paintings in The Medical Advocacy Mural Project click here.

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‘Why Don’t They Just Leave?’ Domestic Violence Goes Beyond Physical Abuse

Today’s post originally ran on HuffPost Women.

“It starts out little by little,” domestic violence expert Dr. Ludy Green said, as she described the typical pattern of financial abuse. “This is a concept that the general public is not yet familiar with, which makes it harder to recognize, treat, and study than physical abuse” said Dr. Green [1].

After witnessing firsthand the damage caused by financial abuse, Dr. Green founded Second Chance Employment Services (SCES), a nonprofit organization that helps promote financial security for survivors of domestic violence.

The general public’s lack of familiarity with this type of abuse severely harms its victims. While 30 percent of women experience domestic violence during their lifetime [2], approximately 94 percent of domestic violence survivors have also experienced financial abuse [3]. (more…)

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Kim’s FDA Kerfuffle

Lisa-Suennen-photoThe post below ran first on Venture Valkyrie on August 12.

It’s always hard for me to come back from vacation and get reconnected with work, especially when I have had a great time, as I did. I spent the early part of this week trying to get my motivation back, including the impetus to restart the blog after a 3 week hiatus. There I was, searching for the story that would propel me to the keyboard, and, as always, it showed up in my favorite form – the messy collision of healthcare and pop culture.

You really can’t get more mainstream pop culture than Kim Kardashian. Her 43 million (!) Instagram followers know her better than her gynecologist, I suspect, so chock-a-block is her page with T&A. As those of you who religiously follow People Magazine and TMZ know, Kim is also married to hip hop impresario and Taylor Swift nemesis Kanye West. Together they get more publicity than Jesus, or so it seems. Maybe that’s why Kanye likes to refer to himself as God, but I digress.

kim-k-instaSo it appears that Kim has gotten herself into a bit of a kerfuffle with the FDA, which sounds like a sentence that should not exist. How in the world did these worlds collide, you may ask? Apparently Kim is pregnant with her second child (the second coming?) and experiencing some pretty severe morning sickness. Not shy about promoting her pregnancy and its effects, Kim publicized her delight in finding a drug, Diclegis, which made her feel better and got her back to the essential task of posting more naked pictures of herself. Duchesnay, the drug’s manufacturer, heard of Kim’s satisfaction with the product and signed her up to be their spokesnude. (more…)

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TBT: Melanoma: Make an informed choice

melanoma_girlFor today’s TBT post we have a post from two years ago that offers a cautionary note about spending time in the sun. After reading it you may want to think twice about squeezing in all that sunbathing before summer ends.

MG is all about making decisions. The good and the bad. When I was younger, I made a lot of bad ones. I was very immature and naïve. Most of them only affected me, but there were some that hurt others, and I wish I could change that. But I can’t. That is the thing about choices. You make them and that is pretty much it. So you need to make as many smart ones as possible. If not, then you certainly need to learn from them, so you can make better ones in the future. This is where I am now. Really thinking about my choices. How do they affect me and the people in my life? Now that I am 40, hopefully I am older and wiser (at least most of the time).

When I was in my teens and twenties, I made the choice to spend a lot of time in the sun. I lived 15 minutes from the beach and made it a priority to go there as much as possible in the summer. If I couldn’t get to the beach, then I would put my beach chair in the backyard, deck or driveway. I loved the sun. I would sit and relax and read for hours. It felt great. I am not going to deny that and pretend that I didn’t like it, or that I thought I looked better with a tan. I definitely did. (more…)


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Recap – The Intersection of Health and Housing: Opportunities and Challenges Panel

Tim_HeadshotIt was an honest, eye-opening remark during the Alliance for Health Reform panel on Friday, when speaker Barbara DiPietro talked about a common obstacle for patients when they receive a prescription for an illness: many drugs have side effects, some of which may lead to a few more visits to the restroom. For most people with a permanent home or workspace, especially when it comes to making a recovery from an illness or condition, this is an inconvenient, but necessary, reality.

However, for homeless people who do not have access to bathroom facilities 24/7, they do not have the luxury of taking a treatment with such side effects; otherwise they risk a legal citation or worse, arrest, for public indecency. As a result, they choose to not use their medications to avoid going to jail, and thus, they do not get better and have a hard time improving their prospects of finding more permanent housing and employment. (more…)

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When Great Healthcare Is Served With A Large Helping Of Unnecessary Mental Anguish

Val Jones, MD

Better Health first ran the post below on August 5.

I watched helplessly as a dear friend went through the emotional meat grinder of a new cancer diagnosis. Her  husband was found to have melanoma on a recent skin biopsy, and she knew that this was a dangerous disease. Because she is exceptionally intelligent and diligent, she set out to optimize his outcome with good information and the best care possible. Without much help from me, she located the finest specialists for her husband, and ultimately he received appropriate and state-of-the-art treatment. But along with his excellent care came substantial (and avoidable) emotional turmoil. The art of medicine was abandoned as the science marched on.

First came the pathology report, detailed and nuanced, but largely uninterpretable for the lay person. She received a copy of it at her request, but without any attempt at translation by her physician. In his view, she shouldn’t be looking at it at all, since it was up to him to decide next steps. She brought the report to me, wondering if I could make heads or tails out of it. Although I am not trained in pathology, I did know enough to be able to translate it, line-by-line, into normal speak. This was of great comfort to her as the ambiguity of prognosis (rather than certainty of metastasis and or mortality, etc.) was clearly outlined for the trained eye. (more…)

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The Internet Of Things, Privacy and Women

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

The post below ran on Health Populi on August 4.

A Congressional hearing on the Internet of Things was held on July 29, 2015.

“As we talk about your home, your lighting, your messaging, your voice, and, of course, your health and your actual biological function, issues like privacy and data security for these interoperable technologies become not just something to talk about but an area in which we in Congress play a large and potentially destructive — if we’re not careful — role in the development of these technologies,” cautioned the Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, U.S. House of Representatives.

cong briefingPictured with Chairman Goodlatte are the other witnesses particpating in the hearing: Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association; Dean Garfield, President and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council; Mitch Bainwol, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; and Morgan Reed, Executive Director of ACT |The App Association. (more…)

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