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Household Products Safety; Running Barefoot; Low-Carb Versus Low-Fat

Aired August 7, 2010 - 07:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Good morning. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Welcome to the show.

You know, first up, I have three small children in my home. We want them to be safe. And we know that there are cleaning products, for example, that we keep that could potentially be poisonous. So, we spent some time investigating what every parent should know, and some of it may surprise you.

And could you possibly run 100 miles barefoot without hurting yourself? Chris McDougall believes you can. In fact, he wrote this book called "Born to Run," where he tracked down a remote tribe of super-runners who are doing just that.

Plus, I get this question all the time. Low-fat or low-carb -- which one should you choose and which one is better for your heart?

Let's get started.


GUPTA: You know, it has been a record hot summer. Your kids, like mine, may be stuck inside playing. Every home has cleaning products like the ones over here.

Now, while we gotten a lot better at childproofing over years, we do this in our own home, it turns out we still need quite a bit of work. In fact, there's a new report on the "Journal of Pediatrics" found that household cleaning products in spray bottles pose the biggest risk for children 5 and under.

Now, while most cases don't lead to death, they usually do require some form of medical treatment and they can result in disabilities. All sorts of things can happen to kids playing with these types of products.

They can get burned. They can get blistered skin. They can get lung damage from inhaling the product or even blindness from spraying the chemical.

So, the question is: how do you keep your kids safe at home? How do we keep our kids safe at home?

And today, we have Lara McKenzie from the Ohio State University Medical School who's lead author of the study that we're talking about. And I'm fascinated by this.

First of all, thanks for joining us. Welcome to the show.


GUPTA: I was surprised that you agreed to go on, given you're a Buckeye and I'm a Wolverine but we're going to rolling with it anyways.

MCKENZIE: We'll make it work.

GUPTA: We'll make it work.

Spray bottles -- I was surprised by that when I read the study. That's why that's one I wanted to start with -- why are spray bottles in particular such a problem?

MCKENZIE: Well, spray bottles actually don't have a child resistant mechanism like many household cleaning products. You can see from the ones I have in front of me -- they're very easy to depress. The trigger can be pulled even by a very young child. And the nozzle, which would change the stream or close the stream, can also be manipulated very easily.

So, these are products that are easy for kids to spray right in their eye or on their skin or just use very easily.

GUPTA: So, in our house we do the -- you know, we have locks on the cabinets, so -- and we put a lot of the things that we think are going to be particularly problematic, pesticides or anything like that in those areas.

But -- I mean, why aren't there -- why is it so easy for kids to actually use spray bottle it s like that? Is there -- has there been thought about child proofing those?

MCKENZIE: Well, I don't know if industry is moving towards that or not, but we did find that 40 percent of the sources or containers in which children were injured came from spray bottle products. I think they're very prevalent in the home and a lot of products these days come in spray bottle form.

GUPTA: One thing I notice that you have on the table there in front of you, you have like a blue, I think, sports drink over there and then you have Windex.


GUPTA: I mean, I noticed that right away.


GUPTA: And I know that they're different products, obviously, but a small child would not. Is that why you brought both of those?

MCKENZIE: Exactly. There's something called look-alike products. So, some things, the drink that you mentioned looks very much like a window cleaner in terms of the color and the consistency of the liquid. Then there's other things that the containers look alike. Some vegetable oil spray looks just like bug spray.

So, adults may have trouble, you know, knowing the difference between these products and certainly children that we're talking about, under 5, are not going to know the difference.

GUPTA: All right. So, I have a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 1-year-old in my house. What should we do? I mean, we have these products around. So, what can we do about those specifically?

MCKENZIE: Sure. The American Academy of Pediatrics and others recommend storing and locking all poisonous substances out of reach and out of sight of children. And you can do that by using cabinet locks like some that we have in front of me today or putting a lock on a door where you store all of your products. So, locking the products up would be one thing.

Keeping products in their original container. If you were to pour, for example, bleach into a Tupperware or another pot and pan, which we saw a lot in our study, you may have trouble telling what that product is and a child certainly isn't going to know. Another thing would be to keep the poison control center number by every telephone in the house.

