Congress Discusses Functional Medicine in Healthcare.

Healthcare According to Congress

The healthcare system is getting attention and Congress and the world are exploring the most effective ways to administer healthcare. It has become even more imperative that we address how much power the individual has in caring for themselves medically. The whole concept of lifestyle change is based upon the idea that your own choices can have more impact on your healthcare than many medical interventions. This is because lifestyle changes address the problems before they happen. They are preventative, instead of trying to repair a damaged body after the fact. Recently the U.S. Congress discussed this very fact. Check out the press release from the Council of Responsible Nutrition.

It seems so elegant and sophisticated to solve complex problems medically. For the medical community it has seemed too rudimentary and simple for nutrition and lifestyle to be accorded the same weight as actual medical science. As some of my other posts have indicated though, new discoveries warrant another look. Epigenetics and modern biochemistry make scientific equality of nutritional and environmental issues essential for medical science to even progress. These two elements are becoming even more important to study since so little is known about their true connection to all aspects of body function and disease. They are emerging sciences. As such are only beginning to show their importance in the overall prevention and treatment of the diseases and chronic disorders that have also financially crippled so many in the last century.

The linked article above from the Council for Responsible Nutrition quotes one M.D. this way:

“Mark Hyman, M.D., Medical Director of The UltraWellness Center and nationally recognized author, speaker and authority on prevention and wellness, spoke about the importance of treating the entire system, not just the symptoms, when it comes to health conditions or illnesses.

“The irony is that the current healthcare system will pay for expensive medical treatments, but it won’t pay for dietary supplements to keep our bodies healthy,” said Dr. Hyman. “As a nation, we are overfed but undernourished. Dietary supplements play an important role in functional and preventive medicine.””

Can Science Catch Up with Us?

Science is trying to catch up with our own bodies natural ability to heal when given the proper tools. They do not fully understand the body, but are trying, and are just beginning to really formulate some tools. That is why I work along with a company called Metagenics and use their products. This company is not merely a supplier of nutriceuticals, but is on the forefront, with it’s research team headed by Dr. Jefferey Bland Ph.D, creator of the concept of Functional Medicine, of studying these emerging scientific patterns, and how to utilize them in modern nutritional therapy.

Since you cannot patent a food, or at least should never be allowed to, (contrary to some GMO food patents currently held) their research is unusual. Why?  It does enhance their ability to create proprietary blends of different nutrients and profit from their sale. However, the nutrients themselves, once isolated as functioning in a particular therapeutic capacity, are fair game to any manufacturer to use, citing the studies paid for by Metagenics. That is what prevents the FDA from accepting health food products official claims to treat disease.

If the same resources that pharmaceutical companies use to develop profitable synthetic drugs were used to prove the efficacy of natural remedies, we could see a much more rapid development of standardized therapies from nutrition and supplements. But who will pay for the studies and the science that they will not personally benefit from financially where does the money come from? Good question. It has to be someone who cares about the science more than the money, and helping others more than themselves. This seems contrary to the very nature of our species. But in the case of nutrition, helping others is helping ourselves, and not pursuing this with all our force and resources, is self destructive.

We must all keep our eyes and ears open for new information and emerging studies. These can help empower us to become stronger and healthier using simple techiques. All this without relying exclusively on post-catastrophic intervention, and chemical cocktails that line pockets. All science must work together, and as we know, hubris is probably the biggest hurdle in any scientific discussion. This is of course second only to personal remuneration, or cash returns, and this can be simple greed, which is a sickness of mind not body. Yes I can hear the altruistic champions of scientific integrity, and heated denials of those in the scientific community staunchly rejecting any charge of selfish gain or ego. Rebuttals do not create truth. Only positive actions and meritorious, meaningful work do.

How Nutrition Affects your Genes

Epigenetics are Epic Genetics

Your mother always used to say “you are what you eat” right? Not even she knew how truly profound the implications of that simple expression are. To say you are what you eat does not even go far enough. It starts in your genes, and ends in your jeans. New research actually indicates that in some sense you are doing more than creating what YOU will become. According to recent science, what you eat could be determining what your children and grandchildren will be like.

An example of research that proves this point is what are called the Agouti mice. These mice show the power of the epigenome. “Epi” refers the the idea that the gene signaling process is “above” or “in addition to” the actual physical gene. This epigenetic process is what determines how a cell will express the codes inside the genes. In other words, it decides which ones will be turned on or off. It is like the “software” to the DNA which is the “hardware”.  These are actual chemical signals, like a language. The only way our body sends these signals is by having available materials to generate them.

Genes and Food

There is a lot of technical and scientific information about DNA methylation (regulating DNA expression through chemical signals). There are also other intricate processes that could be brought into the discussion. This is not a site for scientists and special jargon, and really, words can be either be used to confuse or inform. This site is for basic understanding of complex processes, and we try to explain in a way anyone can understand.

Food is a combination of chemicals which provide information. It is also stored energy and specialized materials used by the body for anything from growth to fighting disease. This information is distributed to cells for them to build cellular components, renew themselves, and orchestrate all the complex functions taking place each moment of every day. Each food has a specific role. This is why eating a good variety of food, particularly vegetables, a person is providing specific tools the body needs. It uses these tools to regulate the expression of the genes contained in the nucleus of each cell.

Individual cells all require these tools to create healthy tissue and allow the whole body’s systems to function at the highest level. They also serve to combat and even prevent disease. As an example of this various studies support the role of the different colored vegetables and fruits actually having varied therapeutic  effects upon the body systems.

Really, the different colors actually code the foods as containing certain nutrients called phytonutrients or phytochemicals for vital body functions. “Phyto-” just means “from plants”.

Food Colors and Their Meaning

White fruits and vegetables

White fruits and vegetables contain nutrients such as beta-glucans, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), Secoisolariciresinol Diglycoside (SDG), and other lignans which are estrogen-like phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. These phytonutrients also boost immunity activating natural killer B and T cells. They help reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of cancers related to hormone level imbalance. Garlic and other members of the onion family are high in allicin, a phytonutrient that lowers cholesterol and reduces blood pressure.

Purple and Blue vegetables and fruits

Purple and Blue vegetables and fruits contain phytonutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. Similar to the previous examples, these phytonutrients support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support proper gastro intestinal function, and help with the absorption of calcium and other minerals. They also fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, act as an anticarcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells. By supporting GI function, all these phytonutrients in all these foods reduce inflammation. This is because much of it is caused by a “leaky gut” which leaches toxins into the body. This then causes your body to attack tissues in the joints which causes inflammation and even arthritic pain.

Red Fruits and vegetables

Red Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin, and hesperidin, as some examples. These nutrients help with prostate and urinary health, lower the risk of prostate cancer, slow or mitigate tumor growth, reduce blood pressure, reduce harmful LDL cholesterol, rout out harmful free-radicals, and strengthen soft joint tissue tissue in cases of inflammation and even arthritis. Studies have shown that people who have high concentrations of lycopene in their diet are also less susceptible to heart disease, lung disease and various other forms of cancer.

Yellow and Orange fruits and vegetables

Yellow and Orange fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. These nutrients particularly beta-carotene, help reduce age-related macular degeneration and susceptability to cataracts. They also reduce the risk of prostate cancer, reduce LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, also fighting harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones.

Green vegetables

Green vegetables have chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate (vitamin B one most people are deficient in), vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. These phytonutrients can minimize cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, and create better gastrointestinal function. This supports healthy bacteria in the intestines. They also support the eyes with nutrients that help retinal health and vision, fight harmful free-radicals, and boost general immune system activity. They can help prevent osteoporosis, kidney stones, and high blood pressure. Vitamin B is active in supporting brain function.  Vitamin D also helps with this being produced by the body when exposed to sunlight. Legumes have high amounts of protein for energy and muscle and organ building materials.

