Category Archives: Diet and Nutrition

Straight, No Chaser: Beeting Back High Blood Pressure and Poor Blood Flow to the Brain

beetroot

Writing this makes me feel like your mother telling you to eat your spinach, but that’s another conversation. We’ve been talking a lot lately about brain health, and we’re always into improving your baseline health through actions such as lowering your blood pressure. Today’s Straight, No Chaser offers you a challenge that doesn’t involve dumping ice on your head.

In my mind, I’ve reduced much of life to having good blood flow, allowing for delivery of oxygen and other nutrients to essential parts of your body. Much of our performance in various ways is related to just that. To that end, if you’d like to include your blood flow to your brain, consider adding a bit of beet juice into your life.

beetlejuice

No, not Beetlejuice…

beet-juice-5-1-of-1

Yes, that’s better.

Beet juice contains substances known as nitrates, which when metabolized within the body (into nitrites) relax blood vessels and promote better blood flow. Better blood flow equals better oxygenation and delivery of nutrition throughout your body, notably your brain. This blood flow activity isn’t just theoretical. Brain scans and MRIs taken shortly after and even a day after ingesting 8 ounces of beet root juice decisively demonstrate better blood flow and brain activity. This stuff works, and it’s natural!

The good news isn’t just limited to your brain. Beet juice has long been known as a powerful detoxifier, which your liver appreciates. It is a great source of antioxidants, which helps your entire body. Also, appreciate that beet juice has been shown to lower your blood pressure. Recall that blood pressure is a measure of the force the heart needs to pump blood throughout your body. We’re better off with a lower pressure, which is a sign of a more efficiently performing heart. Beet juice is a simple way to reduce your blood pressure by about 10 points.

Here are a final few fun facts for your consideration:

  • Beet juice is even better than eating cooked beets.
  • One to two cups a day is sufficient to get the desired health benefits.
  • Be advised that drinking beet juice may change your urine and bowel movements to a reddish color. This does not represent a danger.

beat-it-michael-jackson

Here’s to your health. Now beet it!

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Cardiology/Heart, Detoxification, Diet and Nutrition, General Health and Wellness

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding the Keto(genic) Diet

what-is-keto-diet

 

Certainly you’ve heard the saying “before you (perform a certain activity), consult with your physician.” That’s very applicable with many different types of diets. As a general consideration, Straight, No Chaser tries to offer understanding of the principles behind the activities you engage in, the illnesses you have and those you are attempting to avoid. So as an example, today we look at the ketogenic diet – but not with an eye toward teaching you how to start it but more so to understand what it is, what it attempts to do, how it may work and what risks it presents. Apologies are offered (to those who need them) for attempting to make this overly simplistic.

Let’s talk about normal first…

Remember food is fuel for your body. Different foods and parts of foods work more or less efficiently in fueling your body. Normally, carbohydrates (carbs) within your food are your body’s preferred energy source, as they are most easily broken down into the glucose (blood sugar) your body uses as fuel. When you eat approximately less than fifty grams of carbs a day, your body is highly likely to not have enough glucose to use as immediately accessible fuel. When this occurs, the body responds by breaking down the protein and fat in your food, and then if necessary, it breaks down the protein and fat your body is storing for energy. This results in weight loss because it takes more calories to change fat into energy than it does to change carbohydrates into energy.

Now about ketones…

If there is insufficient carbohydrate in the diet, your liver will convert fat into fatty acids and substances called ketone bodies (ketones). Ketones are meant to replace glucose as an energy source but are much less efficient at it. An elevated level of ketone bodies (ketosis) in the blood is a useful marker for the depletion of carbohydrates within your body.

About the diet…

Keto2-1-1200x616As noted above, you can approximate the goal by carb counting and staying below fifty grams of carbs per day. This is most easily done by cutting back most on the most easily digestible carbs such as white breads, pastries, sodas, sugars (and sweeteners), potatoes, pizza and snack foods (cookies, cakes, chips and candies).

If you’re gong to be precise, there are ketone monitors that can be obtained, but after several days, the scale does a pretty good job of telling you if your activity is being productive.

For whom might this not be safe…

First of all, you should never try this type of activity without first getting a clean bill of health. The presence of ketones could be devastating to diabetics (particularly type 1) and others with certain health issues. Low-carb diets have about a 30% rate of causing constipation, and other side effects could include indigestion, low blood sugar or kidney stones.

Ketogenic diets do have actual medical indications, most notably including being part of the treatment of seizure disorders since the 1920s. However, be mindful that whenever you’re attempting to force the body to do something other than is naturally intended, there will be risks and occasional consequences. As a rule, the best diet remains a healthy diet, meaning portion control and adherence to the healthy food plate.

