All posts by Jim Fox

Is being overweight or obese a benign condition?

Usually we think that just being a little overweight is not really bad for our health, right? What is termed being fat and fit is now the new normal for Americans. But, is it really benign, or does it carry health consequences.

First we must determine if we are overweight or obese. Here is a link to a BMI chart that is published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/bmi_tbl.pdf  check it out. Normally speaking being 10 or more pounds over normal weight in the chart is being “overweight”. More that say 20 to 25 pounds above the normal is being “obese”.

Now that we have determined where we fall on the charts, let’s talk about what that might mean to our health. Can we really be ‘fat and fit’?

A study just published in “Annals of Internal Medicine”, December 3, 2013 (volume 159, pages 758-769) sheds some light on the subject. Normally being overweight or obese does increase the risk for heart disease and death. And then along comes a few studies that suggest that being overweight or obese might not be such a problem if there are no “metabolic problems” evident in the patient. What are these metabolic problems? Having high blood pressure, high lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides), high blood sugar, and having a large waist circumference. These symptoms are collectively termed ‘metabolic syndrome’.

The researchers in this article set out to determine if we are at higher risk if we are overweight and have the metabolic syndrome, and more importantly, if we do not have the pattern of metabolic syndrome. Collectively they gathered information on 61,386 individuals from 8 prior studies.

What they found is very interesting to say the least. They found that the risk for heart disease or death was increased for individuals who were obese whether they had metabolic syndrome or not. Of more interest, they found that individuals with metabolic syndrome had increased risk regardless of whether they were normal weight, overweight or obese. Yes, skinny people can have metabolic syndrome too.

What we get from this study is the fact that maintaining a normal weight is very important for longevity. Another fact that came from this study is the even if your are normal weight and have the metabolic syndrome you are at higher risk for heart disease and death.

How do we know if we have the metabolic syndrome? Regular monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as blood sugar, including the Hgb A1c, and weight, especially the waist size. Blood pressure is the easiest to monitor, the other parameters are done through blood work. These are the key items that we watch, even in those ‘skinny’ individuals. If signs of metabolic syndrome are present, then we have to embark on a ‘life changing’ journey. This is all part of what we do at Doctor’s Nutrition everyday. We call it ‘evidence based nutrition’, and it truly can be life changing. Some simple blood work will provide the information you need to make course corrections on this journey.

I was recently asked; Can you really be healthy and overweight? I hate to say it, but the answer is most probably, no. Too much evidence points to health issues that we have not discovered yet. Hopefully in the near future we will have all the answers, but for now the odds are in favor of being normal weight and healthy.

 

 

 

Obesity, the new disease

It is now official, Obesity is a disease according to the AMA. That is this week, last week it was caffeine withdrawal is now a mental disorder. So, what is next?

Seriously, the AMA has now classified obesity as a disease. That opens the doors for 78 million adults and 12 million children to be covered by insurance plans. The bad thing is, the AMA, and medicine in general, has a very poor record for treating obesity. Sure, we have surgical weight loss procedures, but even they don’t have great success. I can’t count he number of people that I have dealt with that lost weight and then gained it back after their surgery.

Can you imagine what this is going to do to the already overloaded medical system? And, what is the insurance industry going to do with an additional 90 million folks that they have to cover? I would bet that all our premiums are headed North.

As some of you may know we have been involved in a 40 plus year experiment with the low fat, high carb diet. And now a full one third of the population in America is obese. Maybe it is just me, but after 40 plus years, can’t we recognize failure when we see it? At this point I always bring up the meaning of insanity; keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. And that is exactly what we have done for the past 40 years.

There is some very convincing evidence that with some serious dietary changes we can reverse this trend. At the same time we can also get rid of the many gastrointestinal disorders plaguing America.

No, it is much easier to just ‘reclassify’ this problem to a disease state rather than what it really is, making bad dietary choices.

P.S.

