Our bodies were not meant to eat the diet we are eating..
The more I learn about functional medicine and all of the toxic foods out there and what they can do to our health, the more difficult it is to not be paranoid. It’s like every corner I turn I find something else that offensive to my health.. And I know sometimes I’m right, but also some times I’m making it out to be worse than it is. But for once, I know I’m not being paranoid about one thing, our diet. The way we eat now is nothing like our ancestors ate. We are now eating foods that our bodies are not designed to process. And that is why compared the our forefathers, we have so many diseases and thats why we have so much dysfunction in our bodies.
The Standard American Diet (Aka The S.A.D. Diet)
So I’m sure you are wondering how this is possible? If it’s labeled food, and it’s edible, then it should be considered food right? Couldn’t be farther from the truth.. To be honest, what people are eating these days, when they are in a rush, I’d be hard pressed to call food. It carries almost no nutritional value. And with that said, there are many foods that we should not eat as they don’t promote long term health. In fact, many of them promote disease when consumed regularly.
Are you sure that your food is really food?
Do you know what is the in the food that you are consuming? Another good question is do you really know what you are consuming? Is it what you think it is? I bet you may be surprised to find the answers to some of these questions. So much of our food supply is contaminated with chemicals in ways we would not even expect. From growth hormones to pesticides and herbicides, the food we eat leaves our detoxification system begging for support. Add to this the stripping of valuable nutrients and fiber and you are left with . . . . Well I’m not totally sure what the best description should be, but it hardly resembles the food you would find in nature.
Our food supply has been altered
Food as we have come to accept it, is the byproduct of industrialization. We have let “big money” take over agriculture and control the food supply. We were duped into thinking that big agriculture was the best way to feed the population. This is problematic on a number of levels, but one of the many reasons is that you are getting food that is adulterated all the way down to the genetics. The rouge science of genetic modification has created foods, and I use that term very loosely, that are not tolerated by our bodies any longer. In fact, these are the foods that are likely most responsible for the rapid increase in autoimmune disease in such a short period of time.
The Paleo Movement
If you are beginning to feel a little anxious about the food you eat every day, you should. But before you become too uptight about this topic, know that there is an answer. There is an army of us out there that refuse to accept the fact that we should eat what we have been told by the government and FDA. Rather, we prefer to eat the Paleo Diet, the diet of our ancestors that kept them free of disease. The Paleo Diet is optimally implemented with the consumption of organic sources, but if you cannot afford organic, you can still derive great benefit. The longer I practice, the more I am convinced that for the average portion of the population, the greatest insults come for grains and dairy. These foods as they are produced now are different from what our forefathers had in numerous ways.
As we know the Paleo Diet mostly focuses on eating non grain plants and animals, and the results of that diet are very very different compared to the results from the typical diet we consume in this country. My main goal is to make sure you understand that you don’t have to eat that toxic mess that is called our food supply, you can choose to take a different path. Just because those lifeless foods are in front of you, or cheaper, or easy access, does not mean you have to eat them. You can choose to take the extra step or put in a little more effort, after this is your health we are talking about. Instead trust the Paleo Diet, follow it and you will see results. I should know, it’s the only way I eat now. The Paleo Diet is the foundation of all diets ever existing for mankind, it has literally been proven for thousands of years to be the best diet for humans. It will free you of this toxic burden, guaranteed.
Without a healthy gut, nothing will function properly
Change is inevitable, we all go through it sometimes on a larger scale sometimes on a smaller scale. Most changes are good, some are not. We have gone from living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, to agrarian, and eventually for too many of us have become a city dweller society, and with these changes we have undergone changes within our bodies that have had an adverse effect on our health in general. Considering that our GI system has a huge impact in all areas of our health, having a healthy GI tract is very necessary. The GI tract is the keystone for the health of the rest of the body. Without a healthy gut, no other system in our bodies can be expected to function normally. So you can see how very very important it is to keep the gut functioning the way it should, and if you are trying to improve your health your GI tract cannot be discounted.
