It’s Time To Re-Frame Nutrition In Medicine

This was an article I wrote for one of my nutrition classes, but I think it’s appropriate for my blog as well. I’m very passionate about applying nutrition in a medical setting. We know it can be beneficial for certain medical conditions and it may save a lot of money for the patient as well. Who doesn’t want to keep some extra dough?? This article is a bit more science-y than my typical posts, so I tried my best to touch it up for y’all so it’s easier to read and understand. If you have any questions on something, contact me and I’d be happy to clear up any confusion.

Re-framing Nutrition In Medicine

Western medicine has been the go-to approach for treating illness and health conditions. The process is the patient sees a physician; they explain the symptoms they are experiencing. Then, the doctor then runs a series of tests to determine the proper diagnosis. Once the illness is discovered, the patient is likely prescribed pharmaceuticals (drugs) to improve their conditions and get them better. This is an effective process as drug companies would not be so profitable if their products did not work. Prescription drugs are effective for treating the conditions that they were created for; however, this often comes with a few consequences.

First, the cost of the drug itself can vary. Some are inexpensive whereas others may break the bank and insurance may not fully cover the cost, leaving the patient to pay out of pocket, causing additional financial stress for them.

Second, drugs may have side effects that could make the patient even sicker than they were before beginning the treatment. In that case, they may need to take even more drugs to treat those side effects, and the cycle-and financial stress-could perpetuate.

Finally, drugs don’t encourage habits. This is a problem often overlooked. If left alone to improve their conditions without proper education, the patient may bounce back if they don’t understand how to stay healthy. Habits allow for that long-term improvement in health, as the patient becomes more independent in caring for their self.

Nutrition is one solution that should be explored in greater detail to avoid the excessive costs of western medicine and the side effects of drugs. This article IS NOT saying traditional medicine does not work or that we’re making people worse off. That is not my belief at all. I have no doubt in my mind that western medicine is effective. However, I think we have been under-utilizing our Registered Dietitians for treatment of medical conditions that are preventable with nutrition and lifestyle changes. I’m not one of those tinfoil hat wearing people that think doctors want us to get sicker so we have to pay them more. That’s absurd and please don’t fall into that conspiracy-theory trap.

To date, much of the research on Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) has been conducted on diabetic patients, but the findings are promising.

In particular, one study found not only significant improvements in diabetic health markers, but some of the patients were also on an oral agent and still saw improved conditions1. This implies that nutrition may be just as effective as some drugs at treating Type 2 diabetes and possibly other preventable conditions like hypertension or obesity. In this study published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 247 participants were randomly assigned (random assignment allows for greater accuracy in the results) to two MNT groups that differed on the degree of care provided by the RD while there was an additional comparison group of 63 individuals who received no MNT1. All the participants were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

At 6 months, both MNT groups had experienced statistically significant improvements in HbA1c and fasting plasma glucose1. When results in scientific research are statistically significant, it means that there is a strong likelihood that we know a certain treatment has a direct effect on something else, and it wasn’t just by chance we got a certain result. Also, HbA1c and fasting plasma glucose are markers for tracking diabetics’ ability to control the spikes in blood sugar. As they improve, patients’ ability to manage their blood sugar improves. The comparison group saw no changes.

Often, Registered Dietitians and other nutrition professionals take a back seat to the physician and other primary care providers, boxing nutrition services into “complementary” or “alternative” medicine. With this comes a connotation that RDs aren’t as competent or capable of treating certain illnesses than typical health care providers.

It’s time to refrain nutrition care and dietitians into the same box that medical doctors are in. For conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, Medical Nutrition Therapy has been shown frequently to be effective. In addition, cost savings may occur as well due to elimination or reduction of pharmaceutical bills.

While there are not as many studies available that demonstrate the effectiveness of nutrition as medicine for other conditions like heart disease and obesity, it can be implied that MNT would be effective for these conditions because they fall under the same category as Type 2 Diabetes: preventative and highly influenced by lifestyle factors.

Just as lifestyle behaviors can lead to these conditions, so too can they lead away from them. It’s important to understand the value that nutrition has in healthcare and medicine. Patients and healthcare professionals alike should educate themselves on the advantages of a healthy eating pattern (diet). This way, success for you, the patient, can be lifelong, and free of dependence on a pill for life.