If you think caffeine withdrawal is bad, just wait until you try getting away from sugar! You just might be mental after that. 🙂

Antibiotics in agriculture (food)

The latest statistics about the amount of antibiotics used in the production of our food in the U.S. is staggering, to say the least.

The New England Journal of Medicine, December, 2013, just published a paper showing that 80% of all the antibiotics used in America ,and that is a lot, are used in some form of agriculture. In other words, food production. Yes, what we eat on a daily basis.

So, how much antibiotics do we use in food production? Between livestock, aquaculture (think fish), and crops we use 30,272,000 pounds per year. You read that right, over 30 million pounds per year. Now, think of the average dose a human might take for a sinus infection. That would be approximately 10 grams for an average 10 regimen, or 0.022046226 pounds. That equates to 1.39 billion doses of antibiotics in human doses. Yes, billions. Now do you see the problem brewing?

I am sure you have heard the term MRSA which stands for Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. And we have also heard the horror stories of the poor folks inflicted with this malady. We have been warned to wash our hands and take other measures to stay safe. All good ideas. Now we have another problem bacteria, and most likely due to the over use of the antibiotics (see above).

Enter carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. Carbapenum is a class of antibiotics that is usually thought to be the ‘drugs of last resort’. In other words, something you don’t want to have to use. The enterobacteriaceae family has such members as E. coli and Klebsiella species, all of which are normally found in our intestines and normally cause no problems.

The MRSA, and now the CRE, are what is termed antibiotic resistant bacteria. What makes them antibiotic resistant? Over use of antibiotics. It is bad enough that anytime you go to your doctor with a cold you get an antibiotic as that in itself is enough to produce some antibiotic resistant bacteria. That is nothing compared to the amount of antibiotics used in food production.

So, why do we need to use all these antibiotics? Because most of our food animals are grown in something called CAFOs, or Confined animal feeding operations (read as just totally unsanitary). If you put any animal in close confinement, and feed them foods that cause them intestinal distress, you are going to have a mess on your hands. Let you imagination go here. Due to this ‘mess’ of animal fecal matter, which contains the the enterobacteriaceae species, we have to use antibiotics to keep the poor animals from becoming sick. And when you are using over 30 million pounds of antibiotics, you can see that some of the bacteria are going to survive and be antibiotic resistant. So, when we get infected with one of these ‘Super Bugs’, we are in big trouble.

Such big trouble in fact that the CDC just issued an alert to high risk patients. Healthy people usually do not get CRE, so you want to stay as healthy as possible. We will talk about that more in a minute. High risk people are those dealing with a long term illness that are most at risk. Patients who use various medical devices, those using breathing machines, catheters for urinary problems, and those that have inter-venous catheter for long term medication delivery, and, of course, those on long term antibiotic therapy. Also those having to be housed in long term care facilities, hospitals and nursing homes. As I stated before, healthy people don’t usually become infected with these organisms.

This is a red flag to us who are healthy indicating that we must protect our health at all costs. One of the best methods of doing this is a simple blood test, the CBC, to determine if your immune system is properly functioning. If there are signs of a sluggish or low functioning immune system there are steps you can take to strengthen that immune function, but you have to know first. But I feel healthy, isn’t that enough? Unfortunately, no. We see people that, from all outward signs, look healthy, yet their immune system is a mess. These are the ones that are the most venerable because they will never see it coming until it is too late.

Remember, a simple CBC can alert us to upcoming problems. We are not talking about exotic testing, just routine lab-work and proper interpretation. This is where just being in range may not be good enough. Have your physician do this test for you at least once a year, more often if you are anywhere near the lower quartile of acceptable functioning. If you are having difficulty getting this lab-work done, call Doctor’s Nutrition and we can arrange that for you. If you do have a low functioning immune system there are many things that can help restore your immune system to proper function.

Due to the overuse of antibiotics we strongly suggest eating as much organically grown food as possible. Organically grown food does not use antibiotics in the process. We also suggest taking a strong, 20 billion CFU, probiotic on a daily basis.

At Doctor’s Nutrition our job is to empower you in your quest to Live Healthy and Be Healthy.