The life you live can create health, or it can potentially create and contribute to disease. The ways you think, move, rest, sleep, handle stress and especially how and what you eat play the formative role in the health you experience. It is my belief that living mindlessly when it comes to the primary lifestyle factors is the most common cause of preventable chronic diseases in the United States. I also believe that following misguided advice in terms of the primary lifestyle factors and living in a self-absorbed or self-destructive fashion may be at the root of many ways of living that create disease; although mindless living trumps all.
The dietary pattern that an individual keeps is in my opinion the chief concern amongst the primary lifestyle factors when it comes to living in a healthy manner, preventing disease and even treating chronic disease. A certain chronic disease may share a common pathology in all of those people diagnosed with it, but at the individual level it is complex and multi-factorial. The body is complex, multivariate and happens to depend on a mind that operates in a complex, multivariate environment. What I am saying here is that there is a lot going on when it comes to the type of health that a person experiences.
The foods and drinks we consume have a multitude of known, and unknown affects on the function and health of a person. Therefore we don’t really know for sure how foods and overall eating patterns specifically interacts and forms health or disease in the human body. I can tell you from personal and professional experience in addition to thousands of hours of research that diet can create health, form disease and even encourage the body to regulate and restore itself to a point that it can effectively treat many cases of chronic debilitating disease.
Eating patterns directly influence health.
The adoption of a structured, mindful eating pattern largely consisting of real food will give you the ability to experience your highest level of health, prevent the future development of disease and potentially even play a role in the treatment of a chronic disease if you are presently suffering. The typical American is relatively mindless when it comes to their diet which leads a person to predominantly make uneducated, convenient, pleasure-based choices in their foods and drinks.
It appears that every “diet” is better than the Standard American Diet (SAD); vegan diets, vegetarian diets, calorie restricted diets, low-carb diets and various types of paleo diets are all significantly healthier than the SAD and have been used by practitioners and individuals to treat a multitude of chronic, debilitating and in many cases deadly diseases. The way we eat is so influential to our health that thousands of people have adopted ‘therapeutic diets’ in the pursuit of treating their chronic disease and experienced great success
The way we eat is so influential to our health that there are thousands of people out there who have improved their health, and in many cases treated their case of disease by instituting a diet where they consumed more real food such as fruit and vegetables, often times including animal foods and sometimes not, but always excluding industrialized foods. There are people out there who have controlled their assumed idiopathic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis by primarily using a therapeutic diet (28), or complementing their treatment with dietary modifications (29).
There is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal data and preliminary clinical data supporting my contention that therapeutic diets which focus on increasing real food and decreasing or eliminating industrialized food are an efficacious, low-risk treatment for a multitude of chronic health issues. Therapeutic diets have been successful in helping people improve their heart disease (10),(11), irritable bowel disease (12), hashimoto’s disease (13), diabetes (14), (15), (16), (17), polycystic ovary syndrome (19), general auto-immune disorders (30), and an assortment of “lower-grade” health issues like leptin-insulin resistance (obesity) and food addiction (18),(27) .
Professionally, I have implemented and “tweaked” all of the preceding dietary regimens to significantly help past and present clients who at one time suffered from one of these chronic ailments. This is actually just a small sample of therapeutic diets that offer patients realistic options for taking control of their health by eating real foods in a structured, mindful manner; there are more than a few other seemingly effective therapeutic diets that I am aware of that also focus on improving food quality above all. All of these diets share a common theme of replacing industrialized foods with real food which means they all decrease the amount of sugar, wheat and vegetable oil in the diets of these individuals.
The cornerstone to prevention and treatment of chronic disease
The ideal goal of a therapeutic diet is to encourage the participant to find satisfaction in eating healthfully, improve their relationship with food and take responsibility for their own health. Therapeutic diets are most effective if they influence a person to shift their lifelong eating patterns towards “health” and adopt other “healthy” habits such as exercise and stress relief. Any “diet” that directly encourages one to eat significantly more real food and significantly less industrialized food than they previously did is a relatively “healthy” diet regardless of macronutrient composition (i.e high carb, low carb, high fat, high protein, etc.) and food type inclusion/exclusion (i.e vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, paleo, etc.).
In the context of treatment, dietary changes are either complementary or central to the course of treatment for a disease which is generally chosen during a patient-doctor interaction. However, the typical physician is simply not aware of the nutritional biochemistry of food, of how food and therapeutic diets can be used to prevent and treat many chronic debilitating diseases. In fact, the typical physician takes one class on nutrition in their schooling, and although continuing medical education offers credits for nutritional education, it is not likely constructed from the latest research or geared towards use as a clinical treatment (1), (2), (3), (4), (5).
The apparent lack of coverage in regards to the role of nutrition in health and disease in the schooling and continuing education of the physician is not due to a lack of evidence showing that how one eats plays a formative role in their health. It is rather indisputable that how one eats determines their health in the long run (6), (7), (8), (9). Presently, the underlying philosophy of the practice of medicine or conventional dietetics is not keeping up with the latest scientific research. The clinical data supporting the idea that ‘therapeutic diets’ can treat many chronic diseases is very encouraging which will, in time lead to a shift where food will become viewed as medicine, and mindless living will no longer be the norm.
Food as medicine
Unfortunately, the philosophical shift in clinical medical practice towards viewing and using ‘food as medicine’ has been relatively slow, in large part due to the resistance of patients to take an active role in their own healthcare. The American demand for quick, easy “fixes” in the form of pills has not subsided despite the readily available information (go ahead and search google) in regards to their health condition, the inherent risk of drugs used as treatment for it, and the potential effectiveness of making “healthier” dietary choices in the context of their disease and/or all forms of disease.
However if you or a loved one suffer from a chronic disease and sincerely seek to control it then there are a growing number of options which offer guidance. There is a network of physicians who employ a ‘paleo’ type of diet in their practice (20), there is also a network of physicians who encourage vegetarian diets in their practice (21). Additionally, there is a multitude of networks which include physicians who practice integrative medicine where they use a multitude of dietary regimens in therapeutic fashion (22), (23), (24), (25), (26).
Following my review of and professional experience recommending therapeutic diets I say with a high degree of confidence that the use of therapeutic diets will one day become a legitimate option for many patients. At this point I believe that the consciousness of the American public will shift from being predominantly mindless in terms of the lifestyle factors to a more knowledgeable state of mind where people are much more likely to take responsibility for their own health by eating real food.
It is my hypothesis that all of the previously mentioned therapeutic diets have some efficacy because they are all serious improvement over the previous diet of a chronic disease sufferer. These people tend to have some variation of the Standard American Diet which is typically dense with foodstuffs that offer considerable empty calories and resulted in low-grade malnutrition. I also hypothesize that real foods have an inherent quality to them that directly encourages the human body to regulate and restore itself.
It is important to note that even those people with conventionally “healthy” diets consumed what has become known as the “agents of disease”; added sugar especially fructose, wheat products and vegetable oils. Therapeutic diets replace the “agents of disease” with real food which enables the body to regulate and restore itself. It is my hypothesis that real foods have an inherent quality to them that allows the body to regulate it’s immune function, build healthy red blood cells full of oxygen, restore proper balance to the flora of the intestinal microbiome, regenerating tight junctions to the wall of the small intestine. When this happens the body will have less systemic inflammation and less oxidative stress which appears to be the underlying conditions of a majority of chronic debilitating disease.
As a result tissues can become more sensitive to insulin, the brain can become more sensitive to leptin and the low-grade metabolic disorder that appears to underly many chronic diseases will subside to some degree and allow the patient or client to experience better health, energy and mental outlook that is signified by improvement to their bio-markers or symptoms that gave them a diagnosis.
The popular industrialized foodstuffs and highly processed drinks that are readily available in American supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, and even gyms and “healthfood” stores may be the primary mechanism behind the chronic debilitating disease epidemic. Processed foods are not inherently damaging to the body, many, like coconut oil for example are beneficial to the human body.
It is the lack of awareness at the individual level, societal level and medical level in regards to the utilization of food as medicine that has resulted in the epidemic of chronic disease. It will be our future acknowledgment that ‘food is medicine’ which will empower the individual and the physician to work together as a means to prevent and treat disease with food. That is my vision for the future of healthcare. However, you do not have to wait decades for this to happen; you can begin taking responsibility for your health and wellness by eating real food and finding satisfaction in the feeling of self-empowerment that a “healthy” diet brings.
Love you all.
A dietary regimen whereby the participant focuses on eating more real food and less industrialized foods in virtually any structured manner, especially restricting and/or eliminating those foods with added sugar, vegetable oils and wheat products can be considered ‘therapeutic’ to some degree. That is the common thread.
What risk will a chronic disease sufferer have in replacing packaged foods, flavored drinks and other highly processed foods with real, whole foods? What does someone have to lose? If structured properly, a key reason that the following protocols help people, people tend to decrease their food cravings, their dependence on sugar as primary fuel source and some of their excess bodyfat as well.
patient willing to take an active role in their own healthcare and develop a higher level of self-empowerment there is a growing number of physicians who have educated themselves in regards to nutritional biochemistry, therapeutic diets and have experience using them in the clinic
will be found in future research to be at least as efficacious as prescription drug treatments, considerably safer and have significantly more potential for overall improvement to health, not just measurable risk factors, bio-markers and symptoms (although I feel that these will clearly be improved).