References:

  1. Franz MJ, Monk A, Barry B, et al. Effectiveness of Medical Nutrition Therapy Provided by Dietitians in the Management of Non–Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1995;95(9):1009-1017. doi:10.1016/s0002-8223(95)00276-6.
Advertisements

3 Types Of Misinformation + How To Protect Yourself From The BS Part 2

Welcome back! I’m glad you’re interested in checkin’ yourself before you wreck yourself! Let’s jump right into it. A lot of what I discuss here is mostly just personal experience and observations, so it may be a bit more informal than usual. LET’S DO THIS.

If you don’t have the time to read the full article, summary points are at the bottom of the page

Protecting Yourself From The Interweb Snake Oil Salesman

Too Good To Be True?

My personal favorite screening process to do when I come across something questionable is this: Ask yourself if the claim you’re seeing is too good to be true. “Lose 20 pounds in a week, eh? This seems too good to be true.” If an analysis like that goes through your head, It’s very likely that the claim/product doesn’t work and the company or person is just trying to make money to no benefit for you.

 

“All-or-nothing-ers”

Next up is the “All-or-nothing-ers”. What I mean by this is if someone tells you that a certain Thing A delivers Result B 100% of the time or that Result B ALWAYS happens, run away. Almost nothing in any field of science (nutrition and exercise included) is absolute. Even that previous statement wasn’t absolute! This means that there is always an exception to the rules in science.

For example, when someone says “All sugar is bad and sugar will make you fat rah rah rah!”. That’s a statement that falsely encompasses all foods containing sugar as “bad”, whatever that means. If someone can say that an entire nutrient is harmful, they better have some damn good evidence to support it. HINT: They won’t because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

To summarize, words like “always, never, it’s proven that.., believe, every time”. Anything that boxes your choices down to “this or that” is likely a red flag. There’s over 7 billion people on the planet, I can’t think of anything that can be narrowed down to just two options that would categorize everyone in the world properly.

The mark of a credible (and sometimes frustrating) source are key phrases like “may, could, potentially, theory, likely, etc.”. The difference here lies in the degree of certainty in each word. The only thing we can be certain of is our uncertainty! Feel free to use that quote. I said frustrating because we just want a precise answer, but credible, no BS people know that that usually isn’t the case, unfortunately.

If you are unsure of the source, claim, whatever it may be, ask the person pushing the product or idea why this thing is effective. Ask them to provide evidence in the form of peer-reviewed research, the creme-de-la creme of credibility!

Now, not all credible things or people are supported with science 100% of the time. There’s that exception again! It’s your job to make an informed decision on who and what to trust. One thing you could to is to look at past clients or users of a product/service and ask them if they liked it and found it effective. If you’re still unsure, that’s probably a sign from your intuition that it isn’t the right choice for you.

Fear not! That doesn’t mean you should stop your fitness journey! This information should arm you with knowledge to help me wage war on the internet gurus and BS people of the world. That’s what I feel like I’m here to do.

Anyway, back to the goodness.

My Way Or The Highway

This person is closely related to the “all-or-nothing-er” in that they believe the “schools” of nutrition and/or exercise they ascribe to are the only righteous way to train/eat. If you go against them, you are wrong and stupid.

If a person is very close-minded about other ideas and viewpoints, especially when presented evidence that goes against their ideas, run away from them.

Fear Mongering

This one makes me sick. This is where people prey on the lack of knowledge of someone and make them feel like they need a certain product or service in order to be healthy, lose weight, not get cancer, whatever it may be. It’s very sad because not everyone has the time to study nutrition, so it’s up to those who do to provide the correct information. Rather, these assholes exploit that lack of information for financial gain.

If someone is trying to scare you into buying/doing something, it’s likely BS and they just want money.

Cookie Cutter BS

Next on this list of BS-I apologize in advance if this web page smells whenever you open it because of all the BS-is cookie cutter programs! It’s very easy to be a fitness/nutrition coach nowadays, just look good and people will ask how you got there! Often, the person doesn’t actually know, so they just hand out programs based on “what worked for me” or they just put together some quick list of exercises or foods and want $200.

Don’t fall for the trap. If they’re an online coach and it seems like they always have spots open, that likely means that people are dropping them and/or they’re taking on WAY more people than they can adequately coach, lowering the quality of the service.

Proprietary Blends

Another red flag is what is known as a proprietary blend. Typically, you will find this term on supplement labels. A proprietary blend is a special chemical formula that a supplement company will use to create products.

