Dr. Berkson's Best Health Radio Podcast

Dr. Devaki Lindsey Berkson shares decades of experience as a hormone and nutrition specialist to help you live a healthier, happier life. Disclaimer: The entire contents of these podcasts are based upon the opinions of Dr. DL Berkson, unless otherwise noted. Individual discussions are based upon the opinions of the respective individuals, based on their research, experience and communities. The information on this podcast or any related websites are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice from practitioners that know your personal medical situation. All material is educational and is intended only as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Berkson and her community. Dr. Berkson encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, you must consult with your health care professional before using protocols or products based on any of this content.
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Now displaying: November, 2017
Nov 23, 2017

Food Mood & Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving statistics:

The very 1st Thanksgiving Day occurred in the year 1621. It was a three-day festival held by pilgrims celebrating their blessings of the harvest. They invited Indians. Indians donated five deer, so venison was on the dinner table menu, and there wasn’t any turkey. There were also no pumpkin pies or potatoes as they hadn’t yet been introduced into the New England landscape. No one planned on this grateful feast creating an annual tradition.

1789. President George Washington announced the first Thanksgiving holiday, but it didn’t yet become an annual holiday until the 19th C. How did that happen? The American poet, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, who is famous for  writing the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is responsible. She had the vision of an annual Thanksgiving American holiday. But to make it so, she campaigned, wrote and cajoled, for 30 years, for the creation of the American holiday known as Thanksgiving to come to be. 

Sarah also created the foods we have come to know as part of this holiday, such as roasted turkey and pumpkin pies. She created and published these recipes that are famous for being cooked in Thanksgiving kitchens.

1863. In the midst of the civil war President Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official yearly holiday. He proclaimed it to occur on the last Thursday of each November.

1939. President franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to one week earlier to help small business owners make more money during the challenging Depression times.

1989. President George Bush granted the first official pardon to a turkey sending them to retirement on a farm rather than for dinner on the table. Many presidents continue to pardon turkeys. Did you know that?

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in Canada, the United States, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia but often on different dates than it’s celebrated in the US.

We equate Thanksgiving with food.

Great food.

And a lot of it.

As fate would have it, Thanksgiving this year (2017) overlaps with my dear colleague Kiran Ram’s amazing Food and Mood Project. So I decided to do a show and write a blog on food and mood.


You can go to my Food Rules Mood Blog here:


You can go to the free Food and Mood Project here and listen to 40 amazing experts on food and mood and how to make your life smarter, better and happier:

Nov 17, 2017

Robert Ritch, MD, FACS Glaucoma pearls from the world’s expert. 10.28.17

It used to be said the one of the biggest fears of many is public speaking. But now as humanity is living longer than ever, the hugest terrors are the fear of going blind.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. But it is greatly misunderstood. It is actually a large number of illnesses, some of the of the eye, and some of them systemic.

Dr. Robert Ritch is a leading glaucoma expert. Dr. Ritch has developed many procedures now in place by glaucoma specialists around the world. He has also defined exfoliation syndrome, which he says many eye doctors are not adequately trained to identify.

Dr. Ritch says that any cogent physician, reading and understanding the literature, must embrace nutritional intervention as much as procedures and medications.

There are diverse forms of glaucoma. Some are eye diseases and some are brain diseases. Some affect mostly the eye site, others affect vulnerability to other diseases.

High-pressure glaucoma is an “eye disease” that makes the internal eye pressure of the eye elevate (intraocular pressure) causing optic nerve damage.

Normal or low-pressure glaucoma is more often a “systemic disease”. It occurs more frequently in thinner women with various attributes: astute sense of smell, tendency to low blood pressure, cold extremities, driven personalities, and tendency to various cardiovascular disease issues that do not necessarily shorten their life span.

Exfoliation syndrome is when pigment comes off (exfoliates) from the iris. The iris gives your eye its color. Blue eyes come from an iris with bluish pigment.

Your iris helps control the diameter and size of the pupil and thus the amount of light reaching your retina. When pigment sloughs off from the iris, it can clog the ability of the eye to drain. Fluid builds up. This increases the inner eye pressure and ultimate can start to damage the optic nerve.

The optic nerve is part of the brain. As it damages, you can loose vision. This is called visual field damage.

·      High-pressure glaucoma is an eye disease secondary to elevated eye pressure.

·      Normal or low-pressure glaucoma are diseases of the optic nerve that can’t withstand pressure variations or elevations, and often involve brain and whole body health.

Transforming growth factor beta1 (TGFB1) is a protein, called a cytokine, that when elevated, can promote dangerous inflammatory changes, especially within the eye. There are a large body of peer review published data linking elevated TFGB1 to open angle normal pressure glaucoma.  

