If we where to check the meaning of the word “lifestyle”, its defined by the way a person chooses to live, and medicine is defined as anything that is used to treat or prevent disease. Lifestyle medicine has its roots well and truly in naturopathic medicine, it is the core of our teaching and no other profession can make this claim quite as securely as the naturopathic or nutritional medicine practitioner. Naturopathy and nutritional medicine, unlike orthodox medicine, is a mixed bag and what I mean by that is that not all practitioners are alike, in fact there are diverse differences in how we practice. The differences can be so great that it can be the cause of major frustration for doctors and clients alike…..! But we do all have one thing in common if nothing else, and that is a deep seated belief that changing how you live can and does have a HUGE impact on your health.
What Is LIFESTYLE MEDICINE?
Lets take a look at some of the things that are considered:
- Sleeping habits – how you sleep, the environment you sleep in, the quality of your sleep and the length of your sleep
- Diets – what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat, how you eat!
- Exercise – is it too intense, not intense enough, the form of exercise you do.
- Stress management – how you manage stress, is your tolerance to stress low, do you overreact, do you know how to recognise the signs that you are stressed – many techniques may be suggested to deal with stress management.
- Environmental stress management – with the surging levels of electromagnetic radiation (EMF) access such as WiFi, TV’s, mobile phones, iPads, smart meters and others having a direct affect on the nervous system and how cells signal each other and react we need to make an assessment of this area. Also chemicals placed on or absorbed through the skin from cleaning care and cosmetic products need to be considered.
How To Succeed With Lifestyle Medicine?
For most people you don’t need to change everything (unless you want to), in fact, one of the most important reasons to seek professional advise is so an assessment can be made, as to what things are most important for YOU. Some of the things that determine what to target are based on your symptoms, pathology results and family history. It is also important not to make too many changes at once, the likely hood of seeing long term changes stay permanent diminishes, when too much is taken on at once. A professional in this area will assess where you are at and what is achievable. The great thing with lifestyle changes is that there are usually many different ways to achieve changes.
Great Tips To Help You Win When Making Lifestyle Changes
- Knowledge doesn’t change behaviour necessarily
- Learning a new skill, requires repetition and a clear motive
- Avoid getting “will power fatigue” , its a muscle like any other, don’t over use it!
- Aim for a few changes at a time
- Shame gives short term results and depletes will power!
- Keep coming back to your motive
- Consider “social power” – we do what those around us do
- Consider “moral licence” – I went to the gym so I can have a lolly now!
- Consider mindfulness, it develops impulse control, changes your grey matter and strengthens prefrontal cortex
- Think in terms of stages of changes
- Understand that relapse is part of learning
- Big lists can be overwhelming
- Repetition and consistency develops new pathways
There is now like never before proven understanding that as humans we need a deep connection to nature, we need to connect with others, have meaningful relationships and a commitment to our own life. Lifestyle medicine is the way of the future, it is achievable by using practical and realistic solutions, which differs for each one of us.
Eat some more collagen and organ meat
Do I consume as much collagen and even organ meat as I should?
No I don’t but I have been adding a tablespoon or 2 of collagen (hydrolysate version is best) into my daily diet and I do like a bit of fried liver with thyme and onions or pate but just not as regularly as I really should.
Organ meats just have such high nutrient value they are invaluable. They are natures vitamin, mineral and nutrient punch. Things like vitamins B12, A, D & K, folate, choline, iron and Coenzyme Q-10.
Different versions of Carnivore Diets
Ok, back to CARNIVORE.
It has been around for quite a while but the last couple years it has really been gaining a ground swell of popularity.
It seems people are literally fixing or reversing long term chronic illnesses and on the way also gaining such vibrant health and people like Amber O’Hearn, Jordan and Mikhalia Peterson, Dr Shawn Baker breaking world records to boot and the folk at Paleomedicina.
Please note they actually all have their own way of carnivore dieting that work for them.
So never ever one diet for all!
Are there risks?
I know what you will be saying – we need plants in that our diet? What about fibre? What about feeding our gut bacteria? What about all the nutrients we need that we get from plants? What about red meat and bowel cancer?
These are important questions and we don’t have all the answers yet but there are signs of N=1 examples and multiple N = 1s showing tremendous benefits. Another way of saying this is, we don't have a scientific published clinical trial but, anecdotally 1000s of people as finding life changing health outcomes. Also people like Belinda and Dr Gary Fetke have highlighted information about where our current dietary paradigms and dogmas appear to have originated from here and here and also here.
Interestingly there are also numerous case reports of people eating nothing but meat for months to decades who suffer no apparent nutrient deficiencies.
When you consider the reverse and ask – is there any 1 singular plant food that when not supplemented in any way could sustain life for weeks to decades and show no clinical signs of deficiency?
The answer is an absolute - "NO there are is not a plant food that could do the same" as deficiencies are guaranteed, so interesting things to ponder.
Diet does change our gut microbiome and fermentable fibre is conventional thought of as being a key ingredient for healthy bacteria. Our gut bacteria usually need indigestible, fermentable plant fibre to eat and live. Some animal based foods, such as collagen, are also thought to feed our gut bacteria, so its an evolving space for now.
As Maria points out a diet such as carnivore (animal only, mostly meat based) can change our gut microbiome, in part by reducing bacteria digestible fibre therefore potentially reducing bacterial numbers and this in some cases may well be the reason for the benefits.
The devil may be in the details - poor gut health (leaky gut) and bacterial composition (dysbiosis or pathogens) may mean great results (especially for those with allergies and autoimmune conditions) with low fermentable fibre carnivore diet. but this may not be optimal for all of us.
Another concept is the increased diversity of our gut microbiome. Increased diversity is conventional thought of as beneficial and gives us a more robust health but again details may matter, as above, and there are a few reports of diversity actually going up on a carnivore diet, so go figure!
This also means that a carnivore diet may not be optimal for all of us and might only mean that if you can't tolerate fibre or plant based foods you may be better off on a animal based approach used as a therapeutic tool.
Something else that not many people talk about is a real and important risk of social isolation, this can include any highly restrictive eating pattern including plant based diets such veganism. As humans we need social interaction and contact for optimal health
So for some using a carnivore like diet in the short term may provide a perfect, yet extreme, reset. It can be used as a tool with a reintroduction of some plants foods when tolerated and this gives us convenience, flexibility, social interaction, antioxidants and an increased gut microbiome again with all the possible health benefits too. Mikhalia Peterson, who we mentioned above, actually does not enjoy her all meat restriction but continues to eat this way from necessity and continues to trial eating some plant foods provided she does not react.
The need to tweak and change
Here is what I will tell you – if you are chronically ill don’t keep pushing the ‘healthy’ diet whatever that is – vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, high fermented foods etc you need to rethink and change and try a different approach or sometimes just a small tweak may be needed.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome” and that is the whole point nothing is perfect and things need to change sometimes, so that is where we also come in to help and support you in finding something that works for you specifically.
Here is the punch line though – we (Maria, yes vego Maria, myself, one of he other clinic practitioners and a couple loony friends are going to do a month of eating only meat, water and salt - so yes all meat , just to see for ourselves what it feels like. Longer may be better but we thought we will see what a short trial does in our lives.
Stayed tuned for an up date as we are also taking pre and post diet pathology blood testing to also get an objective measure of what happens to our biochemistry.
All the best
Tim - Nutritional Medicine Specialist
You are different
You need a tailored treatment plan, using pathology testing to accurately and scientifically assess your health and risks.