I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a fantastic woman who came to Natural Healthcare Center through CityWell, a free resource created to help city of Long Branch employees and their dependents lead healthier lives. I’m proud to be CityWell’s health educator.
To protect this patient’s privacy, I’ll refer to her as Olivia.
Olivia is 5-foot-1 and weighed 256 pounds when she first came to see us. Just 27 years old, she was diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, a group of medical disorders that collectively increase the risk of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Olivia’s Body Mass Index (BMI) was 48.5. BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. Her body fat percentage, which should be under 30 percent, was 54.1 percent.
In a previous post, I discussed how mad cow disease is a prime example of how altered structure changes the information of that structure, which in turn impacts the way the body functions.
More specifically, when man alters the state of food, it alters the structural information within that food, which affects our health and causes disease. These facts are painfully obvious when you take a closer look at the obesity epidemic in our country.
Central obesity, or excessive fat around the midsection, poses the greatest risk of chronic illness associated with fat accumulation. The dangerous fat stored in the belly area is called angry fat.
In a recent post, I explained how alterations to the human body’s molecular structure negatively impact how we function. These structural alterations can be caused by different events in an individual’s lifestyle, diet and environment. The resulting altered function is a key component of the disease process, causing everything from back pain to chronic disease.
There’s one prime example in our recent history of a structural abnormality causing a physiological disease. Remember mad cow disease?
Cows were designed to consume a plant-based diet. However, in the late 1980s, the cost of food for cattle went so high that cattle farmers began to use alternative food sources – namely, the remains of dead and diseased animals – to feed cows. Continue reading
Most of us maintain a pretty hectic lifestyle most of the year, from long hours at work to driving kids to soccer practice and dance class to taking care of the house.
If there was ever a time to sit back and appreciate all that we have, it’s Thanksgiving. I’m not just talking about material things. I’m talking about our faith, family and health. These are the things that really make us rich in ways far better than material possessions.
And if we’re going to take the time to truly appreciate what we have, can we at least make the commitment to unplug for the day, if not the entire weekend? That doesn’t mean you have to put down your smartphone. I love taking and sharing photos of my kids as much as the next person. But it does mean taking a break from work and anything else that causes us stress so we can enjoy the simplicity of life.
Relax. Laugh with family. Do fun things together before and after your meal. Continue reading
In 1951, a study was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences about the structure of the human body and the relationship between protein and body function. The study involved Dr. Linus Pauling.
If that name sounds familiar, Dr. Pauling was the subject of a blog post I wrote last year about a true genius. Dr. Pauling is a hero of mine and the father of molecular medicine.
Dr. Pauling stated that that underneath human physiological structure is the molecular level, and we can better understand body function if we understand body structure at the molecular level.
In other words, if we get the structure right, the function will follow.
Most of us think of the physiological structure – bones, muscles, connective tissue and organs – as permanent. In reality, these systems are replaced on a regular basis.
Most people don’t know much about the livestock industry in our country. When you take a look at what man has done to our meat supply and our ecology, and the way meat is raised and produced, you may just think twice before you order a steak or a roast beef sandwich.
Let me tell you what’s really happening when man raises animals for food. Raising grain-fed animals takes an enormous toll on the environment. It requires massive amounts of fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, water and land. In fact, if the rest of the world’s population ate as much meat as we do, we’d quickly run out of land and irrigation systems.
Cows are supposed to be out on a range, walking around, grazing and consuming grass. That’s how they spend the first three quarters or so of their lives. Cows spent their final months mostly on a feed line, where they’re fed corn, soybean meal, and a lot of drugs, hormones and antibiotics to keep them alive and fat. Man replaces the cow’s natural food supply with inflammatory foods that cause weight gain. Continue reading
When my wife, Stacy, was pregnant with our first daughter, Hannah, in 1999, I remember researching and evaluating OB/GYNs. Obviously, choosing the right person or practice to take care of my wife during her pregnancy was a major decision for us.
We asked a lot of questions. We wanted to know what the approach and thought process would be. We wanted to know what role we would have in making decisions about our child’s health.
There’s nothing wrong with evaluating healthcare providers in this manner.