The Standard American Diet
To really understand how the evolution of human foods have affected our gut, all we have to do is look at our diets. The negative affects of the Standard American Diet (or SAD diet) creates problems and dysfunction for every aspect of our health. For most people this is the very reason that causes the GI tract health to be so unhealthy and damaged. The SAD contains foods that are the very cause of the sluggish bowel movements, and all the refined meats, the sugars, bad fats, snacks and any refined foods really, with minimal fiber, causes the bowels to become acidic. When this happens the lining of your bowels become damaged and this is where the entire function of your gut is, in the mucus lining. When your lining is damaged, your colon cannot do their job. This includes acting as a primary barrier against microorganisms and undigested foods, absorption of vitamins, minerals and proteins and supporting the health of the immune system.
What is Leaky Gut?
Once the bowels begin to move less than 2-3 times each day, putrification of proteins begins to occur resulting in the production of acids. The resulting environment is one that is inhospitable to the resident beneficial bacteria known commonly as probiotics. It is these bacteria that act as part of the immune system and maintain the balance of “good” vs. “bad” microorganisms in the GI tract. With declining numbers of probiotics, the growth of harmful microorganisms increases, resulting in a greater production of acid. Additional acid further compromises the GI lining, compounding the situation and making the integrity of the lining worse. As a consequence, leaky gut develops.
Leaky Gut is more appropriately termed hyperpermeable gut, meaning that things are allowed to pass through more easily than they should. A primary characteristic of the GI tract is a process known as selective permeability. This means that various substances have to carried across the GI lining rather than just being able to filter directly across. Simply, they have to ask for permission. If the substance checks out okay, it is given permission to cross. If it does not check out okay because it is too large or looks foreign, it is denied. Hence, the GI lining is selecting what it wants to grant access. These are the events that take place under ideal circumstances.
It’s like pouring water through a pipe that has slits in it. It leaks.
Yet, we know that most individual’s GI tracts are not healthy because of things such as diet, antibiotics, high stress, and poor brain signaling, to name just a few. When this is the presentation, selective permeability is lost and for this reason we then label the GI tract as hyperpermeable. In this state, the cells of the cells that make up the GI lining are not longer touching each other and have gaps between them, whereas they should all be touching tightly. You can akin this to pouring water through a pipe that has several slits in it. Everywhere a slit is present, water will leak out and there is no way to stop it. This is the case in a leaky gut presentation. Foods, microorganisms, and anything else in the GI tract are leaking past a barrier that they should not.
Without a healthy gut, your immune system weakens.
While a leaky gut has many consequences, the most significant is the loss of regulation of the immune system and the resultant inflammation. From this, a very dire situation can result since on average 60-70% of the immune system is found in and around the GI tract. When the immune system becomes overactive, inflammation is the consequence. It is this scenario that is part of the cause, and at other times the sole cause, in many chronic disease states.
Leaky gut is just the beginning of your worries..
Many diseases states have been shown to be linked to GI dysfunction. The common thread is the inflammatory cascade that is secondary to the dysfunction. It would be easy to see a link in leaky gut and GI disorders such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. However, the state of health does not have to be this grim to have an active leaky gut. More common day to day presentations would include skin disorders ranging from acne to psoriasis, a weakened immune system, brain fog and sinus congestion or infections. However, leaky gut has also been linked to conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. In fact, we now know that the cholesterol and blood fat model of cholesterol has become secondary to the inflammatory model with the GI tract being a likely source of the inflammation. Ironically, detoxification programs incorporating proper bowel function often show dramatic reductions in elevated cholesterol levels. The most complex category of conditions associated with leaky gut is autoimmunity. Loss of regulation of the immune system causes it to turn on itself leading to damage of the body’s own tissues by a system designed to protect it.
You can only heal your gut with the right nutrients
Identification of a hyperpermeable GI state is best done through specific testing. Ideal methods include stool and monitoring of antibodies to foods and human tissues. These antibodies should only be produced against what our immune system perceives as harmful, not against food and our own body. Diagnosis and treatment of a hyperpermeable gut often centers around bringing back balance through restoring the GI lining, replacing the necessary missing constituents such as digestive enzymes and acid and probiotics, and eradicating any infections when present. One cannot hope to resolve a chronic disease state and heal a leaky gut by not addressing the necessary components listed above. Often in this state, a reasonable degree of inflammation exists at the GI lining. To allow the cells of the GI tract to move closer together and seal the lining, it becomes necessary to add the nutrients in that this environment is dependent on as well as to soothe any areas of inflammation. Oddly enough, this is something that prescription anti-inflammatories are incapable of as many of them actually breakdown the lining of the GI tract further and have been shown to lead to bleeding in some instances.
