Monthly Archives: December 2013
Dietary change does not have to be difficult
We all know that changing can be difficult. It’s most evident when we are talking about a dietary change. Changing your food. As more and more people are taking stock of their health, they are realizing that being more careful with food, with what they put in their bodies, is the most important thing. From as far as our minds can remember most of us are ingrained with making the right food choices. And those ideas can range from the FDA food pyramid to the latest fad diet. Even then changing your diet can be difficult. But if you have the correct knowledge about the foods you are eating, and you know how to use the foods you eat, you are better prepared when you have to make substitutions, or when life happens. It definitely makes a difference.
Are you full? or Stuffed?
I am often asked by my patients, “What do I eat to feel full?” This can be a little bit of a misleading question. When we feel full, are we saying that we are stuffed, or rather just satisfied? Making a habit of eating until you are stuffed is not a good idea. Instead, you want to eat until you are no longer hungry or until you feel comfortably satisfied. However, when eating to a comfortable point, some will find that they are hungry again in a relatively short time. When this happens, we have to make some subtle diet changes.
Paleo diet satisfies all aspects
Making the Paleo Diet work for you is not that difficult. You simply have to know when to consume certain foods. As it relates to feeling full, the Paleo Diet is inherently designed to help satisfy your desire for additional foods. This is based largely on the breakdown of “Paleo Food”. In contrast to the Standard American Diet, which is high in carbohydrates, the Paleo Diet tends to be more abundant in high fiber vegetables, protein and fat. If no other aspects of diet are compared except these macronutrients, it becomes evident of the differences. It is these differences that you must emphasize to feel satisfied after eating.
The key is protein, fat & fiber.
The rate at which food leaves the stomach determines how quickly you become hungry again. The more rapid the transition of food out of the stomach, the faster the onset of hunger. In contrast, the longer food stays in the stomach, the more likely you are to stay satisfied. Carbohydrates increase stomach emptying. Food rapidly leaves the stomach and within a short time you are hungry again. Proteins, fats and fiber act in opposition. They act to slow down stomach emptying and tend to keep you satisfied longer. Good examples include meats, oils and fiber-dense vegetables such as broccoli.
Add more fat!
So now you understand, that adding more high-fiber veggies, protein and fats is the key to feeling “full” or more satisfied. Surprisingly, of those 3 the fats are the ones I have to remind my patient to eat more of. It’s so easy to add fat to your meal. Maybe it’s a little extra dressing, or cooking in olive or coconut oil, or maybe just adding some avocado. If you do these things, you will be and stay satisfied longer after you are finished eating. The most important thing to remember is that when eating Paleo, it’s not about how much you eat but rather what types of foods you eat that determines your success!
We are following the wrong food pyramid
Thank goodness there has been more and more talk about changing the RDA / standard food guide pyramid. It is time we all start openly questioning it. And the reasons we should take a second look are ample. I the last 30 years Diabetes is so abundant it is actually becoming normal especially in the last 10. But that’s not all, how can we not bring up obesity? and being overweight? This has unfortunately also become normal… All three have become an epidemic. And according to the government and people that are supposed to be experts, the way to fix it is to follow the food guide pyramid. Let me be the one to ask the obvious question; If the food guide pyramid is the way we as humans should be eating, and states of health such as diabetes and obesity that are directly related in part to diet are on the rise, is this really the best option?
This very point was brought to light recently in an article where 2 researchers clearly stated that the consumption of wheat, and other grains, is linked to inflammation. Worse yet, they note that routine consumption of these foods can lead to autoimmune conditions and a chronic inflammatory state. Now understand, I have been on top of the wheat problem for a long time. So the information about the effects of grains, while very important, has been stated by other researchers. Where I think these researchers really made their mark is by stating the dichotomy between what the government sponsored diet / nutrition organizations state as ideal food choices and the true effects of these foods.
Follow the money trail
The question becomes then, if we can see parallels between disease states and consumption of certain foods, why then does the message from the government not change. As a wise man once told me, follow the money trail and you will generally get your answer. This case is no different. The hard truth is that the message from the government is not going to change so long as there remains a financial tie to the food industry. Money from large food industries makes sure the government continues to perpetuate the message of their food being healthy, thus keeping store shelves stocked and unknowing consumers purchasing. With this knowledge, what are you the consumer supposed to do?
