The Over-Prescription​ of Opioid Drugs

The over-prescription of opioid drugs is resulting in enormous problems nationally and locally. In this blog, I will reference an article written by Dr. Joe Mercola (www.mercola.com), “How Pharma Sabotaged the Drug Enforcement Agency and Caused Hundreds of Thousands of Deaths” along with a few pieces local to Fayetteville and North Carolina overall.

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Some highlights from the Mercola article:

*The Manchester, New Hampshire Fire Department responds to more calls for drug overdoses than fires these days. In 2015, 33,091 Americans died from an opioid-related overdose; 15,281 were by prescription.

*In a recent episode of 60 Minutes, DEA Whistleblower Joe Rannazzisi lays the blame for the opioid crisis squarely on the shoulders of the drug industry–especially the drug distributors and Congress.

*Rather than taking proactive steps to curtail the opioid epidemic, industry lobbyists and Congress made it virtually impossible for the DEA to take action against the top offenders and promoters of the epidemic by enacting the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.

*President Trump has reconfirmed his intention to declare opioid addiction a national emergency, thereby securing much-needed funds and policy initiatives to address the burgeoning epidemic.

*As of February 1, 2018, CVS Pharmacy will limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for certain health conditions. By doing so, CVS becomes the first pharmacy chain to restrict doctors’ ability to overprescribe the drugs.
The article also details a list of non-drug solutions to pain relief. And it’s extremely important to be fully aware of the addictive potential of opioid drugs and to seriously weigh your need for them. There are many other ways to address pain. Clearly, there are times when pain is so severe that a narcotic pain reliever may be warranted. But even in those instances, there are options that allow you to at least reduce the amount you take or the frequency at which you need to take them.
These options include:

Chiropractic – Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially for pain. This includes headaches, spinal pain, and extremity pain (shoulders, knees, hips, feet, TMJ etc).

Acupuncture – Research has discovered the positive effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.

Physical Therapy – Studies have shown it to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.

Supplements –  Astaxanthin, ginger, curcumin, boswellia, bromelain, evening primrose oil, black currant oil, and borage oil and cayenne cream are effective in reducing inflammation.

So how did we arrive the level of national crisis created by opioid addiction and overdose deaths?

061017_opioid-alternatives_mainAn editorial appearing in The Asheville Citizen states Buncombe County has filed a federal lawsuit naming 23 firms, including five of the largest manufacturers of prescription opioids, the three largest wholesale drug distributors in the U.S., and their related companies. No specific amount of damages is asked. The lawsuit claims the distributors and manufacturers engaged in “false, deceptive and unfair marketing and/or unlawful diversion of prescription opioid.” Opioids have important legitimate uses as pain-killers, but they are being misused widely with catastrophic results. Opioids were responsible for 33,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2015 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016 the number rose to 64,000. Buncombe County’s death toll in 2016 was 42. In 2017 there were 200 opioid overdoses in the first eight months. That is more than twice the number reported for the same period in 2016.

Why sue the manufacturers and distributors of opioids?

opioid_epidemicThe industry is producing far more than possibly be used legally. We must hold responsible those physicians who prescribe too freely, pharmacists who fill questionable prescriptions, and those manufacturers who turn out far too many pills than are needed for legitimate pain control.

The Fayetteville Observer article of November 19, 2017 entitled “Oxycontin Maker Approaches States with Settlement Deal” states Purdue Pharma is proposing a global settlement in an attempt to end state investigations and lawsuits over the U.S. opioid epidemic. Opioid makers are accused of creating a public-health crisis through their marketing of the painkillers. More than a dozen states and 100 counties and cities already sued Purdue, and other opioid makers and drug distributors. A group of 41 state attorneys is also investigating how companies like Purdue and other opioid makers marketed and sold prescription opioids.