But what leads to the leaky gut in the first place?
If this was driven by a poor diet, this must be remedied by dietary modification consisting of consumption of high foods rich in a variety of nutrients, high in fiber, low in sugar and rich in healthy fats. When infections are identified, these must be eliminated. Such infections may include bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. These can be elusive at times, but persistent treatment pays off and eventually results in their elimination. Common to find along with an infection is a decrease of the probiotics. Probiotics being bacteria are susceptible to the effects of antibiotics and sometimes other antimicrobial treatments, yet they can also proliferate themselves once enough of them are in the GI tract. Building up these colonies adds stability to the body by strengthening the immune system, producing nutrients such as vitamins, and inhibiting the growth of foreign microorganisms. One of the factors that can lead to the presence of an infection is lower levels of acid production. Acid has been made to be the villain in our society, yet it acts as our first line of immune defense in the GI tract and initiates the protein breakdown process. When combined with the enzymes produced in the mouth and pancreas, the digestive juices breakdown foods into their smallest possible components causing them to be non-reactive to the immune system.
Your brain, hormones and gut are all connected
Just as important for a healthy GI Tract is healthy brain and and stress functions. When you are experiencing a lot of stress, you are also weakening your immune system because the lining of your intestines, the protective mucus lining inside your gut, will start thinning which in turn lowers your immune cell count gradually. When that mucus lining is damaged, it also makes it difficult for the intestines to repair themselves. All these dysfunctions are connected, and when you are having this much dysfunction in your gut, your brain will be impaired as far as signaling to create the digestive juices needed. When you get to this point you need to look outside of the GI tract to correct the functions.
As you can see based on what I have been discussing here, all of our systems are connected to our GI Tract. The GI system is of utmost importance when it comes to delivering the nutrients each system needs to keep our immune systems functioning correctly. It is a portal that can accept and reject the things we need or don’t need. It is the gateway to our bodies. If you are setting out to address a condition you may be having, the GI tract has to be considered. Through a proper diagnosis, with the right testing to make sure all bodily functions are considered, a precise treatment plan can be created that can specifically start fixing the many aspects of your GI function inside and outside of your GI Tract.
Fatigue is Rampant
If you are fatigued, you are not by yourself. Fatigue is one of the most common complaints presented to healthcare practitioners. Just look around on the shelves in checkout lines in the grocery stores. They are filled with energy support products. Better yet, visit your local convenient store and look in the cooler. You will see an entire section devoted to energy drinks. Are we all fatigued? Indeed we are.
I often ask my new patients if they experience mid-afternoon fatigue. A surprisingly high number answer that they definitely see a slump in energy in the afternoon. Many times they will go on to tell me about fatigue happening at other times as well. Knowing that I have hit on a key concern that they might not have even realized was a problem, the quote that I often get in response is, “Why am I always tired?” There are many answers that could be given for this question. However for many, the answer starts with the diet.
The Forgotten Effects of Fatigue
I am going to share something with you that most professionals know about, but rarely think about in terms of fatigue. If you feel fatigued on a day to day basis and are asking yourself, “Why am I always tired?”, something that you should know about that is the fatigue that you are feeling is happening in all areas of your body. For example, the brain is not producing energy and your mental function is not 100%. This results in things like brain fog and lack of mental clarity. Another good example would be the cells of the liver, which are needed for detoxification and removal of harmful chemicals from our body, would not be able to work as efficiently.
The Link Between Diet and Fatigue
Are you eating real food? That may seem like an odd question to ask, but unless you are eating a diet of unprocessed foods that have a high nutrient content, your diet is likely part of the problem. The diet is directly related to fatigue. Foremost, conquering fatigue means having a steady source of nutrients that the body can use to produce energy. These include such things as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Diets low in these types of foods leave the body lacking in its ability to function. If you don’t have adequate vitamin and mineral status, you don’t produce energy. The key to producing energy is being able to take living food and convert it to molecules of energy. When you are consuming a diet high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, you will produce energy more readily. All of those quick fix solutions you see on the shelves will be a distant memory.
