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Drug Recommendations: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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I have written a couple of posts on statins to provide a complete  picture of the costs and benefits of using them. Statins remain very dangerous treatment alternative when compared with natural diet options like diet, exercise and supplements.  Yet the medical community continues to endorse statins despite the warnings.

Today’s blog uses statins as an  example of how health experts have gone wrong when providing prudent messages to the public  about taking medication. This will hopefully open your eyes as to how easy it is to fall victim to the dogma. Experts who speak to the public should be more responsible.

  • When a physician is on television and says ” we know NOW that our patients are not hypochondriacs, because we have results from our study to prove statins cause muscle pain, ” it is very concerning.

One, it gives a research study too much power in terms of how a patient is viewed, in this case a  “hypochondriac”.  Patients should not have to wait for a research study to be done to “prove” that what symptoms they feel are real. If you feel differently after adding a medicine into your daily routine, don’t be convinced, even if it is by your doctor, otherwise. Research is not the holy grail, you are.

Two, for those of you taking prescription medicine has your physician ever explained UNcommon drug side effects that might affect you? Have you tried discussing concerns about a prescription with a doctor and they are dismissed or are handed another pill to lessen  stress (because he thinks you are a hypochondriac)? Do you go with the flow and follow doctor’s orders? Do you use your gut instinct and try to find someone who can help figure out why you have these symptoms? Many people blindly follow doctors orders, they do not question or get a second opinion  then pay the consequences.

  • When recommendations by the government are supported with, ” Patients who aren’t responding to statins alone would continue taking themin addition to Repatha and maintaining a healthy, cholesterol-friendly diet.” – John Jenkins, director of the FDA Office of New Drugs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/27/health/fda-new-cholesterol-drug-repatha/index.html), ” it makes me question the possibility of underlying motives.

Why would a doctor recommend you take a statin or any medication that does not work on its own and that has been linked to these negative health effects,                       http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm293330.htm? Pharmaceutical companies and politicians make a lot of money with your drug purchases.  Statins have become a $29 billion dollar business a year. Repatha is estimated to cost  14,00 a year/person and it will exceed statin profits by billions easily.

Accepting a doctor who dismisses your complaints, following advice to take medication that causes your body to exhibit negative changes or does not change the targeted blood work is the wrong picture.

The right picture is you, your health and being an advocate for yourself. Use common sense, have educated conversations with your doctor and make decisions together.  Medicine is sometimes necessary but not if it causes more harm than good. Health conditions caused by lifestyle should be cured by lifestyle, not drugs.

Next week I’ll discuss statin alternatives that may work for you.

 

 

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How Do You Keto?

Keto diet for acne

Reading the science literature, magazines,  blogs, Facebook  you will find a lot of supportive information that ties a ketogenic diet with reducing health risks for many illnesses (blood sugar and insulin disorders, heart disease, gut health, sports performance, mood enhancement….).  For weight loss,  a ketogenic diet has hands down proven itself to provide better results .

If you have been eating poorly and need to switch to a ketogenic diet or maybe you have been doing keto and are “stuck” it is always smart to find reliable sources to help. How do you go keto?

Of course some of you may need a clinical expert who can help identify complicated health situations. More and more clinical experts are popping up throughout the country and the rest of the world, http://www.dietdoctor.com/. I would be happy to help or find someone closer to where you live.

Yet many people just take the keto diet plunge and try it on their own. Of course, you can buy any of a million books,”Atkins New Diet Revolution”,  “Protein Power”, “The Stubborn Fat Fix”… but if you need a little extra support, I have found a wonderful online resource created by a woman named Martina Slajerova . She is from England and has lived a low carb lifestyle since being diagnosed with a thyroid condition.

I like her site, http://ketodietapp.com/Blog,  because she does not use any processed foods, unhealthy vegetable oils or artificial sweeteners in her cooking. She does use grass-fed beef and butter, raw hormone-free dairy and healthy fats like coconut oil. The recipes are all grain-free, sugar-free and gluten-free.

While everyone has a different budget and different health needs, I suggest you pick and modify the items that are best for you.

Here are a few FREE tools that I think can be helpful.