An editorial in The Fayetteville Observer entitled “Lawsuits May Aid Addiction Battle,” states New Hanover County has sued opioid manufacturers and distributors, attempting to recover some of the exorbitant costs that the opioid epidemic has imposed. According to one study, the county has what may be the worst opioid addiction problem in the country. The suit filed in U.S. District Court, asks that drug companies pay for past and future costs of dealing with the epidemic. The county wants the manufacturers and distributors to create an “Abatement Fund” to cover medical care, addiction treatment, law enforcement, and caring for children often left homeless by addicted parents. The suit states, “The distributors and manufacturers intentionally and/or unlawfully breached their legal duties under federal and state law to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report suspicious orders of prescriptions opiates.” The suit continues that drug makers, “aggressively pushed highly addictive opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction.” Extensive marketing campaigns that downplayed the serious dangers of opioids have been widely documented in the past few years. We are seeing that stronger law enforcement is not the answer after a person becomes addicted. Treatment is absolutely necessary and must be expanded.

Accountability must be assigned to the drug manufacturers and distributors. The production of opioids far exceeds the needs for legitimate pain management. Reduce the supply of the drugs from the drug manufacturers and establish limits on the prescription of opioids by medical practitioners will help to prevent new incidents of addiction.

What are your thoughts? What do you think needs to be done to help in this crisis?

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This Season of Giving

During this Christmas season and as we approach the passing of 2017, I think of gifts.

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I am thankful, eternally grateful for the gift of life from my Lord, Jesus Christ. He continues to take me deeper into relationship with Him. I have learned to trust Him in every situation and challenge.

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I am thankful for my wife, Donna. Her trust and confidence in me encourage me to accomplish more than I thought possible. Her steady, solid faith in God strengthens my faith.

I am thankful for my children.

 


My son, Chris, with his quiet, steady presence. My daughter-in-law, Anna, with her gift of creativity and excellence. My granddaughter, Gracen, and her gift of expression as Elvis or as an angel. My grandson, Aaron, and his gift of prayer and performance as Elmer in his Christmas play.

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My daughter, Allison, and her gift of communication. Her words bring clarity as she edits my blogs and sharpens my thinking. My son-in-law, Scott, and his gift of duty and honor. His quiet confidence coupled with extensive military training mark him as a leader.

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My son, Erich, and his gift of determination. His drive to achieve the goals he sets for himself. His focus and willingness to sacrifice. His girlfriend, Maddy, and her gift of love and support for Erich. Her gift of focus and determination to complete law school.

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My daughter, Emily, and her gift of enthusiasm and excellence. In every task, challenge, or assignment Emily invests all of herself. My daughter-in-law, Megan, and her gift of joy and affirmation. She so willingly gives of herself and encourages everyone she knows.

I take great joy in these gifts. These gifts are exchanged each time we have a gathering. These gifts keep me balanced and moving forward in my life assignment.

Merry Christmas to all of you and blessings and peace into 2018 and beyond!!!

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PREVENT Symptoms, Don’t Mask Them!

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Dr. David Fonke, DC

 

We always say it’s better to prevent the symptom than to mask it. But why? Most people would maybe feel just fine with simply not feeling the pain. But why should you negotiate the symptom instead of masking it with painkillers?

A symptom is a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a person indicating the presence of an unusual condition or disease.

During my consultation, I always ask about the onset of the symptom. I use a scale of 0-10 to establish the intensity of the symptom. 0 = absent and 10 = agonizing. Using the scale we establish the minimum and maximum levels of pain/discomfort. When did it begin? If the symptoms have been experienced for months to years they could be termed chronic. If it is a recent onset, it is either a new cause or an exacerbation of an existing condition. If the pain/discomfort is approximately the same from day-to-day, many people learn to deal with this level of discomfort. They get used to feeling bad/uncomfortable. As long as the discomfort stays within a narrow range, manageable by medication, etc., they learn to live with it. If the pain becomes acute, then they will seek help.

Furthermore, all symptoms have causes. Injuries, traumas, and infections cause symptoms. Symptoms will demonstrate as pain, changes in consciousness, nausea, and fever. These conditions are termed acute.

