One of the most important parts of being a doctor for me is the dedication to continual learning and distribution of this knowledge to the public and my patients. It is a principle and discipline in which I pledged I would partake in when I became a licensed Naturopathic Physician. I purposely schedule a day or two where I’m not obligated to be in the office in order to compile, study, and share the vast medical knowledge from all the conventional and integrative journals, newsletters, teleseminars, and webinars that are available.
I’ve mentioned in my writing before that I don’t feel that our medical system and pitiful world health care ranking is due to a lack of brilliant health care providers. In fact, most conventional doctors can cite their pathophysiology and anatomy in excruciating detail to their colleagues. What I feel is the major contribution to our deterioration of health is the promise of a panacea in which we don’t have to take accountability to change. In this world of quantity over quality and mania over stillness, “health” is considered the absence of symptoms by blocking our biochemistry through pharmaceuticals, or even improperly played nutritional supplement roulette. In this model, the merger of inspiration, wisdom, and knowledge of the body is overlooked in order to obtain relief over healing.
One of my mentors often portrays our addict society as “relief-seeking missiles” in which we don’t need to change our lifestyle, heal our behavior, eat properly, or slow down long enough to receive the message that the body is trying to communicate. We just need to shut it up. In fact, most people are programmed by the promise of pills to take away any “uncomfortable” clues the body gives in order that we can literally keep pushing and eating ourselves to death. It’s this perception that feeds into the lack of change in evidence based medicine to truly embrace and make room for studies that link lifestyle factors to transformation and health.
A study published in JAMA in 2004, called The Healthy Aging: A Longitudinal Study in Europe (HALE), examined the effects of Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle Factors on ten-year mortality rates from all causes, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. During the follow up of the 957 participants, those with healthy diets, who were non-smokers, partook in physical activity, and were moderate in their use of alcohol, had the following results:
Among individuals aged 70 to 90 years, adherence to a Mediterranean diet and healthful lifestyle is associated with a more than 50% lower rate of all-causes and cause-specific mortality.
Can you imagine marketing a pill with a 50% lower rate of all cause and cause-specific mortality with no side effects expect longevity and a life better lived? The problem with marketing this effect is it doesn’t come with one pop of a bottle and a gulp of water, it comes with changing behavior and following through with suggestions.
Most research now is focusing on the million dollar pathways to turn down inflammation in order to shut off pain signals and symptoms of many common ailments. The problem with the approach of suppression without addressing the flame is that we keep fueling the fire. Who wants to stop eating inflammatory fats and foods which promote an immune response due to sensitivities? What will happen if we actually stop and listen? Would we see how tired we’ve actually become without running on adrenaline? When we don’t pay attention to what is going on in the inside, we feel effects in our lives that spill into our relationships. Could this be one reason why, according to the American Psychological Association, that depression affects approximately 10% of population and is the number one cause of disability in age group 15-44?
In a webinar provided by the Institute of Functional Medicine, Dr. Hedya brilliantly demonstrated how mood and the immune system are connected. Various studies have demonstrated how chronic inflammation can lead to damage to the lining of the intestinal tract which creates permeability, releasing infection and undigested food particles into the bloodstream. These inflammatory particles, which are no longer contained in the gastrointestinal tract, create inflammation systemically, including at the blood-brain barrier. Due to the fact that most of our immune system and neurotransmitters are produced in the gut, inflammation and mood by lifestyle are intricately related.
This link of the gut-brain connection is being implemented in conventional medicine as antidepressants are being prescribed to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Why antidepressants may work for IBS is due to the fact that the pathway from tryptophan, an amino acid needed to make serotonin in the gut, can enter an alternative pathway when inflammation is high. Furthermore, links exist between high inflammatory cytokines levels in the blood to depression.
Interestingly, this connection with inflammation and immune disorders upon mood is seen in the common cold. Picture the last time you were in bed with a stuffy head. Did you feel exhausted, run down, brain fog, and achy? Did you have less vigor and motivation? Was your appetite changed?
Fortunately, there are many ways to tone down inflammation naturally. What most of my patients notice is that once they feel better physically, they can’t believe how much better they think and feel emotionally! I always want to honor my patients’ rituals, if they can’t live without coffee in the morning, we work with this. Maybe it’s an adrenal imbalance, maybe it’s a detoxification issue, or maybe it’s creating such joy, and they are blood type A, that the overall balance in inflammation is favorable. Who wants to cut all the good foods in life? What I’ve found is that when the biochemistry is restored, the “good foods” also become nutrient dense foods, and the “treats” are more enjoyed because they are better digested and people can actually stop to process what and how they are eating.
Inflammation can be caused by a variety of things, even if one has the same diagnosis. It’s best to find out the root cause for the individual. Most of you are aware; I don’t like the game of supplement roulette, as this can further complicate clues from the body as to what a is needed and can run create deficiency issues down the line.
Read the conclusion of the article here:
If you are interested in a simple program to learn how to calm inflammation by easing stress and balancing the body, I am happy to have you join me in my “Course in Ease” program starting January 18th.
Knoops, Kim. Mediterranean Diet, Lifestyle Factors, and 10-Year Mortality in Elderly European Men and Women: The HALE Project. JAMA. 2004;292(12):1433-1439. doi: 10.1001/jama.292.12.1433
Robert J. Hedya, MD, DFAPA. The War Within: The immune system, infections, inflammation, and mood disorders. Presented at the The 16th International Symposium on Functional Medicine™. The Institute for Functional Medicine™Hollywood, Florida. May 2009. Accessed at www.functionalmedicine.org, Talks By Topic, January 2011.
Ducrotte’,P. Irritable bowel syndrome: from the gut to the brain-gut. (abstract) Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 2009 Aug-Sep;33(8-9):703-12. PMID: 19682813
Iwan M. et al. Transport of micro-opioid receptor agonists and antagonist peptides across Caco-2 monolayer. (abstract) Peptides. 2008 Jun;29(6):1042-7. Epub 2008 Feb 6. PMID: 18355944
Maes M, Kubera M, Leunis JC. The gut-brain barrier in major depression: intestinal mucosal dysfunction with an increased translocation of LPS from gram negative enterobacteria (leaky gut) plays a role in the inflammatory pathophysiology of depression. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Feb;29(1):117-24. PMID: 18283240
Inflammation & Mood Disorders: Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., M.Sc., M.T. The Mucosal Barrier Function Test. Functional Medicine teleseminar experts 2009 (Sept) Sponsor: BioHealth Diagnostic.
Gareau MG, Silva MA, Perdue MH. Pathophysiological mechanisms of stress-induced intestinal damage. (abstract) Curr Mol Med. 2008 Jun;8(4):274-81. PMID: 18537635