GUPTA: All right. Good advice. And I think -- I guess it's just a good reminder. And like I said, we do lock up products, but to keep in mind that those things can be problematic as well. I think over 10,000 children go to the emergency room every year for something like this.

Lara McKenzie, thanks so much.


GUPTA: Appreciate it so much.

MCKENZIE: Thank you.

GUPTA: You know, also remember that while poison control is a great resource, there are some things you should be mindful of. If a child is unconscious, not breathing, has bad burn or seizures, you should always call 911 first.

Now, you know, I get a lot of e-mails about something that I think is pretty important -- minorities having such a hard time finding a match on a bone marrow registry. Why exactly is that? Well, we decided to do some investigating and also to do something about it. I took some of my CNN pals, by the ways, as well, got us all registered.

And later in the show, you're going to meet Christopher McDougall. He uncovered one of the biggest my industries in running and set out to solve it, as well, in a very clever way. You want to stick around this. Oh, yes, I decided to put his little solution to the test.



UNIDENTIFIED GIRL (singing): It's the circle of life, and it moves us all


GUPTA: The girl you're listening to is 11 years old. Her name is Shannon Tavarez. She has an incredible voice. She's actually a young actress starring in a Broadway version of "The Lion King."

She needs a bone marrow transplant to fight her battle with acute myelogenous leukemia. And she's hoping to beat the odds, which aren't in her favor. Donors on registry say minorities have the hardest time finding a match and are urging everyone that can possibly get on the list to do so.

For a lot of people, getting on the list just sounds scary, right? I mean, it's actually not so bad though, I can tell you this because I did it myself. I took along some co-workers. We discovered it only takes about 10 minutes and is completely painless. Take a look.


GUPTA: It is pretty startling to think about -- of the 8 million potential donors on the registry, more than 74 percent of them are white. That's a real problem for people like me, a minority. In fact, about 40 percent of minorities, if they get sick, are not going to be able to find a match.

One of the biggest problems? Simply knowing how to get on the donor list. That's what I wanted to find out. Let's take a look.

So, I invited two of my colleagues to come today as well, Rick Sanchez, Don Lemon.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: How are you doing, sir? Good to see you.

GUPTA: Well, I'm here because, you know, I've been hearing about this fact that minorities simply aren't donating enough.

LEMON: Most African-Americans are afraid, and as you know, I mean, you're very familiar with the health care system, many minorities are not with -- especially with health care coverage, they don't get -- they don't go to regular doctors' appointments. So, they sort of mistrust the health care system a bit.

GUPTA: Right.

LEMON: And I think that's the reason. And another one is fear.

GUPTA: I don't think most people have any idea how to simply get on list. That's what we're going to do today, is get ourselves on the list. I know you don't mow what that means exactly.


GUPTA: So, I'm going to show you. But I can tell you, and this is important point, it doesn't hurt at all.

SANCHEZ: Really?

GUPTA: It's going to be very simple, very easy, potentially to do a lot of good.

SANCHEZ: All right. We're in.

LEMON: All right.

SANCHEZ: I think.


SANCHEZ: Wow, look at this place. This is a beautiful facility.

LEMON: Beautiful.

GUPTA: Hey, Tina.


GUPTA: Doing well.

SAADAT: Thank you for coming today.

GUPTA: Thanks so much for having us.

SANCHEZ: I'm Rick Sanchez.

LEMON: I'm Don. Nice to meet you, Tina.

SAADAT: Nice to meet you, Don.

GUPTA: So, we filled out our consent forms, all sorts of medical questions on here. But pretty straightforward.

SAADAT: Terrific, thank you.

Now we're going to do is do a cheek swab.


SAADAT: Each one of you have a set of swabs in front of you. Take the swab and you put it and place it down into the foam patch right here and you'll do that four different times.

GUPTA: Getting a bunch of cells inside your cheek.

SAADAT: That's exactly right. This actually goes to the repository in Minnesota, and they do the testing of the DNA and enter it into the database at that point. And you will receive a permanent card in a couple of weeks. And once you do, you can replace it with that.

Thank you very much for joining the registry.

GUPTA: Ten minutes. Thanks so much, Tina.

LEMON: It's pleasure. It's easy. It didn't hurt.