Paleo Food Pyramid
First, find a new point of reference. Take a look at the Paleo food pyramid instead of the pyramid that recommends that you eat dairy and grains. Like the before mentioned researchers brought to our attention, gluten and wheat are not the only issues.. there are components of wheat and other grains that are also causing health problems. If you just follow the Paleo diet, you will be completely grain free, (that includes corn!) when you do not consume any of those foods you will feel better and be healthier. The grains need to be replaced with fruits and vegetables!
It is up to us as the consumer, to take a stand and make a change.We need to face the facts, the government is not going to admit that their food pyramid is incorrect by today’s standards. Even though, we have more chronic disease than ever, science has refuted it and people are speaking up. This is not in their interest, but it is in yours. Take a different course when you choose which foods to eat or cook for your family.
Do you have a blood sugar problem?
Once I knew what kind of symptoms to pay attention to, I was shocked at how many of my patients have blood sugar problems to one degree or another. Most commonly I will see anything from low blood sugar aka hypoglycemia, to insulin resistance aka pre-diabetes all the way to diabetes. Surprisingly a lot of my patients aren’t aware that they even have a blood sugar issue until I start asking them questions. Some of the questions I ask are whether they get tired after meals, or get tired in the afternoon, or do they have cravings? Before I can finish some of these questions I can already see a concerned look in their eyes. That look suggests they didn’t know they have a problem but are becoming aware of the fact that they do.
Abnormal glucose causes damage
Most of my patients have no clue the degree to which blood sugar problems are contributing to their demise. The tentacles of abnormal glucose are far reaching. In fact, nearly every system in the body within time will succumb to the effects of abnormal glucose regulation. This makes sense as all cells in the body are dependent on glucose for energy. When we no longer manage glucose efficiently, the body begins to deteriorate. However, this is not the message commonly conveyed until the latter stages of abnormal glucose.
The first problem is the way in which blood sugar problems are addressed. This is clearly seen by the continued rise in the number of diagnosed diabetics in spite of supposed advancements in treatment. We have been misinformed to think that unless your fasting glucose reaches the magic number of 126, then you remain in a safe zone. I’d like to ask you a question, can you tell me what is different about dysfunction in your body when you glucose levels are at 120 and when they are at 126? There isn’t one. No difference, and if you think waiting until it’s 126 to do something about about it is ok think again, it’s only making the damage worse. Also, you aren’t paying any attention to the to the effects of secondary damage that the abnormal glucose is causing which can make the problem worse.
In contrast to standard approaches, functional medicine offers a comprehensive approach that not only looks at the causes of abnormal glucose, but also the implications upon other tissues. Classic considerations to managing glucose have been diet and exercise. However, even in concepts as fundamental as these, the wrong message is being stated to those that need help. The incorrect, but well entrenched RDA food guide pyramid continues to be pushed in mainstream circles over the well proven and highly effective Paleo Diet. If the “authorities” associated with traditional approaches have been so mistaken in their method, maybe it is time for the introduction of functional medicine on a wider scale.
When you come in to my office and through a series of simple question that I ask you, you find out you have a glucose problem, then you have been let down because of the simple fact that no one has taken the time to explain to you what may be wrong, what it can do to you and how to fix it. When you have abnormal glucose levels, you really need to look to functional medicine so that someone can tie all of the physiology together. Restoring your glucose levels back to normal is more complicated than just exercise and/or diet. What it really requires is someone looking at how all of your other systems are working to determine if they are functioning properly and getting the support they need. Just to give you an example, if someone is not sleeping well, and they are stressed out, then how can we manage their glucose levels? If there is dysfunction in one system it could be caused by the dysfunction of another system or could be the cause for dysfunction in other systems. it. This is the reason that it is ideal to be under the care and principles of functional medicine.
Assessing thyroid problems
Everywhere you go you hear someone talk about their thyroid problems, you may have them yourself. I bet if you asked some people you know, you would find quite a that are taking hormones for their thyroid. Usually you will hear about medications like; Synthroid and Levothyroxine. While checking patients charts and paperwork they bring in, I’ll see this particular class of medications the most. Because I was seeing this so often I started asking myself, if all of these people could really have hyperthyroidism? Or could there be a reason their thyroids are acting this way.. So I started asking my patients exactly how their thyroid dysfunction was being monitored. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the full complexity of the thyroids dysfunction was not being looked at or treated.