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So then the question then becomes, Is it preferable to reduce the level of pain/symptom or even eliminate it? Pain can be a signal that something in your body is injured or malfunctioning. Taking something (a drug) to reduce the pain will result in making the injury worse or being able to ignore a disease cycle affecting an organ system. If reducing pain allows you to increase your activity level, this could result in increasing the damage to your body. The only time reducing pain would be an advantage would be to rest/sleep. Sleep is necessary for healing too. Loss of sleep or sleep interrupted by pain will inhibit healing and recovery.

As you can see, this absence of symptoms can be misleading. Typically most people view the absence of symptoms as an indicator of good health. But the truth is the absence of symptoms is a very poor indicator of good health. Consider a diagnosis of cancer, high blood pressure, or diabetes. In each of these health challenges, symptoms appear after the condition has become established in the body. No one has a symptom in the early stages of these conditions. Symptoms become evident after the condition has progressed. The absence of symptoms in each of these conditions misleads a person to think they are healthy. Vertebral subluxations rarely cause symptoms in the early stages. Chiropractic wellness checks along with medical wellness checks identify potential problem areas and allow correction before they become acute/symptomatic.

For more information on preventing symptoms and disease by focusing on WELLNESS, contact our office: (910) 436-3336 or drop by and see us. Also, we have more information on our website and Facebook page.

Please comment and share–we love your feedback and we’re happy to answer your questions!

Chiropractic Wellness Clinic is located at 1570 NC Highway 24/87, Cameron, NC 28326

Why People Keep Getting Adjusted

Why do people choose chiropractic care? And why do some people continue with chiropractic care when they have no pain symptoms? Motivations for care vary from patient to patient. And choices usually result from two motivators. The patient either seeks to reduce a symptom or the patient seeks to improve his or her health. In this month’s blog, Dr. Fonke discusses the answers to these questions and ideas.

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Motivations to Begin Chiropractic Care

I have had patients seek chiropractic care for a wide variety of symptoms. Spinal pain, neck, mid-back, and lower-back are symptoms I see daily. In addition, I adjust for TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) feet, elbows, shoulders, wrists, sinuses, ears, headaches, dizziness, incontinence, bedwetting, constipation/diarrhea, menstrual problems, heartburn, etc. In some cases, the extremity is subluxated out of position or not moving properly. In other cases, the spinal vertebrae are subluxated resulting in dysfunction of the organ system.

The Wellness Concept

Many patients continue care because they discover they feel better and their body functions better with regular chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic care improves the function of the central nervous system. Subluxations interfere with the communication between the central nervous system and the body, and between the body and the central nervous system. 8765570_origInterference with this two-way communication system results in dysfunction. The brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) control every function of the body in both healing and regulation. Interference caused by subluxations in the central nervous system will affect healing and regulation. Chiropractic care optimizes healing and regulation by reducing the interference caused by subluxations. And regular chiropractic care minimizes reliance upon symptoms to seek care. This is the wellness concept. Choices are made that contribute to health. People choose to exercise, follow a nutritional protocol, receive regular chiropractic adjustments, and avoid toxins such as alcohol or tobacco, because these choices improve health.

The Schedule of Care

For new patients I usually recommend 2-3 adjustments/week for 4 weeks. Each adjustment builds on the one before. The patient’s body begins to retain the benefit of the adjustment for longer periods of time. The first adjustment will hold between 8 and 12 hours. I monitor objective criteria in determining when to reduce the frequency from 2-3 adjustments/week to 1-2 adjustments/week. One criterion is vertebra or extremities that do not require an adjustment during a subsequent visit. This indicates that the area is holding the adjustment for longer periods of time. The second criterion concerns the difference in leg length. When the patient is lying facedown on the table there will be a measurable difference in the length of the legs. lumbar_test_2During the first adjustment, I have seen a difference of as much as 2 inches. During the initial care plan, I look for that difference in length to decrease. Over time that difference will reduce to 1/2 inch or less. This shows a decrease in the tension of the body and an improvement in balance and functions of the body. The tension occurs in the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. This tension is the result of misalignments in the spinal column and pelvis. When the patient’s body begins to hold an adjustment I can decrease the frequency of the visits. I will reduce to 1 adjustment/week and monitor their response.