  1. The ketodiet buddy (macronutrient calculator) , http://ketodietapp.com/Blog/page/KetoDiet-Buddy
  2. 14 day meal plans, including vegetarian sample menus, http://ketodietebooks.com/
  3. Recipes that take you from the keto diet basics into a life full of easy to prepare mouth watering delicacies. This includes alcoholic beverages like the Moscow Mule

 

There is a KetoDiet Cookbook she sells , http://ketodietbooks.com/, that includes spicy tuna sushi rolls, beef teriyaki lettuce cups,  curried coconut chips and many foods to savor. Her latest masterpiece is a book full of 100 sinfully delicious indulgences, entitled “Fat Bombs”!!!!!!

 

 

So you can “cheat” without really cheating! Now I must put it out there, just because these “Fat Bombs” are keto you should not overdose despite the look and taste. These are small treats to get you through a craving or just cause you want to relax and have a treat. Then it is over, stop do not over eat.  If you can’t stop, don’t start. Eating keto is anything you make it to be, so enjoy it and use it for life. This way of eating is second to none and there is no reason to not make this part of a healthy lifestyle.

If you feel like you need more support there are many places to search: Facebook has a few groups such as, Ketone Power or Keto-Adaptation and there are online support groups like; lowcarbfriends.com, or forum.lowcarber.org.

There is no reason why you cannot find support for whatever low carb/ketogenic/paleo type of lifestyle you choose. It is easy, just look and you will know how to keto in no time!

 

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Excess Stress Keeps You Mess

image: http://apeiron.academy/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/stress_ball2.jpg

Yes we have heard about how stress makes us sick. But how does an emotion affect us physically (the gut, the heart, the immune system)? Simply it effects the signaling of hormones and other body activities that wreak havoc with our health.

Although we do not always make the emotional/physical connection it is always present.

Libido and sexual function is strongly correlated with stress in men and women. You connect a feeling (positive feelings, physical response, negative feelings, no response) with a physical response almost on a daily basis.

There are other circumstances too, for example, when you are emotionally drained it is hard to physically do daily tasks or just get out of bed and it can even invade your ability to rest and sleep.

Here is a list of what and how stress hormones (mainly cortisol and adrenaline) affects us physically:

  • Stress hormones work to contract muscles they become tense. This tension can affect your nerves, blood vessels, organs, skin, and bones contributing to muscle spasms, teeth grinding, headache, erectile dysfunction, chest and back pain.
  • Disruptions in the normal function of stomach acid can speed up or slow down muscle movement in the gut causing constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and weight changes.
  • Shifting balance from the body’s natural rhythm also affects blood circulation, muscle contraction and clotting factors that raise risk for coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac death, strokes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and trigger arrhythmias.
  • Raising cytokine levels, http://www.pnas.org/content/109/16/5995.short, weaken immune function (via cortisol resistance: consistently high cortisol levels desensitize the body similarly to the way elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance.) and contribute to inflammation. Inflammation is an underlier of many health conditions: cold/flu, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis,…
  • Blood sugar imbalance can be caused by high cortisol levels as it seems to cause insulin resistance not only in the muscles and liver, but also in the hippocampus. The reverse can also be true. Diabetics whose blood sugar is poorly controlled also have high cortisol, too. “It’s all a disastrous circle of sugary hormonal bodily terror”, https://ww.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201103/how-stress-makes-you-sick-and-sad.
  • Neurochemicals can trigger negative consequences in the brain increasing anxiety and depression as a result of increases in glutamate.
  • Shortening telomeres that affect white blood and immune cells. Telomeres are parts of human DNA that affect health and how our cells age, https://www.tasciences.com/what-is-a-telomere/. Stressed moms whose children were chronically ill were found to have shorter telomeres, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92975996. “At least in a laboratory dish, if you put Cortisol with white blood cells, they do not produce the same amount of telomerase as cells that don’t have cortisol in their environment.”

So, the emotional feelings of stress do effect health.  Stress creates fluctuations in the body’s balance of glutamate, telomeres, blood sugar, cytokines, muscle function and stomach acid as an underlying factor for many physical health ailments.

You can reduce stress and improve health by training your mind. Mindfulness training interventions can improve mental and physical health, http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/23/6/401.abstract. Try starting with one of these suggestions, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368?pg=2, but there are focused based stress reduction techniques too here’s on for weight loss, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/3-secrets-to-shape-up-and-strip-down-for-the-summer-secret-3/.

Lowering stress CAN improve your quality of life and save it.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Trust Your Gut Instinct: Leading to Mind & Body Wellness

 

Credit: Shutterstock

” Always trust your first gut instinct. If you feel something is wrong it usually is”. Getting in touch with your “inner gut feeling” can be a matter for survival in more ways than just one.  It can be a an innate sense of a good or an evil action and your gut is also at the center of your health and well-being.