HEPJan2015

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, General Health and Wellness

Straight, No Chaser: Healthy Eating Tips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you want to eat healthy, you really must learn about and try to eat in accordance with the Healthy Eating Plate. It doesn’t get more complicated that that, and you shouldn’t attempt to make it much more complicated.

Today, I’m going to speak on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which I’m building upon for your success. These bakers’ dozen of tips represent simple, easy-to-do tasks to keep your meals healthy.

1. Eat at home. This accomplishes so many things. If you eat at home, you know exactly what you’re eating. That quality control is important, and it allows you to both save money and get creative in your pursuit of health.

2. If possible, take the cooking out of your hands. Those of you with less self-discipline would do well to simply express your healthy desires to your loved one. Give her or him directions on your health goals and eat what’s brough to you.

3. Use a smaller plate. This act with help you with portion control. If you’re one of those who must finish your plate, this will help prevent you from overeating.

4. Stop eating when you’re full. The body actually is trying to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re not. Try to overcome that voice in your head that tells you “finish your plate.” Calorie control is the vital component of health.

healthyeating

5. Make half your plate colorful fruits and vegetables. If you just remember dark green, red and orange colors and consistently full of nutrients and healthy, you’ll do well. Think of tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli as examples.

6. Eat slowly. Even if you’re not chewing each morsel 20-25 times before swallowing, learning to savor your food will improve your eating experience and promote a sense of fullness and satisfaction with smaller portions. No, it won’t necessary make you want even more.

7. Lean. Protein. Limit your red meat. Learn to appreciate lean meats, such as chicken, turkey and seafood. Beans and tofu are also excellent protein sources. When you do eat beef and/or pork, ask for lean cuts.

8. Seafood, not see (more) food. Make it your main course at least twice a week.

wholegrain

9. Whole grains. Just say the words and look for the words. When you’re buying breads, look for 100% whole grain. At a restaurant? Specifically ask for whole grains in your breadbasket. You cannot assume your breads are whole grain otherwise.

10. Avoid the extra fat. There’s no good in eating healthy if you cover the goodness with heavy sauces, gravies, syrups or salad dressings. Ask if low fat, low-calorie alternatives exist.

11. Got dairy? Learn to move beyond whole milk. Fat-free, low-fat, soy or almond milks (or yogurt without a daily drink) are all better options and provide the same amount of calcium and other nutrients without all the fat and calories.

12. Satisfy your sweet tooth in a different way. Learn to enjoy a fruit cocktail, yogurt parfait, baked apples or other healthy options as your dessert. All you’re really wanting is a dab of sugar anyway!

13. Learn variety; build your choices. Have you ever tried mango, kiwi, lentils or kale? If so, did you give up after the first taste? Many healthy foods need to be prepared to your liking. Think seasonings and preparation. Get creative!

Whatever you do, fast food is not the option. Invest a touch of time into these very simple tips and undo the bad luck to be found if most of your diets.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, General Health and Wellness, Public Health

Straight, No Chaser: Do You Believe? What You Eat Will Affect You!

chose

We’re all convinced that drinking a gallon of booze will alter something or other in our bodies. We believe that doing daily deep breathing exercises in front of an old bus’s exhaust pipe will affect us somehow. We trust that taking medicine according to the doctor’s guidance will fix some problem.

Do we believe that what we eat will have an effect on us?

For the month or March–National Nutrition Month–let’s make the choices about our nutrition that prove that we believe the obvious. Let’s chose to heal, not poison ourselves this month (and beyond of course). It might not be as torturous as we’d expect.

Contact your Personal Healthcare Consultant with any questions you might have for nutritional recommendations. We’re here for you 24/7 at 844-SMA-TALK or http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, General Health and Wellness

Straight No Chaser: Gluten, Wheat and Celiac Disease

Gluten free signal

One of the reasons I enjoy writing this blog is it brings me closer to understanding you. As you respond to posts or query me, I get to better appreciate the breadth of your concerns. I realize that much of what physicians do in clinical practice is talk AT you. Sometimes physicians assume that you know better because we do. Your issues often involves uncertainty about the nature of your symptoms, and, in real-time, you tend not to appreciate that symptoms are incredibly non-specific, meaning the same set of symptoms show up in multiple diseases and conditions (as you’ll noted from the picture below featuring possible symptoms of celiac disease). Many times, you’ll be researching a topic on the Internet, see symptoms you have and say, “That sounds like me! That must be what I have.” The relationship of symptoms to disease really isn’t anywhere near that linear.

