Embracing Life and Death
After overcoming a battle with stage 3 colon cancer, Mark Aulger, 52, was suddenly diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis (PF), an often-terminal scarring of the lungs that obstructs the flow of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. At the time of Mark’s prognosis, his wife, Diane, was carrying their unborn child. On January 16, 2012, Mark’s pulmonologist estimated that Mark had only five or six days left to live.
Having surpassed 37 weeks of pregnancy, Diane’s OB-GYN determined that baby Savannah’s lungs were developed, and Diane elected to schedule an induction at 38 weeks, so Mark could see his infant daughter before his time ran out.
“When we induced the labor, [Mark] was in a bed, side by side with me,” Diane says. “It was a beautiful day and he was there – wide awake, alert the whole day of labor. When the nurse cleaned off the baby and gave her to Mark, you could just see the complete pain in his eyes and he cried,” she says. “He still talked to her [and] told her that he was her daddy and he loved her.”
Savannah was born on January 18, shortly before Mark slipped into a coma. Five days after Savannah’s birth, Mark passed away, holding his newborn daughter in his arms.
Diane's children -- Ava, Nicholas, Lori, Trenton and Savannah -- join the show. Watch as they receive a special educational offering from Dallas Christian College.
• Make a donation to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, in memory of Mark Aulger and the estimated 40,000 Americans who die from PF each year.
• Help support Diane and her children by donating to The Dr. Phil Foundation.
The Facts behind Fat-Free Foods
An eight-year study by The Women’s Health Initiative revealed that women who consumed fat-free products had nearly identical rates of obesity and cardiovascular diseases as their fat-eating counterparts.
“I call this the big fat-free mistake,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. “A couple decades ago, everything [became] fat-free, and what’s happened? Obesity rates have doubled.”
The Doctors discuss how people will often add salt and sugar or artificial sweeteners to make fat-free foods taste better, which leads to weight gain and the development of cardiovascular conditions.
“You really do want 20 to 35 percent of your diet to potentially be healthy fats,” Dr. Travis explains. “What’s great about fats, the good ones, is that they satiate you. They fill you up and they’re not absorbed immediately like sugars, so you’re satisfied [and] you don’t eat more and more and more.”
“Fat in the diet actually helps with fertility,” OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. “But it has to be the right fat, so for women especially, you don’t want to cut out all the fat.”
Dr. Sears adds, “In kids with growing brains – the brain is made mostly of fat, so you need those good fats [as] the building blocks for that developing brain.”
Signs of Mercury Poisoning
Although the EPA and FDA recommend fish as part of a healthy diet, certain fish can pose a serious health threat. Dr. Travis explains how environmental pollutants release the element mercury, which accumulates as methylmercury in the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans, and contaminates the fish supply.
Consuming high levels of mercury can have toxic effects on your entire nervous system. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include burning, itching and numbness of the body, an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, as well as problems with vision, hearing, speech and coordination.
“A lot of times, the symptoms are very subtle,” Dr. Travis explains. “But [mercury] exposure over time can be very dangerous.”
Children are especially susceptible to mercury toxicity. Pregnant and nursing women are cautioned to limit seafood to one or two servings per week, or avoid it altogether and take a fish oil supplement instead.
“If you’re worried and you’re getting bizarre nervous system symptoms – perioral numbness, pins and needles [sensations] in your hands and feet -- your doctor can test your mercury levels and have a pretty quick diagnosis,” Dr. Travis adds. “If you avoid mercury products, usually, it will slowly drop in your system and those symptoms will resolve.”
Fish containing high mercury levels:
• King mackerel
• Yellowfin tuna akami
Fish containing low mercury levels:
• Canned light tuna
* Cilantro has been shown to be a highly effective and natural solution to ridding the body of heavy metals.
• Finely chop cilantro into 8 teaspoons
• Steep in one quart of boiling water for 20 minutes
• Once cooled to a comfortable temperature, sip this tea throughout the day for two to three months to gradually rid your body of mercury
Download the FDA and EPA's guidelines to mercury levels and fish consumption.
Cleaning Product Dangers
Discover how certain chemicals in cleaning and/or personal hygiene products may be doing more harm than good. Plus, learn how to make safer cleaning alternatives with The Doctors’ Healthy Cleaning Kit!
• Learn how to safely use natural teeth cleaners like baking soda and peroxide to keep your smile bright.
Recurrent Red Eyes
Andy in Calabasas, California writes:
I use eyedrops every day to get rid of redness, but lately I’m finding I am using it more often. Could my eyedrops be “programming” my eyes to get redder?
Plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon explains how over-the-counter eyedrops contain a vasoconstrictor called oxymetazoline, which constricts the blood vessels in the eye to reduce redness; however, if used too frequently, a rebound effect can occur, where the eyes become more inflamed as the blood vessels open back up.
“If you’re going to use these kind of drops, moderation [is the key],” Dr. Ordon says. “I would say no more than twice a day and maybe in between, use natural saline drops and you’re eventually going to get away from that rebound phenomenon.”
Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, chief medical officer for Pfizer, joins The Doctors to explain the symptoms of urinary incontinence.
“Urinary incontinence can be really embarrassing – so much so that about half of the people that suffer from urinary incontinence never seek help for their condition,” Dr. Lewis-Hall explains. “A healthy bladder is designed to store urine. This makes elimination [of urine] infrequent and voluntary. If you suffer from urinary incontinence, your elimination may be too frequent and involuntary.”
Potential causes for urinary incontinence include stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and weakened pelvic muscles associated with childbirth and aging. “In post-menopausal women, the loss of estrogen may lead to a weakening of [the] pelvic muscles, as well,” Dr. Lewis-Hall says.
In some cases, caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol and artificial sweeteners have also been shown to provoke bladder urgency or discomfort. “There are also different types of urinary incontinence,” Dr. Travis adds.
Stress incontinence is caused by pressure on the bladder from sneezing, laughing or even jogging, whereas urge incontinence occurs when there is a strong and sudden need to urinate but you cannot make it to the bathroom in time. Physicians often recommend that women do kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which has been shown to prevent urinary incontinence.
“Stress incontinence can occur in men if they’ve had certain prostate cancer treatments [or] even an enlarged prostate can prevent the bladder from fully emptying, [which] can lead to frequent signals to urinate,” Dr. Travis explains.
“Urinary incontinence may be the symptom of other conditions,” Dr. Lewis-Hall adds. “That’s why it’s so important to go to your doctor to find out what’s really happening.”
• Urgent PC treatment for urinary incontinence
• Genityte procedure for urinary incontinence
High Quality H2O
Water is the most essential element for life and is vital for every cellular function; however, not all water is created equal.
“I went to grab a bottle of water the other day and l looked at the label, and it had stimulants in it like an energy drink,” Dr. Ordon says.
Dr. Sears adds that, “80 percent of those recyclable water bottles are just thrown away. It’s better to just get a reusable, BPA-free bottle and just fill it up at the tap.”
• Is the water you’re drinking safe? Find out!
• Water taste test
• Reduce your carbon footprint and learn more about recycling in your area.