When you go shopping for food at the grocery store, you’re a consumer. When you go shopping for a car at an auto dealership, you’re a consumer.
When you choose healthcare professionals, it’s even more important to be a consumer.
This country needs to do more to support local, organic farmers. This has been a mantra of mine at Natural Healthcare Center, on my By Design radio show, during my Wellness at Work seminars, and here on my blog. Maybe somebody in Washington heard my plea.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has awarded $52 million in grants to support the growing organic farming industry and local and regional food systems, all of which are largely driven by local farmers and farmers markets.
Why is this happening? Because you demanded it.
Chronic illness is a manmade tsunami that has taken over the world. 18 percent of our nation’s GDP is spent on healthcare. By 2040, that figure is expected to rise to 34 percent.
Why? Because 75 percent of all healthcare costs go to treating chronic illness, which gets worse as we age in most cases. It’s crippling healthcare and strangling healthcare workers across our country and around the world.
Some of the most common chronic illnesses are:
- High blood pressure
- Type II diabetes
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurological disorders like depression
- Attention deficit disorder
- Digestive diseases like gastric reflux
- Inflammatory bowel
- Bone loss diseases like osteoporosis
- Obstructive pulmonary diseases
- Muscle pain and weakness from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
- Kidney and liver ailments
- Vision problems like macular degeneration
In a previous post, I discussed the truth about whole grains and explained what to look for in the food label. The word “whole” must appear in the first ingredient, like whole grain, whole wheat or stone-ground whole.
If the word “whole” doesn’t appear until the second ingredient, that product could contain as little as one percent of whole grain. It’s almost like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created gigantic loopholes that food manufacturers drive through like a runaway truck.
Food labeling is overwhelming and confusing, which makes it difficult for us to evaluate food products and determine what we should be consuming and feeding to our children.
I wish it was as simple as it was 200 years ago. Before the industrial revolution, you really didn’t need food labels. All food was organic because that’s the way it was naturally designed. Food was grown in non-contaminated soil, harvested and eaten before it spoiled.
In Part 1 of this post, I explained what gluten is, the difference between gluten allergy and gluten intolerance, and the impact of modern wheat. Heavier concentrations of gluten in today’s genetically modified wheat are overwhelming the human body and resulting in gluten intolerances and allergies.
Whenever I’m learning about a patient’s history and looking at their blood chemistry, I always ask myself if they have a gluten intolerance or allergy. I begin to break it down into the three major categories of damage caused by gluten, which Marlene Merritt outlined in an excellent article in DC Practice Insights:
- Digestive problems, such as reflux, inflammation of the bowel and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Mental, emotional and neurological problems, such as multiple sclerosis, migraines depression, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
- Autoimmune problems, which can be caused when gluten leaks through the damaged intestine, a condition called leaky gut syndrome, and causes reactions like Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
In last week’s post about the truth about whole grain, I made it clear that my intention was not to promote the consumption of whole grains. One big reason for that is the presence of gluten.
We always see books and magazine articles promoting a gluten-free lifestyle, and we see more and more gluten-free food choices at grocery stores and restaurants.
This isn’t a fad. Gluten can have a direct impact on a person’s health. But as Marlene Merritt points out in a recent article about gluten in DC Practice Insights, not many people know the real story about gluten.
Gluten is a substance found in wheat, barley and rye. It acts like a glue that holds food together and allows it to be stretched.
First, I want to make it clear that this post is not intended to suggest that you should consume whole grains. The goal is to clear up the misconceptions and half-truths about whole grains that cause people to make poor nutritional choices.
I agree with a writer from Nutritional Wellness magazine who said that most of the problems and confusion related to whole grain is the fault of man. Man takes whole grain, refines and processes it in a laboratory, and then food manufacturers market their products in a way that doesn’t accurately represent what’s in the product.
For example, a label can say a food product contains grain even if the grain has been heavily processed and all of the original nutrients within the grain, like fiber, have been stripped away.
Coca Cola Life made its debut in America at the end of August. The folks at Coca Cola are promoting the fact that this new product has 35 percent fewer calories and is “naturally” sweetened with cane sugar and stevia leaf extract.
Guess what? It’s still garbage, just like every other soda or energy drink.