My personal care plan is one adjustment each week. That is what is usually recommend for someone with an active lifestyle involving regular exercise, recreational activities, and well-managed stress levels. Some people do well with one adjustment/month. It truly depends on the individual.

Stress: A Multi-faceted State

Stress is a huge factor in a care plan and causes subluxations. Stress occurs in three primary categories; physical, chemical, and emotional. Physical stress is simply how we adapt to gravity and the effect gravity has upon our body as we move. Emotional/psychological stress is created throughout our relationships at work, home, and within society. As we encounter stress, muscles contract asymmetrically unequally and cause vertebrae to move out of position. Stress chemicals such as cortisol are released. Chemical stress is caused by ingesting, breathing in or absorbing toxins. This includes drugs (prescription, over the counter, or illegal). Pollutants in our atmosphere result in toxic effects as well. These chemical irritants cause inflammation and nervous system irritation, which would improve with a chiropractic adjustment, because as we stated earlier the central nervous system is comprised of your brain and spinal cord. See how it’s all connected?

Everyone improves with regular chiropractic care. The level of improvement depends upon when the individual begins care. Isn’t it time for you to get used to feeling good instead of being used to feeling bad?

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For more information about chiropractic adjustments check out our website. Or call us at (910) 436-3336. Like our Facebook page Chiropractic Wellness Clinic as well for daily updates and educational pieces. We CAN help you! Located at 1570 NC Highway 24/87
Cameron, North Carolina.

Why Regular Chiropractic Adjustments Improve Your Life

Why do people consult a chiropractor? Their reason(s) will correspond to levels of chiropractic care: relief, correction, maintenance, prevention, and wellness.

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Pain Relief

Many people begin chiropractic care to relieve an ache, pain or other obvious symptoms. The symptom may be resulting from a recent injury or an exacerbation of a chronic condition. Injuries will range from automobile accidents, to athletic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, slips and falls, overwork, and poor body mechanics. Chiropractic adjustments have a great track record for reducing pain. This reduction in pain is accompanied by improved range of motion. Chiropractic adjustments provide the alignment necessary for injuries to heal correctly. It is true that injuries heal without chiropractic care. However, this results in restricted range of motion and increased amounts of scar tissue. Pain relief/reduction will occur long before injured tissue heals completely.

Corrective, Maintenance, and Preventative Care

jpg-spine-clip-center Corrective care after pain relief allows the joints and their supporting tissues to strengthen and stabilize. This is particularly helpful in establishing balance and symmetry in the spine. Corrective care reduces the tilts and rotations resulting from subluxations (vertebra that are out of position or not moving properly). Maintenance care will preserve the progress made avoiding a relapse. Preventative care through periodic check-ups identifies new problems before they can become an issue. This will minimize flare ups.

Wellness Care

Wellness care incorporates chiropractic care as one of the primary strategies in optimizing health. The central nervous system is our master control system. It controls healing and regulation throughout our body. Subluxations reduce nerve signals through the spinal nerves affecting healing and regulation. Reducing subluxations through specific spinal adjustments improves nervous system function which improves healing and regulation. Wellness-based chiropractic care is not symptom-oriented. Rather, it is focused on optimal function. There are many anecdotal reports of improvement in function corresponding with chiropractic care. I have seen improved digestion, elimination, breathing, sinus conditions, hiatal hernia healing, and incontinence to name a few. These improvements are the direct result of correcting subluxations. Extremity adjustments are an area of chiropractic care most people are not aware of. Extremities refer to hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, feet, ankles, knees and hips; any area additional to the spine. Correcting subluxations of extremities definitely improves quality of life.

