Archive for tag: diet

Why You Shouldn't Go on a Diet - The Anti-Diet

Dear NUHS, 

Hope everyone is having a great week and had a wonderful day off! This week I wanted to give you a little background on some things I've been thinking about and working on. It revolves around failing at getting people on diets (and eating healthy). Sound like something we might be doing in practice? 

Diet and Exercise. It's almost cliché. It's the answer to preventing and curing A LOT (if not most) of all the pathologies that will walk into our offices. Everybody and their grandmother's best friend's uncle once removed knows that diet and exercise is good for them. Even chiropractic students are poor eaters and don't exercise. This makes me mad. Not mad, but concerned. If we are supposed to help people live healthy lifestyles and most of the current student body doesn't eat or exercise as well as they should, what makes them think their patients will magically follow them? The rest of this post attempts to answer: WHYYY DOESN'TTT ANYONEEE DO IT?!?!?!?! 

Habits Make Perfect. Overhauls Make Failures. 

Baby Steps is to Walking, as Habits are to Long-Term Fitness/Health 

How did you learn to read and write? How did you learn to ride a bike? Step-by-Step. One skill built on top of the next. Think you can beat Lance Armstrong before you can take off the training wheels? It's going to take more than living strong buddy.... 

Let's imagine that every diet was created equal and could have incredible results if your patient stuck to it. A study found that even when patients were taking LIFE SAVING medicine they were only 50% likely to even take the SAVE THEIR LIVES. That pretty much screws us on fixing their diet and exercise regimes, right? Well, if you look at the problem like everyone else. If you're willing to look at their long-term goals instead of short term, then you can indeed fix it. Let me explain.

An overweight, pre-diabetic, syndrome X patient walks into your office. Clearly, adjusting isn't fixing this one. They need diet and exercise. You put them on a diet and exercise program that they start. Two-three weeks later, they are down 10 lbs., feel great, and their cholesterol is naturally dropping. AWESOME. They are satisfied everything is working and their initial enthusiasm waxes and wanes and suddenly, boom, they fall off the wagon. Sound familiar? Why?

Take a step back and ask what you are asking them to do. You are asking them to change A LOT more than just the food they put in their mouth. You are asking them to change how they SHOP, prepare food, pack their lunch, eat breakfast (which could be a sleep habit change too!), and even change some social situations (like learning how to order healthier options), and many people may have to learn to cook. Wow. Now do you see why the simple answer of diet and exercise has a long-term success rate of about 2%? You can't fix the patient without actually affecting their HABITS. That's the answer.


My Answer: "Do you brush your teeth and wear your seatbelt?"

Them: "Yes. Why?"

Me: "Well, those are considered HEALTHY, but you didn't learn to do that in one day. You developed those HABITS over days, weeks, months, years, and now you don't even notice or think about doing them. They are just a part of your life."

Habitual Evolution 

So, the answer to how to increase the reliability, effectiveness, success rate of your diet and exercise program is to develop habits that evolve your patient's lives. Everyone I've ever interviewed that was a healthy eater consistently, was:

  1. NOT on an "official diet." (They may have started on one, but have tweaked it for their needs and preferences to make it work. Key.)
  2. had educated themselves consistently on the benefits of healthy eating and become knowledgeable. (This helps them reinforce their habits with validation.)
  3. had learned how to shop for healthy food.
  4. had incorporated these habits CONSISTENTLY over a period of time until it became second nature!

Get Started Right Meow! 5 Habits That Change Lives!

  1. Eat 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up.
  2. Eat a handful of veggies with every meal.
  3. Stop eating white colored foods: bread, milk, rice, sugar.
  4. Don't drink calories: only water and teas.
  5. Get 8 hours of sleep/night.

When and How to Start a Habit (and When to Advance) 

  1. ONLY, ONLY, ONLY, choose 1 habit at a time. Period. Simple is king to long-term wins.
  2. ONLY choose a habit if you are a "9" on a confidence scale of 1-10 that you will do this habit for 2 weeks.
  3. ONLY ADVANCE to pick another habit once you've done either the current habit every day for 2 weeks or you are confidant 9/10 you can take on the next one. If you miss a day, ADD 3 more days to your 2-week period to complete the habit. The key is to incorporate the habit so much that it becomes second nature.
  4. DOWNLOAD the 'LIFT' app on your Iphone. You can add a habit to your app and then every day you do it, you can click on the check mark and it automatically tracks your results. I LOVE THIS APP AND IT'S FREE. Do it.