In a recent announcement from Coca Cola about the domestic launch of this new garbage, there’s one word that’s noticeably absent – healthy.
That’s because soda has no health value whatsoever. Zero.
Maybe Coca Cola would like us to believe that Coca Cola Life is slightly less unhealthy than its predecessors.
Everyone has filled out forms when visiting the doctor’s office. Aside from providing your doctor with background information, there is survey information that is used to identify more general trends. One of them has been easy to spot.
The number one reported health complaint in medical office across the country every year is fatigue. So many people who visit Natural Healthcare Center are dealing with a lack of energy, which has gone beyond a national epidemic to become a worldwide pandemic.
We all should be able to focus with our brains. We all should be able to wake up with an abundance of energy, and we should never wake up exhausted. But our society is almost universally challenged by a lack of focus and energy.
In previous posts, I discussed how hormones help keep the brain functioning properly, as well as the danger of hormonal imbalance. If one part of your hormonal structure is off, it can create a downstream effect throughout the hormonal cascade that hampers brain function.
It’s important to remember the concept of bio-individuality, which means we’re all different. We may have the same organs and bones, but we don’t have the same hormonal structure. How we feel, eat and exercise will shape each individual’s hormonal structure.
A key factor in balancing our hormones is how we respond to the stress in our lives. Our adrenal glands, which lie on top of our kidneys, produce stress hormones – DHEA, cortisol and adrenaline. The production of these hormones is regulated by the brain.
In Part 1 of my post about exercising the brain, I pointed out how the sedentary lifestyle – sitting around all day at home and at work – is terrible for the brain. In fact, sitting is the new smoking.
As much as I would like to say I came up with that painfully true observation, credit goes to Dr. Anup Kanodia, a physician and researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Kanodia cited a 2012 Australian study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers estimated that every hour spent sitting around watching television reduces life expectancy by about 22 minutes, while a single cigarette shaves 11 minutes off of the smoker’s life.
There are certain things going on in the world that truly sadden me. As a doctor, a father of five and a human being, I simply can’t remain silent. Like most people, I was saddened to hear the news that Robin Williams committed suicide after a decades-long battle with depression.
When I hear about the suicide of someone who was universally adored, and I see the outpouring of emotion, I wonder when we’re going to start doing something about mental illness in our society.
I just spent 14 weeks talking about brain chemistry on my By Design radio program, discussing how imbalances in the brain lead to poor decisions and unhealthy behavior. So many people are habitually taking medication every day – medication that alters their brain chemistry – and they don’t understand the side effects.
In a previous post, I discussed how hormones help keep the brain functioning properly. When all of the hormone-producing glands in the endocrine system are balanced and working together in unison, we tend to feel and function better.
On the other hand, because hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, if one part of your hormonal structure is off, this will create a downstream effect on other hormones and negatively affect brain function.
Most people are familiar with the reproductive hormones – testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. But there are many hormones within the hormonal cascade that play an important role in the health of the brain and body.
As Dr. Daniel Amen illustrates in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, the hormonal cascade is like a hormonal tree with a mother hormone at the top. All other hormones are derived from the mother hormone. Balancing the hormones at the top creates a cascade effect that balances the downstream hormones.
And what is the mother hormone at the top of the hormonal cascade? Cholesterol. Continue reading
The hormonal structure of the body, whether it’s in balance or out of balance, plays a huge role in dictating how you feel and function, especially for people ages 30 and older. That’s because hormones have a significant impact on brain function.
Let’s be clear about one thing right off the bat. Hormones aren’t just a female thing. Hormones are essential for health and vitality in both women and men. When hormones are balanced, we tend to feel very happy and energetic.
In a previous post about maintaining your brain, I talked about brain chemicals like dopamine and gaba, and how the neurotransmitters of the brain are wired. Hormones have an impact on the wiring and structure of those neurotransmitters.
As Dr. Daniel Amen explains in his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, hormones are like chemical messengers that travel through the blood stream and make it possible for the brain to communicate with other organs.
How important are hormones? Well, Dr. Amen puts it this way – change your hormones, change your brain, change your body, change your relationships. When your hormones are off, everything in your life suffers. Continue reading