New Research: Chiropractic and Telomere Length

New research determined that chiropractic care increases telomere length. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA. These protect our chromosomes (genes) like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Without the coating, shoelaces become frayed until they can no longer do their job. DNA-telemere-img_29102013

Without telomeres, our DNA strands become damaged and our cell can’t do their job. The study published July 8, 2017, in the Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine reported that a female undergoing chiropractic care experienced an increase in her telomere length following 5 months of chiropractic care (36 visits). This is the first documented study showing increases in telomere length. Telomeres also have an effect on how our cells age. Our cells replenish by copying themselves and this happens constantly throughout our lives. Telomeres shorten each time a cell copies itself and eventually they get too short causing our cells to age. The patient in the study had complaints of chronic neck and mid back pain as well as nocturnal polyuria, waking up to urinate four times per night. The patient was examined and found to have vertebral subluxations. She had blood drawn and analyzed for telomere length. As mentioned above she was seen for 36 visits over 5 months. She maintained her regular life style throughout the chiropractic care. She later reported her pain resolved and her quality of life improved. She no longer had to urinate at night. The patient had blood drawn again to assess her telomere length which increased significantly.

This study shows the benefit of chiropractic care in reducing the aging of our cells. This brand new and exciting research! Chiropractic care can and WILL improve the function of the central nervous system and protect our genes. This is reason enough for chiropractic care to be included in everyone’s wellness plan.

For more information on chiropractic and how it can help or to schedule a free consult, call Chiropractic Wellness Clinic at (910) 436-3336 or learn more at our website.

We always welcome your comments and shares! Please follow our blog for more information.

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Summer Temperature Wellness

In this issue of the Chiropractic Wellness Clinic’s blog, Dr. Fonke discusses the importance of maintaining the correct temperature in the high heat of summer. Read on below for more information.

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Here we are in the midst of the NC summer heat. The heat index combines humidity with temperature, and the resulting number is what it “feels like” in the shade. For example, if the present temperature is 92 with a relative humidity of 46%, the heat index is 98, meaning the temperature in the shade feels like 98. The heat index would increase with activity and decreased air flow. This is important to understand because the human body cools itself by perspiration. Heat is removed from the body as perspiration evaporates. So, high humidity reduces evaporation and a reduction of heat being removed from the body. This is because of reduced air flow with reduced evaporation. The heat index will be perceived differently by individuals based upon age, obesity, metabolic differences, pregnancy, chronic illness, and many other factors. Additional factors that will increase the heat index include increased physical activity, exposure to direct sunlight, reflected heat, radiant heat (surfaces that absorb heat and then radiate), reduced air flow, restrictive clothing, and lack of head covering.

Heat Index Ranges to Consider:

*80-90 degrees F Caution: fatigue is possible with prolonged exposure and activity. Continuing activity could result in heat cramps.

*90-105 degrees F Extreme Caution: heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible. Continuing activity could result in heat stroke.

*105-130 degrees F Danger: heat cramps and heat exhaustion are likely; heat stroke is probable with continued activity.

*over 130 degrees F Extreme Danger: heat stroke is imminent.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion Include:

Confusion
Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
Dizziness
Fainting
Fatigue
Headache
Muscle or abdominal cramps
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Pale skin
Profuse sweating
Rapid heartbeat

These symptoms may occur in combination or individually. The first step in treatment is to move to a cooler environment. Loosen clothing to allow air circulation. Provide cool water or dilute a sports drink.

heatHeat Stroke is a medical emergency. The temperature regulating mechanism of the body fails and the internal temperature rises above 105 degrees F. The person no longer perspires as their temperature continues to rise. Without emergency treatment, they will lapse into a coma and die. Heat stroke begins as heat exhaustion showing the same symptoms. The progression to heat stroke occurs as perspiration stops and body temperature continues to rise. Anyone suffering heat exhaustion can develop heat stroke if untreated.

I have had one personal experience with heat exhaustion. I was helping my daughter move from ECU to New Bern. It was in July and it was hot and humid. We rented Penske’s biggest moving truck. We were loaded before noon and drove to New Bern. In the unloading process, I stayed in the moving truck and moved all items to the back of the truck for off-loading. As I remember it took about 3 hours to off-load. We had plenty of bottled water, and I drank frequently. When the van was empty, I stepped down and went inside. Then it hit me! Suddenly I was dizzy and very tired. I lay on the floor but the room continued to spin. I knew I w,as in a state of heat stress/exhaustion. I rested, drank cool water and made every effort to lower my body temperature with air flow and cool compresses. I was unable to walk without assistance. Someone had to support me as I walked. Twelve hours later I was recovering finally.

