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I struggled with chronic insulin resistance and weight problems my whole life. My blood work revealed I was on the fast track to diabetes and my hormones were out of balance.
I have spent most my adult life studying clinical nutrition and even with my high level of knowledge, I still couldn’t figure out how to beat this condition. I tried every popular diet, took handfuls of nutraceuticals, and fasted.
Nothing out there seemed to work for more than a few weeks. I would drop some weight, but still have horrible cravings for sugar and junk food. I was becoming sensitive to all my favorite foods and trying to find new foods that didn’t make me feel sick was getting more difficult.
My stubborn weight gain was embarrassing, demoralizing, and hypocritical. I was getting paid very well to help people with their health problems but could not figure out a way to manage my own.
Kate struggled with lifelong Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. Her weight was fairly average, but at times she found herself gaining weight and she wasn't sure why. She was never diagnosed with PCOS until she met me, and suffered daily from her symptoms.
Kate had adult cystic acne, excessive hair growth, and crippling pain during her menstrual cycles. Her chronic condition caused her to miss out on many of life’s fun activities because she was so embarrassed in public. This condition spilled over into all the rest of the areas of her life and affected her overall happiness.
If a person grows up eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) they probably have some degree of chronic illness.
Eating foods that cause inflammation in the body can have huge negative impacts on your health.
Chronic inflammation is the most destructive factor in chronic health issues.
When you are younger, your body is more forgiving. But as you continue to eat inflammatory foods over the years, the damage to the body compounds. The best management tool of chronic illness is diet. When you stop eating inflammatory foods your body finally gets a break to start healing. I have seen very chronic conditions get amazing results just by removing the offending foods your body is sensitive to.
The easiest way to identify the foods your antibodies are sensitive to is to get a home testing kit. They are very simple to use and are pretty broad in the foods they cover. This is the home testing kit I recommend
The other advice I can give to someone with a chronic condition, or a person who wants to avoid developing one, is to adopt a low fat plant-based diet.
Kate and I both lost a great deal of weight eating this way and it has done wonders in managing our health problems. It was the only way of eating that finally worked for me, and that I was able to make into a lifestyle fairly easily. For the first time in my life, I finally conquered the temptation of snacking and binge eating on junk food.
The extremely high amounts of micronutrients in the greens and fruit broke the chemical addiction in my brain. I love eating like this. It does not feel like torture or I am depriving myself, and my body has been reborn by it. I have a much deeper write-up on plant-based diets here.
Sometimes a person is so badly inflamed that they need extra help. They might need strong nutraceuticals (nutrient-dense vitamins) to help them break the damaging process. My advice to anyone is to be sure to find a good functional medicine doctor to monitor you through this lifestyle change. If you test yourself, remove the offending foods, and still have issues, then you should consult a functional medicine doctor to determine what else may be going on.
Inflammation can come from more than just diet. If you are working or living in a toxic environment, this can greatly affect your inflammation levels.
Working or living around mold, chemicals, or bad water can systemically inflame you. The best measures you can take are to remove yourself from the toxic environment or get someone to clean it up.
One of the nastiest catalysts for causing inflammation is emotional stress. Being stressed out for more than a few days can cause your body’s inflammatory cycle to ramp up.
Each of us really needs to find positive ways to manage stress in our lives or it can eventually cause chronic illness.
One of the most frustrating things about my weight was I felt like I could never control myself around food. I now understand how being addicted to something can completely take over your brain.
I would be doing great on whatever new diet I was attempting until the cravings started. It was like someone else would step into my body, go eat a bag of chips and junk food, and then give my body back to me.
I would feel terrible and shameful about what I had just eaten. These mindless snacking habits were keeping me fat, sick, and unhappy. I would fight the urges and tell myself I just needed more willpower.
But when I denied my body, it would fight back, making sugar and oily foods all I could think about until I just gave in and ate them again.
I had always heard about other people who could transition a fad diet into a lifestyle. I never found any system of eating that would satisfy my cravings, but was also healthy.
The reason I always failed with dieting was because I never addressed both problems at the same time. The low fat plant-based diet I mentioned above can break the chemical addiction, but won’t break the unhealthy subconscious habits.
I finally figured out how to break the bad habits that would lead me back into unhealthy eating. There are three parts to any habit: The trigger, the action, and the reward. It is extremely hard to rewire the trigger or reward, but if you can create an overriding action, the brain will accept it.
I sat down and did an honest study of my triggers that lead to my unhealthy snacking. Once I identified what they were, I came up with a plan of attack. Whenever I saw a trigger, I would do another action that I really enjoyed and that gave my brain a reward.
