I've been embroiled in a debate on different eating habits for a
few weeks. It's been a heated debate. Information has been passed
back and forth, but the science is a hard sell for those that don't
know or understand it. I say, science, because it's not just the
facts about Paleo, gluten-free, Mediterranean, or whatever eating
patterns/diets, but about nutrition in general. It's about how our
bodies handle food and what they need to be healthy.
There are a million and one (and probably more) "diets" out
there. Right now, Paleo and gluten-free seem to be trending the
most. Celebrities are using them to "get healthy." People are using
them for weight loss or to control the symptoms of one disease or
another. Some are using them to lower their inflammatory levels.
But few seem to know the actual science behind any of it.
Image source: www.towelmate.com
I'm admittedly biased. I've been a diagnosed Celiac, and gluten
free for 16 years. The more information that I learn about grains,
etc. -- the more I'm glad that I don't eat gluten. But the general
public doesn't have the information that I have. In fact, it seems
that most professionals don't either. But that's not the purpose of
When I started out writing this, I thought about my friend and
how vehemently she adheres to her beliefs about "nutrition" and
eating. She's a registered dietician. We've argued back and forth
about grains, about how she thinks that Paleo/Mediterranean is bad
for athletes, about how impossible it is to follow, and about how
there's a lot of "false" science/claims about that particular
eating pattern. The whole experience has been a major illustration
on the adherence to beliefs that people have -- not just for her,
but for me. It's also been an exercise in frustration.
I can only "recommend" what science (and anecdotal evidence --
but that's another story) shows to be true. For example, I can
explain that zonulin destroys tight junctions in the gut, brain,
and reproductive organs, and that the main sources of tight
junction destroying proteins are grains and legumes. I can quote
studies all day long (and all night long) -- and I have. I can
distill the science down to very simple words that anyone could
understand by using pictures, analogies, and more broad terms. I
can do all of these things, but that doesn't mean it's going to
change anyone's mind, and it also doesn't mean that they're going
to be willing to put it into practice.
We're very steeped in our beliefs. Usually, those beliefs have
absolutely nothing to do with evidence. My friend, for example,
focuses on athletes and sports nutrition. The concept of
carb-loading with pasta or the use of sports drinks is very much a
part of her reality. She's concerned about having energy available
for use. She's not concerned about inflammation, overall health and
well-being, the prevention of disease, or whether or not someone
might develop cancer or an autoimmune disorder. She wants to run
marathons, or play 4-hour-long matches. Her reality and mine are
very, very different. Chances are, that no matter what I say or
provide her with, she will always adhere to her thoughts about
nutrition. It will always be about the quick fix. My hope is that
she'll come across a difficult case and be forced to broaden her
concept of what healthy eating is.
Patients aren't any different. Some may have more or less
information than my friend. They may be coming in with a copy of
some new fad diet book, or a cookbook of recipes that their Aunt
Sally said worked really great to help her lose weight. People may
walk into the office carrying a well-worn copy of the all-carrot
diet, asking what to do about their increasingly orange skin.
They'll be emphatic about drinking their diet coke, eating their
bowl of pasta, or consuming 3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
before every meal.
Image source: msmomofosho.wordpress.com
It will be our job to walk them through their questions,
hopefully bring some experience and education to the table, and
talk them through ideas and possibilities that will help them find
some form of healthy, sustainable ground. They may resist with
everything that they have in them. As I write this, I'm thinking
about how much I struggle with sugar or eating rice, and how hard
it has been for me to give them up; I'm not there yet. It's our job
to work with them, using their limitations (even if those are
beliefs), and our education to help them get to someplace
My friend and I will probably continue to argue about what we
should or shouldn't be eating. The only thing we've been able to
agree on so far, I think, is that there's no one single "right"
way. There's no perfect way that everyone should be eating. We're
all human, and each body is different. The science may figure out
that everything we "know" is wrong, and everything must be changed.
I may never be able to fully give up sugar or rice. But whatever
happens, we'll all hopefully be happier and healthier because of
what we learn -- about food, about our relationship with it, and
our relationships with each other.
Have a great week, everybody.
Surely you've heard the phrase: "Eat to live, not live to eat."
It seems that our relationship with food is extremely complicated.
