This is a presentation I gave to a Women’s Group a few years ago that summarizes my approach and philosophy. Little has changed since.
The game is about information, it is about knowledge, about common sense, and about our lives. It is worth knowing and it is hard to know. We are all being bombarded with information about nutrition. The fact is that most of what we need to know is already in front of us – it’s been tried and it’s true. We've just been led to the wrong conclusions by the merchants of foods and drugs. We now seem to expect to have symptoms. And for each symptom there is a food product or pharmaceutical agent. We treat symptoms without considering the underlying processes, as such it remains unchanged and continues to affect other organ systems and ultimately new symptoms develop. And the cycle continues until we are bombarded with nutritional, herbal, and pharmaceutical agents in response to chronic degenerative diseases that are much harder to manage.
The system of "illness" care in the U.S. is collapsing upon itself. To establish more effective and efficient healthcare we must stop treating disease with drugs alone - we must reduce disease-promoting behaviors and at the same time initiate health-promoting behaviors. Too often "preventive medicine" focuses on early disease detection or as one chiropractor put it, "the disease of yet." We go in for our annual exam hoping our doctor doesn't find any disease "yet." And if we're lucky, off we go for another year or until symptoms prompt us back for care. This kind of "preventive care" allows 38% of Americans to die of heart disease, 20% to die of cancer (and the percentage is rising), and 8% to die of strokes. We are using a have-disease, give drug method, and it isn't working on most of the chronic diseases we are developing. Certainly Western medical approaches are remarkably effective at crisis intervention. Common sense tells us there is a role for prescriptive medications, surgery, and the awesome technologies available - but we should not expect them to do more than for what they are designed. So what should we do? Who and what should we follow?
I begin this discussion with you to explore my thoughts about the development of chronic diseases. Like any problem, medical or otherwise, I always search for the root cause. The real discussion of nutrition begins in the soil – the nutrient and health value of true organic value vs. commercially (NPK fertilized) foods has been shown by the U.S.D.A. Combined with processing and packaging, you have the S.A.D., the Standard American Diet. All the vitamins in the world will not correct that. Wholesome food specific for your unique requirements is where the discussion of nutrition begins and ends. For most of us, however, it isn’t enough. If it was enough, you and I would not be here at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church this September morning. To appreciate the dilemma before us, and to understand how I came to the conclusions I share with you today, we need some perspective.
The single most obvious and unique advantage I provide as an expert in nutrition and health is understanding the difference between a root cause and what is a symptomatic reflection of that condition. In Chinese Medicine there is saying: "Examine the pattern to seek the cause." This means that, generally speaking, the cause of disease is found by examination of the pattern. Chinese diagnosis is based on the fundamental principle that signs and symptoms reflect the condition of the internal organs. The art of diagnosis consists precisely in identifying the root-cause of symptoms and signs by looking at the manifestations. The root, however, is under the surface and invisible. When the art of pattern identification is mastered, the root-cause becomes identified, much like a botanist can identify a tree by examining the leaves. Another fundamental of Chinese diagnosis is that "a part reflects the whole." Similarly there are many branches with similar roots. Specialists often look at their branch without recognizing the importance of the root.
The Western approach, as I was taught at U.C.L.A. School of Medicine, is that the history of the condition is 80% of the diagnosis. It therefore seems the patterns within the history are the first clues to bring the causative factors closer into focus. This is the basis for my approach to understanding the condition or state of an individual. Patients often comment on my intake questionnaire because it is so comprehensive. They say, "No one ever asked me that before." or "I though that was a normal part of getting older" or "what does this have to do with my chief complaint?" We are almost expected to have aches and pains. That we take aspirin to prevent a cardiovascular disease, hormones to prevent menopause and osteoporosis, margarine for lower high cholesterol as ways to overcome some flaw in our evolution or design is preposterous. Cardiovascular disease was non-existent at the turn of the century. Female hormone use is virtually non-existent for most of the world and yet menopause and for the most part osteoporosis is not a problem. Margarine is far more toxic for most than butter or olive oil. Humans are a magnificent culmination of evolutionary design for survival - not suffering. We have been slowly told and sold we need medications and processed foods (like low-fat, sugar-free, enriched, etc.) to make our lives better. It isn't so.
Paul A. Stitt introduces his book, Beating The Food Giants, "Our 50 year national experiment of letting the food giant companies dictate what we eat, how often we eat and how much we eat, which began in 1945, is now beginning to reveal its full effect. We are now a nation where 90% of the people cannot pay their own lifetime medical expenses. Lifetime medical expenses are now so great that no else can pay them either - neither employers nor government nor any other group. We can live without cars, computers, fancy homes and new clothes every month, but we can't live without being healthy. We Americans brag about having the cheapest food bill on Earth, but is it so cheap when it's impossible to pay the sickness cost of consuming "cheap" food. In actually it's not so cheap - on a per-pound, per-week, or per-lifetime cost, a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little meat is far cheaper than the junk food the Food Giants grind out and force down our throats. In other words, the do-gooders of this world have it all wrong. "Health" care is not expensive - it's free. Because a healthful diet is less expensive, short term and long term, than an unhealthful junk food diet. Sickness care is bankrupting our country and is leading the way in destroying our way of life and our culture. Staying healthy is by far the least expensive way to live and the most fun. Why choose any other? Why become a burden to your family and society?..."
