Nutrition: Making Sense of Trying to Stay Healthy
by David Kartzman, DC
Nutrition is a conversation topic I find myself having with more of my patients than when I first started in practice. As the title of this article suggests, I want to be able to offer a basic sense approach to understanding what proper nutrition is, and of course, isn’t.
Being in practice for over 28 years means I have acquired a great deal of experience and built on my knowledge base. It also means I am that many years older and facing my own realities of age and a different metabolism.
Nutrition and improved health goals have gone together for eons as elixirs, potions, tonics, herbs, and oils. Claims were made that these could treat many common illnesses, add vitality, and prevent some other common maladies or inconveniences of the day. At a time when health care science barely existed, such as way before antibiotics, people had few alternatives.
Fast forward this many years we are still marrying our well-being and nutrition together. Health care science has advanced enough so that we can look at the consequences and benefits of the foods we put in our bodies. Gluten intolerance and peanut allergies come to mind.
Our office policy regarding offering nutritional advice, especially any form of supplement, is that we are always concerned about interactions with a health condition you have or a medicine you are taking. We ask you to review any vitamins, minerals, and supplements with your primary physician.
My own personal opinion regarding nutrition is that the more you can do for yourself — health conscious grocery shopping, some form of regular exercise, and restorative sleep — should offer the greatest level of benefit. I am a strong believer that there are certain food choices we can make which can be healthy for us. For example, getting rid of what I call “cheap carbs.” These are soda (yes, even diet soda), candy, cakes, white breads, and certain sugars. Read the ingredient labels. I try to stay away from foods that have cane sugar or some variations of processed sugars. Unfortunately, many gluten-free foods and organic foods are also high in these; so shop carefully.
The general idea is to limit our cheap carb intake but good carbs such as fruits are important. Balance is so important as we can overcompensate with a higher percentage of proteins and fats. The keto diet is an example where this overemphasis occurs by using the concept of putting our bodies into ketosis, which is a state where we are forced to burn fats and then can lose weight (similar to diabetes). My feeling is that balance is the key, and for most of us, this can be too extreme. I am not brave enough to move into ketosis.
Finally, avoid looking at only counting calories. The idea behind counting calories is that if we burn more calories during the day than we take in we will lose weight. In the lab, this makes sense. If I eat 2 candy bars over the entire day, that caloric intake is much less than what my body will burn. I will lose weight, yes. But, I definitely will not be any more healthy. In real life, there is much more to this. Remember the key is to maintain health while being nutritious.
What to take from this article:
1. Find your balance between health and proper nutrition.
2. Read labels on food and supplements and do research.
3. DO NOT TAKE supplements, even minerals, until you have spoken with your physician. Medications and diseases can be affected and interaction risks need to be reduced first.
4. Cheap and low-tech can be good things.
5. Be committed to making food and lifestyle changes.