It turns out, it's not just our mindset right now, but also every
attitude that we've had about food from our childhood that affects
how, what and why we eat. Did you ever make cookies with your
grandmother, or have a special birthday dinner? Was there some
treat that you only had on special occasions? Did you go
trick-or-treating for Halloween? Unless we've somehow managed to
avoid all of those things, food has become a reward and measure of
comfort in our lives.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with this. But we have to be
aware of it. As we go through our lives running crazy, working
ourselves ridiculous hours, studying, going from obligation to
obligation, taking on way too much, it's really easy to seek
consolation in our food.
Of course, there's more to it than that. Eating these things
ignites reward chemistry in our brains. Dopamine is produced
leading to the sensation of pleasure. Serotonin, which most people
recognize as the hormone affecting depression, is dramatically
affected. In fact about 95% of the serotonin is produced in the
gut. This not only regulates how much food we eat, but how we feel
about how much food we eat. It has direct impact on our mood about
There are other, seemingly less interesting, hormones involved
with food intake. Leptin, produced in adipose tissue, regulates
food intake and fat storage. Deficits or defects in it lead to
overeating. Another hormone, CCK, which is released from the small
intestine while you eat, provides negative feedback about the
quantity of food. Deficits in it (or damage to the small intestine)
lead to overeating. Ghrelin, insulin, cortisol, and glucagon are
also involved. *Whew!*
You see, we treat food as medicine, not just because of the
hormones it induces, but because of the nutrients it provides. We
can use food to medicate or nourish our bodies.
We need those nutrients to live. They provide the building
blocks of everything that we are, the chemicals that sustain us,
and the energy that keeps us going.
I've been doing some reading (in all my spare time) about the
psychology of eating. It turns out there's a whole Institute for
the Psychology of Eating. I've been exploring the ideas of why
people eat; how much food we really need to live; and how we can
nourish ourselves body/mind/spirit without overindulging. The topic
itself is absolutely fascinating, and challenging in ways beyond
all of the science.
It's food for thought.
Everybody have an amazing week!
For more information on the psychology of eating and hormonal
control of eating, check out:
We're nearing the end of the trimester. It's the calm before the
storm. Since my classmate Lexxi just reminded me, I'll remind you.
Did you: do your FAFSA? Taxes? Register for classes?
This week starts the last minute projects and presentations
before practicals and finals. Actually we have part of a practical
on Friday for PT. I'm going to rehab a knee with Rheumatoid
Arthritis -- which I'm finding as a bit of a struggle. How do you
give someone exercises for a degenerating joint, when they have to
move the joint? I've been pondering it quite a while. Here's hoping
I come up with something good.
This week and next week, our program hosts a cadaver lab
demonstration for the nursing, PA, and other health professions
programs that we share space with. For those who aren't familiar,
we share some campus space with the St. Petersburg College health
profession programs and Barry University PA programs. Since some of
our classroom space is at the St. Pete Caruth Health Education
Center, we see a lot of students from other programs running around
-- including RN, PA, EMT, etc. Unlike our program, they don't have
cadaver exposure, which always surprised me.
So, since we do, we host workshops toward the end of each
trimester to expose those students to what the body really looks
like. Several of our students will spend an hour or more in the lab
going through some general parts of the anatomy, and explaining
function, etc. I've always been surprised that the other programs
don't have cadaver exposure. I honestly feel that dissecting has
given me invaluable information that there's no way I would have
known otherwise. Even still, when someone asks me a part of the
anatomy, my mind automatically goes to the cadavers to visualize
it. I do this during classes; I've done this during boards. It
helps to actually SEE where the origins and insertions are, how the
vasculature and nerves surround and penetrate the muscles, and how
the muscles layer and invest in each other.
I haven't been in the cadaver lab since I finished that portion
of basic sciences several tris ago. I'm REALLY looking forward to
it. I think most of the other student-instructors will be from
basic science tris. It'll be fun to get to interact with them.
That's a privilege I don't often get.
On Saturday, I went to the Gluten Free for Life Expo. Last year
Grey and I went, walked through, and received a ton of samples,
coupons, and business cards from local gluten free businesses. This
year, I was by myself, as Grey was at an FBLA conference. I ran
into Julia, my classmate, and her daughter-in-law, Stephanie.