SANCHEZ: Wasn't painful at all. Glad we could help.

SAADAT: Wonderful. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thanks a lot.


GUPTA: See, I told you, it wasn't so bad. Pretty painless, as well.

It's your turn now. If you're interested in getting on the list, you can find out how. Do it online. Check out and also attend a donor drive and have a kit directly mailed to your home. This is important. Try and get the word out.


GUPTA: Every week at this time, I'm going to be answering your questions. Think of this as your own appointment, no waiting, no insurance necessary. Let's get right to it.

A question from Mark in Kentucky who asked this: "It's been a while since you reported anything about the young Iraqi boy named Youssif who was severely burned. Could you please give us an update on him?"

Well, thanks, Mark, for your question. Now, Youssif is someone I think of quite a bit. He's still receiving care in the United States for his burns. Since you've seen, in fact, he's had 15 operations. And I can tell you, so much has changed in the entire family's lives, as it turns out.

I just met with him, in fact, and I'll have a full report on him and how he's doing next weekend. You're going to see how he looks today.

And next, Christopher McDougall, he discovers members of a tribe in Mexico who run hundreds of miles over rocky terrain without any injuries and just thin sandals on their feet, sometimes barefoot. You got to hear this.

Plus, trying to lose weight? Deciding whether to do a low-carb or low-fat diet. Sound familiar? I'll sort it out for you. We've got that later in the show.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: Welcome back to SGMD.

I'm trying out this new trend. Notice anything missing from this picture? I'm running barefoot, don't have any shoes on.

Now, there's a new Harvard study out there that says this makes sense. The foot is designed to run better without shoes. They say less stress, fewer injuries, end up taking shorter strides, end up not hitting on your heel as much.

I can tell you it's all very controversial, as is the author of the book I just met. The book is called "Born to Run," and the author is Christopher McDougall.


GUPTA: Did you always love to run?

CHRISTOPHER MCDOUGALL, AUTHOR, "BORN TO RUN": No, I hated running. I was always getting hurt. I'm a big guy. Doctors told me a guy like you shouldn't be running. It's bad for the body. Impact is bad for you.

GUPTA: That's what the doctors have said. They said, instead of giving you strategies, they just said, don't run?

MCDOUGALL: Exactly. They would give me cortisone shots. They will recommend (INAUDIBLE). But essentially it was, you're preventing -- you're forestalling the inevitable. At some point, you're going to get hurt.

GUPTA: So, at what point did you start to think about this book, "Born to Run"?

MCDOUGALL: It was a total surprise to me because I was down in Mexico on another assignment. I was flipping through a magazine and I see this picture of what looks to me like someone's grand dad in bath robe and slippers. And the caption says he had won a 100-mile race and he's aged 55.

I look at this 55-year-old man thinking, wait a second, I'm always told that the human body isn't designed for running, that a marathon will kill you. You know, the ultimate challenge of it, what if he'd die (ph).

Well, he's 55. And he's done four marathons before dinner time in his sandals. I'm thinking now, what is this guy doing what I'm not doing? And that's when I became intrigued.

And then when I discovered he was a member of this tribe, the Tarahumara, who are not only sensational long distance runners, but as a corollary, they're also free from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, crime, warfare, violence, clinical depression. I thought, it can't be a coincidence. There has to be some cause and effect between the ability to run long distances and to have a socially and psychologically and physically healthy culture.

GUPTA: So, you went down. You heard about this tribe first, I believe, and then you decided to go and explore. And one of the guys that you heard about was hard to find. Tell me a little bit about that whole experience.

MCDOUGALL: It should have dawned on me in the first place that the way to remain a reclusive tribe is by being hard to find and then not answering questions when people show up. So, where, the tribe (ph) might live is at the bottom of this spider-webbing canyons, the Copper Canyons of Mexico. Many of these canyons are deeper and wider than the Grand Canyon. They're unchartered, unmapped and no roads.

But I just find a guy who's able to guide me down. And after a long, kind of bushwhacking search, we located Arnulfo Quimare, who's probably the greatest living Tarahumara runner. This is a man who will leave the canyons, travel 60 miles across Mexico, 150-mile race, win the race and then run 60 miles back down in the canyons again, in the weekend.

