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.
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.
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.
Window into our bodies
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just look in to how your body functions through a window? Or even better, if we could just visually see how our bodies are affected by what we do and eat? Then we could see how certain actions are healthy and will make our organs and tissues last longer, or maybe we will see how smoking and eating the wrong things weakens our bodies. At one time these questions were theoretical. But now in this modern day things are different, what we once could only imagine, we are now very capable of.
What age are you really?
How are you aging? That is the question. Are you aging fast or slow? To answer this question, you have to know your chronological age vs. your biological age. Chronological age is easily determined. It is your age. The missing variable has been determining biological age. There was no standardization to suggest how your body was functioning as a product of age. Traditional lab markers gave at best insinuations about your biological age, but nothing definitive. Yet, with the upsurge of research in the field of genomics, we began to learn about telomeres. If you are not familiar with Telomeres, you are going to want to know them.
What are Telomeres?
In short telomeres are the tips of your chromosomes, or genetic material. They are predictive of biological age. The longer they are the better your biological age. In contrast, shorter equals faster aging. You can now literally determine if your body is older than what the calendar says, or if you are younger.
Without question, everyone wants to be younger biologically than chronologically. If you are younger than your chronological age, you want to maintain. If you are older than your chronological age, you will want to make changes. But how do you know you are doing the right things to help you age slowly.
This is where functional medicine finds its role. At the center of anti-aging and rejuvenation is functional medicine. Functional medicine as the name implies centers on restoring function to the body. As it relates to telomeres, better function equals longer telomeres. Vice versa, longer telomeres equal better function. As an example, take blood sugar. When blood sugar rises routinely, secondary inflammation is created and telomeres are damaged. The prolonged shortening of telomeres also makes it more difficult to control blood sugar. It becomes a vicious circle. Cycles such as this are not broken by a single intervention aimed at symptoms, but rather a comprehensive approach targeting all possible areas of contribution.
Balance is the key
Many things are known to influence the length of the telomere. These include hormone balance, low levels of inflammation, proper exercise, sleep, a good diet, and a balanced nutritional state. The focus of functional medicine is to realign the health of the body. To illustrate this point, a good diet with proper exercise at some point will become limited in its ability to support long term health if you are not getting adequate sleep. The key to preserving your telomere length is balance. Yet to achieve balance, you must equally manage all aspects of your life and understand the interplay that they have. As a paradigm focused on creating synchrony between all aspects of health, functional medicine is well poised to help you protect your delicate telomeres.
Time to lose weight and feel better!
So maybe you have gotten through Thanksgiving, the holidays, or you are tackling your New Years resolution, but it’s time to get that weight off! If you are new to the Paleo diet, that’s ok, follow these 10 easy steps, and I guarantee you will start losing weight and feeling better. I recommend that you do these steps in conjunction with the 14 day detox kit I give to my patients, but with or without the detox you will feel better.
1. Stop eating ALL sweets for seven days straight. This includes sugar in your coffee and tea. Detoxify yourself of sugar in order to gain control of
your cravings and increase your energy.
2. Do not use any margarine, Crisco, or hydrogenated vegetables oils. These are adulterated oils and block weight loss. Instead, use extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil, walnut oil, flax oil, hazelnut oil, and coconut oil.
3. Avoid white flour. This includes white rolls, bagels, and pasta. The two greatest weight gain foods are bread and pasta.
4. When possible, avoid grains. Most common grains contain gluten, which is known to inhibit weight loss. ( This includes corn!)
5. Drink at least 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water each day. Water from a home filtration system is best
6. Do not skip meals. There should be no more than two to three hours between each main meal. Eat snacks in between meals only if you are truly hungry – not because you are bored or stressed. Healthy snacks, see 1, 3 & 4.
7. Eat protein every meal to stabilize your blood sugar levels. This will help control your appetite and reduce your cravings for sugar and starches.
8. Review the Modified Mediterranean / Paleo Diet for specific examples of foods that you should be eating.
If you have any questions or would like to purchase a 14 day detox kit feel free to contact us.
Don’t forget to exercise moderately to increase your weight loss and also to feel better and more motivated.
Starting your Paleo Lifestyle
I have been working with quite a few patients for a while now. So from experience, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. Make no mistake, when changing your eating habits you are changing your entire lifestyle as well. This can be a daunting change, because switching your normal routine is never easy. But don’t let that scare you off, you may be surprised at how easy moving to Paleo can be. As long as you have the right tools and the right information. I can help you with this, I have information from hundreds of patients, which puts me in a great position to give you tips to transition easily and be successful and changing your life to a Paleo lifestyle.