TGFB1 is elevated in both normal pressure glaucoma and exfoliation syndrome patients. It is not often elevated in high-pressure glaucoma. Specific nutrients and herbs have been shown, in peer review science, to normalize TGFB1 levels.When is eye damage the worse? The worst window for eye damage is potentially during the night. Blood pressure tends to lower slightly in all health people as we sleep. But if blood pressure goes too low, or there is sleep apnea present, the eye pressure moves in the opposite direction and dangerously elevates. If this happens, eye damage can be relentless while you sleep.

If you have normal or low tension glaucoma, to avoid nocturnal eye damage, raising the head of the bed by 20% (you can buy sleeping wedges at Bed Bath & Beyond), salt loading before bed with a glass of tomato juice, improve sleep apnea with machines, all which can reduce eye damage while you sleep.

Nocturnal eye damage can be to the optic nerve or to other structures of the eye. It is not limited to the optic nerve. Not many doctors, even eye or sleep doctors, are aware of the huge link between sleeping and eye health.

Sleeping on one side may enhance optic nerve damage in the eye on that side, in glaucoma patients.  It’s a good idea for glaucoma patients or high risk patients, to train themselves to sleep on their back.

Nutrients are a must. Dr. Ritch recommends many nutrients such as pigments from flowers that help preserve eye structure thickness, Meriva turmeric, Gingko Biloba, specific minerals like zinc and magnesium, citicholine oil (Italian studies on humans with eye drops with this show reversal of visual field damage but only supplements of this are available in the US), fish oils, and much more.

Nutritional shocking back copy. Dr. Ritch explains how nutrition originally got vilified in medicine (Morris Fishbein was head of the AMA and editor of NEJM for years, and based on greed changed the course of medical history) and it’s a fascinating and sad story.

Dr. Berkson wrote this up in depth in her blog on how health care lost its way. Check it out here:

Micro-stents. When a glaucoma patient gets cataract surgery, the FDA has approved the placement of micro-stents to stabilize the damaging ups and downs of pressure in the eye. This procedure is reimbursable by Medicare. When a stent is placed at the same time as getting a new lens, then you cannot get corrective laser eye procedures.

This show is a rare opportunity to hear about eye health with a focus on glaucoma from a physician that treats kings and presidents all around the world.

Dr. Robert Ritch holds the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology and is Surgeon Director Emeritus and Chief of Glaucoma Services at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, New York City and Professor of Ophthalmology. When still a fellow in 1978, he performed the first laser iridotomy in New York and initiated the first course on laser treatment of glaucoma at the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He is a world leader in exfoliation syndrome, which affects 80 million people, and has started a global consortium to work on preventing, reversing, and even curing this disease.

Dr. Ritch has co-authored or edited nine textbooks and over 1800 medical and scientific papers, book chapters, articles and abstracts. He has presented over 750 lectures worldwide, including 50 named lectures and has received over 60 national and international awards and medals.

In 1985, he founded the Glaucoma Foundation and has served as Secretary, Medical Director, and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board. In 1994, he initiated the annual Optic Nerve Rescue and Regeneration Think Tank, which has attracted numerous successful researchers from other fields into glaucoma research.

Nov 14, 2017

When it’s fat or real estate, it’s all about location, location, location!

Where your fat is located on your body, affects your overall health, your brain structure and function, and even your ability to be mindful… or not.

In this show you learn plenty of facts and fiction about fat cells.

Fat has more functions than we thought.

  • Fat stores excess calories so you can mobilize the fat stores for energy when you need them.
  • Fat releases hormones that control metabolism (metabolism refers to how you burn calories as energy, or store calories as fat).
  • Fat protects organs.
  • Fat acts like Jekyll and Hyde depending on where it lives, what type of fat it is and how many of them are there.
  • Hormone altering chemicals love fat.  Pollutants that mascaraed as hormones, can hide inside fats cells making them act physiologically nasty. Dr. Bruce Blumberg has labeled these endocrine disruptors that especially make for unhealthy fat cells, obesogens.

Fat cares about location.

Not all fat is created equal. Where your fat “lives” modifies it’s function.

  • Visceral fat lives inside your gut surrounding your organs.
  • Subcutaneous fat lies under your skin.

Mounting evidence shows that fat lying deep within the abdomen is more perilous than the fat you can pinch with your fingers on your underarm, inner thigh and even on your belly just under your skin.

Fat that lives right underneath your skin, that feels relatively soft and that you can pinch between your fingers, is called subcutaneous fat.

In a healthy person, you should have a bit of fat under your skin that makes up a bout 90% of your fat stores.

