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What, No Tools?

Of the various medical freebies I receive in the mail, I only read two of them. One is the monthly American Family Physician, which enables me to do continuing education at home, so I can pursue my serious education at non-accredited conferences on nutrition and lifestyle changes, not often sponsored by medical schools.  The other is the semi-monthly Family Practice News, “The Leading Independent Newspaper for the Family Physician – since 1971.” I am interested in some of the Family Practice world updates – medical school applications spiked in 2013, I’m surprised! – and curious about what is considered news, what is happening at FP conferences. For some reason, the November 1 issue just pushed a few buttons for me.

On the first page I learn that diabetes drug development is stalling because the drugs seem to aggravate cardiovascular risk. Inside the magazine I read that hidradenitis suppurativa (HS, a chronic skin disease characterized by recurrent underarm bois) is associated with metabolic syndrome, which is often of greater severity than in those folks without HS.

On page 12 an article describes a link between psoriasis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Page 14 explores the diagnosis and management of GERD with little mention of food choices (other than “lose weight”) and no non- prescription suggestions. To be fair, they do mention the adverse side effects of the prescription medications used for treatment, which includes osteoporosis.

There is a consistent thread of absence in the articles listed above, as well as many others I could turn to. Conventional medicine just does not understand that our lifestyle has gone awry and that our modern lifestyle is the explanation for many of the illnesses we are facing.

The modern physician opens his or her mind and heart as the new patient is ushered in. A careful history is taken, and the physician truly sympathizes upon learning of the suffering the patient experiences. Somber and reflective, the physician turns to the infamous little black bag, unclasps the medical-education-secured-lock, and spreads the sides wide to get a good look at the array of helpful tools. Nothing there but a prescription pad, which is taken out, and page after page filled out and handed to the patient, before returning it to the bag to await the next patient.

What many physicians forget, however, is that the bag has a false bottom, and it takes a curious mind to lift open that false bottom and explore what medical researchers, but not clinicians, have learned over the last 30 years.

The metabolic syndrome is curable, with the proper low carbohydrate diet and activity regimen. Attend to sleep and stress, and you have it covered.

Hidradenitis suppurativa can be helped with, again, the proper low carbohydrate diet, eliminating foods likely to lead to leaky gut, one of the well-researched requisites for development of auto-immune disease.

Psoriasis, ditto.

Non-alcoholic liver disease – same as metabolic syndrome.

GERD – many lifestyle interventions can help, from simple melatonin supplementation, to the improvement of generalized digestive malfunction which often responds to normalizing of the three different regions of the GI tract. (Acidify the stomach, strengthen digestion in the small intestine, and normalize the flora living in the colon.)

What else? Multiple sclerosis? We know how to enhance myelin growth and suppress auto-immune activity – does your doctor know how to do that? Parkinson’s Disease responds well to a ketogenic diet, can your physician manage that restrictive way of eating? High blood pressure – usually responds to low carbohydrate weight loss and perhaps some reparative supplements to optimize endothelial health in your blood vessels. Osteoporosis? (Did it come from the GERD drugs your doctor prescribed?) Do you know there is one simple vitamin that can help prevent or stall bone loss AND help with that high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease? (It’s vitamin K2, ask your physician for good food sources of the vitamin, as it seems most of us are deficient in it.)

Some time ago I remarked, on Facebook I think, that I was amused that there is a now an institute of Individualized Lifestyle Medicine. I joked, “Wait, isn’t that just… medicine?” Today reading through Family Practice News, I was reminded that for many physicians, the false bottom in their medical tool kit is hiding the pearls of wisdom that their research colleagues have actually uncovered for us to use in our clinical practice.

I believe that most physicians would prefer to find gentle, healthful interventions to treat the problems presented by patients. Can you discuss lifestyle medicine with your physician? Is he or she curious to learn, one step at a time, what can be done to improve all of our health? Start the conversation, and I hope it goes well for you! And rest assured that there are various resources from Primal Docs, to Paleo Physicians Network, and Functional Medicine doctors, who all practice what I call Sensible Medicine, or in the words of the new paradigm, Individualized Lifestyle Medicine.

And be well!