Interior car temperatures can be lethal. An outside temperature of 90 degrees can elevate to 109 degrees in ten minutes and 124 degrees in 30 minutes. Test show lowering the windows 1-2 inches makes no difference. Never leave your pet in a locked vehicle. It should go without saying to never leave a child in a car unattended, especially in the heat. People forget, become distracted, and leave children in the vehicle. In the US an average of 38 children die each year in this way.

I say all of this to help us to understand that we all are susceptible to heat injury and illness, and in the moments that you least expect it sometimes. Listen to your body, don’t discount how you feel or how you read other’s behaviors like your pets and children. Make good choices—one of them being to drink a lot of water. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. We are here for total body wellness and want to educate the public on the best of ways to stay healthy!

Make sure you check out all that is going on with our clinic at our Facebook page and our website. Like what you see or have a question? Please comment and share!

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Rachel, Kim, and I in front of the office. We are all here to help!

Food Choices Contributing to Wellness

 

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Dr. Fonke chronicles his journey in nutrition and how it contributes to wellness.

 

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making changes toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. Food and nutrition are both integral parts of health. The basic need for food is energy, meaning food is the fuel for our body. Food provides the energy necessary for the brain to function and muscles to move the body. Food provides energy for the body to grow, heal injuries, or fight infections. The energy component of food is simple: 4 calories/gram of carbohydrate, 4 calories/gram of protein, 7 calories/gram of alcohol (ethanol), 9 calories/gram of fat. Other components of food that have no calorie content include water, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients used in the chemical reactions of the body.

I was born in 1948. I have 4 brother and 3 sisters. My dad was an Air Force Officer, a pilot. My Mom was a stay at home Mom. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s my nutrition choices were pretty minimal – which cereal to eat for breakfast and could I have seconds of something at dinner. Mom was a great cook, so there was always plenty of good food on the table at each meal.

During the school week, breakfast was simple: dry cereal with milk and maybe some fruit. With all that was necessary to get us all ready for school there was no time to cook. I liked cereal and we always had five or six different options. We went through a lot of cereal and milk. I think I was 13 or 14 years old when I became aware of physical stature. I was about 5′ 9″ and weighed about 120 pounds. Yep, a little on the skinny side! I talked Mom and Dad into buying a set of weights from Sears. 110 pounds of plates, a bar, and 2 dumbbells. Then I bought mail order courses on weight training. The courses advised eating more protein to help gain weight. I ate more with little effect. It was about this time that Adelle Davis’ book, Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit, arrived in our home. I’m not sure who brought it home, but Mom liked it. Soon we were taking supplements. This included a multi vitamin, B-Complex, and vitamin C. I didn’t experience any dramatic changes and was still trying to gain weight. This was my introduction to nutritional supplementation. I took the supplements more as an insurance factor to be sure I was not deficient in those nutrients.

By the time I graduated from High School in 1967, I weighed 150 pounds. Cafeteria food provided my choices in college, and I began educating myself about nutritional supplements. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1971. I still weighed about 150 pounds.

Air Force bases had good recreational facilities, so I began working out regularly and gradually developed a routine that worked for me. I made gains in muscle mass and strength, and I also began to incorporate more nutritional supplements in my diet. I ate most of my meals in the dining hall making choices based on what I liked, not what would have been healthy. I ate to supply calories with some emphasis on protein intake. I also included as much bread, pasta, rice, and desserts as I wanted. I still did not recognize the importance of a nutritional plan.