What we are finding today is significant evidence that supports eastern medicine philosophy which focuses on a whole body balanced approach (mind and body coming from the same energy (Qi) source vs. western medicine which treats the mind and body, even body systems, separately.  As we learn, we now have a better understanding of the intricate role your mid-section and its micro flora (bacteria that inhabit the small and large intestines/gut) or “landscaping” play in weight and wellness.

Gastrointestinal (GI) health is not just about digestion and absorption of nutrients there are 100 trillion microorganisms living in your intestines and research links gut health with:

brain function

appetite/weight gain

metabolic function/dysfunction

moods/depression

immune system

neural function

hormonal regulation

allergies

headaches

autoimmune disease

ADD

arthritis

acne

and yes even autism, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20337404

Starting at the time of birth, your gut health is programmed by the type of delivery at birth, diet (formula vs. breast milk), antibiotics/medications and even activity level.

Recent research published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology, suggests engaging in exercise at a young age “can alter (gut health) that microbial community for the better, promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime.” http://www.nature.com/icb/journal/vaop/naam/abs/icb2015113a.html.

While exercise seems to have a positive effect on the gut, consuming “pumped up” foods that contain additives can be detrimental. You think eating seemingly “healthier” sugarless food options are good for you. Yet, foods that contain maltodextrin seem to precipitate ill gut health, such as Chron’s disease . And, maltodextrin is not the only food additive causing stomach distress, “xanthan gum was also linked to feeding intolerance, increased gastric residuals, abdominal distension and bloody stools in premature infants”. There are more food additives that are guilty of wreaking havoc on  your gut and immune system, http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2015/04/no-sugar-foods-with-maltodextrin-mess.html?spref=fb&m=1

So my point to this is, while you are trying to stay healthy by improving on what you eat, be proactive eat to strengthen your gut.  Avoid sugar, processed foods, antibiotics, anti-acid blockers and anti-inflammatory medications when possible. There are natural alternatives.

Consume

  • lactic acid-fermented foods to boost healthy gut bacteria: real Greek yogurt, real sauerkraut, kefir, Korean kimchi, miso, buttermilk more examples can be found here: http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-examples/. Nourished kitchen is a great website for gut friendly foods recipes or shopping guide, http://nourishedkitchen.com/where-to-buy/.
  • Cruciferous vegetables broccoli kale, cabbage, and cauliflower contain glucosinolates which are broken down by microbes to release substances that reduce gut inflammation and cancer risk

·      Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks are considered a prebiotic because inulin ferments in the colon into good bacteria

·      Blueberries may help to diversify gut bacteria and build immunity

·      Probiotics. If you’re not sure what to buy, this may interest you, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/beneficial-body-bugs-health-and-exercise-performance/

Your gut is an important piece of the whole health puzzle. Eat real food as part of a daily health care routine, not commercially created additives, to nourish your gut, strengthen healthy gut bacteria and to maintain an effective immune system.

 

 

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Why Eat Fat? 15 Undeniable Reasons

 

I am sure you have all heard the reasons as to why you should not eat fat. So I have gathered information and am providing reasons why you should eat fat, and saturated fat at that.

For those who manage eating between 5-20% of calories from healthy veggie, cheese, fruit (avocado)…carbs, eating fat will help catapult anti-aging (via the limitation of advanced gylcated end-products), lower heart disease risk, annihilate diabetes and its complications as well as balance any blood sugar or  hormone issue and burn fat faster. If you elect to eat a lot of carbs for example 60-80% calories as carbs, you should minimize fat and may want to reconsider.

Fat nourishes the body and optimizes many body functions. The benefits of eating healthy natural fats from meat, nuts/seeds, butter, olives etc… include assisting cells, organs, hormones and body systems.

