Posted in food, Health, news

Death by Protein Supplements: What is Urea Cycle Disorder?

A 25-year-old mother of two died after over consuming protein supplements in preparation for a body building competition.

Meegan Hefford was found unconscious in her West Australia apartment and was declared brain-dead, passing two days later.

Unbeknownst to her, she suffered from Urea Cycle Disorder (UCD), such that when she consumed protein shakes and supplements she overproduced a toxic byproduct.


What is Urea Cycle Disorder?

People with Urea Cycle Disorder (UCD) have a mutation that causes them to lack an enzyme that helps break down ammonia.  The urea cycle is responsible for removing ammonia from the blood stream. Ammonia is made by cells, when they breakdown the nitrogen in proteins.  Ammonia needs to be eliminated, and through this cycle turns in to urea which can be excreted in the urine.  If a step is missing, ammonia and nitrogen products build up causing hyperammonemia.  This can cause liver and brain damage and eventually death.

What are symptoms of Urea Cycle Disorder?

If one suffers from hyperammonemia, a result of UCD, the following symptoms may manifest:




Respiratory issues


Behavior issues

Gait abnormalities

Cognitive issues


UCD cases are rare with 1 UCD patient per 35,000 births.

According to the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation, “Because many cases of urea cycle disorders remain undiagnosed and/or infants born with the disorders die without a definitive diagnosis, the exact incidence of these cases is unknown and underestimated. It is believed that up to 20% of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) cases may be attributed to an undiagnosed inborn error of metabolism such a urea cycle disorder. Some children with autism spectrum and behavioral disorders may have undiagnosed urea cycle disorders.”

Treatment includes stopping the excess protein/nitrogen intake, fluids, medications, dialysis and at times, liver transplantation.


So do we need to fear protein supplements?

No.  But what we need to remember is if we are increasing our protein, and many times accurately, for body building we need to realize that our bodies, including our kidneys, may not be on the same page.  When this happens, protein supplements can be dangerous so competitive athletes, or others using protein supplements, should be supervised by their health provider.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in food, Health, news

Drinking Hydrogen Peroxide a Bad Idea

Minnesota doctors warn of a dangerous trend of drinking concentrated hydrogen peroxide.

Since the beginning of the year 6 patients have been treated at Hennepin County Medical Center when they consumed hydrogen peroxide to self treat a variety of ailments.

Some websites promote a diluted mixture of H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) as a treatment for sinus infection, parasite removal, and cancer.

Minnesota Poison Control System toxicologist, Dr. Ann Arens, states, “The way people describe it is that they take 3 drops of concentrated peroxide and dissolve it in about eight ounces of water and take it three times a day.” She continues, “There are a bunch of websites and YouTube videos. There’s no science behind any of it helping. There’s no benefit of doing it and it really opens you up to a lot of potential harm.”

Hydrogen Peroxide will bubble when it becomes exposed to proteins, such as those in skin and blood.  The bubbles are caused by H2O2 reducing down into water and oxygen.  During this catalase, enzyme-mediated reaction, it can kill bacteria and viruses that settle in wounds, hence H2O2 is commonly used in wound care. However it is slightly acidic and in high concentrations can burn and destroy tissue.



The bubbles if they enter the blood stream can embolize, travel and clog a blood vessel, resulting in a stroke.  Moreover they can erode GI tissue if ingested causing ulcers and perforations.

IV H2O2 therapy has been promoted as a treatment for boosting immune systems and fighting cancer.  In 2004 a woman with multiple sclerosis being treated with IV H2O2 died after suffering “systemic shock” and “DIC”, disseminated intravascular coagulation.  DIC causes multiple small blood clots to form and then since the clotting factors have “run out”, excessive bleeding ensues.

A study published earlier this year in the Annals of Emergency Medicine reported 294 cases of peroxide ingestion in a 10 year period with the majority of patients becoming critically ill, disabled, or deceased.


                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician



Posted in food, Health, news

Eating too FAST makes you FAT

Fast food has become the staple of many American and European diets and we’ve seen obesity rise.  True more people take public or private transportation to work over walking, and many have given up smoking every time they had a hunger itch, but the most popular reason for our waistline increase is fast food.  But is it the caloric content of the fast food that’s fueling the obesity epidemic, or the speed at which its ingested?

What is Fast Food?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Fast Food is “food that can be prepared and served quickly”.  A burger, shake and fries is considered fast food but so is a take away salad or sandwich.  It’s implied that fast food is a meal that is not made fresh but made previously and preserved such that it can taste fresh when needed to be served.

How Caloric is Fast Food?