Beyond running into them and seeing my friend who runs a local
acupuncture clinic, the expo was a total waste. And it wasn't just
because of the samples and coupons -- which I guess were there --
it was because of the quality of products. If you've ever been to a
health food store (and I'm guessing all of us have), you've seen
that there's just as much junk food there, as there is at any other
store. It's labeled as "organic" or "all-natural" or "healthy", but
the difference is only that they use sugar instead of corn syrup,
organic versus conventional, and substitute refined with less
refined. That doesn't make any of it healthy.
So, I talked with the reps for a company (that I won't name),
because they recently reformulated their products. They are
dedicated to having gluten free, GMO free products. I respect this
tremendously, however, they still have some pretty big problems.
Previously, they were using sorghum flour -- which has been a
staple in gluten free cooking for a while. Even I have used it on a
regular basis (although not for several years). The rep mentioned
that they were having problems with their sorghum flour becoming
contaminated with GMO soy. So they changed formularies and started
using buckwheat and millet instead. The problem is, that these
other grains contain lectins, in very high quantity. Lectins, in
brains, beans, and potatoes, cause disruption of the tight
junctions in the gut -- leading to leaky gut. Leaky gut leads to
food intolerance, inflammation, and lipopolysaccharide invasion
(toxins from gram negative bacteria that naturally live in the
gut). Big problem. Check this out: The
Lowdown on Lectins. And if you're a real glutton for punishment
Dietary Lectins as Disease Causing Toxicants
for far more in depth information.
So, I talked to the rep about how the choices they've made in
substitutions are likely to affect their customers. The lady didn't
have a clue what I was talking about. But she seemed pretty scared
in response and said she'd pass it on to their recipe people. I'm
sure it won't go any further. I looked through the ingredient list
on EVERY product they had there. The few that didn't have millet or
buckwheat had TONS of sugar. *sigh* Gluten free isn't always healthy.
Since my "conversion" to mostly Paleo, I just can't look at food
the same way. I'm always thinking about the grain or carbohydrate
content, how much I'm allowing my gut to be exposed to the lectins
and sugar, and what it's doing to me. I'd say I'm about 80% Paleo
now. I go back and forth -- trying to only have rice a couple times
a week, and sugar maybe once. It IS a struggle sometimes,
especially when I'm stressed out. But I feel SO much better.
And before I go, I've wanted to share this guy with you all for
quite some time. He stands outside a defunct mini-golf turned car
dealership parking lot. I often wonder why he's still here -- maybe
it's because he's so awesome. I haven't come up with a name for him
yet. I'm willing to entertain suggestions. There are lots of
oddities around St. Pete.
Have a great week everybody.
Did everybody enjoy the long weekend? Wow! What a weekend?!?
First, I need to say thank all the powers of the Universe for
days off. I've been sneezing my fool head off ever since, but I
spent most of the day cleaning. Having a clean house is Zen. I can
now sit in the middle of my living room in the lotus position
holding my fingers together. I won't (because I don't have time),
but the important thing is -- I CAN.
I spent some time out in the world this weekend, when I wasn't
cleaning or studying. We get so sheltered, living in academia, that
we forget how different it is. I came across a lot of stigma about
chiropractic. Education helps fix that. Sometimes people just have
to be exposed to what we're doing, what we're learning and
practicing, and the basis for our practices in order to step beyond
the conditioning they've received. Some won't. And that's OK. We'll
love them anyway.
I received a big reminder about how difficult it is to practice
"lifestyle medicine." We spend a lot of our time talking about
changes that have to be made to the diet or lifestyle. I honestly
don't know how many times a week that I tell someone something
like, "Well, that could be fixed with removing XYZ from the diet."
Here's the thing though: People don't want to remove XYZ from their
diet. We're all familiar with people who continue to eat fast food
or candy or soda and their effects on the body. We're also familiar
with how many of those people end up injecting insulin or taking
metformin. People do not respond well to change. The prevailing
opinion is that it's easier to either accept the condition they
have (and the symptom management) rather than to prevent or cure
the issue by making change.
I'm honestly not sure where this mentality comes from. Perhaps
it's the American adage that a pill fixes everything. I have a hard
time believing that people are that *bad word alert* lazy (sorry).
For some that I've talked to, they can't believe that making a
change to their diet or activity levels will make them feel better,
or that they've tried everything and nothing has worked. After all,
they're dealing with complex health issues like autoimmune
disorders, diabetes, and heart disease. Some will listen to reason
and participate in education and others won't. Age doesn't seem to
have a bearing on this -- people of all ages fall into this
grouping. Perhaps I'd be the best physician ever, if I could figure
out what would get through to people that have this block. But for
right now, I'm struggling with the acceptance (which really sounds
like defeat) that people have of their dysfunctions, and the lack
of willingness to do anything about it. On compliance with lifestyle recommendations --
what do you think?