Here’s a quick list of 14 health reasons to eat fat:

  1. The Brain– Fats compose 60% of the brain and are essential to brain function, including learning abilities, memory retention and moods. Fats are especially important for pregnant women, since they are integral to fetal brain development.
  2. Cells– Fatty acids help your cells stay flexible and are responsible for building cell membranes.
  3. The Heart– 60% of your heart’s energy comes from burning fats. Specific fats are also used to help keep the heart beating in a regular rhythm.
  4. Nerves– Fats compose the material that insulates and protects the nerves, isolating electrical impulses and helping to send communication signals.
  5. Lungs– Lung surfactant, which requires a high concentration of saturated fats, enables the lungs to work and keeps them from collapsing.
  6. The Eyes– Fat soluble vitamins are essential to eye function.
  7. Digestion– Fats in a meal slow down the digestion process so the body has more time to absorb nutrients.
  8. Organs– Fats cushion and protect all your internal organs.
  9. Immune System– Fats can aid in reducing inflammation so the immune system remains healthy and functions.
  10. The skin- daily fat consumption can help keep skin moist and prevent wrinkles.
  11. Sex and steroid hormones- are manufactured from fat.
  12. Metabolic hormones-fat will not trigger the release of insulin or counter-regulatory hormonal backlash like carbohydrates and therefore can also help give relief to over- worked organs like the pancreas or liver when large amounts of carbs are consumed.
  13. Satiety-fats keep you full longer by providing a constant level of energy, no need to be hungry.
  14. Fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K)- absorption cannot happen or may be limited without fat:
  • Vitamin A keeps your eyes and skin  healthy
  • Vitamin D works to strengthen the immune system, helps in muscle function and involved in strengthening bones
  • Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals
  • Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting

The health benefits are undeniable but you cannot ignore the fact that taste (reason #15)  is another important reason to eat fat; sautéed veggies, a rib-eye steak, coconut or the taste of lobster dipped in real butter are reasons enough to eat fat. The other 14 health reasons mentioned above might just be considered an added bonus.

Why eat fat? Because it is healthy and tastes good, why else?

 
 

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Diabesity: Tell Tale Signs and Symptoms

Diabesity is found in both overweight and TOFI ( Thin Outside Fat Inside) individuals, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/stop-diabesity-in-its-tracks/#comment-5261. This bears repeating because we understand a consequence of being overweight is having diabetes but we assume that someone who is thin and looks good on the outside is immune to health issues.

I cannot emphasize the importance of everyone paying attention to the tell tale signs of diabesity. Be aware of these symptoms no matter who you are, no matter how much you weigh, REGARDLESS of family history.  Why? because 8.1 million people or approx. 28% of the US is walking around with diabetes and they don’t know it, http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html.  

So if family history is what you use as a guiding risk factor DON’T!

In other words there are many people walking around with blood sugar issues and don’t even know it. If these “clueless” individuals are family, you do not have a “known” family history. But not being diagnosed with diabetes, insulin resistance or glucose toxicity does not mean you do not have a health condition that needs attention.

Discuss Tell Tale Precautionary Symptoms of Diabesity and Insulin Resistance With Your Doctor

  • Abdominal obesity (apple shape)
  • Sugar/carbohydrate cravings
  • Hunger after meals
  • Fatigue after meals
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst and appetite
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Gut issues (bloating, symptomatic of Decreased stomach emptying
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Vision problems
  • Numbness and tingling in lower extremities
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Sudden nervousness
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin tingling
  • Skin tags
  • Gum disease
  • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating

Ask About Tell Tale Clinical references:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Dyslipidemia (low HDL, high LDL and high triglycerides)
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Hyperglycemia (fasting above 100 mg/dL, Hb1Ac above 5.5)
  • Systemic Inflammation (elevated insulin production, C-reactive protein)
  • Hypercoagulable State (tendency to form blood clots)

Ask Your Doctor To Include Tell Tale Blood Tests as Part of Routine Check-ups:

  • Fasting glucose: blood glucose level after fasting for at least 8 hours
    • Normal: 70 – 89 mg/dl
    • Borderline: 90 – 99 mg/dl
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes : 100 – 125 mg/dl
    • Diabetes: >126 mg/dl
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: blood glucose level 2 hours after a 75 gram glucose drink (adjusted based on weight)
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: glucose level less than fasting level
    • Normal: less than 140 mg/dl
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes: 141 – 199 mg/dl
    • Diabetes: > 200 mg/dl
    • Diabesity : Work-up
  • Fasting Insulin level: insulin level after fasting for at least 8 hours
    • According to Stephen Guyenet, University of Washington, the average insulin level in the U.S. for men is 8.8 mIU/ml and women is 8.4 mIU/ml
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: less than 3.0 mIU/ml
    • Normal : 3.0 to 8.3 mIU/ml
    • Elevated levels : >8.4 mIU/ml
  • Fasting C-peptide level:  a  substance produced by the pancreatic beta cells when proinsulin splits apart to form one molecule of c-peptide and one molecule of insulin
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: less than 0.9 ng/ml
    • Normal : 1.0 – 3.0 ng/ml
  • Leptin: a hormone that is essential for regulation of metabolism and hunger. Blood levels are directly correlated with the amount of triglycerides stored in adipose tissue.
    • Normal for men: 1.2 -9.5 ng/ml
    • Normal for women: 4.1 – 25.0 ng/ml
  • HgbA1c: average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. This test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is glycated (coated with sugar)
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: less than 5.0 percent
    • Normal : 5.0 to 5.6 percent
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes : 5.7 -6.4 percent
    • Diabetes: >6.5 percent
  • Fructosamine: a glycated serum protein that measures average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 weeks
    • Normal : 200 – 257 umol
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes: 258– 287 umol
    • Diabetes: >288 umol

