When I see patients that have been trying to take care of themselves, many of them will boast that they are Vegetarian, Vegan, or "non-red-meat" eaters. Sometimes my patients will even ask if it's healthier to be on a "meatless" diet. Although there is plenty of research that indicates eating a vegetarian/vegan diet is healthier, I personally do not recommend this for most people.
There are many biblical based diets, such as the "Hallelujah diet", the "Daniel Diet", and just the plain vegetarian lifestyle, and I hear many people refer to this healthier way of eating as "God-ordained". This is where my skepticism comes into play. Does the bible ever forbid us from eating meat? Absolutely not! Yes, the Jews were told to not eat cud-chewing or two-hoofed animals, or fish without scales or fins (Lev. 11:3-10). (These prohibitions were later nullified in the new testament in Acts 10:15 and Col. 2:16) But even though we see Daniel and his three wise friends asking to be allowed to eat a vegetarian diet, this is very analogous to the results we see in research today that justifies a meatless diet. (More on this later.)
Nebuchadnezzar wanted his wise men to be fed with the king's meat and wine for three years, learn the new language of their captors, and then be brought before King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel requested not to be "defiled" with this food, and asked to only be given vegetables and water. We're not told the specifics of the king's food, but it was very likely rich with sauces, breads and other delicacies, along with the meat and wine.
After 10 days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than the others the king was feeding his diet to, so many have insisted that this meatless diet was what God had intended for a healthy diet to consist of. But there are too many other instances where God actually gives the Israelites meat to eat - starting back in the garden of Eden. Able was a herdsman, and offered up a burnt sacrifice (of meat and fat) to the Lord. How would he even know how to do this if he wasn't eating it himself, as well as the others?
God also commanded the Israelites to eat lamb during the Passover before they left Egypt, and then again provided quail for them in the wilderness. Would God provide something for His children, and even encourage them to eat it if it wasn't healthy? And why would He have designed us to be able to digest meat, as well as vegetables if we weren't intended to eat it?
So here's the problem with jumping to conclusions without having ALL the facts: We don't know why Daniel insisted that the king's foods would defile him - but there was obviously something in that diet that altered the complexion and made the people unhealthier looking than vegetables and water. Could it have been the sauces, breads and wine that caused that effect? We just don't know. (Unless Nebuchadnezzar's meats included pork and crustaceans.)
And even today, when we know that gluten (breads and pasta) are detrimental to many peoples health - Jesus ate bread, and even gave it to others! Doesn't that prove that just because people were allowed or encouraged to eat it thousands of years ago doesn't mean that it's healthy?
Consider this: The bread they ate 2,000 and plus years ago were first of all sun-baked - not oven baked at high temperatures. (This alters the wheat, making it even more difficult to digest.) And today, due to hybrids, the gluten content of wheat has increased substantially (because food corporations LIKE the texture it provides, and encourage farmers to use high-gluten seed for growing grains). On top of that, gluten is typically added to breads and pastas which causes intestinal problems with many people, and even provokes auto-immune disease. (That's to say nothing of the glyphosate they saturate it with!)
My point is that our food has changed today. So we don't want to judge something as being bad for our health based on the foods people ate back in biblical times (or if you believe in evolution - the caveman diet). Our food is now processed, has many additives, hormones, antibiotics, chemicals and things that are NOT good for us.
Therefore, when studies are done on vegetarians vs meat-eaters, we have to ask ourselves: "Did they eat grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and organic range-free chicken, or did they feast on McDonald's and Long John Silver's diets that are filled with additives, oils, hormones and antibiotics known to be bad for our health?" And how can you compare a Seventh Day Adventist with someone eating the Standard American Diet, where their faith requires them to be free from smoking and alcohol, maintaining healthy lifestyles and even exercising regularly? People who are Vegetarians/Vegans are typically people more concerned about their health, and do many other beneficial things for themselves, other than just avoiding meat in their diets.
Dr. Mark Hyman just did an interview with Chris Kressor that talks about the erroneous conclusions that many dieticians and doctors are coming to, based on inadequate clinical trials that have compared meat eaters with non-meat eaters. If you are interested in watching it, here is the link.
The bottom line is this: If you like meat, you can eat it in moderation - but avoid the antibiotic and hormone-fed animals. Yes, organic meat (and wild-caught fish) costs more...but isn't your health worth it? (Especially if you still get to eat something you truly enjoy!)
Wishing you Abundant Health,
Something I've taken notice in my elderly patients as they cross that 60's milestone (including myself), these folks have given up on the grandiose idea of ever looking or feeling like they did in their 20's or 30's. If they haven't attained their high school weight, if they're suffering with chronic disease, aches and pains...and even life threatening illness - their goal changes from looking and feeling young again to that more in lines of preserving what they have left.