Weight loss is an example of something patients think about differently than physicians. When a patient wants to lose weight, s/he may think of everything under the sun from the latest diet craze, surgery or other potential “quick-fixes.” On the other hand, a physician will parrot something about calorie controlhealthy eating and exercise, assuming you know better than to entertain miscellaneous information aimed to strike fear into your hearts or give you false expectations. (If you need a refresher on that consideration, check here.) In many of these instances, physicians may never even address your questions, because we’re so busy promoting the standard of care.

This month, we’ve been discussing nutrition with probably a dozen different blogs posted on various topics. Do you think the most common questions I’ve received have involved application of the healthy eating plate or simple tips to healthier eating? Nope. They’ve been more along the lines of esoteric concerns – or at least concerns that only affect rare segments of the population – so much so that physicians typically wouldn’t even think to discuss them with patients.

Two such discussions involve the consumption of gluten and wheat. Let’s answer those questions and clear up any confusion you may have. Thank you for your willingness to engage in straight talk. Indeed, your concerns are real, and our mission at Straight, No Chaser and www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com is to get you the information and advice you need.

What is gluten?

Gluten an important protein found in all forms of wheat, barley and rye. It is also found in other foods such as deli meats, soy sauce, vitamins, some chocolate, some toothpaste and imitation crab. For the purpose of this blog, let’s relegate your wheat concerns to gluten.

celiac1

Why do I care about gluten?

You probably don’t and probably shouldn’t, unless you have a specific disease called celiac disease, which is related to the adverse effects of an extreme sensitivity to gluten. Some humans (only some and not many at all) have difficulty digesting gluten. In fact, the ingestion of gluten in those with celiac disease can cause damage to the intestinal lining, causing chronic (ongoing, continuous) diarrhea and abdominal pain. This can result in potentially life-threatening concerns, but it only occurs in less than 1% of the population.

The other reason you may have heard about gluten is the existence of a diet craze based on avoiding gluten (having to do partially with limiting carbohydrates).

Why is this an issue?

As societies have moved to diets with higher consumption of refined wheat flour, the sensitivity to gluten has expressed itself more often. As is often the case, when you over consume or are overexposed to substances, danger ensues. That is not the same as saying you need to avoid any and everything on earth that could potentially cause you harm.

celiac-disease-symptoms

Do I need to give up wheat and gluten completely?

Absolutely not, unless you have celiac disease or demonstrated allergies to these substances. This is simply another example of your needing to understand the issue. As with most overstated concerns, solutions are to be found in the same principles of healthy eating described throughout Straight, No Chaser. (Feel free to research our many topics by typing your topic of interest into the search engine over on the right side of the page.)

In this instance and others, what happens all too often is folks create new problems running from other, perceived ones. Substituting high-calorie, high-fat products for wheat and other products containing gluten is not a healthy decision and has been shown to increase weight gain and the risk of diabetes. The principles of any successful efforts to diet remain the same. Your best bet is to learn principles of healthy eating and incorporate calorie control and exercise into your regimen. Embrace moderation across the board, and enjoy learning to make healthy eating an adventure by adding variety to your meals.

One final caveat: There’s nothing wrong with, and potentially much to gain from, asking your physician about your individual risks for celiac disease. Just understand that unless you have the symptoms (e.g., diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, headaches and joint pains to name a few), you likely will cause your physician to scratch her or his head.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Gastrointestinal, General Health and Wellness

Straight, No Chaser: When Eating Goes Wrong, Part II – Bulimia

Bulimia…-nerviosa-1

If you read Part I of this conversation on eating disorders (anorexia nervosa), you will recall that eating disorders are a mix of an abnormal body image combined with abnormal behaviors that lead to medical consequences. Today’s Straight, No Chaser is on bulimia, yet another dangerous eating disorder.

The ‘Bizz-Buzz’ of bulimia nervosa is ‘binge-purge.’ What that means is bulimics engage in frequent episodes of eating excessive amounts of food (bingeing) followed by one of several methods of eliminating what was just ingested (purging). This methods include forced vomiting (most common), use of diuretics or laxatives, fasting or excessive exercise. It is important to note that the bulimic feels a lack of control over these episodes.

bulimia_nervosa_1

Bulimia is an especially dangerous disease because it usually occurs in secret, and victims are able to hide it. This means symptoms will typically be further along when discovered. Bulimics usually manage to maintain a normal or healthy weight despite their behavior and may appear to be the person who ‘never gains weight’ despite ‘eating like a horse.’ This is a key differentiator between bulimia and anorexia. Otherwise, the two diseases do share some of the same psychological pathology, including the fear of weight gain and the unhappiness with physical appearance.