1. Embrace the Paleo Diet – There are two types of people when it comes to the Paleo Diet. Those that are all in, or those that want nothing to do with it because it is some crazy fad. By the way, this is a 10,000 year old fad since it is in fact the way man has always eaten. Even in the research environment, Paleo has been studied for the last 30+ years. So if you are not in the camp rebuking Paleo, then you are on the winning team. Paleo is starting to become a household word. You may find yourself shocked at just how many people are eating the Paleo Diet. You are not alone.
2. Find a local Paleo source – Small Paleo cafes are popping up more and more. Seek them out as they will usually have Paleo in the name to attract their audience. However, you can also find non-Paleo restaurants that have Paleo options. This may mean picking apart the menu a little bit, but that’s okay if you stay Paleo.
3. Think ahead – As you are headed into your week, it goes without saying that time will start to evaporate and you will be scrambling to find those extra minutes for food preparation. Think about the meals that you want to have in the upcoming week and prepare what you can for them ahead of time. This may mean nothing more than cutting up some vegetables and having them already sliced.
4. Cook with leftovers in mind – Always prepare more food than you are going to need. This serves 2 purposes. Foremost, you will have food for lunch the next day. Thus, no excuses about not having a Paleo meal. Second, you will have food in the refrigerator to snack on if you get hungry.
5. Don’t tempt yourself – For whatever reason, it seems that the foods that have a way of creeping back into your eating pattern are grains and sweets. The best way to avoid them is to not even be around them. If you don’t bring them in the house, you are not going to eat them.
6. Keep Paleo Snacks Around – Be realistic, you are going to get a sweet tooth every now and then. It is just human nature. If you have some Paleo snacks around, you will have something to hold you over without the guilt of feeling like you wrecked your diet.
7. Flavor your food – Fats and spices are an asset to Paleo eaters. They help stimulate the senses and add another dimension to your food. Even the most bland meats and vegetables can be brought to life with the right combination of spices. Most of the Paleo cookbooks offer great suggestions.
8. Pocket snacks – It is always handy to have some nuts around. Nuts are easy to keep in almost any situation and they provide a good balance of fat, protein and carbohydrate.
9. Eat as many different colored vegetables as you can. Different colors mean different nutrients, try as many different ones as you can to make sure you take in adequate nutrients. In addition to nutrients you will also be taking in a lot of fiber, fiber makes you feel full and satisfied which help prevent you from making bad food choices.
10. Consistency is the key. You do not have to be prefect. That is not realistic. But you can easily be consistent. If you make a mistake, don’t beat your self up, just get right back on your routine. What we are really trying to accomplish here is that you are eating Paleo the majority of the time. Eating something non Paleo occasionally, is not going to ruin your diet.
If you follow these 10 steps you will most certainly succeed. Here is your map and guide to transform your life into the Paleo Lifestyle. Just like many others you will now also feel the benefits of eliminating foods that cause inflammation, and begin to feel good. Before you know it you will wonder why you haven’t always eaten this way. The other great thing about going Paleo is that once you follow it and live it you will never go back to eating gluten and dairy again. You eventually will not miss them, and you will not feel good if you do eat them.
Eating Paleo During The Holidays is Tough
I don’t think anyone would disagree with the statement that the holidays are the toughest time of the year to eat healthy. It’s as if everywhere we turn, work, home, school, TV, these days are inundated with candy, pies, cookies and snacks tempting us at every turn. So the big question is, is it possible to stay Paleo during the holidays? I’m not going to say it’s easy, but yes, you can do it.
The two biggest factors that we have to watch for are foods that contain grains and gluten and the ones that are high in refined carbohydrates that cause blood sugar fluctuations. If we can keep those two culprits in mind then navigating those holiday foods should be easy.
Substituting certain ingredients
Here are a few ideas;
Try a new recipe, something you have never made before. If you are preparing something that usually contains gluten and grains, try the grain free option, like almond, hazelnut, or coconut flour. Many times you will be surprised at just how good some of these foods taste.
Change the way you cook it
If you consider what a typical holiday meal is, many of the foods that we normally eat at these times already fit the Paleolithic model. For example, most of us eat turkey, vegetables and fruits with our holiday meal. These all fit the parameters of a Paleo Diet. We just need to consider how it is prepared. Instead of frying a turkey in inflammatory oils, simply bake it. Stuff it with a mixture of vegetables instead of stuffing, which also adds flavor to the turkey.
Add fat to a dish when possible. Fat cuts the hunger craving and satiate quickly. Examples might include using clarified butter (Ghee), coconut oil or adding some olive oil and cinnamon to mashed sweet potatoes or yams.
Reach for fruits as a desert instead of the typically high sugar cakes and pies.