But even at later stages in life, when people are willing to make some strategic lifestyle changes, begin exercising regularly, detox the hundreds of toxins they've accumulated in their bodies through the years...and yes - even change their diet, life can be much better.
But there is a positive note to growing older. (And I believe this far outweighs all the deterioration that's going on in the body.) That's the changing outlook on life. In our younger years, life's pursuits tend to be focused on material gains: Having a nice house, a fancy new car, all the latest gadgets...even saving up for a long and comfortable retirement. As we get older, that focus begins to change to preserving our health, for one - to be able to enjoy the activities that we CAN perform, and be around for our kids and grand kids.
But as II Cor. 4:16 states: "For we do not lose heart. For although our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day". If we let Him, God is preparing us for transition from this temporal and decaying world to one of an eternal one...with new bodies that never grow old or get sick. These fading material things become less and less important, and the things that are truly of lasting importance (such as relationships, loving, giving, and growing closer to God) become our main focus in life.
What's truly amazing is that as we focus on the important, and less on the trivial and fading things of life, we begin to enjoy all these things all the more...including better health. It's too bad we can't all learn this lesson earlier in life!
"Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Mt. 6:33)
Wishing you abundant health (and life),
Trying to give up certain foods may seem impossible, because your cravings for them are so intense. But is this merely an emotional addiction...or is there an actual physiological component to it?
If you are a coffee drinker, and try to give it up for a period, you might notice you experience headaches, agitation, and even shakiness. This tells you that you have a physiological dependence or addiction to that black heavenly brew. The same goes for sugar. Trying to break the sugar craving can be as difficult as stopping smoking. This however, is due to a different mechanism. Coffee contains caffeine - a chemical stimulant that can cause a physiological dependence. Sugar, however, creates a metabolic reaction, causing the pancreas to secrete insulin to get the sugar into your body's cells, but at the same time, triggers the pleasure center in your brain - which is very similar to other types of addictions.
But there are two other common foods that most people are completely unaware of the physiological effect on their brain and body: Dairy and Gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut. Dairy contains two proteins: whey and casein. Casein - in dairy, and gluten - in grains, can both cross the blood-brain barrier. Once they do, they are termed "caseinomorphine and gluteomorphine".
The reason these proteins have the "morphine" attached to their names is due to the physiological effect that it has on the brain. It stimulates the "morphine" receptors and can have the same addictive response as heroine or other narcotics. In other words, coming off of these addictive foods can not only stimulate severe cravings for them, but cause physiological reactions such as headaches, nausea, insomnia, irritability, and other symptoms.
There are lab tests that can be performed to determine if these proteins are crossing your blood-brain barrier, stimulating this type of response. But just as important, these tests can detect if your body is having a response from them, causing damage (or increased anti-bodies) to other tissues. You see, it's not the addictive nature of these proteins that are so detrimental to your health, but the immune response that it has against your own tissues. For example, Crohn's or Celiac disease is an auto-immune response to the gastrointestinal tract. But any tissue in your body can be erroneously targeted as the "enemy" by your immune system: The thyroid, pancreas, skin, lungs, bone, stomach, intestines, etc.
Most people aren't willing to put in the effort to get these foods out of their diet until they experience pain, disability, or life-threatening disease. But with the incidence of auto-immune disease on the rise, why wait to experience full blown symptoms and disease when you can detect and prevent it today?
Don't wait to see a functional medicine practitioner if you have this concern!
Wishing you Abundant Health,
Dr. John Filippini
I get asked quite frequently by my injured, overweight or elder patients "What kind of exercise can I do to build up strength without hurting myself?" As I've grown older myself, I've had to modify my own exercise routine (which used to consist of weight training 2-3 times per week), and I think you are going to be thrilled with what I've discovered:
Isometrics! Now before you tune me out and write this off as "too simplistic", please hear me out. This 5 minute work out is not intended to bulk you up, but merely strengthen and tone your muscles. Yes, it will build a little muscle, and if you do longer sessions, isolating each muscle group, you can actually add muscle mass!
One of my colleagues used isometrics to put on 10 pounds of muscle mass in only 8 - 10 weeks. But he was doing about 15 minutes per day (the animal!), but he broke it up throughout the day to focus on different muscle groups. You can do these almost anywhere, whether it's at home, at work, the bathroom...anywhere you can take a 5 minute break.
How I do it: I stand in front of a mirror so I can see which muscles I'm trying to isolate (which is ALL of them), and starting out at about 75% maximum, I gradually build up to 100% contraction. I hold my arms out to the side, contracting the chest, abs, lats and back muscles, as well as my thigh and glut muscles. I squeeze as hard as I can for 30 seconds, and take a 30 second break in between while I brush each quadrant of my teeth while I'm getting ready for work. This allows me to do 5 sets of contractions, and by the time I'm done, I'm breathing hard and fully awake for the day.