GUPTA: Two hundred and seventy miles in a weekend.

MCDOUGALL: In a weekend, yes, and win. Not just, you know, placed. But they call him the hardware.

We found Arnulfo Quimare, and to me, it's one of the sort of a heartthrob moments where, here he is, this is man with the ancient wisdom, was sitting just like this. I start to ask him questions and he says nothing for four hours. Just stares at me and looks like he's waiting for me to leave.

GUPTA: So, you heard these stories now about what they're capable of. It's hard to believe, I'm sure for anybody. What were you really striving for? What did you want to find out?

MCDOUGALL: To me, there can only one of two answers to the question. How is it that the Tarahumara can run supremely long distances even in old age? Why is it at that at 70 and 80 years old, they're still doing 100 miles, whereas men in my 30s was getting hurt at doing three or four miles a couple of times a week? What are they doing that we're not?

And I thought, the answer to it is one of two things. Either there's some kind of weird, genetic x-man mutation and there's nothing to learn, or else they are genetically the same we are and they're just doing something differently.

And what was so stalling for me was the answer was so easy. They were running in a way that I had never seen anyone run before. And it's just so easy to learn.


GUPTA: The amazing incredible people who inspired Christopher McDougall. We'll have that when we come back. Stay with us.


GUPTA: We are back with SGMD.

Here's more of my conversation with Christopher McDougall. He's the author of "Born to Run."


GUPTA: What about our feet?

MCDOUGALL: Our feet are fantastic. And this is one of the most undiscovered secrets of the human body is this foot, OK, granted mine's a little gnarly looking, but this foot is designed for fast locomotion over wild terrain. It has this beautiful high arch. And as we know from arches, they compress and they spring back up.

It has 26 bones. It's full of ligaments and tendons. It's very adaptable. It's flexible. It has great toes playing from balance. It's a fantastic running device.

GUPTA: And the toes are all pointed forward.


GUPTA: Well, let's look at some of this now specifically. Maybe we can -- can we stand up and --


GUPTA: First, let me ask you before you run, you run barefoot exclusively now.

MCDOUGALL: Yes. If I'm on rough terrain I'll put on a light minimalist shoe, something to protect the soles of my feet. The Tarahumara are running light sandals.

GUPTA: Light sandals.

MCDOUGALL: You don't want to be 50 miles out in the canyons and risk stepping on a rock and cutting your foot.

GUPTA: Right.

MCDOUGALL: So, if I know the terrain is going to be rough, I'll put on this thinnest kind of sandal or a Vibram Five Finger, or racing flat.

But if I'm on something beautiful like this, I'll go totally barefoot.

GUPTA: So, in this surface here, and if you can see, it is -- it is not rough terrain but it's still kind of that -- it's not smooth. Does this hurt your foot to run on?


GUPTA: When you start to run, I mean, people think of -- they have all sorts of advice on your heel should strike first, then your toe. You don't -- you don't think that. Looking at some of the biomechanics in your book, you're really talking about forefoot hitting first.


You know, one thing I should say is that the thing that makes running unique apart from walking is running is a series of jumps. By definition, walking, you always have to have one foot on the ground, just shifting your body weight. Running is jumping. You lift one foot, you're up in the air.

Now, if I get up on here and I jump off, if I land on my heels once, I ain't going to do it twice.

GUPTA: Right.

MCDOUGALL: When I jump off of here, I'll move like this. I'm going to land on my forefoot and bend my joints to absorb the impact. That's all barefoot running is -- it's a series of jumps where you land and absorb the impacts. Best way to do that is land on your forefoot and let the food bend, ankle bend, hip bends, all of it absorbing impact.

You land on your heel -- think about this -- you've not locked in all of your joints which is the last thing you want do with your joint is putting that vulnerable position where it's all locked in. Second you land on a round boney heel, which is (INAUDIBLE), it wouldn't hold the surface. So, now, you add lots of torque.

Secondly, what's in the middle of all that torque, you've heard about runner's knee. Everyone gets runner's knee.


MCDOUGALL: That is a direct byproduct of landing on the heel. You've now jammed that heel hard into the ground, it's wiggling around, impact is running straight up to that main joint right there, then you're coming off of it like this, now you're putting all the weight on these fragile toes. And there you got to go, that's a lot of impact and weight.