This is not the only way that diet is related to fatigue. Diets high in carbohydrates promote fatigue also. This happens for multiple reasons, but one of the most common reasons non-Paleo diets create fatigue is as a result of the blood sugar roller coaster. Eating more carbohydrates than you need on a daily basis causes highs and lows in blood glucose that prevent the production of consistent energy by the cells. If this pattern continues, it can lead to diabetes. Yet well before the development of diabetes, you will notice lulls in energy.
Are You Fatigued?
Here are a couple of key questions to ask yourself.
1. Do I have less energy on a day to day basis than I did 1 year ago?
2. Am I less productive during the day than I have been in the past?
3. Do I still feel unrefreshed when waking in the morning?
4. Do I have a drop in energy either mid-morning or mid-afternoon?
5. Do I often start my day with a cup of coffee to get me going?
6. Do I routinely consume energy drinks to give me a pick up during the day?
7. If I start reading, do I easily fall asleep?
8. Do I get tired when I drive?
Take the First Step to Battling Fatigue
The first step to beating fatigue is changing your diet. Energy is a product of good bodily function. Just like you are not going to get the best function out of your car with inferior components in it, you are not going to get optimal function out of the body without putting the best foods in. This is where the Paleo Diet fits in. High in nutrients critically needed to support energy production and devoid of non-living foods that rob your body of nutrients, you will soon find that the Paleo Diet will have you feeling like a fine tuned sports car. Moreover, the blood sugar highs and lows that are so commonly a part of fatigue will soon go away and you will find yourself more productive and feeling like your old self again. Now, if you are not sure where to start, the best advice I can give is to have a resource that will provide you with several Paleo options to get you started on the right track. When you do this, you will soon wonder why others aren’t making the change and feeling the same new spark of energy that you have found!
Passionate about Paleo!
You can ask anyone who follows the Paleo Lifestyle which diet or eating pattern they would recommend, and of course they would say the Paleo Diet. And I catch myself doing this too. When my patients ask me which Diet they should follow, I have to refrain myself from jumping on my soap box and preaching all the benefits and reasons they should follow the Paleo Diet. I remind myself that not everyone is as aware or as passionate as I am about the Paleo Diet…YET!
Food is our medicine.
Jokes aside, the reason I am so passionate about the Paleo Lifestyle is because of the benefits I see in eating real food. Paleo is power. I can see it not only in my patients, but I experience the benefit of eating it every day myself. In the Houston, we are not only part of a metropolitan area, but also surrounded by the petrochemical industry. Make no mistake about it the combination of those two facts alone stacks the odds against us when it comes to health. Therefore protecting ourselves against the threat of disease is a real concern. But health cannot excel without a foundational diet.
When I am evaluating my patients with severe, chronic conditions, every aspect of their health counts. What I came to learn very quickly is that diet is everything. This may seem a bit cliché, but it is fact. It is also the reason that I, as well as many others, stand by the Paleo Diet as the keystone to health.
Your gut is the key to your health.
Let me quickly share some points that I have learned in the last decade of practice that solidified for me the necessity to recommend the Paleo Diet. People are sick. And unfortunately the dysfunction that is contributing to illness is often unrecognized. More often than not, most dysfunction originates in the gastrointestinal tract. The state of the gastrointestinal tract however is a direct reflection of what it is exposed to. Think about it simplistically first. If you were constantly exposed to things that were noxious to you, eventually you would succumb to the exposure. This is very much similar to what happens in the gastrointestinal tract. The average person consistently punishes the gastrointestinal tract day after day by ingesting foods that are toxic, and subsequently inflammatory. As inflammation builds, the door to chronic disease is slowly nudged further open.
Ask your self this question;
However, all of this can be deterred by the Paleo diet. Why? The Paleo Diet is the antithesis of what is considered a typical diet in today’s world. We have become brainwashed by the food industry about what constitutes an ideal food selection that most of us have difficulty determining what is good for us and what is not. The first question I teach my patients to ask is, “Is this food living, or is it dead?” If it is living, it is likely an ideal choice, although there are exceptions. Living foods are stacked full of nutrients and support proper body function, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. In opposition to the effects imposed by the typical diet, the Paleo Diet nourishes the bowels leading to a reduction in inflammation throughout the whole body.