According to CalorieKing, a McDonald’s Big Mac is 540 calories.  A large order of fries is 510 calories.  So a meal over 1000 calories is obviously not the healthiest choice.

But let’s return back to the sandwich alone.  While a Big Mac is 540 calories, CalorieKing finds Chick-Fil-A’s Cobb Salad (without dressing) 500 calories.  Bob Evans Restaurant’s Cobb Salad is 516 calories.

fast food.jpg

Now on the same site a Tuna Salad Sandwich (5 oz) w. mayo, 3 oz Bread is 679 calories.

So are we becoming obese eating cobb salads and tuna salad for lunch just as one would eat a Big Mac?  We don’t know since people don’t study cobb and tuna salad eating consumers.  My guess is No.

Are we eating too fast?

Yes, and so fast that I believe it could be messing with our metabolism.

Think back to caveman days.  We had to chew.  And not on a soft sesame seed bun, but chew our meat.  Nuts and vegetables took a chewing as well.  Food was more scarce so it was savored and meals weren’t on the run while on a subway or at a stop light in one’s car.

Previous studies have shown that eating slowly and chewing it multiple times allow the body’s signals to trigger the satiety sensation sooner, hence one would eat less.

So gulping down a burger in 5 bites could be accomplished prior to the brain receiving the signal that it should be satisfied.

Now the metabolism issue.  Fast food could contain sugars, fats and preservatives that alter metabolism.  But eating on the run could cause metabolism issues in and of itself.

When a body senses that the food source is short-lived, unpredictable, and coming at a speed preventing proper absorption of nutrients, it may slow down metabolism to allow the body to make the most of what it has.  Eating a meal slow and methodical may be the most successful way to not only feel full but to eat less and lose weight.

I suggest a study be done looking at two groups of people eating the same food with the same caloric content but differing on the speed at which they eat it.

I suggest to you all to take an extra 15 minutes to complete your meal than what you’re accustomed to and determine if you see results after a few weeks.

Of course avoiding fast food would be the most beneficial for our weight but if you must eat fast food, eat it slowly.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in food, Health, news

Moderate Drinking Found to PREVENT Diabetes

For decades, physicians have warned us to avoid alcohol, as its high sugar content could predispose one to diabetes.  Now a new study suggests it could help us avoid having high blood sugar and the ensuing health risks.

70,000 men and women, apart of a Danish survey on health, were observed for five years and asked about their drinking habits.  Of the test subjects, 859 men and 887 women went on to develop diabetes.  Researchers found men who drank on average two drinks a day, lessened their diabetes risk by 43%.  Women who averaged 9 drinks a week had a 58% lower risk of diabetes than non drinkers.  For both men and women, drinking more than one glass of wine a day decreased their risk of diabetes 25-30%.


Study author Janne Tolstrup from the University of Denmark stated, “Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with the risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over three to four weekdays is associated with the lowest risks of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account.”

What about beer?

For women there did not appear to be a “health benefit”. However for men, a daily beer lowered their diabetes risk by 21%.

Why? Why?  and Why?

This is tricky.  Those who drink heavily consume “empty calories” and sugar that the body may not be able to metabolize properly, hence leading to diabetes.  But we’ve seen in many people the opposite, even their cholesterol level dropping.  Is the alcohol being substituted for food and dessert?  Does alcohol dilate blood vessels, improving circulation and metabolism?

This is one of very few studies linking alcohol use to health benefits, but definitely deserves attention and further investigation.

For more on diabetes, read here.




                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in food, Health, news

Ice Served at Fast Food Chains Found to Contain Poop Bacteria

Ice used for soft drinks at leading fast food chains in the UK were found to contain bacteria usually seen in fecal matter.  This comes weeks after the same BBC investigation found similar contaminated ice at Starbuck’s, Caffe Nero, and Costa Coffee.

On the TV Show Watchdog, BBC reported more than half the samples tested at food chains including Burger King, McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) contained coliform bacteria, or bacteria that colonize intestines.  Harmful bacteria, such E. coli, however was NOT found according to a spokesperson for McDonalds.

So even though the bacteria discovered would not harm humans if ingested, the potential for a dangerous pathogen exposure is there.



Image from Clean Water Store


Samples were taken from 10 random store locations for each of the fast food chains.

Of the samples tested on McDonald’s ice machines, 3 out of 10 samples were contaminated.  At Burger King, 6 out of 10 samples tested positive for coliform bacteria and at KFC, 7 out of 10 tested positive.

One theory is the cleaning of the machines and/or handling of the ice is done with direct human hand contact which could have fecal contamination from poor hand washing after bathroom use.

The contamination issues hopefully prompted chains in other countries, such as the US, to reevaluate their procedures on ice and cup handling.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician