7 ways to modify your life and practice preventative and natural medicine.
1. HEALTHY FATS:
There is a growing trend that is backed by solid research and science that is shifting our understanding on the consumption of fat. Most of us have been raised to fear fat and eat a low-fat diet. We were led to believe that is was healthier to avoid meats, eggs, nuts, seeds and avocados – concerned that their relatively high fat content would contribute to weight gain and heart disease. Well, new research indicates that virtually all fats in their natural form – including saturated fat found in butter, eggs, and red meat – can help facilitate a healthy metabolism and support essential biochemical processes, including optimal cell, nerve and brain function.
The prepared food industry over the last several decades took advantage of the fear that dietary fat was the root of obesity and cardiovascular disease. This misconception permeated and influenced the food and advertising industry until very recently. They dominated the marketplace with a variety of processed low-fat products. They were high in refined carbs, which have now been proven to fuel both inflammation and obesity. This campaign or war on fat has really been the prime driver of modern day incidence of obesity and chronic disease epidemic.
Weight gain for years has been calculated by the simple mathematical equation: More calories in minus fewer calories out equals calories stored as fat. The reality is, this weight loss advise does not add up. Researcher David Ludwig, M.D. of Harvard points out is doesn’t take into account the metabolic and hormonal impact of different foods. His team of researchers are focusing on the benefits of higher-fat, lower-glycemic, whole-food nutrition programs, especially for those who have struggled throughout life with obesity.
2. MICROBIOME: Key to Functional Medicine
Our microbiome is a thriving ecosystem that consists of 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa. They in fact out number our human cells 10-1. Until recently, these microbes were thought of as hostile invaders to our system that needed to be destroyed. And destroy we did! Research now supports the idea that we in fact need plenty of these “bugs,” and in the right balance, for optimal health. The fact is a plentiful and thriving microbiome supplies us with critical nutrients, helping us fight off toxic pathogens, keeps our immune system in balance and modulates our weight and metabolic function by releasing energy and calories from the food we consume.
– Microbiome patterns are hereditary.
– The diversity and density of species that make up the human microbiome vary from person to person, depending on factors such as diet , geographic location, and medical history.
Both helpful and harmful microbes are found throughout the body ( skin, nose, mouth, tonsils, lungs, gut and genital tract).
– Imbalances in our gut microbiome can have far reaching health implications – obesity, colitis, asthma, and mental illness. Robert Rountree, M.D., a functional medicine specialist, says most of these problems take years or decades to develop. They then take protracted treatments that include lifestyle and diet changes, probiotic use ( beneficial bacteria), and in some instances, nutriceutical medications.
3. GLUTEN AVOIDANCE:
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, rye, barely, spelt, Kamut and triticale. One in 100 individuals has an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease, whereby gluten attacks the small intestine. Researchers now believe another 40-50% of Americans may have developed a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In this case, gluten sets off a chain of inflammation that can lead to an array of disorders – reflux, arthritis, chronic fatigue, migraines to name a few. New research is looking at the possible connection of gluten with aging of the brain and neuro-degenerative disease.
4. PALEO DIET:
The fast growing trend towards Paleo or as some call it, the ” caveman diet,” is gaining a lot of traction these days. This approach emphasizes foods that were available in our pre-agricultural past such as grass-fed or wild meats, wild fish, edible greens, vegetables, roots, nuts, seeds and some seasonal fruits, while also minimizing reliance on more modern dietary additions, especially processed sugars and gluten containing grains. Paleo advocates say the disconnect between our ancient genes and the modern diet goes along way toward explaining the health issues that plague us today, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes autoimmune disease, and much more.
5. THE AUTOIMMUNE FACTS:
Autoimmune disorders ( such as type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, MS, asthma ) have significantly increased 0ver the last half century. Their numbers are rivaling cancer and heart disease. Additionally, the cures for these disorders seem to to challenge conventional medicine. Alessio Fasano, M.D., a top expert in autoimmunity, states that there are 3 main components to the autoimmune diseases – genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger and a leaky gut. Plenty of research indicates that the human gastrointestinal system can be weakened by stress, poor nutrition, food sensitivities/allergies and toxins creating a leak or faulty valve that allows undigested food particles, bacteria, viruses and toxins to cross the intestinal barrier and enter into the bloodstream. The immune system then goes into hyper-drive and eventually compromising and destroying healthy tissue.
Since over 70% of the cells of the human immune system reside in the gut, the gastrointestinal area is now getting a lot more attention. Reducing inflammation and toxicity of the gut might hold the key to eradicating a lot of disease and unlocking the mysteries to longevity.
6. THE SOIL TRUTH:
Microbiologist Elaine Ingham, PhD is interested in not only the food we eat but the health of the soil in which we grow the food. She says: “Human health and soil health are one and the same.” She goes on to say: “Healthy, well- managed dirt is naturally fertile, free of dangerous toxins, and full of microorganisms and nutrients that carry on a synergistic partnership with plants and with us humans.”
Recently, there has been a growing interest in really examining the impacts of conventional industrial framing and agricultural practices on soil health and erosion, and an increased awareness of the connection between nutrient-depleted soils and the declining nutrient density of our farmed produce. Even though the vast majority of American farming still relies on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, monocropping and GMO’s, more and more farmers are using organic and biodynamic techniques to rebuild and protect soil health. Furthermore, it has been proven that vital soil helps to sequester excess carbon in our atmosphere thereby potentially playing an important role in resolving climate change.
7. THE POWER OF SLEEP:
Quality and regular sleep is critical to pursuit of optimal health. It is during sleep that our bodies and brain repair and re-balance themselves. Sleep deficit or prolonged deprivation can directly impact our immune systems, causing inflammation, hormonal imbalance, metabolic and cognitive impairment and even alter our genetic physiology. Research indicates that sleep problems can lead to a surge of pro-inflammatory molecules throughout the body which in turn create problems such as cognitive impairment ( decision making, reaction time, situational awareness and communication are all reduced by 20-50%), memory loss, sexual dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s.
Good sleep is essential to one’s health. To ensure good sleep do the following:
– Get to sleep at a regular time, get at least 7 hours, and try to wake at the same time in the morning.
– Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet ( avoid refined carbs, increase healthy fats, minimize alcohol and caffeine use).
– Avoid or minimize electromagnetic devices prior to bedtime ( TV, smartphones and similar devices)- try to create a quiet and calming effect.
– Natural sleep aids include: 5 -HTP, Melatonin, Magnesium, VitD, Valerian root
– Practice meditation: helps moderate and re-train the body’s fight-or-flight stress response ( Sympathetic Nervous System). This response triggers a release of pro-inflammatory chemicals, including cortisol and adrenaline. Furthermore, it disrupts vital digestive and immune processes and can also lead to joint and tissue inflammation, altering brain chemistry- promoting depression, bi-polar disorder and anxiety disorders, mood swings and elevating food cravings.
Mindful meditation combined with deep breathing helps to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System – lowering our stress hormones and quieting and resetting the brain and body.