Diagnosis and treatment with traditional medicine
Standard approaches to thyroid management begin, and often end, with the hormone TSH. TSH influences the thyroid glands output of hormone, but provides no insight into how the gland itself is functioning. On occasion, thyroxine, also known as T4, is measured. This is the hormone produced by the gland. At this point, you may be thinking what else would you need? While this is not a bad start, it only scratches the surface of total thyroid function. In fact, active thyroid hormone is not considered when only looking at TSH and thyroxine. Yet, if traditional medicine is your choice of care, this is what you are limited to, even in some specialty clinics. Worse, the underlying causes of having abnormal TSH and thyroxine are ignored. The blanket solution becomes hormone.
The difference with Functional medicine
What are you supposed to do? Before you realized it you are tangled in the web of being told nothing is wrong when in reality thyroid dysfunction exists. Or maybe your story is different. Your levels are out of range and you are taking replacement thyroid hormone, yet feel no different. Know that if this is where you find yourself, you are not alone. You have received the standard of care. However, the standard of care ignores functional medicine.
Functional Medicine goes a step further
When functional medicine is employed in thyroid management, the assessment does not end at the gland or on a test report only looking at thyroxine. TSH and thyroxine are starting points. Understanding bodily function and biochemistry is a cornerstone of functional medicine and its ability to address underlying causes of dysfunction. In the case of the thyroid, many systems beyond the gland require consideration. These include the role of the liver in converting thyroxine to active thyroid hormone T3. There is also the effect of other glands such as the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Beyond this, other hormones and nutrients play a role as does the immune system. All of these areas interacting together constitute normal thyroid function, not the thyroid gland and the hormones TSH and thyroxine acting in isolation.
When choosing functional medicine you can find what is really making your thyroid dysfunctional. It’s time to stop using a band aid and start getting to the root of the problem, so that you can honestly find out how to get your thyroid physiology functions back to normal with out just focusing on the gland itself. f you are like so the so many people I see in my practice, that always have to have their hormone levels manipulated, then your main problem is probably not just your thyroid, but a secondary problem that is making your thyroid act the way it does. If this is you, it’s time to turn to functional medicine and treat the root of the problem and not just the symptoms!
A lot of people think that a detoxification means that you take some supplements and then run to the bathroom all day, I am here to tell you that is not what this is and not what I’m going to talk about. That is not a detox, it’s a colon cleanse aka “colon purge”. That is a short term solution to a specific problem, there are no long term benefits when you go that particular route. What I am talking about here, is giving the support your body needs to clean out toxins and impurities and function the way it needs to. The toxins inside of you come from your own body as well as the out side environment. If you do not remove them, they will cause your body harm.
Getting back to basics
Now that we have lined out exactly what detox is not, let’s talk about what it is. And it makes more sense to talk about it from a functional medicine stand point. As in, we need to support the functions of our bodies, by using detoxification as a medicine. If you look at it from that perspective it means going back to basics. You cannot realistically expect your body to function well when it is overrun with toxins.
Toxins come from many sources. Most realize that toxins can be found in the air and water. However, a lesser known source includes food, and not just the chemicals on it, but in the case of genetically modified food, the food itself. Additional hidden sources are also new carpet, paints and common household solutions. The point that I am making here is that toxins are ubiquitous in our environment. Here in Houston, we are not only a metropolitan area, but also close to the petrochemical industry. Toxins lurk around every corner. If nothing else, they are in the air you breathe. You cannot run from them. Likewise, we also make toxins internally daily. So even if you are in an ideal environment free of toxic burden, you still need to have an adequate detoxification system. Adequate detoxification should be part of any health maintenance strategy.
What is detoxification
Yet, detoxification is not a guaranteed process. It can become sluggish. This is where functional medicine and detoxification meld. Detoxification as the term is commonly used implies a theoretical process that the body must undergo for a defined period of time to rid itself of a buildup of toxins. It assumes that once the detox process is complete, the body will have rid itself of the toxic accumulation. In reality, this is not the way in which detoxification functions. Detoxification is about taking a fat soluble substance and modifying it to water soluble, thus made easier for excretion. This process happens daily and is dependent on having adequate nutrient availability, specifically B vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. However, hindrance of detoxification can be secondary to thyroid dysfunction, poor sleep habits, and hormones just to name a few.