The remaining 10% — called visceral or intra-abdominal fat —lies outside of your easy reach, beneath your firm abdominal wall. This fat fills the spaces surrounding abdominal organs like your liver, intestines, spleen and others. Visceral fact can also be found inside your omentum. This is an apron-like flap of tissue that lies under the belly muscles and blankets the intestines. The omentum gets harder and thicker as it fills with fat.

As women approach middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight increases often more than this happens in males.  Their belly enlarges. Fat storage starts to thicken the torso, fill up under the armpits, and thicken the waist, especially in the back.  

Even if you don't actually gain weight, your waistline can grow by inches as visceral fat pushes out against the abdominal wall.

Fat is biologically active. It releases hormones that affect our health.

Subcutaneous fat releases healthy hormones.

  1. Subcutaneous fat releases the hormone leptin. When leptin is released in optimal amounts, it acts on the brain to suppress appetite (to help you not over eat) and even helps burn stored fat throughout the body so you don’t get fat.
  2. Subcutaneous fat also releases adiponectin. Adiponectin protects the body against diabetes and heart disease by regulating how the body processes fats and sugars. Adiponectin also is a powerful anti-inflammatory molecule, especially protecting the linings of blood vessels.
    • Adiponectin is made a bit by visceral fat, too, as long as there isn’t too much of it. But adiponectin production falls severely as visceral fat volume increases.
    • As people become fatter, they make less adiponectin. This increases their risk of diabetes, heart disease, dementia and the list keeps growing.

Visceral fat cells, in comparison, secrete unhealthy molecules and hormones.

  1. Visceral produces proteins called cytokines. These can trigger and maintain low-levels of unhealthy inflammation. Excessive inflammation is an independent risk factor for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementias and other serious chronic conditions.
  2. Visceral fat also produces a precursor to angiotensin, a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict, blood pressure to rise, and increases the risk of stroke.
  3. Visceral fat sets the scene for insulin resistance, another risk factor for many diseases as well as symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, out of control hunger and brain fog.

How to tell if you have too much bad visceral fat?

  • If you have a pot belly you most like have excess visceral fat.
  • If you gut protrudes past your breasts.
  • If a woman’s waist is over 35 inches.
  • If a man’s waist is over 40 inches.

Your belly/your brain.

One study followed 6,500 members of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, a large HMO (health maintenance organization), for an average of 36 years, from the time they were in their 40s until they were in their 70s. They tracked who got dementia, and compared this to their belly fat.

Those with the biggest bellies had the higher risk of dementia compared to people with smaller bellies. The link was true even for people with excess belly fat but overall of normal weight.

How does belly fat cause brain damage?

  1. Leptin: Excess belly fat can cause leptin malfunction. This can cause issues with cognition, memory and hunger control.
  2. RBP4: Researchers at Harvard have discovered that, compared with subcutaneous fat, visceral fat secretes larger amounts of retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4). Excesses of this molecule increase insulin resistance. As the volume of visceral fat increases, so do levels of RBP4.
  • This connection is so predictable, researchers are developing a blood test for RBP4 as a way for physicians to accurately measure an individual's amount of visceral fat.

Belly fat can be confusing. It can be both visceral and subcutaneous. It’s not easy to know exactly how much of your gut fat is killing your brain and your future. At the moment, the only way to determine which of your belly fat is subcutaneous or visceral, is by CT scan. This is expensive. And creates huge radiation exposure .So the test of RBP4  mentioned above, is promising, but not yet available

Did you know there are 3 types of fat cells: white, brown and brite (beige).

  1. White fat. This is stored energy. When you cut calories, you tend to loose white fat cells. When you add more exercise expenditure to smaller portions, you tend to loose more white fat cells. Most of visceral fat is white fat cells.
  2. Brown fat. Brown fat is now thought to be more like muscle than like white fat. When activated, brown fat burns white fat. Brown adipose tissue contributes to your body’s core temperature maintenance through a process called non-shivering thermogenesis. Lean people have more brown fat and more non-shivering thermogenesis. Children have more brown fat than adults and it helps keep them warm. Cold weather promotes brown fat synthesis. Studies show that in Boston in the wintertime, brown fat is more active, and this stimulates metabolism and burning of calories.
  3. Brite (beige fat) is brow fat marbled within white fat. Brite fat regulates energy expenditure and fights against obesity.


White fat can turn beige. Beige fat can revert back to white fat. Conversion factors depend upon how you eat, move and the balance of all your hormone family members. For example, underactive thyroid or testosterone can be tamping down your metabolism and play a role into your types of fat cells.