Well, that should get you on your way to winning the game of long-term health! Remember: It's not about 30-day diet compliance, it's "in 30 years will you still be eating healthy and exercising?" Focus on habits and the big picture for true disease prevention.

Peace out cub scouts,

Testosterone and Flax: A Male Nightmare?

Hola! Hope everyone had a relaxing week because mine was all over the place. By now my head has been spinning like a top for 48 hours since Friday's 'after' blood tests came in. Before I get to that I wanted to talk about Tri Games.

So what are Tri Games?

Every trimester National has a friendly sports competition between all the tris. In the fall, it was flag football; but on Friday it was DODGEBALL! I was so excited to find out that we were going to play a school-wide organized dodge ball tournament! Our trimester had not made a good showing in the fall tri games by getting knocked out in the earliest round, so this winter we were up to avenge our pride.

How did we do this time? We rocked! We steam rolled our way to the finals proudly sporting our tri colors (yellow) only to lose against the superman dressed Tri 5's (blue). The whole thing was run in the gym and there was plenty of laughs, sore rotator cuffs, (I couldn't feel my arm after the finals), and Dr. Darby? Yes, even Dr. Darby (our neuroanatomy teacher) made a surprise visit and cheered us on. Perhaps it was because she had just graded our neuro written midterms and wanted to see our smiling faces before we saw our actual grades! (perhaps not ;) Nonetheless, the whole event was an absolute blast and a wonderful excuse to throw out your shoulder trying to establish top tri dominance! 

Top -dodgeball

So what about those blood tests?

Well, my 'after' blood tests came in this week and I was expecting great results considering my bio-impedance came back rather phenomenally. At my meeting before with Dr. Anderson, he spilled the beans by saying I was going to be "surprised." I was rather dumbfounded until I got to read my 'after' testosterone. It had PLUMMETED in HALF (I can't recall exact numbers but 600 to 300 something)! I was shocked and nobody in clinic knew how the heck that would be possible. I gained 20 lbs. of muscle and lost fat and did it on half the testosterone? You're running a fun joke aren't you? Apparently not. 

So I left the clinic with a rather strange taste in my mouth. The kind of taste you don't know whether to be excited or scared. Had I miscalculated my diet? Had I not consumed enough fat? Had I eaten too much for my body? Had I taxed my endocrine system? Was the trend to continue downward? My mind was absolutely (and still is) spinning. My cholesterol, despite eating a pound of grass fed beef and 4 eggs a day stayed about the same (within a point or too difference), which defied some conventional cholesterol theory. I had been comfortable with that, however, more and more research is now showing that saturated fat and exogenous cholesterol (dietary) are not the bad culprits of heart disease and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) as once thought (refined carbs are). 

However, this made the previous finding of lowered testosterone even more plaguing. I had eaten PLENTY of fat (60% of my diet) and protein (25%) to have PLENTY of building blocks for hormone precursors but something happened along the way that screwed that up. What could it be? 

Flax: A Misunderstood Male Nightmare? 

About 10 minutes after I got home from the clinic, I went to make a shake and low and behold grabbed a jar of my favorite almond/flax seed nut butter from the fridge. I ate A LOT of this to increase my calories, fat and protein to hit the lofty goals I set for my food intake over the last month. I looked down at the jar and did one of those grossly exaggerated double takes. Flax seed! WHOA. What's the matter with flax seed? 

It's estrogenic! Apparently VERY estrogenic. It contains phytoestrogens not unlike soy, yet the research isn't as clear as it is with soy on the ill effects of flax when over-consumed. It seems I became a guinea pig for flax seed consumption warnings. I did a couple pub med searches without a whole lot of findings until Dr. Anderson found one that said 30g/day of flax didn't have a 'statistically significant' drop in testosterone levels. The problem? I was consuming on AVERAGE 150g and up to 240g a few times. It wasn't all flax (mixed with almond butter) but at those levels who knows. Another cited study confirmed it was possible.  

Next Order of Action? 

Well, if you want your manhood to stay in tact (I assume you do) and not grow breast tissue (I assume you don't) it's time to rethink how much flax you want to consume as a male. If you were to read the benefits of flax you'd think it was a super food that should be consumed all the time for its omega 3's that fight inflammation and speed healing time. However, if you take things to the edge, which I have, a weird knack for doing, then you may want to reign in the "everything in moderation" button. 

So, will I start losing my hair and libido? No. Will I be cutting flax out of my diet and retesting in a month to make sure I'm back on track? Heck, yes.

Sooo much fun is there!