Even most so called nutritional or holistic doctors fall into the trap of prescribing an herb or vitamin to alleviate the symptom. While you may be happier with a so called "natural" agent instead of a drug, this is just a different version of the disease-drug response. It is the have-disease, give-supplement response. The term "alternative" or "holistic" care may not mean "health" care. Supplements and natural medicines are a very big business and alternative care "providers" are being educated by nutritional product manufacturers much the way pharmaceutical companies dictate the research and education of orthodox medical doctors today. Even those without formal professional education have gotten into the act. It seems everyone has a product or panacea – network marketing has created millions of "it-helped-me-so-it -will-help-you zealots. Some claim to have the "research" to back up their story. Are we replicating the failing disease-drug approach with a disease-supplement approach? Are we really better off using an herb compared to a standardized pharmaceutical? Is symptom relief really bringing you closer to optimal health?
I feel I must share with you these ideas before we even begin our health forum. Like all discussions, biases should be expected. And having given you mine, let us develop the idea of nutritional influences on health. The approach I use will allow you to see the overall picture more clearly.
For example, to understand your immune system, I would use the template below (just as I use it for any ongoing medical condition) to help guide us to the most effective and efficient way to find the root cause and therapy. The solutions to these conditions may combine a mixture of dietary guidelines, nutrient repletion, detoxication, and possibly some re-prioritization of lifestyle choices. You'll notice I don't start off with the so-called immune enhancing herbs, vitamins, etc. These are reserved for three situations: 1) if you need to actually augment the immune system temporarily to overcome an infection or illness; 2) as insurance during our investigation or during early rejuvenation; and 3) if there is a root problem that can not be corrected satisfactorily such as inescapable stress, genetics, etc.
COMMON EXAMPLES OF HOW ILLNESS/SYMPTOMS DEVELOP
- Attention Deficit Disorder - food hypersensitivities, heavy metals, mineral imbalances, impaired sensory input
- Menopause - adrenal insufficiency, liver detoxication, imbalances between testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone
- Carbohydrate intolerance: digestion (disaccharidases), glycemic control, efficient and balanced metabolism
- Cancer - immune insufficiency, acidosis, anaerobic fat metabolism, genetics
- Obesity - basal metabolic rate, energy utilization, nutrient co-factors, hormonal factors
- Osteoporosis - hormones, buffering capacity, stress
- Arthritis - calcium-phosphorus imbalance, autoimmune phenomenon, iron overload
- Atherosclerosis - vessel integrity, irritant metabolites (homocysteine), oxidation
- Fatigue – nutrient, hormonal, and/or electrolyte insufficiencies, fungal overgrowth
You should know that absence of disease and symptoms is not the same as optimal health. Through identifying, understanding, and obeying genetic design limits, encoded in the genetic material carried in every one of your 100 trillion cells, we try to form the basis for your nutritional requirements, just as they dictate your height, weight, and the color of your eyes. These requirements are both inherent and inescapable. Following "what works" for someone else, eating a so-called well-balanced diet, educated guesswork, referring to "authoritative" books on nutritional therapy, following the latest nutritional fad or taking the latest "hot" nutrient touted in health magazines, are effective only to the extent they fulfill your unique requirements! Try telling an Eskimo a diet high in fat and protein is unhealthy when generations of his/her family remained healthy and vital well in to old age without any degenerative disease on the same. Or, try putting an Eskimo on the diet of the vegetarian East Indian, or, for that matter, the East Indian on the high protein and fat diet of the Eskimo! These examples illustrate the fact that what is nutritionally correct for one is clearly not necessarily right for another. There is intriguing work popularized by Dr. Peter D’Adamo in his book, Eating Right 4 Your Blood Type, that suggests that your blood type (A, B, AB, or O) influence your reactivity to certain foods. While the theory is fascinating, there is much we can not explain and much that requires a "try and see" attitude.
Metabolic Typing is a system of interpreting and understanding the physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and behavioral characteristics of an individual. The basis for this categorization may be found in what may be referred to as the three main "energy systems" of the body: the autonomic nervous system, the fat and carbohydrate oxidative system, and the endocrine system. Through metabolic analysis, an individual's specific nutritional requirements may be identified. By supplying the body with all the raw materials for which it has a genetic-based requirement, one sets the stage for optimum energy production, the essential ingredient for good health and well-being.
This is my approach to allergies and immune disorders, menopause, premenstrual tension, osteoporosis, hormonal imbalances, high and low blood pressure, heart disease, attention deficit disorder, autism, hypoglycemia and diabetes, and any other chronic degenerative conditions - use pathologic patterns to identify the root causes of your dis-ease and use the metabolic type to identify your nutritional needs required for optimal health. I'm not just talking about "wellness," the term that defines the absence of disease. There are four facets to optimum mental and physical health:
- Resistance to disease and infections
- Adaptability to external stress/challenges
- Recovery from unavoidable injury/insults
- Feeling good and being happy/loved/peaceful/fulfilled
As you can see, there is more to optimum health than just taking a few vitamins!