The Tip of the Iceberg

All this is just the tip of the iceberg. Continuing research into this burgeoning area of science continues. As it does, the relationship between biochemistry and the medical community is growing closer and closer.  Modern medicine is starting to use nutrition as actual medically sound therapy for diseases as serious as cancer. I have personally worked along with doctors here in Southern California to integrate nutritional therapy into their practice. Doing so has resulted in easily duplicatable results in patients. We have met with much success changing blood glucose levels and even altering body composition and inflammation. All this just through modification of diet. Even the Surgeon General has issued a report indicating lifestyle choices will affect length of life and quality of life including many chronic conditions.

Further studies have indicated that the diet of a parent can influence the genetic expression in a child, and even a grandchild. The fact is we can alter the quality and possibly the length of our life and that of our offspring with life changes. These changes include diet as well as our environment and activities. What we eat and what we do will program our genes in one of two basic ways. Either they function well and stimulate positive gene function, or they allow disease and chronic disorders to flourish in our system. Quite Obviously not everyone has the same genes. So the epigenome will express different conditions for different people depending on their individual predisposition.


Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Metabolic Syndrome is one of the most prevalent health issues facing the industrialized world. Basically it is the name for the condition associated with the following combination of factors any 3 of which together are indicators of the condition:

1. Blood pressure = or above 130/85 mmHg

2. Fasting blood sugar (glucose) = or above 100 mg/dL

3. Increased waist circumference (central fat) in Men of 40 or more inches and in Women of 35 inches or more

4. Low HDL (also called good) cholesterol in Men – under 40 mg/dL and in Women – under 50 mg/dL

5. Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL

These factors ultimately are associated with a gain in fat tissue ratio to lean tissue, resulting from improper diet and lifestyle, which increases the overall fat content in the body, raising health risks significantly. This is not always seen in obvious visible obesity. In some cases persons whose body size is not necessarily significantly larger, will be what is called “over fat” while not necessarily overweight. However much of the time the visceral or central fat tissue is a visible sign of problems. This is not an aesthetic condition. How it looks is not the problem, but the actual quantitative effect on a persons health is. That is why what I do as a professional Lifestyle Educator is not a weight loss program per se, but a body composition program.

In 2001 the then Surgeon General of the United States David Satcher M.D. Ph.D. issued a report entitled Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity”. This report indicated the significant health risks, premature death, disability, health care costs, and other factors associated with any overweight condition, and obesity. Just this year, the current Surgeon General Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin M.D. M.B.A. has issued a report entitled “The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010” which explains her take on this concept with both reports calling the problem “epidemic”.

As a result of this overweight, obesity, and metabolic syndrome problem, the bodies of persons affected by these conditions will often develop a resistance to the proper utilization of insulin. As mentioned in a couple other posts about Type 2 Diabetes, this resistance tends to grow and ultimately can result in full blown type 2 diabetes if left unchecked.

Metabolic Syndrome is actually pretty easy to prevent though. With a system of properly scheduled meals, as well as well proportioned meal sizes you can keep your body fed, and reduce the risk of any of these conditions. One important thing to note is, if at all possible, never skip a meal! This seems counter-intuitive. Most people would think taking in less calories would help the body lose unwanted pounds. This is actually the opposite. When you skip meals, you force your body to basically eat itself to get the energy it needs, and you lose important lean mass which is calorie burning, metabolic tissue, since the protein in muscle is what is usually used to get this energy. You then eat a large meal being starving, and the body must store the unusable excess food eaten as fat. Your body needs a constant flow of nutrients and calories to keep going, so you need to eat to lose weight. So never skip meals!

If you live in the Orange County California area call me for a personal consulting session, and I can formulate a personal plan for your metabolism. Call me at 714-866-9649.

Managing Type 2 Diabetes with Food.

Type 2 Diabetes

There has been so much talk lately about type 2 diabetes. This used to be called “Adult Onset Diabetes” but with the proliferation of new cases spanning the age spectrum, and particularly affecting youth, another more inclusive name was chosen. There is even a Type 3 now, but we’ll get to that another time.

