Does your diet consists of pasta, potatoes, rice, corn, and bread? These foods can not produce a healthy and functioning human body. It is scientifically proven that the consumption of certain vegetables is strongly associated with reduced risk of serious disease. Especially foods like cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and many other vegetables contain phytonutrients which literally “communicate” health through both a xenohormetic effect, as well as delivering essential nutrients. The diet of most Americans, is one of starch (flour) and chemicals devoid of nutritive value. Many scientific findings reveal that the consumption of mono unsaturated fats such as virgin olive oils results in a reduction in biomarkers of serious health conditions. You would think that commercial food companies might recognize that there are consumers who are searching for healthier products. The biggest impediment is the fact that the majority of consumers continue to purchase over processed food like substances. Processed food companies use the lowest cost ingredients that they can find, and there is nothing cheaper than a food that is subsidized by your tax dollars.
Remember that corn is fed to cattle to fatten them up for market. The cows will not eat the corn if they are given a choice. They prefer their natural food of range grasses. Many of our ancestors chose wisely, utilizing in excess of 250 vegetables in a seasonal, and ever-changing variety of food choices. Processed foods in America are loaded with sugar and starch which create a situation called metabolic syndrome. Overloaded with dangerous sugars these over processed “food like substances” are creating much of our growing loss of health epidemic. The foods themselves are often tainted with plastics, metals, and chemicals from their packaging. The foods are altered so that they can be packaged, palleted, transported, and have a significant shelf life until you decide to take them home. In years of working with chronic disease I have observed that the most powerful thing someone can do is to consume real food.
Dr. Vincent Bellonzi Is the author of Health Recklessly Abandoned and a sought after speaker on the subject of health.
The physics of wellness is a good illustration of health. How Zen is this? In the science of physics there are many good theories. Unfortunately, it is impossible to find a single unifying theory for matter. When we study atoms we can describe their behavior and predict responses. However, when molecules are described their behavior is different. And as we transition from micro to macro there are different responses right up the scale. It is not that the theories are wrong, they just don’t apply to every situation. Wellness, or optimal function poses exactly the same difficulty as we try to define it. The physicists continue to renew an old theory called emergence. In the emergent theory a change of state will create a different response. Emergent theory is the only way that we can explain complex systems. The human body is a very complex system no matter how we try to fraction it down into single systems and responses. The problem with the human body, because it is a complex system, is that we will get a different response with a change of state. It is not valid to isolate one system, one pathway, one drug, or even one nutrient and draw any valid conclusion.
Let’s use heart disease as one example. If we simply say that there is an association between cholesterol and heart attacks, and this proves that all cholesterol is dangerous, then we have made assumptions that are not valid. Identify people at risk using much more accurate markers for heart disease such as Lp(a), LP-PLA2, hs CRP, etc. and we will se it is possible to reduce risk. We may even order a CT scan of heart or carotid blood vessels and identify high percentage occlusion. This gives us a high predictability for cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke, as long as there is no change of state. Change nutrient intake, physical activity, perhaps even use medication and then repeat testing and we see improvement in biomarkers or images. A change of state was created, and I will get a different response which does not include a heart attack. As the body continues to be “ healthier” I have changed its state and function. We can continue to move people in the direction of wellness, directly away from a heart attack.
The sun and your skin. There are several benefits to getting outside just for more physical activity, fresh air, and for the benefit of vitamin D production. However, over time ultra-violet radiation from the sun can have negative effects on skin, and even your genes. It can make skin dry and rough with uneven patches and colors, fine lines and wrinkles deepen and skin loses its firmness and elasticity. there are natural compounds that can help support and renew skin, minimizing its aging process by sun exposure. Leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli provide many internal health benefits. There are key chemical in these vegetables that will visibly improve the health and appearance of skin. Eat your vegetables and have smoother, clearer, and much more young looking skin. There are bioactive ingredients in vegetables that play a vital role in cancer prevention, function of the immune system, and the maintenance of healthy skin. For example, the chemicals glucoraphanin and myrosinase in cruciferous vegetables form a compound called sulforaphane.
