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.
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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.
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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.
Summer is in full swing here (not that it hasn't been for
several months). The temperatures are consistently over 90; the
daily Florida rainstorms are happening; and we're expecting our
first Tropical Storm/Hurricane tomorrow. By the way, I'm not even
White Coat Ceremony
I had the great joy of being a part of the White Coat Ceremony
for the 1st Trimester students. It's such a different experience to
be on the opposite side of the stage. As an 8th trimester student,
I'm looking at this from the other side of Basic Sciences, Phase 2
Clinical Sciences, and the first round of boards. I know that I
didn't have any idea what was in store for me when I was on that
stage. I was nervous, excited, and scared. I didn't know how hard
of a road it was going to be, how much I would learn, and what
challenges I would face. If I could give one piece of advice to
incoming students and students in the early tris, it would be this:
be dedicated; be tenacious; but be kind to yourself. This is a
long, hard road--but all the stress, work, and pain is worth
Educating the Uneducated
I want to revisit a topic that I've touched on before:
education about the profession. Misconceptions
about chiropractic, our education, and what we do run rampant in
society. Just yesterday, I received a graphic on Facebook from a
very popular site that listed us as "Quacks." They've published
similar graphics/articles before. I'm not going to name them,
because I don't want to endorse; that's not the point here. There
is still the misconception out there, that we're all trying to
alter "the force," and that by believing the body has the ability
to heal itself, we're a bunch of lunatics. A large portion of the
public believes that we only associate well-being with the spine,
and that we only treat the spine. They're uneducated about how
extensive our training in physiology, microbiology, pathology,
pharmacology, biochemistry, and nutrition (to name a few) actually
is. They don't know that many of us are evidence-based,
research-oriented, internal medicine-focused students and
This is a call to arms, my friends and colleagues. We have to
change this; right now. Chances are that if your friends and family
have kept touch with you during your educational escapades, that
they're familiar with what you're doing, and probably support you.
For those reading the blog that aren't students (or prospective
students), chances are you're reading this blog because you support
the institution or someone involved in it. So I realize, by saying
all of this, that I'm preaching to the choir. But what about
everybody else? What about the people we meet on the street? What
about our Facebook friends that live far and wide? What about all
of the misconceptions floating around about who we are and what we
Chiropractic Association lobbies in Washington for chiropractic
legislation, but we don't have a cohesive organization that handles
education of the public. We are it. We are the educators.
I'm going to challenge each and every one of you, to go out
there and share what you do, what your training is, how our
education is different, and how we are making a difference in
health and well-being. For those that are supporters of the field,
I thank you for that. I'm going to challenge you as well, to share
your knowledge and experience of the field of chiropractic with
those around you. Let them know how we're making a difference.
Have a great week everybody, and a safe and happy 4th of
How are everyone's midterms going? I'm on break from the
master's program. I had finals last week. I'm glad to have a couple
of weeks off to catch up on a few things, including all the reading
that I didn't get done during the quarter. My pile is still
astronomically large. We'll see how much I can get done. I figure
if I don't get it done before classes start there again, it's
probably a lost cause.
Last weekend, my friend and classmate Julia, went to homecoming
at the main campus in Lombard. I want to say, to everyone there in
Lombard, thanks for taking such great care of her! She had glowing
remarks for everyone that she met. There were meetings and events,
information sessions, etc. She was able to meet Dr. James Cox (of
Cox flexion-distraction fame), and many of our illustrious
Dr. Strauss and Florida students with Dr. Cox at
Julia was able to reassure us students about one of the issues
that we find frustrating. We are always hearing that we'll not be
able to find jobs or make a decent salary. Even though I've yet to
meet anyone at school that's "in it for the money," we're all
hoping that we'll be able to make enough to at least pay back our
student loans, and maybe have enough for food. Even speakers that
have come to the school (non-alumni) have commented that it would
be tough for us to make a living.
The problem is, with all of my research, and all of the alums
that I've spoken to and heard from indirectly, this is FAR from the
case. Julia confirmed this when she spoke with alumni at
homecoming. She said that everyone that was doing VERY well for
themselves. People were not only successful and able to pay back
their loans, but also contribute back to the school. It was
inspirational for her that not only would we be out and in the
community, but thriving. I'm glad she shared that with me, because
I needed the inspiration as well.
We're finally starting to see the light at the end of the
tunnel. It's halfway through 8th Tri. In a few months, we'll only
be in the clinic. No more classes. No more random exams. No more
quizzes, papers, or random presentations. It's been REALLY easy to
lose track of time this tri. Alarmingly easy. I've been caught up
with patients, in my own stuff, with the master's, and classes. I
honestly can't wait for classes to be over.
I was asked today how I liked clinic. I've said this before, and
I'll say it again -- I love it. I love the idea of being able to do
this every day. Even with the challenging cases (my favorites), the
idea of being challenged to learn all the time is exciting. I never
know what I'm walking into, and I find that absolutely enthralling.
I can't imagine any kind of job, ever, that would be anything like
this. When I'm in clinic working, I am more than pleased with my
Have a great week everybody!
You're not behind the desk, you're sitting in the chair next to
it. Waiting. Waiting, for what seems like FOREVER for them to come
look at you, examine you, swab, cut, bleed, sample, whatever you.
They're taking forever. You feel wretched. Everything aches,
stings, hurts. You're tired from staying up all night worrying,
hurting, stressing. You only want to know what's going on and you
feel like you're simply the only person on the face of the planet,
and no one is able or willing to help you.
I'm trying to explain what it feels like to be sick -- to be
frustrated with the status of the medical profession and confused
and angry and scared. I'm trying to explain what it feels like, no
matter how melodramatic it may be, to feel like someone else has
control over your health, what's wrong, and if and when you'll get
better. There's a feeling of being completely helpless that comes
with being sick -- when there's pain, when there's no observable
pattern or relatively easy diagnosis, or when it just seems to drag
on forever. It's a feeling that no one seems to understand -- like
being held hostage by something or someone and being powerless to
do anything about it. And it doesn't go away -- that feeling --
until there's some grasp over the problem, like some answer, lab
result, diagnosis, something, ANYTHING that seems to give some
control over the situation.
If you, as a person, have never felt this way, count yourself
lucky. But many others can't say that. Our patients likely can't
say that. They come to us hoping for understanding and compassion,
and the willingness and ability to find out what's wrong. I only
hope that they find it.
It's hard to be the patient when you're used to being the
physician. It's also hard to be a physician when you've never been
a patient. William Hurt, in a 1991 movie called "The Doctor"
illustrated just this. Having been an important, influential
physician, he finds himself with cancer -- and realizes just how
horrible of a physician (no matter how skilled) he (and some of his
colleagues) could be.
People come to us in their worst conditions. They're not always
in a good mood. They're not always understanding of our limitations
as physicians (or students). They come to us seeking help and
advice -- and of course, our expertise. Finding answers is what
we're supposed to do. It's what our training is based in and what
we've been working towards for our academic/professional
But all of that training only provides a fraction of what our
patients need from us. They need our compassion and understanding.
This isn't taught in school. It comes from within, and
unfortunately, it comes from experience.
(Image source: hopeinhealingblog.wordpress.com)
For some of us, it's been sickness that has made us this way --
or abuse, or poverty, or just LIFE. For others, it's those things
that are in the process of making them that way.
Be kind to each other this week, Everybody. Have a great
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:
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
• First Week in Student Clinic
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