For example, I work from home and I spend many hours working at a computer. Whenever I needed to take a break I would walk to the kitchen, dig out a snack, and then return to work while I mindlessly ate an entire bag of chips. My trigger was the need to take a break. My action was to get a bag of chips. My reward was flooding my brain with happy feelings induced by grease and salt.
I decided that every time I needed a break I would instead play my trumpet. I actually put my trumpet next to my computer with it ready to play at any time. All I had to do was reach for it and pick it up. I would play something fun or a song I really liked.
This rewarded my brain with a happy feeling. I remember the first week of interrupting my snacking habit I was playing the trumpet 6-8 times a day. It took about two weeks before the new good habit took over and I completely forgot the old unhealthy one.
I learned to do this from a wonderful and entertaining book. I bought the audio book and listened to it on my morning walks and when I drove anywhere. It taught me how to finally escape my own self-destructive behavior forever.
I highly recommend it and you can find the print or audio version here.
Most people are really surprised that the #1 factor that determines your longevity is your oral health. It’s a fact! People with poor oral hygiene, unhealthy gums, and dental cavities live significantly shorter lives than those who maintain a healthy oral environment.
An unhealthy mouth leads to chronic digestion issues, infection, systemic inflammation, nutritional malabsorption, and chronic disease. The simple fact is the healthier your mouth is, the longer you will live. I cannot overstate how important keeping a healthy mouth is to your overall health. This fact is so recognized that an entire field of dentistry, called “biological dentistry,” or “whole body dentistry” has rapidly been growing.
Whole body dentistry takes the entire body into account when treating and preventing disease in the mouth. After all, everything you do in your mouth affects the rest of your body. Any inflammation in your mouth causes inflammation to occur throughout your entire system. A chronic infection in your mouth causes a cascade of problems to every cell in your body. The body is a complete system, all interconnected and interlinked. What you do in your mouth affects your entire body, and the health of your whole system.
The good news is there are a few easy things you can do that can dramatically affect the health of your mouth, in turn affecting the health of your entire body. It can be daunting to know where to begin, so here are a few things that should help you maintain good oral hygiene every day.
First of all, though most people brush their teeth, they are usually brushing ineffectively or incorrectly. This can and often does damage the gums and the teeth themselves. Gums can lose their elasticity and recede from the teeth, while the teeth themselves can actually develop notches in the enamel when people brush too hard in a back-and-forth manner.
The first tip is to learn to brush properly and effectively, which will decrease the bacterial load and inflammation in the oral cavity and the rest of the body.
The key is to massage the gum line as you brush. Whether using an electric toothbrush or manual toothbrush, the technique is the same. However, using an electric toothbrush is highly recommended. It’s the difference between waxing your car by hand, versus doing it with a power buffer.
Regardless of the type of brush, always use soft bristles, further softened in warm or hot water. Never brush with cold water because this makes the bristles stiff, which will harm the sensitive gum tissues. Eventually this will lead to gum recession and tooth sensitivity issues, so remember to buy the softest brushes you can.
Angle the bristles of the toothbrush 45 degrees into the gum line, gently massaging the area where the gums meet the teeth. On the upper teeth you tilt the bristles upward, and on the lower teeth you tilt them downward.
Another tip is to always follow the scalloped shape of your gums by brushing in circles, not back and forth. Brushing back and forth destroys the collagen fibers in your gum tissues, which eventually will lead to gum recession and tooth sensitivity.
Brushing the gum line and teeth properly will decrease inflammation of your gum tissues and the rest of your body. For more information and tips about proper brushing, click here.
The second most important thing you can do is to purchase and use a Waterpik daily. Waterpiks are a modern alternative to traditional flossing, since most people don’t or won’t use dental floss on a daily basis.
A Waterpik pulses a stream of water between the teeth and around the gum line, removing 99.9% of the plaque bacteria that it comes in contact with.
While easy to use, there is a slight learning curve in learning to use one well. That said, once you get the hang of it it's a lot more intuitive than using string to floss.
For more information on the importance of using a Waterpik, and how to use one properly, click here.
Another important oral health tip is to scrape your tongue twice daily, or every time you brush your teeth or notice you have bad breath.
80% of the bacteria in your mouth is unaffected by brushing the teeth. Your tissues still harbor bacteria, which sticks right back onto the teeth as soon as you’ve brushed.
Scraping the tongue is quick and easy and should be a standard part of everyone’s oral health care routine. As well as decreasing the bacterial load in the mouth, it helps cure bad breath (halitosis) by removing the offending bacteria from your tongue.
I recommend the stainless steel tongue scraper made by Dr. Tung’s, as it is the best I’ve found on the market, is inexpensive, hygienic, and lasts for years. To scrape the tongue effectively, simply stick your tongue out and gently scrape the bacteria from your tongue.
Start toward the base (back) of your tongue and move the scraper forward. Rinse the tongue scraper after each pass. When the scraper no longer has a coating, your tongue is clean. If your tongue bleeds, you are pressing too firmly. Over time you will learn to love the fresh breath and super clean feeling this simple habit gives you.
Using a mouth rinse removes all of the remaining bacteria from your oral cavity. As mentioned above, this constitutes 80% of the surfaces in your mouth.
While a lot of people already have a favorite mouth rinse, not all of them are created equal, and not all of them are entirely effective at bacteria removal.
Listerine is an antiseptic mouth rinse that, unlike other rinses, has natural active ingredients.
The four essential oils in this rinse actually rupture the bacteria’s cell wall, imploding them on contact. No other mouth rinse works this way, and it’s very effective.
To rinse properly, just read the directions on the bottle. As with tongue scraping, use mouth rinse each time you brush or whenever you notice bad breath (halitosis.)
These simple and inexpensive tips will boost your oral health and hygiene and help to extend your life. It takes a little effort to maintain a healthy mouth, but the benefits will be appreciated by your entire body.
In my thirties I completely destroyed just about everything good in my life. I just kept making one bad decision after another. I based my actions on “what if” scenarios and started making all my decisions from a fear-based mindset. I started attracting and hanging out with very negative people and eventually I took on their bad energy. I went from a young happy-go-lucky, positive person in my 20's to a scared, paranoid, and depressed person in my 30's.
So what changed over that decade? Why did my life self-destruct? I finally figured out I had attracted all the wrong people to my world. It happened so slowly I didn’t realize it until it was too late. I started spending most of my time with negative people and negative environments. Instead of my positive energy bringing them up to my happy level, I was pulled down to their negative unhappy level. Before I knew it my conversations were no longer about dreams and goals but about why life is not fair and how everyone was screwing us over. Everyone and everything else was to blame for my problems but me. I let everyone else decide my mood for me.
It was one of the hardest things I ever did but I had to walk away from some people I loved but who were energy vampires. I set boundaries and surrounded myself with positive people again. This even included working with patients; I cut loose any patient who was not positive about their health. This made a huge difference in my life and my unhealthy stress level disappeared. Now I am very protective of whom I allow into my world. I only associate with people who bring me up.
We all have to take a hard look at ourselves to realize we are responsible for our own misery. Don’t get me wrong, terrible things happen that are not your fault, but after the trauma you are the one who decides how you react to it. Will events make you stronger or yank you into a dark pit of depression?
Positive mindset is so important to health and overall happiness. We all must jealously protect our happiness. We must monitor whom we allow in our circle of influence diligently.
I can’t believe how many people stay in jobs they hate for most of their life out of fear. They just do enough not to get fired and live in fear of getting fired because they will lose their benefits.
Wake up call: What good are benefits if a toxic job is the reason you are developing health problems in the first place?
Life is way too short! Stop making excuses and find a way to do what you love.
Learn to say NO and don’t feel guilty about it. So many of my patients have no time to take care of their health because they are servants for everyone around them. Mothers and fathers who have not had a healthy meal because they always put other's needs first. Putting anything over your own health is a recipe for chronic illness and an early grave.
Having a positive mindset is one of the most important factors for living a happy and healthy life. A book that really helped me learn to change my mindset is this one. If you find yourself being negative all the time and you don’t know how to stop, please read or listen to this. I listened to the audio book of this when I drove and when I walked. It changed my life for the better.
One of the fastest paths to depression and self-destructive behavior is to have no purpose in life. The dark times in my life all started because I had nothing in my life that excited me. I had to completely hit rock bottom and become broken before I realized I was sad because I had lost my purpose.
Complacency kills the spirit. Think back to when you were a kid, when there was something you loved and became obsessively excited over. For me it was astronomy; I even had my birthday party at a planetarium. I was so excited about it that nobody forced me to study space. In my free time I would read about planets and stars while my friends were out playing. At night it was the last thing I thought about and in the morning it was the first thing I wanted to do when I got up.
That is the level of excitement a person needs to reawaken. It does not matter what the subject of your excitement is. Perhaps it is being a great parent, or home brewing, or studying sloths. Again, the subject is not important, but the way one feels about it is. The point is to find that level of excitement again and to do something you really love.
Just settling for a mildly comfortable mediocre life is no way to live. If you don’t have a passion, then your passion should be finding a passion. Don’t give up: Keep trying different things until you find something that lights a fire in you again.
Lastly, people who believe in a higher power statistically are happier and healthier. Be that Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, The Universe, etc. If you are not religious then believe in science, research, and studies.
I know the darkest times in my life were always preceded by me losing my faith. When I trust in a higher power things always work out well for me. Any time I get sidetracked from my goals the first thing I do is remind myself to trust in a higher source. It really does work and has made all the difference in my life.