The problem with these blends is that the company can put whatever quantity of ingredient they want without making it clear the amount per serving. For example, a pre-workout may contain caffeine, a common ingredient in this supplement that stimulates and increases focus in many people. If the product is a proprietary blend, they can put either 500mg or 5mg of caffeine. You’ll feel 500mg while the 5mg likely won’t affect you at all. But, they don’t have to tell you how much is contained per serving because of the “proprietary blend”.

My advice? Just don’t buy products that hide behind this label.

To summarize

  • Ask yourself if the product/claim is too good to be true. It often is
  • Proprietary blends for supplements usually mask a gimmick disguised as an exclusive formula.
  • “Always, never, it’s proven that.., believe, every time” BAD
  • “May, could, potentially, theory, likely” GOOD
  • Close-minded people don’t deserve your attention in the fitness world jut as much as they don’t in the political world.
  • Cookie cutter programs and constant open coaching spots are a big red flag for low quality

Did I miss anything? Have you come across misinformation-read:bullshit-in a different form? Share it here and help me fight the crap!

References

¹ Celiac Disease Facts and Figures-University of Chicage Medicine

 

 

The 2017 ISSN Conference (Upcoming Blogs!)

HOLY COW!

This year, I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference in Phoenix. The leading minds in the fields of sports nutrition and exercise science came together to share their research, observations, and best practices for athletic performance, building muscle, and weight loss, among other topics. I was like a sponge, attending as many of the lectures as I could and frantically typing as much as I could into a Google Doc. I also met a few of my favorite researchers and figures in these fields (see below). I am confident that some of them will make an appearance on the podcast. Super excited!

I came out with 7 pages of notes that I am really looking forward to share with all of you. Some of the lectures were tough to follow as I’m still learning myself, but I’m going to post about as much as I can while making sure you get some good information out of it that you can use in your own life. So get excited! Here is the list of topics that I’m going to be covering that were inspired by attending the conference:

  • Different diets and how to utilize them effectively to reach your goals.
  • What should I use to track my weight loss and fitness progress?
  • Want to build muscle? Caloric surplus is the answer.
  • Which diet works?
  • Most diets are effective
  • How much protein should I consume as an athlete? All of it.
  • Focus on a long-term approach to dieting rather than the short-term for success and health
  • Losing weight isn’t the problem in the US
  • Rep Ranges…What’s the best approach?

I am very excited to roll out these posts and information for everyone to learn and get better. Be on the lookout for more posts and podcasts from The Agora and check out some of the amazing people I met at the conference below!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’re On Itunes Y’all!

Everyone (Which means probably all two of you who read my blog lolz.), we’re officially on Itunes!

Click the link here, subscribe, rate five stars, and share with your friends to help me spread the word and rid the world of misinformation!

I’m really excited to create more episodes for the podcast because I believe it’s an amazing platform to share information.

For me personally, I listen to them in the morning while I prepare my breakfast or any meal for that matter. I also will listen to them in the car, when walking to places, and even while writing articles! If I ever did cardio, I’d definitely listen to them during that as well.

There’s so many opportunities to learn with podcasts, and that’s why I’m so pumped about them. I hope you’ll give it a listen and, more importantly, learn something from it. 

Sohee Lee: The lean, mean, psychology-studying, macro-killing machine!

Welcome to episode #1! Technically, this was the first episode we made, but we had some complications with it, but it’s back! We’re honored to have Sohee Lee on the show! You’ll learn about why women should embrace the weights, her personal experience with eating disorders and how she overcame it, how to stand out from the crowd as an entrepreneur in the fitness world, and so much more!

Sohee Lee: The lean, mean, psychology, macro-killing machine!

Welcome to episode #1! Technically, this was the first episode we made, but we had some complications with it, but it’s back! We’re honored to have Sohee Lee on the show! You’ll learn about why women should embrace the weights, her personal experience with eating disorders and how she overcame it, how to stand out from the crowd as an entrepreneur in the fitness world, and so much more!

Basic Nutrition To Fuel Your Not-So-Basic Life Part 1: Protein

You work hard in life. Maybe you go to the gym, cycle, dance, play a sport, or are even just someone who’s constantly on the go, running from place to place. OR, maybe you just eat food! If you identify with any of these things, and you should, then read on and learn how you can fuel your day more efficiently and ultimately get better at what you do through understanding basic nutrition!

Grab some popcorn (it’s high in fiber), let’s begin.