Spread the word!
I’m sure you have heard the expression “Death begins in the colon”? I agree with that. But I would also like to add “Life begins with The Paleo Diet”. I’m sure people realize by now that the Paleo Diet is not a fad diet, it isn’t a diet at all it’s a way of life. It is the reintroduction of the way our species was intended to eat to prevent disease and stay healthy. If your ultimate goal is to be healthier, lose weight, feel better, and prevent disease, then The Paleo diet is the diet for you. And there are no substitutions. With more and more people becoming aware of what the food industry is doing to out food supply, the number of people that are open to the Paleo Diet are increasing significantly. Real organic live foods are the way to go. So to all of my patients, family, colleagues and friends that care about their friends an families, thank you for spreading the word. People can’t know, if we don’t tell them. Together we can make this world a healthier place.
Diet is the core concept of health.
There are a lot of topics that I discuss with my patients but one of those topics I bring up most often. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I was driving them crazy with how much I discuss it. But it’s important, I keep bringing it up because it is for their benefit, their health. I feel it’s important they know. It would be on me if they don’t know, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I weren’t telling them and reminding them. It is the core of their makeup and it determines how they feel and function on a daily basis. I am referring to none other than diet, the core concept of health. And when I say diet I don’t mean diet as in lose some weight diet, but rather diet as in the things you eat on a daily basis, your daily diet.
The Paleo diet and the media.
Recently I’m sure you have heard some things about the Paleo diet in the media. The thing that bothers me about that is that the Paleo Diet is being portrayed as a “diet” and being lumped together with Atkins, the sprinkles, Weight Watchers etc. Although those diets may or may not be effective, the Paleo Diet is not a diet. You don’t start eating Paleo to lose weight (although it is a nice side effect). The Paleo Diet is a diet as in a way of eating for the rest of your life. I often refer to the Paleo Diet as the Paleo Lifestyle, because that is what it is, it’s a lifestyle, it’s permanent. So while I do appreciate all of the attention the Paleo Diet is getting lately in the media, when seeing or hearing anything about it, keep in mind, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating and living.
The Paleo Diet
You may say to yourself, “this guy is on a crusade with this diet talk.” The truth is that I am really not. I am not the “banner carrier” for any particular movement or diet. I am a promoter of truth and like it or not, the Paleo Diet is truth. When I say that it is truth, what I am in fact saying is that the Paleo Diet is the closest dietary pattern that aligns with how our body functions. Routine consumption of the Paleo Diet is able to be maintained indefinitely without concern for any ill effects to health or difficulties in maintaining it. In fact, it does just the opposite. Those that transition to the Paleo diet see great improvements in their health as well as find it easy to maintain.
The Paleo diet and the media.
Recently I’m sure you have heard some things about the Paleo diet in the media. The thing that bothers me about that is that the Paleo Diet is being portrayed as a diet it is being lumped together with Atkins, the sprinkles, Weight Watchers etc. The Paleo Diet is not a diet, you don’t start eating Paleo to lose weight (although it is a nice side effect). The Paleo Diet is a diet as in a way of eating for the rest of your life. I often refer to the Paleo Diet as the Paleo Lifestyle, because that is what it is, it’s a lifestyle, it’s permanent. So while I do appreciate all of the attention the Paleo Diet is getting, when seeing or hearing anything about it, keep in mind, it’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating and living.
This is why the Paleo Diet is such a natural fit for functional medicine. The focus of functional medicine is restoring the normal function of the body with precursors that it needs. Nothing is more central to this idea than diet. Eat the wrong foods and your diet works against you damaging your health. However, if you eat the right foods, your body maintains its function and you stay youthful and vibrant.
The best foundation is getting the right nutrients
When working with my patients initially, I am placing significant emphasis on getting the right nutrients in them and modifying their diet to meet their needs. This is a core concept in functional medicine. After all, if my patients are not starting off with a good foundation, how can they expect to get better? That foundation centers on the Paleo Diet. It provides the basis from which everything else can improve. Once the foundation is established, healing can take place.