When eating desert types of food, eat them after a meal. You are less likely to eat as much and if you have followed the other Paleo principles, the amount of sugar in desert will have less impact on your glucose levels. This same idea can be used if you are going to a party. Eating raw vegetables or nuts before you go or while you are there can insure that you do not over indulge.
Take your time
Eat slow. Take the time to enjoy the meal and give thanks. Often we are so in tune with wanting to devour the food in front of us that we miss the enjoyment of the meal. Sit your fork down between bites and savor the food. You probably won’t eat as much if you do this.
A Few Final Tips
Use as many spices and herbs to season with as possible. Many times these might offset some of the undesirable effects holiday food has on you. For example, cinnamon can help promote blood sugar regulation. If you make a pie, try doing it without the crust. This adds a lot of extra carbohydrates to the dish and most of us are after the pie filling anyway.
Lastly, if you steer off course for a meal or even a day, don’t worry about it. It is the sum of all your actions during this time that matters the most. I typically tell my patients during this time of year that I don’t even want to know what they had on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, but the days in between do count. Enjoy yourself, but don’t go overboard and don’t give up your non-dietary health habits like quality restful sleep and exercise.
You Should Question Dietary Recommendations about Fat
Dietary recommendations are among the most ironic pieces of advice that are probably given. You may wonder what I mean by this. Let’s use eggs as an example. We ate eggs for generations. Then we were told not to eat eggs because they contain cholesterol and as we all know, cholesterol is the root of all healthcare evils (said tongue-in-cheek of course). In contrast we are now seeing that eggs have no significant effect on blood cholesterol levels. The vast discrepancy in the information that we here can leave one wondering what to trust for dietary advice.
This same logic can be taken one step further when you consider fat in the diet. Again, for numerous years no one thought about fat in the diet. We just ate what was available to use and it seemed to work itself out. However, science came along and we started making correlations between saturated fats and heart disease. As the adage goes, if a little is good, more is better. This did not exactly hold true however. When many started taking the fat out of their diet for fear of increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, they did not realize that this would be replaced by excess carbohydrates. Ironically, this reduction in fat and increase of carbohydrates still increased cardiovascular risk, just in a different way.
The Forgotten Truth about Fats
The moral of the story is that our body needs fat and contrary to some outdated thoughts about fat it is not bad for us. Fat consumption needs to be in a balanced ratio as it is found in nature. But many of us are still fat phobic when in reality we should not be. Fat provides several components that are essential to our normal function. Interestingly, we have been indoctrinated to avoid cholesterol and to try to get our cholesterol levels lower and lower. This is detrimental in many ways however and impairs several functions. Sources of saturated animal fat provide cholesterol. And while many think that saturated fats are bad, the truth is that they are only problematic when consumed in excess as compared to unsaturated fats. To further this point, when we consume grass fed or free range sources of meat, we are actually consuming a balanced ratio of fats. You don’t have to figure out the nuances of the diet and wonder if you are eating the right ratio. You just have to eat the right food and the details will be taken care of for you.
Additional benefits to eating fats in your diet include adequate consumption of fat soluble vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Dietary fat is an excellent source of the fat soluble nutrients vitamin A, D, E, and K. While all of these are of vital importance, vitamin D has gotten the spot light more recently. This simple nutrient alone supports adequate immune function, increases uptake of calcium, aids in glucose control, acts as a hormone and improves cardiovascular and bone health. Additionally from ideal sources of dietary fat, we derive essential fatty acids. Often times these are identified as omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are vital to overall health and most Americans are extremely deficient. Among the numerous benefits that omega 3’s offer, they promote adequate brain function, reduction of inflammation and subsequently advanced aging, improved skin integrity, reduction of cardiovascular disease and cancer and lowering of triglycerides.
How Modern Food Preparation is Putting you at Risk
What we should be concerned about are consuming damaged and harmful fats. Fats that are overcooked have become rancid and actually promote inflammation in our body rather than preventing it. This is best illustrated by smoking rising from your oils and signals that you have crossed the smoke point of your oil. Additionally, you should avoid fats that are manipulated. These will be labeled as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. The good news is that if most of the food that you consume does not come with a label, you are not likely to be eating these damaged fats.
The Solution to Keeping Your Fats Balanced
The solution to keeping your fats balanced is eating a Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet is the foolproof solution to getting the right fats in the right amounts in your diet. When you consume sufficient quantities of plants, fats and proteins in the diet, you will find that you are not likely to over-consume the potentially health robbing fats in the diet, but rather you will be ingesting those fats that promote health and wellness. Nuts, seeds, and avocados as are found in the Paleo Diet are among a few of the foods that provide not only fat, but fat that helps improve your overall metabolic function and reduces inflammation.