Since stress management is a big part of lifestyle, here is a
sunset picture I took on Monday. Remember. Zen.
As a self-reported "lifestyle change queen", I'm all too ready
to make changes in my own life with the goal of feeling better. Dr
S. tells us, as students, that we need to try things in order to be
able to recommend them to our patients (speaking of dietary
changes). Given that one of my own issues is Celiac disease, a
change in lifestyle was the ONLY option for becoming healthy. I
can't even begin to express how drastically my life changed in
response to that.
Some changes are harder to make. Cutting down my rice
consumption has been one of them. I'm down to only 2-3 servings per
week at this point. But others are so much easier. For me, it comes
down to the information, and hope. How will I feel once this change
has been made? What are the possibilities? What information can I
find that supports this decision?
Is there a change that you need to make? What's stopping you?
What if you felt a million times better, increased the quality and
quantity of your life, and it only took a short period of
Maybe these are the questions we should be asking our (future)
Have an amazing week, everyone.
The calendar says it's fall. I never would have known. I'm
honestly ready for the weather to be cooler. It's about this time
that I start missing Home. Around this time of year the leaves
would be falling, it would be sweater weather, and somebody,
somewhere, would be throwing a hayride in a pumpkin patch. Surely
the scents of firewood and burning marshmallows waft through the
air somewhere on this planet right now.
(Image source: timeatthetable.org)
Midterms have already started. So far there's been one. There
are two this week and the week after and I don't even want to look
at my schedule after that because I know it's UGLY. Things are
going so fast. My fellow students are already making plans to go
Home on Thanksgiving break. I'm inclined to bake and sew and do all
the things I used to do when the weather would normally cool off.
One of these days I might have to turn the AC down to 60º in the
house and curl up in a blanket just to get the same effect. I guess
there's something that I'll never get used to about being here in
We're coming up on Halloween and there's a big Halloween potluck
sponsored by the Motion Palpation Club. We're all discussing
costumes for the event. I don't want to ruin it for anyone--so I
won't drop ideas or tell what I've heard. I imagine we'll have some
amazing costumes. We've got some crafty and creative
people--especially in my tri. So, I can't imagine what they'll come
I'm still working on my marketing project. I present right
before Thanksgiving and I have so much work left to do. I'm
inclined to go off the deep end and jump headfirst into my most
ideal practice's business plan. I've got some pretty lofty
ambitions with a pretty broad scope. Some may not even be feasible.
I don't know that it will ever happen, but a girl can dream, can't
she? My classmates and I have traded ideas in the hallway, while
waiting for class to start, and in the parking lot - but I don't
think that anyone has actually laid everything down in some type of
Special thanks to Dr. Jourdan, who is letting me exercise my
baking muscle and have someplace to share my baked goods (so I
don't eat them all myself). We've been having "Breakfast Friday" or
this next week "Coffee Monday." This week it's cheesecake (gluten
free, of course). I'm hoping to convert more of my recipes to
Paleo--including this one. It shouldn't be too hard. This
recipe is VERY simple--few ingredients and easy to adapt.
Andrea's Favorite Simple
The conversion to Paleo will probably start with using coconut
sugar in place of regular sugar. I'm not sure that vanilla is Paleo
friendly, but I could probably use powdered vanilla bean instead of
liquid vanilla (never use imitation vanilla--it contains
The crumbs could be anything. I'm sure I can come up with a
Paleo friendly cookie of some sort. I've made cheesecake crusts
with everything from brownie crusts to homemade graham crackers.
Hopefully by the end of the year I'll have accomplished this. I've
also made this recipe gluten free and vegan before. Just substitute
Tofutti cream cheese or rice based cream cheese (if you can find
it) instead. It was actually richer than the dairy based version.
You can also add an orange oil or lemon oil to the cheesecake to
make it more flavorful.
Good luck on all the midterms coming up, everybody. I'm planning
a series of blogs with something unique for all of you--maybe
starting next week. We shall see.
If you make the cheesecake, drop me a line and let me know how
you like it and what ingredients you used. Enjoy!
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
• First Week in Student Clinic
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