My goal continued to be a change in my body through gains in muscle mass. I was single-minded, and by contrast, wellness is multidimensional. Nutritional choices consisted of eating extra protein along with everything else. I graduated from college in 1977 with a B.S. in Physical Education. Instead of teaching, I went into the commercial fitness business. Fitness centers were gaining in popularity, and I bought into a Nautilus fitness center along with another partner. In addition to workout advice, members asked about nutritional strategies to gain or lose weight, gain muscle mass, and decrease body fat. Our advice in the 1980’s was to add more protein in the diet. Eat more with each meal and also supplement with protein shakes. Protein supplements took the place of making good food choices. It was all about taking in enough protein to support muscle growth and prevent muscle loss when reducing body fat. More cardiovascular exercise was added to reduce body fat. That advice remained unchanged for years.

When I reached the age of 40 my metabolism changed. I found my body weight increasing. Read that as an increase in body fat percentage. In order to keep my body fat percentage down, I increased my workout levels. I added more cardio training and increased the number of workouts per week, and this worked for a few years. Eventually, I realized I could not exercise enough to offset too many calories. I also began to make changes in the percentage of calories from carbohydrate, protein and fat. Protein had been the highest percentage of my calories for years. Now I began to increase the amount of fat and decrease the amount of carbohydrate. The Atkin’s Diet received a great deal of publicity. It centered on low or zero carbohydrate intake. There were problems associated with the implementation of this diet. Too much, too soon resulted in cardiac problems in some people. I read the book but found the diet too restrictive. Fast forward to 2001. I was introduced to the book Life Without Bread, authored by Christian B. Allan, Ph.D and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D.51eqIppDiPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Dr. Allan has a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of the Pacific. He has performed research on the chemistry of minerals, biochemistry and nutrition at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lutz has studied low-carbohydrate nutrition on thousands of patients in his clinical practice. His first book was written and published in Germany in 1967. The German title Leben Ohne Brot, translates into Life Without Bread. The nutritional guidelines allow bread as one of the sources of carbohydrate. The primary constraint is to limit carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 72 grams/day. Life Without Bread, published in 2000 includes over 40 years of Dr. Lutz’ clinical experience with low carbohydrate nutrition and Dr. Allan’s research into the medical and biochemical relevance of low carbohydrate nutrition. The book clearly defines for the reader the difference between fact, theory, and opinion. Observations of the benefit of low carbohydrate nutrition are explored in chapter 2 of the book. Herodotus records a meeting in the 5th century B.C. between an Ethiopian king and Persian king. The Persians ate bread. The Ethiopians ate mostly boiled meat and drank milk. The Persians lived into their 80’s, the Ethiopians into their 120’s. There were references in the 1700’s and 1800’s to abstaining from starch and sugar as a means of reducing body weight. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Weston A. Price and his wife, Florence, traveled around the world to study primitive populations. Dr. Price, a dentist, was convinced that changing from what he termed “primitive foods”, foods to which humans had adapted to over thousands of years–to modern processed foods was a key to degenerative diseases of modern civilization.

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Dr. Price was the first to make the observation that the reduction of animal based foods and fats while increasing processed foods (primarily sugars, pastries and breads) directly impacted human health and contributed to degenerative diseases. The 1967 publication of Leben Ohne Brot was the beginning of the modern era of low carbohydrate nutrition. In 1972 John Yudkin, MD. looked at the relationship between sugar intake and disease. Dr. Robert Atkins MD, published Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution in 1972. 1995 saw books by Barry Sears, Ph.D, Enter the Zone, Dr. Herman Tarnower, The Complete Scarsdale Diet, Steward, Bethea, Andrews and Balart collaborated on Sugar Busters, Drs. Michael and Mary Eades, Protein Power. Additionally, there is Eat Fat, Lose Weight, Your Fat Can Make You Thin, Optimal Nutrition, Eat Fat, Get Thin. These books and authors all stepped away from the prevailing theory of low-fat nutrition. These books are not research studies. Rather, they offer anecdotal evidence in abundance that low carbohydrate nutrition supports overall improved health.