Detoxing is a lifestyle not an event
When you go through a poorly executed detoxification, there are usually symptoms present. These usually include headaches, skin problems and hormone imbalances. Underscoring function as the primary importance in human biochemistry, functional medicine ideally the best route to go when you are wanting to realign your systems functions and overcome impaired detoxification systems. There are a plethora of reasons. As I practice functional medicine, I am thinking big picture not thinking of 1 single system. It takes many systems functioning together to make a proper detox happen. If you are only looking at one system from a reductionist’s standpoint you are singling out the other systems that are just as important in the process. Also, functional medicine as an approach, can help guide you in many aspects of your life while trying to learn to detox your body, because it affects more than just your diet. When you start thinking along the lines of a science based approach, the impediments and causes of impaired detoxification can be addressed completely. What this mean is that you will learn to support your detoxification daily not just for a short period of time. This is a lifestyle. The best part about it is that you won’t be falling for those “detox” gimmicks that claim they will detox you, you will actually be taking care of your body all of the time so that you will not get to a point where you feel the need to detoxify yourself. You will be caring for your body the way you are supposed to.
We have a 14 day Detoxification kit available that I recommend. It is comprehensive and includes everything but the food. It even has a meal plan to help aid your body and the supplements in the detox process. This can jump start you into a new healthier lifestyle. Please contact our office if you would like to set up an appointment to discuss this with me.
The Affordable Care Act
For a long time now we have known that we need a change in Healthcare. It seems more people are getting sicker, and that increases the demand on services and its getting harder to pay for these services. And now we have the the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, which promises to insure a new paradigm in medicine. The one thing the new healthcare law has in common with the current administration of medicines, is that they are both designed to alleviate symptoms rather than treating the underlying problem.
Sick care or Wellness??
Our state of healthcare has many many problems, the the problem that stands out the most is that people are treated for being sick. “Sick care”. When we need to be focused on “Wellness”. This is just one of the reasons that the new healthcare system will do very little to fix you health problems. The idea of the new legislation is to make care available to everyone. In theory, this is a good idea, but follows the way of socialized medicine, which by all accounts is a system patients do not want to be seen in. Moreover, clinicians are limited in their ability to deliver care in such a system due to restrictive guidelines. The question must be asked, “What kind of care are we talking about delivering?” The emphasis of a doctor visit is to attend to your immediate needs, not guide your health down a path of wellness. How is this acceptable?
The focus of medicine has to change if we expect the burden of healthcare that each of us shares to go away. Medicine needs to take on a new image. That image is functional medicine. Functional medicine is based on the idea that if all aspects of the body are functioning as intended, health abounds and sickness is subdued. The body is an integral system with all areas dependent on each other. To understand how to support health, a doctor must have the time to listen to your concerns and procure a better understanding of your health limitations. This is not our current model. The current model, even with the new legislative oversight, limits the doctor-patient interaction to insure that everyone is seen. Everyone may be seen, but at what cost?? Both financially and as it relates to your health.
Your ailment is just the starting point to find out whats really wrong with you.
Finally people are starting to recognize Functional Medicine, people are starting to understand how functional medicine can keep you away from the Doctor. Wellness is the future. Taking care of yourself, getting tested eating correctly instead of “dieting” this is the future. To prevent sickness. It is the only way to limit or remove what we spend on sick care. If we use it less, it costs us less. If you keep thinking that you should only see a Doctor when you are sick, or ailing, the wellness message will continue to be lost. Functional medicine points out a different path. We need to focusing on wellness from before time of conception until passing.
If you could imagine having a Doctor focus on every aspect of your life, how you feel inside and out, what you eat, what is your outlook on life, are you satisfied, how much do you exercise. That is Functional Medicine, this is the future. Most people still view Functional Medicine as something new and unusual, but less so now. People are educating themselves more, they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Literally. The reason it’s changing is because people want someone to care about the way they feel. Someone that will really listen to them and look a little deeper. One size does not fit all, antidepressants do not heal everyone. Not everyone that cannot sleep needs medicine. What are the reasons? Why does this person feel this way? These are the questions that need to be asked. You don’t have to be a prisoner to the constraints of limited, system oriented care. You don’t have to wait until Functional Medicine is popular, you can do something now. You can see a Functional Medicine Doctor, and find out why you feel the way you do, and how to fix it forever naturally.