The first step to maintaining or attaining good health is to be self aware of the early signs and symptoms of diabesity, glucose toxicity and insulin resistance. Use these lists to communicate with your doctor.  What can you do if you have a blood sugar or insulin issue? The solution, may or may not be easy but you have a choice and it is a powerful one that you can manage. The simple solution is up next week.

 

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Steer Clear of Artificial Sweeteners

 Image result for artificial sweeteners

Artificial sugar (AS) substitute was created for those who are looking to cut calories for weight loss or cut carbs/sugar to obtain blood sugar control (BSC). It seemed like a simple solution. Eat the same foods replace sugar calories in foods (soda, cookies…) with a sweetener that has no calories and weight loss or BSC should occur. Sounds good and maybe true on paper but when it comes to real life, it may not necessarily be so simple.

Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener made available for mass consumption in the early 1900’s and it is safe to say that it has not done its intended purpose as a weight loss aid. We continue to face a diabesity (obesity and diabetes) epidemic.

A  recent study, http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1111%2Fjgs.13376?r3_referer=wol&tracking_action=preview_click&show_checkout=1&purchase_referrer=onlinelibrary.wiley.com&purchase_site_license=LICENSE_DENIED_NO_CUSTOMER , published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that drinking diet soda may contribute to “cardiometabolic risk” factors (obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance etc..). The authors concluded that there is an association between drinking more diet soda and gaining more belly fat.

Belly fat is associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and much more. But, if this is not enough to make you drop the diet soda right out of your hand then take a look at these:

·         “Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long-Term Weight Gain” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18535548

·         “Artificial Sweetener May Disrupt Body’s Ability To Count Calories” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040630081825.htm

  • “Consumption of Artificially and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Incident Type 2 Diabetes in the Etude Epidemiologique Aupres Des Femmes de la Mutuelle Generale de l’Education Nationale-European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23364017

These discuss the other ingredients in diet soda if you are interested:

One explanation for the association between AS and weight and health is due to its sweetness. Normally, consuming sugar would trigger a signal communicating that with sweetness comes calories and then satiety. AS are 200-8,000 times the sweetness of natural sugar  but there are no accompanying calories with the sweetness. The body is confused, it expects calories but is not getting them and therefore appetite increases as the body wants the calories it is not getting from the AS. Increases in appetite increases the likelihood of  eating more.

Another reason is that the brain’s “reward system” dictates an individual’s response (motivation, drive, incentive)  to a particular “reward” (food, sex, drugs, medication). The intensity of the AS engages the reward system at greater than 200 times that of natural sweetness creating an addictive response to these foods containing AS.

Of course, you cannot discount the “cheater” instinct. When you think you are consuming less calories by eating foods with AS, you may just choose to eat more because you think you can get away with it.

Despite these findings, “The global market for Artificial Sweeteners is projected to reach US$1.7 billion by the year 2018, primarily stimulated by widespread weight reduction efforts, development of low sugar food for diabetic and diet conscious consumers, growing preference for diet beverages, rising concerns over dental caries and the growing need to reduce risk associated with volatility in sugar prices,”  http://www.prweb.com/releases/artificial_sweeteners/sucralose_aspartame/prweb10121807.htm.

Get the message these science studies are sending. Artificial sweeteners are chemistry experiments that may have been a good initial idea but as a test with years of human guinea pigs it seems AS add risk to your weight and health.

Steer clear of AS. There are better, less addictive, healthier ways to lose weight and control blood sugar.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Diabetes, diet, diet soda, weight loss

 

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