Protein

The darling of nutrition. The golden boy of food! The crème dela crème of bodybuilding! Everyone loves protein and thinks there’s no such thing as too much. But, sorry, there is. More on that later. What is this amazing substance that is responsible for making people jacked and tan?

Functions

Well, protein is one of the three macronutrients that is primarily responsible for yes, building muscle, BUT protein is also responsible for growth, maintenance, and repair of all body tissues. That even includes bones, blood, and nervous tissue. Protein has so many different functions, I could not come close to listing what it does in totality. It would be the world’s longest blog post. So, I’ll list a few primary functions on top of what I already mentioned.

    • Helps with healing wounds quicker
    • Transports nutrients and starts many body processes via hormones (think insulin), chemical neurotransmitters (acetylcholine helps with generating muscle contractions), enzymes, and other messengers
    • MAKING GAINZZZZZZZ
    • Immune health-antibodies are a protein (Low protein diets can increase your risk of getting sick)
    • So much more!1

Also, a useful FYI about protein is that it promotes satiety, which means it helps you feel full. If you have ever eaten a bunch of meat, you get insanely full, and don’t want to eat anything else. So, if you’re looking for something to fill you up quick, protein is a good choice.

How much protein should I eat?

This has been a hotly debated topic since the dawn of man (okay, maybe not that long. But, people have been fighting about it forever). So what do you do?

Well, what I can tell you is that The International Society of Sports Nutrition, an accredited organization that promotes accurate and science-based information for the betterment of athletes and the greater society, has made an official statement regarding the matter.

Their statement reads: “it is the position of the International Society of Sport Nutrition that exercising individuals ingest protein ranging from 1.4 to 2.0 g/kg/day”2. What this means is that for every 1 kilogram of body weight (1kg=2.2lbs) This translates to about 0.6-0.9 grams per pound of body weight. For those who like to exercise, the recommendations extend further. Endurance athletes (running, swimming, etc.) can ingest an amount of protein that is on the lower spectrum and be fine, more intense activities like casual weightlifting can be in the middle of the range, while individuals performing strength and power exercises and movements (olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, rigorous resistance training, etc.) are advised to consume an amount of protein on the higher end of the range.

Now, if you don’t do any type of exercise, first off, DO IT, IT’S AMAZING AND THERE’S SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Second, your protein requirements can fall on the lower end of that range and you should be fine. Even falling slightly below would be okay since there is not an increased demand for protein from exercise. If you do have a physically demanding job, however, I would personally advise to consume protein in the low-moderate range, as hours of light activity can accumulate.

So, what happens if I eat more protein than recommended? Well, first off, don’t be afraid that excess protein will damage your kidneys. Research shows that high protein diets do not harm your kidneys. Read the statement on protein from the ISSN that I cited earlier, and you can see there that high protein diets don’t lead to renal damage.

What it comes down to with higher than 1g protein/lb body weight is that it can be converted to fat and/or get removed from your body through urine. Basically, you’re peeing away money. Fill your diet with more veggies, whole grains, and fruit for the fiber to stay full!

Sources of Protein

There are many sources of protein available to omnivores and vegetarians. Protein that is derived from animals is going to be the best source of protein because it is know as a complete protein. Complete protein sources contain all of the different amino acids, which are the “building blocks” or components of protein. These combine together in infinite combinations to create all the different proteins found in your body. This is why it’s important to vary your protein sources, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.

Unfortunately, non-animal sources of protein such as legumes are not complete sources of protein. If you do not consume meat, it’s necessary to pair different sources of protein when you consume meals. Purdue University has a great short read with a few charts to help you know what to combine for complete protein meals here3. It also has a list of vegetarian protein sources in case you don’t know. FUN FACT: Eggs are a complete protein, so this is an excellent source for non-meat eaters.

I’ll write an article strictly for vegetarian/vegan recommendations in the future. Stay tuned :).

In summary, protein is an amazing macronutrient that helps us get bigger, stronger, keep us functioning normally, and, ultimately, help us get better. You don’t need to go overboard on the amount of protein you eat, regardless of what the huge dude at the gym says, unless you like peeing your money away. Let me know your questions about protein or comment with your favorite protein source, and how you like to prepare it. I’m always looking for new recipes :). Thanks for reading!

References

1The Science of Nutrition by Janice Thompson, Melinda Moore, Linda Vaughn

2https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8

3https://www.four-h.purdue.edu/foods/Vegetarians.htm