First of all, what causes it? A great deal of research has been done on the topic. There are various stages to insulin regulation in the body. To make a complicated topic simpler, when your body takes in too much sugar, which could be refined sugars or even carbohydrates and other foods that are changed to sugar during digestion, it cannot process it effectively. Insulin is the hormone that the body uses to signal cells to let sugar through the door. When too much sugar is there, your cells start to rebel and restrict the acceptance of new sugar in the cell by basically not answering the door when the insulin knocks. Your pancreas senses the resistance, and sends out more insulin.

This is the beginning of problems. Not only will the insulin resistance have the potential if unchecked to become Type 2 Diabetes, but cardiovascular risk is correlated to excessive insulin in the system. Some studies have indicated insulin is an even more powerful antagonist, and marker for cardiovascular risk than cholesterol. When your activity level is not sufficient to burn off the massive sugar content and calories, your body stores the extra sugars as fat. This cycle has every quality of a catastrophic system meltdown. The longer you wait to address it, the worse it will get.

What Can You Do?

Thankfully, there are some pretty simple and yet powerful things you can do, without spending any more money (again unless you want to or to speed up the process with targeted supplements), just changing your eating schedule, and some of the components of your diet. The best part about this is that while most diets restrict the quantity of foods, when I counsel people on food intake, most complain not of being hungry, but of not being able to eat all the food. One of the biggest things is being sure to eat every two to three hours. These meals of course are going to be a bit smaller, but that is the point. You want your body to use the food as fuel progressively, and not flood the engine with too much gas. that is what has been happening to create the insulin resistance in the first place.

The only thing that can make it a bit tricky is the actual plan must be specific to an individuals body composition, weight, and fat/lean ratio, as well as the amount of calories that the person burns in any given day. That is unique to each person, so establishing your metabolic rate is important but it is not that difficult to get a general idea just based upon weight and height with some of the online charts. However to be specific enough to really nail it down a test with a bio-impedence machine is very helpful, and not too expensive.

These tests, which I administer regularly, also give you a chance as you progress through your personal program of lifestyle change, to see a real number for each part of your body’s composition, and watch as your fat, water, muscle and other components change to create a better overall body makeup which results in a superior functioning system.

Real Results

 

Amazingly enough, I have personally seen people go from a fasting glucose of 135 to between 90-100 in a week or two, just by changing diet scheduling, some food types, and adding a small amount of what is termed a “medical food”, a high quality protein enriched beverage which I will also explain later in another post. But this is an optional component, that just speeds up the natural process.

Mediterranean Diet

If you look up ‘mediterranean diet” online, you will see the basic kinds of foods that are best to consume for optimum health and vitality. It is a mixture of vegetables, lean meats, limited grains, and yes even wine! If you eat a balanced diet of these foods and spread out your 1300-2500 calorie menu for the day every 2-3 hours, it is a good start. You can contact me directly for more information, and if you are in the Orange County California area, I am available for private consultations, and can actually monitor your composition with the Bio-impedence test I spoke of earlier. I do encourage close collaboration with your doctor though particularly when  dealing with a serious condition such as Type 2 Diabetes.

The Onslaught of Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes metabolic syndrome diet lose weightThe Modern Western diet has created a generation of people who are held captive to bad food choices which ultimately destroy their body’s natural biochemical balance. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to assist cells in transporting sugar from the bloodstream into the cells where the mitochondria use it as energy.
Processed foods and foods high in sugar cause the glucose levels in the bloodstream to spike, or raise very quickly which sends a disproportionate amount of sugar into the blood resulting in excessive insulin production. When the cells sense the excess, they start to ignore the insulin in a process that has been termed insulin resistance. This results in bad sugar metabolism, dysfunctional insulin receptors in the cells, and ultimately leads to Type 2 adult onset Diabetes.
With minor modifications in menu planning and food intake studies indicate a person can manage this condition and in many cases reverse its affects. Meal size, type and timing of meals all play an important role in this process, and are simple to adjust. With minimal supplementation, a person suffering from this condition can start down a path to recovery, and all without any drugs in most cases.

Healthy Living By Choice