Traditional medicine overlooks diet.
Functional medicine is a far different mindset than traditional medicine. Traditional medicine has long neglected the concept of food being core to healthcare. You can see this in the way that it is practiced daily. In routine clinical care, food is not a part of the treatment model. At best, mention is given to changing the diet with little instruction as to what that actually is. I see patients coming into my clinic having realized that their diet is central to their health and needs to change, but not having an idea of where to start.
After years of medical evolution, here those of us that are on the cutting edge of healthcare find ourselves having come full circle using the best medical technology to reinforce the basics such as diet.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
“An old-fashioned vegetable soup, without any enhancement, is a more powerful anti carcinogen than any known medicine.”
– James Duke M.D.(U.S.D.A.)
The new wave of medicine
I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of Functional Medicine. It’s quickly on the rise and becoming the preferred method for healthcare by more and more people. I have been practicing Functional Medicine for over 10 years now, and I am happy to say that all the attention it is finally getting is very well deserved. Finally people are starting to realize that treating the underlying problem, what is causing your symptoms, is better and more logical than just slapping a “band aid” on the problem. Functional medicine is the new wave of medicine, and it’s not just for internal issues but also for muscle and joint issues as well.
Time for change
Let me introduce you to the concept of functional medicine just in case you are not familiar with it. The concept is so simple it is hard to believe everyone does not think this way in healthcare. I bet if you ask a hundred people on the streets here in the Houston area, not one of them would know what you are talking about. How can that be? How is it that there is a changing paradigm in healthcare happening around you and you don’t know about it? It is not your fault, but rather ingrained models of healthcare that are ready for a change. You can imagine in a city with a medical center as well recognized as Houston, change might come slow.
What is Functional medicine?
Functional medicine is the idea of providing the body the constituents that it needs to allow it to function as God intended it to. When the necessary precursors are given to the body, the biological systems will work as they should. Such constituents might be as simple as antioxidants and minerals, but nonetheless they are what is required for normal physiologic function. The end result is that allowing the systems of the body to carry out their role provides a restoration of function. When function is restored, the symptoms that manifested are alleviated.
Medicine is usually just a band aid.
Functional medicine is a different mindset than traditional medicine. Patient symptoms and complaints drive the majority of healthcare. The burden on the healthcare system is not derived from acute injuries, but from chronic conditions. Chronic ailments are a manifestation of a change in function of the body. With this change come symptoms. Classic approaches to symptoms have revolved around masking the symptoms with medication or the use of surgery to remove the offending problem. These approaches to medicine, while necessary in some case, don’t often address the underlying issue.
Functional medicine gets to the root of the symptom. The underlying cause.
In contrast, functional medicine looks at the symptom in a much different manner. The symptom is the alarm. Something is wrong and action needs to be taken. When patients present with a symptom, as a practicing functional medicine doctor, I begin to ask why. Why does a person have joint pain? I may determine that it is due to dysfunctional muscles that need support. Why are the cholesterol levels going up? A possible explanation for my patient might be that their stress is on the rise causing an increased demand for cholesterol to support hormone production.
Functional medicine is the way healthcare should be.
Having decided to become a functional medicine doctor means that I have also decided to think out side of the box. It’s in my nature. I just have to know and determine why. Rather than being restricted and limited to the algorithms of traditional healthcare, I decided to brand myself as a doctor my patients can trust and rely on to get to the root of the problem, one that will take the time to look at the whole picture and listen carefully to what patients are telling me. I also spend a lot of time with each patient usually 45 minutes to an hour. It’s important to hear what patients are saying to me so that I can accurately test them, assess their needs them and design a comprehensive protocol that specifically fits their needs. One size does not fit all. So you see, the movement has already begun. Functional medicine, is being backed by more and more research, and will become increasingly established as part of the medical system, even in cities with medical traditions such as Houston.
Maybe you remember a few years ago when Houston was named fattest city in the nation? Thank goodness we aren’t wearing that crown anymore, but controlling weight is still a huge issue for most. And I even thought to myself ” How could I have ended up in a city so unhealthy when my main focus in life is health and wellness?” Ofcourse soon it dawned on me this is not a Houston problem, or even a Texas problem, this is going on all across the US and based on the latest news it’s becoming an epidemic all over the world. And no surprise there, it’s getting worse and worse and is trending right along with the increase in chronic disease.
