As of November 1, 2011, the mushrooming amount of scientific information coming forth can be bewildering. In the news today were three different health-related articles that deserve our attention and maybe some clarification.

As more and more medical information becomes available to the public, it is important for physicians, including your cosmetic plastic surgeon, to act more and more as a filter or sieve for the information so that you as the patient have a better understanding of what is going on.

First of all, let me say this: no physician knows what is going on in all of these new findings. In some cases, medical knowledge has been woefully stagnant and contradictory for decades. This has led to ambivalent recommendations for your health by different groups and still no clear answer. Below is my attempt to make things as clear as possible given our current knowledge.

Chocolate is sex

Here are some facts about chocolate:
  • It’s good for your brain and heart if taken in moderation.
  • It reduces the rate of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure by 37%!
  • It will increase your caloric intake and can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
  • It induces a feeling of well-being and increases serotonin levels in the brain—serotonin is the same neurotransmitter that increases when you drink a glass of warm milk or get that cozy feeling when you are about to fall asleep.
  • It helps mend a broken heart in the same way by increasing “feel-good” brain neurotransmitters.
  • No one seems to know how much chocolate you should eat every day, but 1-2 squares to half a bar seems about right.
  • The healthy type of chocolate is not the milk chocolate most of us eat—it has to be dark chocolate.

Eat a a few squares, up to half a bar, of dark chocolate with 70%+ cacao and no added dairy products.

Alcohol is a drug

Here are some facts about alcohol:
  • It can be both good for you and bad for you.
  • Red wine is apparently the best type of alcohol to drink for positive health effects.
  • All alcohol, including wine, has negative effects.
  • Using it excessively (defined as more than three drinks a day) is bad for your liver, heart and brain—you may be an alcoholic if you use it at this rate.
  • In moderation (two drinks a day for males, one for females), it is good for your heart. It reduces platelet adherence, which leads to plaque that clogs arteries, and increases “good” fat, HDL.
  • Even moderate use has been linked to a 15% increase in the risk of breast cancer for women and a 20% increased risk of cancers of the mouth and throat for both sexes.
  • It gives you cancer but protects your heart. The poison is the same, just different effects.
If you have a family history of cancer, cut down on the booze.
If you have a family history of heart disease, have a few glasses of red wine a week.
Spirits seem to be good only as recreational drugs.
The word is still out on beer.

Rolling around in water

Water is good for you. Here are some facts about it:
  • Only in very rare cases, such as in those suffering from a condition called diabetes insipidus, is water bad for you. In those cases, you cannot stop drinking water due to thirst and essentially dilute your body so much that your brain stops working.
  • Recent studies have shown that drinking 2 glasses of water before meals will lead to 90 fewer calories in food consumption (that is about a handful of food), which will lead to weight loss. The water will fill your stomach, stretch the receptors that send signals of fullness to your brain and cause you to eat less.
  • Another study has shown that drinking cold water leads to weight loss by increasing the metabolic processes.
  • Warm water has been shown to aid digestion.

Drink a glass or two of cold water in the morning right after you wake up and before every meal (remember, your body needs eight glasses of water a day on average).
Drink soup or a cup of hot green tea with every meal.

I think you need to go buy wine and chocolate now—but have that glass of water first.

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon