Sunday, December 2, 2018

What you eat may be killing you

I have basically two types of patients that I commonly see at my Functional Medicine practice - those who are willing to do anything - even change their diet - to live longer healthier lives, and those who flat out refuse to even think about changing their diet or lifestyle to better their health.

For those of you who don't think food is connected to disease, the science is out there but the medical community isn't keeping up with it very well so you may be suffering from disease and receiving medications and thinking the medications 'fix' things but in reality the medications may be making things worse.

In my Functional Medicine training, we learn about the 'Standard American Diet' or SAD diet that frequently contributes to disease. When I'm consulting with patients, I always explain to them the impact that food has on our health.

Our bodies need nutrients to function at their best and unfortunately the current American food supply (even if all you eat is organic fruits and vegetables and pasture-raised animals) has lost its nutrient-density over the last 75 years due to over-farming and over-use of pesticides and chemicals on the soil.

If the contents of your refrigerator currently look like this picture then you are doing better than the majority of your neighbors at improving your health and preventing disease but I find when I ask patients to keep a diet diary that they are frequently eating food from restaurants and fast food places which contain the most inflammatory substances and the least nutrient content.

Another major issue with our diets is the emphasis on refined carbohydrates. That includes sugar, white rice and white flour. These are all very inflammatory as is dairy and animal fat.

If you have any kind of cancer or metabolic disorder such as diabetes, hormone imbalances like PMS or endometriosis or infertility, high blood pressure or heart disease, hypothyroid or hyperthyroid, autoimmune issues like rheumatoid arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis, then what you eat may be killing you, especially if you diet is mostly carbohydrates, dairy and animal fat (from chicken skin, beef or pork).

If you are suffering from any of the above conditions, you would benefit from trying a plant-based diet (you can also have fish that is clean and without high levels of mercury a couple of times a week) and seeing how you feel over time.

New research from a doctor who studies fasting and longevity has been published this year and shows that a Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) can slow down or reverse these disease processes when done along with a pescatarian diet.

The researcher, Dr. Valter Longo, also recommends taking a high-quality multivitamin and a omega 3 supplement every day that you follow the FMD. His initial research shows that the FMD can decrease the side effects of chemotherapy and improve the effectiveness of chemo for cancer. He has shown that while following the FMD, stem cell production increases and diseased cells are disposed of at a more efficient rate.

If you have a metabolic disorder you should not undertake a self-prescribed fast without consulting a health care provider. A good integrative or Functional medicine provider can help you incorporate a regular FMD into your lifestyle to promote health and help reverse disease. If you are a science nerd like myself, you might enjoy reading about all the health benefits of FMD in Dr. Longo's book The Longevity Diet.

If you would like to find out whether the FMD could help you reverse disease, contact me for a consultation at KarenFMillerMD@gmail.com.

As we are transitioning to winter this month we can take the opportunity to be more reflective. I invite you to start a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness can help improve your brain function (memory and clear thinking) and reduce the deleterious effects of stress. Mindfulness is simply being present and aware in the current moment.

A PRACTICE:

Begin by sitting or lying in a comfortable position, if sitting bring your spine erect to allow deeper breathing and make sure your head isn't craning forward but situated directly between your shoulders with the crown parallel with the ceiling or sky. Imagine a string pulling the crown of your head upward so your head doesn't droop.

Close your eyes or bring your gaze to a point on the floor in front of you and notice your breath. Bring your attention to the sensation of your breath moving through your nostrils and down into your chest and expanding your belly. Try not to control the breath but merely to observe the effects of the breath on your body.

If your mind wanders away from being present, gently bring it back without judgment. You can use rosary or mandala or bodhi beads to track your progress. One circuit around a string of beads is a good place to start. If you don't have beads, set a timer for 10 minutes. There is a free app called Insight Timer that you can put on your phone and set for any length of time you wish.

Peace be with you.




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