Surely for a problem this big we have an answer. Unfortunately, we don’t. Weight loss in the United States has become an industry. Millions are made each year in promoting weight loss. There are weight loss locations in every town. If you walk into any grocery store you will see publications promoting weight loss. Even billboards on the highway are advertising it. And how could anyone forget the late night infomercials claiming the latest supplement to boost your metabolism and burn fat. No matter what the ad or the approach, the focus remains one thing; losing pounds.
Focus on what caused the weightloss
The idea of weight loss neglects your metabolic needs. It focuses on gimmicky approaches that make inflated claims. In the end you are left with a broken metabolism and in no better shape for long term weight management than when you started. Addressing any underlying causes of weight gain is ignored at the expense of dropping pounds. And you the consumer are the victim. You have been sold a bill of goods that in the long run does not support your needs completely. But what choice do you have. You are acting on the only option you know for losing weight. The one person that should be the guardian of your health, your doctor, has not offered you the support you need to lose weight.
Weight loss as is practiced in the United States commercially should be abandoned. There are far better options, the best of which centers around the application of functional medicine. Functional medicine is the restoration of normal physiological function, thereby allowing the body to heal on its own. Weight gain is a symptom of an underlying state that needs to be addressed. When your body begins to function abnormally or is dealing with stressors in a greater demand than it can handle, the accumulation of fat results.
There are many causes for weight gain beyond eating too much and lack of exercise. Moreover, even when gluttony and being sedentary are the cause, there are reasons. Excessive weight is your body’s cry for support. What the focus of weight gain should be is the altered biochemistry that is creating the weight gain and what can be done about it. This is where functional medicine fits in. As I practice functional medicine with my patients that need to lose weight, we are not focusing on weight, but rather the metabolic disturbance that is hindering my patient from having a roaring metabolism.
I like to think of functional medicine oriented weight loss as weight loss outside of the box. Clearly the trend of diet restriction and excessive exercise are not the answer. Commonsense tells you they are not sustainable. What good are these modifications if you cannot maintain them for long term weight management?
Weight loss through functional medicine
For weight loss to be effective and done right, the concepts of functional medicine must be integral to it. There has to be consideration given to the actions of neurotransmitters,hormones, the gastrointestinal tract, your exercise selection, any potential toxicities and sleep. What center focuses on all of these areas? None commercially and only a select few locations that incorporate in the practice of functional medicine such as my practice.
Despite all the misinformation we are bombarded with in the US about weight loss the key to losing the weight is really all about biochemical balance. When you achieve biochemical balance through the application of science driven functional medicine, losing weight is just an added benefit t being healthy. You wont have to be afraid of the scale, and losing weight will not be your focus anymore, but rather longevity.
Fish oil is not Fish oil
I was at one of my fellow clinicians offices recently and I was asked if I had heard about that new pharmaceutical fish oil, Vascepa. And I answered that I had not heard of it yet. So he went on to clue me in on a presentation he had recently heard about the product and mentioned a few of the highlights. When he showed me the product I looked at the package and it had a catchy new subtitle, icosapent ethyl. I’ll get to that later. I was a little suspicious because something looked familiar about this product. What is so different about this product compared to the other pharmaceutical fish oils out there? I was able to obtain an insert from the medication, did some research and I was not surprised about what I found.
As has been the case with all pharmaceutical fish oil products, they do not match up to the fish oils found in nature. Of course this makes sense. Natural products are not patentable. Therefore, they have to change it to patent it. This way they can sale it for a profit. This has been the story of every fish oil product that has been introduced by the pharmaceutical industry.
It’s still an ethyl ester no matter how it’s labeled
So what is different about the pharmaceutical fish oils? It all boils down to the form of the oil. Before I superficially delve into why this difference is important, you need to know that there are two forms that the oil can be present in. The first is triglycerides. The second is ethyl esters. Remember that catchy new subtitle I gave you earlier that was on the packaging of the new product, icosapent ethyl. That looks suspiciously close to ethyl esters. Would you know it, if you open the package insert, sure enough this product is an ethyl ester. Bingo! I knew right then there was a better option and this was basically the same product as in the past, just dressed a little different of course.
