Secrets of the Dead

Nudity Diet
The latest in fad diets encourages participants to eat in front of a mirror -- dressed in nothing but their birthday suits. The idea is that people will feel so badly about themselves that they won’t eat -- or at least they’ll eat much less than they intended. “This is so silly to me,” Dr. Travis says.

“Hey, I think this is kind of a good idea,” Dr. Jim interjects. “It forces you to acknowledge; it’s a huge motivator!”

Dr. Lisa disagrees. “A diet should be more about focusing on exercise and healthy eating, setting goals and being goal-oriented - not to degrade yourself, though.”

Not Your Mother’s Face Lift
Dr. Ordon says that plastic surgery has come a long way since the early days of face lifts. Studies on cadavers have revealed that the most visible signs of aging have less to do with wrinkles and more to do with fat loss, especially in the face, which results in a gaunt look. “It’s not things falling and forming wrinkles,” Dr. Ordon explains, “it’s actually losing volume in your face.”

People lose the greatest amount of fat in the mid-face, cheekbones, naso-labial lines, temple area, and tear troughs (the hollows below the eyes). Instead of wielding a scalpel, doctors’ latest weapons of choice against the ravages of time are implants and fillers. Cheek and submalar (mid-cheek) implants and fillers such as Sculptra and fat are inserted and injected into the face to restore volume and a youthful plumpness.

Secrets of the Dead
Though death and taxes are certain, Dr. Jan Gravaglia, star of Discovery Health’s television show Dr. G: Medical Examiner, believes there are ways to prolong life and avoid an early trip to the morgue. She authored a book entitled How Not to Die and explains, “By working with the dead for 20 years, I see how people die. A vast majority of the deaths are pre-mature and don’t have to occur.”

As a medical examiner, Dr. G specializes in deducting, deducing and determining cause of death. “I’m the person charged with figuring out why people die,” she says.

“What I find shocking and tragic in the United States is that so many people die, not because of something they’re born with or unavoidable diseases, but because of the way they’re chosen to live their life and bad decisions they’ve made about their life.”

How Not to Die
1. Know Your Numbers

Blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol are all silent killers. “They’re all preventable!” Dr. G notes.

2. Listen to Your Body

People often ignore their symptoms up to the point where they actually die. Dr. G says that the busiest day of the year in the morgue is Christmas Day. “People have symptoms, but they don’t want to bother anyone or interrupt the celebration. And then they die,” Dr. G says.

3. Use as Directed

“If your medication says to take two a day, take two a day,” Dr. G stresses. “Don’t take four. The four may kill you. Follow directions!”

Scalpel, please!
Dr. G demonstrates an autopsy on a mannequin cadaver and describes the process of observation, dissection and organ removal. As she works, she says that men are twice as likely as women to end up on a concrete slab, they are four times more likely to commit suicide, and 8 out of 10 homicides are men. “And of course, men don’t pay attention to their bodies, they don’t go to the doctor; so they end up with sudden death,” Dr. G concludes.


Ask Our Doctors

Food Poisoning
Rashad from Hinesville, Georgia calls to say that he recently experienced a terrible case of food poisoning and was wondering if it will have long-lasting effects. Dr. Travis explains that food poisoning can be caused by foods such as undercooked meats, raw eggs and spinach. The most common cause of food poisoning and gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, are viruses and bacteria.

Although food poisoning will usually run its course in 24 to 48 hours, Dr. Travis emphasizes the importance of constant hydration. He explains that diarrhea and vomiting can dehydrate the body very quickly, and patients often need an intravenous (IV) drip at the nearest emergency room. “After an hour or two of IV fluids, people feel much better,” he says.

• Fever
• Diarrhea
• Vomiting

• Hydration, often with an intravenous (IV) drip
• Avoid anti-diarrheal agents, as diarrhea is one of the ways that the body tries to rid itself of the infection.

• Food poisoning can be life-threatening if caused by botulism or E. Coli bacteria.
• If you develop bloody diarrhea, see your doctor immediately, as it is not a typical symptom of food poisoning.

Spider Bites
Ellen from Miami, Florida e-mails that she thinks her son may have been bitten by a spider. She adds that her son’s arm is swollen and red; he is running a fever and complaining of nausea.

• Muscle cramps
• Fever
• Chills

Dr. Jim says that a black widow spider secrets a venom and can be fatal to small children, and advises going to the emergency room immediately if you suspect your child has been bitten. He cautions that arachnoids like to hide in dark places like garages, eaves, drains, etc.

“Often,” Dr. Travis notes, “if a child complains of a spider bite -- unless you have actually seen the spider -- the bite is actually an abscess, or infection.” Worse yet, what looks like a bite can be the early stages of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), which is life-threatening. Read what Dr. Jim has to say about the difference between MRSA and a spider bite.

Nichole from Westchester, California sends in a video question about breastfeeding. Nichole says that one of her breasts tends to produce more milk than the other, and as a result, her breasts are becoming lopsided.

Dr. Lisa explains that when breasts are different sizes to begin with, breastfeeding often exaggerates the effect. She narrates an animation about the effects of lactation on a cellular level and concludes that the breast tissue becomes more lax after breastfeeding.

Dr. Jim says that a well-fitted nursing bra will help to support the breast tissue. Dr. Ordon adds that once a woman finishes breastfeeding, there are surgical options to help equalize breast size.

Caloric Tip

Rule of thumb when reading food labels: total calories from fat should never be greater than 30 percent.

Sign Up for The Doctors Newsletter| Show Page | Talk About the Show

OAD 1/19/09