heart foodHowever, they support the theory that saturated fat is unhealthy in large amounts. The truth is the exact opposite. Saturated animal fat and protein are the cure for much of the degenerative diseases rampant in our society. I remember being in a Physiology class in 1997. The professor made the statement that saturated fat was the preferred energy source for cardiac muscle. He was quoting from our text Guyton, Textbook of Medical Physiology. This contradicted the accepted theory that fat, and particularly saturated fat, was bad for the human heart. How could the heart muscle prefer saturated fat as the energy source without resulting in damage or disease? A physiology textbook presents facts not opinions. I knew I had to reexamine the basis of low-fat nutrition being healthy. This also included a reexamination of evidence linking cholesterol with heart disease. I found that the major studies were flawed. They were based upon a bias toward fat and cholesterol. The studies were conducted to support the low-fat theory not to discover the truth. Life Without Bread devotes chapter 6 to examining and evaluating the original studies designed to prove that animal fats in the diet are a promoting factor for heart disease.

Life Without Bread, Chapter 3, examines the direct effect carbohydrate consumption has on hormonal balance and the subsequent effect on overall health. Chapter 3 highlights the hormone, insulin. Too much insulin can disrupt hormone balance leading to glandular disorders, degenerative diseases: diabetes, obesity, sexual maturation disorders, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, and cancer. Hormones are molecules that perform major regulatory functions in the body. In scientific language, hormones are referred to as “signalers”. They are so important that all other signals within the cell are ignored when a hormone signal is sent. Insulin is responsible for many of the disturbances seen in high carbohydrate eaters. Insulin responds directly to carbohydrates in our diet. Our body’s primary response to carbohydrates is the release of insulin into the bloodstream.

When you eat carbohydrates – simple or complex- insulin is released into the bloodstream to perform 2 main functions:

1. Insulin’s primary responsibility is to transport glucose into the cells to be used for energy. Glucose is a simple sugar formed from the breakdown of all carbohydrates in the intestine and the stomach.

2. The second function of insulin is to help convert and store the sugar as glycogen in the liver and as fat in fat cells. The fat is stored in the form of triglycerides in adipose (fat) tissue.

Another hormone, glucagon, has the opposite effect of insulin. It is the body’s messenger to metabolize, or use, fat. When insulin levels are low for a long enough period of time, glucagon should be released to begin burning fat. There is a balance between insulin and glucagon. If your body begins to store fat, this means that glucagon is not being released. It can also mean that you are not using all the energy you are supplying. The process of making new cells and tissue and breaking them down is called metabolism. Everything that takes place to maintain life in your organs, tissue, cells and cellular organelles comes under the term metabolism. It is a general term to describe all the biochemical reactions that keep the body alive. The human body strives to maintain balance between making new tissue and breaking it down. I suggest you learn more about this process and understand it before you make major changes in your diet.

For me, I recently became reacquainted with Life Without Bread. I had gone through a period of time where I reduced my food intake to one meal/day, usually the evening meal. During the day I would snack on graham crackers, saltine crackers or have a cup of coffee with coconut oil mixed in. The evening meal would be whatever I wanted. I combined this with 4-5 strength training workouts each week and a daily run of 15-20 minutes. I began to experience stomach pain throughout the day. Sometimes it would occur in the morning and sometimes later in the afternoon. Usually, snacks would relieve the discomfort for a short while, but other times I would feel bloated. The bloat could occur with little food on my stomach. I gradually gained weight as I increased my carbohydrate snack, which was frustrating. I peaked at 175 lbs and decided to make the change back to low carbohydrate nutrition. My stomach pain vanished in less that 1 week. Within 3 weeks I lost 10 lbs, and most of that from my waistline. Low-carbohydrate nutrition works for me. If you have an interest, I urge you to read the book, Life Without Bread. As the book advises, if you are over 35 years old, inform your health care provided of your intentions. Have some blood work done to establish beginning levels. Start slow, implement slow, take your time. Keep in mind that some changes in body systems and symptoms may take six months or longer.

Once you look at low carbohydrate nutrition as a lifestyle instead of a diet, you will find success in a whole new way! Let me know how it works for you!

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