At this point you may be thinking, so what? What does this difference have to do with the fish oil that I take? Think back to the last time that you saw your doctor and they ran a lipid, or cholesterol, test on you. Do you remember how it was laid out? In order, the markers read total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. A cholesterol report does not read total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and ethyl esters. The reason it reads triglycerides is because this is the form of fat found in your body. It is also the form of fat found in animals in nature, including fish. So why would you take a product that is not like what you would find in nature? If you are going to adhere to a Paleolithic diet, you want to consume bioidentical nutrients, the same nutrients that are found in the foods that you eat.
Consuming the highest triglyceride percentage available offers some advantages.
-Triglycerides are the naturally occurring form in foods and in the body
–Triglycerides have up to 100% more bioavailability than ethyl esters
-Easier to assimilate for patient with poor digestion and absorption
–Less prone to becoming rancid
-No post digestion production of alcohol in the gut as with the ethyl esters.
Don’t be fooled by the new marketing hype about the new and improved fish oil. It is simply a modification of the previous oil with a catchy new name and label. If you want the best that nature has to offer, stick with the form found in nature, triglycerides.
It’s just a habit
“How can I eat a sandwich if I give up bread?” There is a very simple answer for that, you just don’t eat them. I hear this question a lot. No one ever said that we are not habitual creatures, and sandwiches are something we Americans have always had as long as we can remember. And the longer you have been used to doing something a certain way the harder it is to change the routine. Wanting to change does not come natural to us. Especially with food. We as people associate food with much more than just satisfying hunger. Therefore, when giving up certain foods we are also giving up rituals, and experiences associated with that food.
Giving up sandwiches is un-American!
In my Houston practice, I often see patients that are stifled by the thought of not being able to eat a sandwich any more. That might seem funny at first, but if you think about it, sandwiches are a part of American society. We have “hamburger joints” and hot dog stands. It is part of the American culture. When you go to the baseball game, the great American game, part of the ballpark experience is partaking of these foods. When you pick up the menu at most restaurants, there is a dedicated section to sandwiches.
But, sandwiches are so easy!
Part of the allure about sandwiches is their simplicity. Lay down 2 pieces of bread, add some condiments, toss on the meat and maybe a leaf of lettuce for your vegetable and you have a meal. How many lunch boxes or bags are packed with sandwiches every day for this very reason? Not to mention that they are quicker to make than preparing a true meal. And don’t forget how easy they are to eat at your desk while you continue to work through lunch. With these attributes, why would you every want to give up sandwiches?
Sandwiches require bread, which means that it is derived from grains, primarily wheat. Grains come with a fairly long list of concerns. The two most noteworthy are the negative effects on glucose and on the stimulation of the immune system. There are many different types of bread, but the one consistency among all of them is that they are higher in carbohydrates than fat or protein. This inherently makes them metabolically disturbing. Add to this that they are among the highest allergenic foods and seemingly becoming worse.
Alternatives to bread
But can you really give up bread and enjoy a quick meal that tastes good? Of course you can. Bread and sandwiches are only a mainstay in the Standard American Diet because we have been indoctrinated in this style of eating. You can just as easily enjoy your meat and side dishes without eating breads. If you are looking for something to hold your collection of ingredients together, many will use a lettuce wrap or even a cabbage leaf. These are both excellent options that keep you Paleo.
The real question is: is it worth it to change your habits? Take a look at this testimonial from one of my patients. When you see changes, making a change becomes much easier.
I have to be fair and let you know that there are other options for bread out there. The reason I am hesitant to mention them is because I don’t want you to focus on these breads. That’s not healthy for you, the idea behind the Paleo diet is to eat more vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats, not find a way around them. But! I trust that you are trying your best to change your health, make the right choices and not cheat the system. There are recipes out there that are made from almond and coconut flour. You can also purchase pre-made breads at health food stores and in some grocery stores in the gluten free section. Yes they are Paleo, but should only be used as part of your rotation diet and not be eaten every day.
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.