  • Obesity = occurs when you have more white fat than the other types of fat, from consuming more energy than you use, or having unhealthy hormones and nutrient status (hormone depend on nutrients to keep you health).
  • You can fight obesity = by eating less, moving more, and eating more fishmeals or taking essential fatty acid fish supplements.
  • Why? Fish oil helps you make more brown and brite fat, which ups your ability to burn calories.

The “Browning of White Fat” (white fat turning beige).

Exercise promotes the release of an exercise hormone called Irisin. In 2012, Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, a cell biologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, dubbed this exercise hormone as "Irisin," after Iris, the Greek messenger goddess. Spiegelman said that exercise “signals” your body to maintain healthier weight.

You make the choice to exercise. As you exercise, your activated muscles produce and release irisin. Irisin promotes brown fat cell production within white fat cells. This is browning of white fat, by exercise through the middleman of irisin.

More browned white fat means your metabolism increase. You burn more calories. It’s less difficult to maintain a healthier weight.

Irisin has multiple benefits.

  • Promotes white fat browning.
  • Triggers neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons), especially within your brain.
  • Increases the expression of BDNF(brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
  • Activates genes involved in learning and memory.
  • Lengthens telomeres (tips of DNA). The longer your telomeres, the more you fight off disease, aging and premature death.

In-depth article at Berkson’s Blog: 

Nov 8, 2017

Society is ever changing and so is pediatric medicine. The kids of today are different kids than from several decades ago. They are more ill. There is more childhood obesity, depression, autism and diseases that used to occur mainly in seniors.  For example, both types of diabetes, both 1 and 2, are steadily increasing in kids as well as mood disorders.

Pediatrics is the branch of medicine that involves the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends patients under pediatric care are infants through age of 21 years.

A medical doctor who specializes in this area is known as a pediatrician. The word pediatrics means the “healer of children”.

Dr. Kilbane is just that, a caring healer of kids. One of Dr. Kilbane’s patients wrote me that I should have her on the show because she had so much smart plus heart. This show reveals both sides, in spades!

Dr. Kilbane says that today’s kids are “over fed and under exercised” along with way too much sitting. Still, with a very ill child, these improvements are enough. Healing the child, means healing the entire family.

If mom and dad are stressed, in conflict, eating poorly, or ill themselves, the child—who is wide open and mirrors everything—takes much of this on. Especially in the gut and nervous system. Which sets the scene for un-wellness throughout many tissues in the young child or teen’s body. Today, so many children are so ill,  healing them is often not easy, especially with quick fixes like antibiotics and other pills.

Dr. Kilbane originally practiced orthodox pediatrics. She soon realized that she wasn’t achieving cures. The same ill kids kept coming back in with similar or migrating symptoms. Her tool bag of meds felt small, ineffectual and inadequate. So Dr. K went back to school. She got board certified in integrative medicine. This changed her life and the lives of those lucky to find her.

Now Dr. Kilbane signs families up for a shared journey. She strives to get the whole family involved.  She has designed an online course for the whole family that has been very successful. You can take it without even being a patient and there is a link below.

The focus needs to be on improving the diet. This means eating whole and unprocessed foods. Food is the most powerful driver of a healthier microbiome and healthier gut. You don’t have to give up meat, but you have to eat a lot more veggies. And fresh foods, not processed foods. And avoid foods shrunk wrapped in plastic.

It’s critical that the whole family makes the changes you are asking your child to make. It is not fair to take bread and candy out of a child’s life, while these same foods are still in the fridge and in the cupboards,  still being eaten and enjoyed by others. The whole family has to get on board.

Mattresses make a difference. We sleep on them for 8 to 10 hours. So healthy beds make healthier kids. Link below!

What diseases are on the rise in kids? Allergies, ADHD, autism, childhood Pott’s disease, sleep apnea, obesity, and emotional/social disorders like anger management and anxiety, autoimmune diseases, adolescent fatigue (mitochondrial dysfunction), and more.

Factors are being identified that occur in youth, which are the origins of heart disease in later life. These include pregnancy habits, genetics, dietary and physical activity habits, second-hand, and third-hand smoking, as well as environmental factors including air pollution and global climate changes. For example, being within half a mile of a busy highway increases your child’s risk of asthma, respiratory illnesses and even behavioral changes.


  • Our children are our future. Our future is threatened.
  • Passionate physicians like Dr. Sheila Kilbane are needed to secure the future of our children, our families and our planet.


This is an inspirational, inspiring and informative show with exact steps to help your help your children be healthier.

Book on Amazon (Kindle): Healthy Kids, Happy Moms – A Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Many Common Childhood Illnesses


Organic Mattresses: or Tuft and Needle-