You land on your forefoot, like that, then when you come off instead of being locked in, that leg naturally flex is lightly backwards. So, the knee has very little stress.

GUPTA: Would it be possible to film you just running a little bit so I can see it sort of all together now?


GUPTA: Is that OK, guys?

MCDOUGALL: So, if I'm trying my posture aligned, I've done my squats.

GUPTA: All right. Done the squats, OK.

MCDOUGALL: Yes. And just go. And you go as fast as you like.

GUPTA: You look very graceful while you're running. That's the first thing I sort of noticed.

MCDOUGALL: Thank you.

GUPTA: What's the biggest disadvantage of barefoot running aside from, you know, stepping on a rock or something like that?

MCDOUGALL: Disadvantage of barefoot running -- I honestly can't think of one.

GUPTA: That's a pretty good endorsement from you.

MCDOUGALL: Yes. The thing about it, too, it's so fun. When you run in your bare feet, you feel like you're getting away with something that you shouldn't be allowed to do. Your feet are moving around. And you can't underestimate the benefit of fun, removing fear.

A lot of the people who tried indoor sports are afraid of getting hurt. They're afraid of being slow. They're afraid of doing it wrong.

But in your bare feet, you can't do it wrong, it natural is right. It feels fun. You lose sight of like times and speeds and things like that. It becomes very playful and child like.

GUPTA: Chris, thanks. Thanks so much for your time. I really enjoyed that.

MCDOUGALL: That was fun.

GUPTA: I've been wanting to meet you for some time. Appreciate it.

MCDOUGALL: Thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.


GUPTA: Just naturally fascinating guy, Chris McDougall. Thanks for joining us.

Now, if you're trying to lose weight a different way, people often talk about cutting carbs or cutting fat. The question is: do those types of diets work? And if so, which is better and how about the impact on your heart in the long term?

I'll give you some answers right after the break. Stay with us.


GUPTA: We are back with SGMD.

Today, we're talking about diets and trying to answer the million-dollar-question: are you going to lose more weight cutting carbs or cutting fat? I'm asked this all the time.

But there is a new study out there that put this very question to the test. In terms of long-term weight loss -- this is crucial -- it really seemed to be a tie. Now, what specifically they found was that after a year, people lost around 24 pounds. And by the time that second year came around, they kept 15 of those pounds off. That was with either diet -- low-fat or the low-carb.

Something else important -- doctors pay attention to this. When it came to either diet again, they lowered triglycerides levels and they also lowered systolic blood pressure. That's really important.

But what's interesting though is that the low-carb diet had a slight edge in terms of heart health because it raised what's known as your good cholesterol or your HDL. And that simple fact got a lot of scientists, lot of doctors paying attention.

They may know this but a low-carb diet might look like this: cheeseburger, just the patty here, you got mayo and you have some leafy greens. And the low-fat diet is you're going to have a sandwich -- turkey sandwich in this case -- and some pasta. Either one of these choices seem to yield the same results in terms of weight loss, but for the heart-conscious person, the person should be maybe eating a lunch like this.

If you eat the low-fat diet? Here's what's happening -- you're getting more flour, you're getting more sugar, you're getting more foods with what's known as a glycemic index. What happens here is that these foods raise your blood sugar levels and therefore raise your insulin levels and that whole process -- well, that just drives more fat into the body.

So, if you're focused on shedding pounds specifically, take whatever option and you're going to be able to stick with. But if you're concerned with heart health specifically, the low-carb diet, again, a slight advantage.

Most important though, keep in mind the numbers. When you're talking about weight loss overall, think about these numbers right here -- 3,500 calories, that's a pound. So, how would you lose a pound over a week?

You'd have to cut out about 500 calories per day, times seven days -- one pound of weight loss. Skip the morning bagel. Skip that afternoon cake in the newsroom as well. And good luck if you're on a diet.

And if you missed any part of today's show, be sure to check out my podcast, Also, set your DVR, 7:30 a.m. Eastern on the weekends.

Remember, this is the place for the answers to all of your medical questions. Thanks for watching.

I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

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