When I'm fully contracting, my body shakes, but I don't hurt anywhere while I'm doing it. You WILL feel muscle soreness the next day, however, if you're doing them correctly. But since giving up weight training, I haven't injured myself anymore, my muscles are tone, and with proper diet and a simple walking program, it's easy to shed pounds and easily maintain a healthy weight.
You can focus on you thigh and ab muscles even sitting down...or while you're sitting in traffic. If you want to get really aggressive, you can push against walls, hold a squatting position, or isolate any muscle you want to tone up. Just be careful when you're pushing against immovable objects, because you can overdo it and hurt yourself. When you just resist against you own body's antagonistic muscles to balance the contraction, it's very difficult to hurt yourself.
Try it! What do you have to lose, other than a few inches, a sagging body and poor self-esteem? And who can't fit in just 5 minutes a day? NO MORE EXCUSES!!!
Chronic headaches, sinus infections and allergies are usually traced to the gut. When the gut becomes inflamed, due to exposure to certain foods, bacteria or other toxins, it releases cytokine messengers to alert the rest of the immune system that it's under attack. These other tissues can then respond with inflammation and symptoms that you would never guess originated in the gut. Treat the gut...heal the brain (along with many other tissues and organs).
As a functional medicine practitioner, one of the most common deficiencies I find in my patient's lab work is low vitamin D - 25(OH). And what's frustrating is the fact that many of these patients have been told by their M.D.'s that they are within normal range...even when they're in the low 30's and 40's.
Even though these numbers may fall within the "normal" range, as we increase these levels, I've seen remarkable changes in my patient's health. What should vitamin D levels be at? I like to get my patients as close to 100 as possible, and some practitioners will shoot for even higher levels - closer to 150!
Why is vitamin D so important?
Insufficient vitamin D levels can cause:
It's amazing how this one vitamin deficiency can be the underlying culprit of so many symptoms and disease processes. But just as amazing is how easily these problems can be resolved - or better yet, avoided, simply by supplementing your diet with sufficient vitamin D intake.
How much vitamin D should a person take?
We are actually supposed to produce our own vitamin D when we're exposed to sunlight. But even here, in sunny California, it doesn't seem to be enough. I don't know if it's attributed to our poor Standard American Diet, or possibly all the toxins we're exposed to, somehow effecting our vitamin D synthesis. (The average adult has been documented to have over 700 toxins in their system...many of which are carcinogenic.) But I've only found 2 patients over the past 10 years of lab testing that had healthy levels of serum vitamin D...and they were already supplementing with high doses.
Foods that are rich in vitamin D
D3 (from sun exposure and meat products) is substantially more effective than D2 (found in plants) in raising your vitamin D levels. Wild salmon, herring, sardines, cod, trout, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms, milk and cheese (which I highly recommend organic, if you must drink milk), soy milk (which I discourage my patients from, as soy is an endocrine disruptor, and can cause hormonal problems), almond milk, liver, ham, and other "fortified" foods (orange juice, dairy, cereal, etc.), pork chops, beef and chicken all contain higher levels of vitamin D. But even if you are eating these foods regularly, I would challenge you to have your serum vitamin D levels checked...especially if you are experiencing any of the symptoms or health disorders described above.
Foods that are "fortified" are usually processed or pasteurized, which destroys their natural vitamin content. So to be considered healthy and nutritious, large food corporations add synthetic vitamins to make it sound healthier. Synthetic vitamins are not recognized by the body the same as natural occurring vitamins...but that's for another time.
If you are supplementing your diet with vitamin D, I typically start my patients on 10,000 iu/day (as well as taking that much, myself). If you are "lab low" in vitamin D (below 35), have your doctor monitor your lab work every 3 months until you get up as close to 100 as possible. If you go above 100, you can back off to 5,000 iu/day. Yes - your M.D. will freak out if he/she sees your vitamin D above 80 - but that's OK. It's YOUR health - not theirs. And unless your MD has had post-graduate training in nutrition, they will likely know nothing about nutrition (other than what the drug and pharmaceutical companies teach them). Too high vitamin D levels are rare, and usually require long-term VERY high doses of supplementation. You won't get too much vitamin D from simply eating vitamin D rich foods.
Symptoms of too high vitamin D levels (typically not found in levels below 300) include: Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, forgetfulness, and slurred speech, among others. But again, you would have to be on very high doses of supplementation for a long time. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and it can therefore build up in your system. But compared to the risks of low vitamin D, getting too much should not even be a concern.
Wishing you Abundant Health,
John Filippini, D.C.
Place a glass of water next to your bed at night and work up a healthy amount of saliva, then spit it into the glass. If the spit forms tentacles sinking down in the water, this indicates the presence of candida.