This compound supports the ability of your skin to clean itself and regenerate, inhibits bacterial growth, shows anti- cancer activity and provides protection against damage from the sun. It can be eaten or even applied topically to the skin to reduce redness, puffiness and irritation, improves skin tone and even texture of your skin. These vegetables are effective to rejuvenate skin as well as slow and reverse the aging process itself. Free radical molecules are what is believed to cause the aging process of our bodies. We can use antioxidants from food and also produced in our bodies to literally “keep us younger”. UV radiation from the sun increases the production of free radicals which can even cause damage to our DNA and the enzymes which allow DNA repair. It also causes inflammation which in itself damages skin. The skin can be damaged in many ways through dehydration, injuries and abrasions but most commonly damaged from UV radiation.
Have you channeled your inner athlete lately? Are you denying its existence? Many people when they initially come to our clinic have been quoted as saying “but, I’m not an athlete” or “I don’t want to work that hard”.
The definition of an athlete is a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina. Even if you don’t like sports, it is certain that there are things, that you enjoy in your activities of daily living. Life requires all of us to be able to get around and do things. Some things are necessary activities in our daily routine, while other activities are for fun. Regardless, we all need strength, joint stability, coordination, skill or agility and especially stamina. The number one complaint reported to doctors is fatigue, or lack of stamina. The most effective answer to bioenergetics or energy production is to exercise properly. If we do more than we will get more energy because the body has been told to adapt.
Muscle is extremely important for energy production, certain important enzymes, weight control, and to make you resilient from injury. Yet many women worry that they may bulk up. Ladies and gentlemen it takes a lot of work to gain bulk or muscle size, and the majority of women that we test have much less than adequate muscle mass. Just because you’re clothes tighten up does not mean you have big muscle. A better answer is to make our bodies more functional so that we can function in life. We have to consider body structure that has adapted and will continue to adapt to the forces applied by our activities. We also have to do something to get good at it so that the neural network is built properly. Graceful movement without injury is produced when we have trained properly for the activities of daily living. It really does not matter whether you’re training for a particular sport or just to get more done in life. An athlete will pay close attention to nutrition and physical training so that they are ready for the event. How ready are you for your life?
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is an essential fatty acid often referred to as brain food. We can get it from cold water fish and other animal products. Another rich source is marine algae. Our brain tissue contains the highest concentration of DHA in the body because the brain requires it for structure. EPA, another essential fat is also necessary for the brain to function properly. When DHA is deficient people often show cognitive deficiencies and and increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. When DHA intake is increased we often perform better on tests and also in physical skills. It is an important component of the cerebral cortex, the retina, and even human sperm. Supplementation has been found to normalize hippocampal DNA content in older individuals. We are also at increased risk for coronary artery disease as DHA levels decrease. Regions of the brain related to memory show the greatest concentrations.
Several studies show benefits such as chronic inflammation reduction and improve brain function with sustained high intake of DHA. Consuming fatty fish which contain higher concentrations of DHA were found to have as much as a 75% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s. Low intake of fatty fish indicate increased risk for cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer’s. DHA his sound primarily in cell membranes and because of cell turnover this essential fat is required on an ongoing basis. So DHA protects the brain and other tissues from inflammatory damage. This essential fact and stimulate physical changes which improve learning and memory. It also promotes healing after injury to brain tissue. DHA is utilized to synthesize protectins which form when there is damage from a seizure, stroke, or traumatic brain injury. Protectins are necessary to heal your brain and protect your brain from the damage of free radicals. Literally slowing and stopping the aging of your brain. If you’re wondering whether or not you have enough of the essential fats available there is very good testing available through specialty labs. Contact a functional medicine practitioner and get tested while you make sure good fats are part of your nutritional intake.
Dr. Vincent Bellonzi is a functional medicine practitioner in Austin, Texas. His mission is helping people maintain, find, or restore wellness. He currently works to design programs for corporations and individuals for the prevention of chronic illness. He has recently published a book, Health Recklessly Abandoned, which outlines how to design an illness free lifestyle. His passion is wellness education and community.
Senescence literally means to grow old. Biological aging is a process of accumulated changes in molecular and cellular structures which disrupt function and create deterioration and death. This March toward entropy and dysfunction is associated with, but not actually caused by time. An associated risk will often be blamed for cause-and-effect when the evidence is purely circumstantial. Aging is associated with many diseases, yet it is not a direct cause. Deterioration of your body systems happens for other reasons. The senescence of cells has more to do with the number of times that a cell is capable of duplicating than it does with time itself. Damage and dysfunction is the result of mechanisms such as free radical oxidation, glycation, physical trauma, and environmental or xenobiotic exposures. Your immune system can become senescent decreasing our ability to fight infections or cancer, even to mount an antibody response. the immune system even begins to recognize your own tissues as something foreign.