Treatment considerations for bulimia are similar to those for other eating disorders. A combination of psychotherapy, reestablishment of normal nutritional intake and medications usually leads to marked improvement. Again, the particular challenge with bulimics is discovering the condition in the first place. As with anorexia nervosa, treatment for bulimia nervosa often involves a combination of options and depends upon the needs of the individual. Medications may include antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), if the patient also has depression or anxiety.

Let’s recap by revisiting where we started with our conversation on anorexia. Our society doesn’t do the job it should in promoting a normal image of health. The typically promoted American ideal of beauty sets standards that lead many to pursue unrealistic means of meeting that ideal. In the setting of an actual American population that is obese by medical standards, this becomes even more of a problem. The levels of stress, anxiety and depression resulting from this reality sometimes leads to eating disorders. Remember, eating disorders aren’t just habits. They are life-threatening conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering, please seek help immediately.

bulimia

Post-script: If you’re wondering about the above picture of the teeth, you’re viewing the effects of all that regurgitated acid on the enamel layer of your teeth.  I know. It’s not your best look.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Gastrointestinal, Mental Health

Straight, No Chaser: When Eating Goes Wrong, Part I – Anorexia

anorexia_nervosa11

Simply put, our society doesn’t do the job it should in promoting a normal image of health at either end of the body size spectrum. The typically promoted American ideal of beauty sets standards that lead many to pursue unrealistic means of meeting that ideal. In the setting of an actual American population that is disproportionately obese by medical standards, this becomes even more of a problem, as individuals give up on realistic goals and settle into unhealthy eating habits that lead to disease due to obesity.

Most people are aware of two eating disorders (on the low side that is; obesity is another conversation): anorexia and bulimia. It is important to note that eating disorders are real medical and mental diseases. It is equally important to understand that they can be treated. It is vitally important to understand that when left untreated these disorders lead to a much higher incidence of death than in those without these conditions. These diseases cause severe disturbances in one’s diet, so much so that individuals spiral out of control toward severe disease and death in many instances. Sufferers of eating disorders often have a distorted self-image and ongoing concerns about weight and appearance. (This is as true for those pathologically overweight and in denial as it is for those pathologically underweight.)

anorexia-nervosa

Today’s Straight, No Chaser discusses anorexia. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder with nearly a 20 times greater likelihood of death that those in the general population of a similar age. Why, you ask? Simply put, anorexics are suffering the consequences of starving themselves. Anorexics have a maniacal and relentless pursuit of thinness, even in the face of being extremely thin. They couple an unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight with an intense fear of gaining weight. They possess a distorted view of their bodies and severely restrict their eating in response. They are obsessed.

Other symptoms and habits of anorexics include a lack of menstruation (among females, though men suffer from anorexia, too), binge-eating followed by extreme dieting and excessive exercise, misuse of diuretics, laxatives, enema and diet medications. The medical manifestations of anorexia are serious and can include osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone thinning), anemia, brittle hair and nails, dry skin, infertility, chronically low blood pressure, lethargy and fatigue, and heart and brain damage. It’s worth noting again that people die from anorexia. It is a disorder to be taken seriously.

The key components of treating eating disorders in general are stopping the behavior, reducing excessive exercise and maintaining or establishing adequate nutrition. The pursuit of adequate nutrition is vital enough that when patients develop dehydration and chemical imbalances (i.e., electrolyte abnormalities), they need hospitalization to correct deficiencies.

Specific management of anorexia involves addressing the psychological issues related to the eating disorder, obtaining a healthy weight, and consuming sufficient nutrition. This may involve various forms of behavioral therapy and medication. Regarding medication use, although some (such as antipsychotics or antidepressants) have been effective in addressing issues related to anorexia such as depression and anxiety, no medication has been proven effective in reversing weight loss and promoting weight gain back to a healthy/normal level. Similarly, behavioral therapy has been shown to assist in addressing the roots causes of anorexia but insufficient in addressing the medical issues that the disease contributed to or caused. Ultimately, it appears that a combination of medications, other medical interventions and behavioral therapy is the most effective course. As is the case with most illnesses, the earlier treatment is initiated, the better the outcome tends to be.

Please maintain a sufficient sensitivity toward those with anorexia. It’s a life-threatening condition, not the punch line of a joke about someone’s appearance.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.jeffreysterlingbooks.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Mental Health