The aging process itself has been closely tied to free radical damage. This damage to collagen and other tissues causes us all to look older and to be more fatigued. When you are young and your immune system is developing through adolescence your body created antibodies, cells to generate inflammation, and natural killer cells that would protect you from anything determined to be foreign inside the body. At the same time your body produces a system of suppressor cells that protected you from damaging healthy tissue. This is a part of your life when your immune system is in balance and tightly controlled. Through mechanisms like free radical damage there is loss of appropriate response to threats as well as protection from self damage. The result is an ongoing increase of chronic inflammation and autoimmunity which produce the diseases often blamed on aging itself. It all comes down to maintenance of proper function, the fountain of youth, good lifestyle choices.
Dr. Vincent Bellonzi is a functional medicine practitioner who works with people to restore wellness. He is the author of the book Health Recklessly Abandoned, and a sought after speaker on subjects of health.
Why exercise, what’s the point in so much effort? Sometimes we hear the comment that people won’t exercise because they’re tired and they believe that the exercise will take all of their energy. That is like saying that we won’t fire off a power plant because it will take energy, and ignore the fact that the power plant will produce much more energy than it uses. When you exercise, you will adapt, and one of those adaptations is the ability to produce more energy. Want more energy? Exercise. Aerobic exercise increases the effectiveness of insulin and this leads to better blood sugar control as well as control body weight. Anaerobic exercise, such as strength training, is perhaps a more important component to any health creation strategy. Strength training will create both metabolic and morphological adaptations beneficial to weight control and health.
Hormonal and nutritional factors such as the availability of insulin and amino acids will effect the maintenance and synthesis of muscle. If you diet by starvation (not eating) you will reduce the building of muscle from 50% to 100% and begin to shift into catabolism (the breakdown of tissues). You will begin to affect other hormones like IGF-I, growth hormone, and testosterone, decrease insulin and increased cortisol so that you end up burning everything but fat for fuel. Now you’ve lost weight, however your body composition has drastically changed to something unhealthy that will allow you to gain weight faster as fat. Although you need a mix of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, aerobic exercise actually decreases insulin secretion and can disrupt the regulation of blood sugar. A single bout of concentric resistance exercise is scientifically recognized as enhancer of the action of insulin and its effect will last at least two days beyond the exercise. Good protein intake is required for some of the exercise benefits but it tends to be burned as fuel in aerobic exercise while it is used to build tissue with anaerobic. The right exercise positively affects your physiology, your metabolism, and all of your biological systems and is the most effective tool available to produce wellness.
Stress is one of the most common words spoken in our culture. It turns out to be thought of as the most common cause of disease symptoms. Stress is not all bad but it does throw us off balance. Although it is true that stress can be a cause of disease it may not be for the reasons that we think. When patterns of normal function are disrupted, then disease is exhibited. Some will turn to medications and prescription drugs to alleviate the effects of stress. We suggest that you start with a group of herbs referred to as adaptogens. Adaptogens help organism adapt, increasing healthy resistance to stress and other environmental influences. These substances enhance bioenergetics (cellular energy processes) by protecting, restoring, and repairing mitochondrial function to give us an “energy reserve”.
Adaptogens enhance physical and mental performance and recovery. They support adrenal function and provide energy reserves. They help cells eliminate toxic byproducts and protect the body from things like radiation. They provide immune system enhancing function and increase the body’s resistance to infectious conditions. The data show that they also provide an anabolic environment and have an anti-catabolic effect. Siberian ginseng is the most well known herb that is adaptogenic. Rhodiola rosea and Schisandra Chinensis are used safely and effectively. One of my favorites is Ashwaganda and I also use Magnolia Officialis. The most potent in studies is Eleutherococcus. There are other choices as well like Chaga Mushroom, Codonopsis, Cordyceps, and Lepidium meyenii. In our clinic we utilize phosphatidylserine to lower cortisol in five HTP to enhance mood. There are also well known herbs such as chamomile tea or passionflower. The ultimate goal is to allow your body to rest and recover. We have to find a way to pull the body out of its constant sympathetic response and find the parasympathetic which promotes rebuilding.