What we are about to tell you is a little known fact… when you go to your doctor and she detects a problem like high blood pressure or a sugar issue or elevated cholesterol or high triglycerides… the first thing that she is supposed to do is give you some TLC!
No – not tender loving care – although that would be nice!
TLC = Therapeutic Lifestyle Change.
All of the “official” protocols supplied by the medical powers-that-be call for having the patient change their lifestyle first to see if that will control whatever is wrong before prescribing any sort of medication. So it usually looks like this: you go to your doctor and she does some blood work and discovers that your sugar is a little high. The doctor’s office calls you up and says that your sugar was elevated and that you need to do something about it. They want you to “watch your diet and get some exercise” and they want to repeat blood work in 6 weeks.
6 weeks later, after following the MD’s advice of “watching your diet and getting some exercise” (and that was the full extent of the advice!) you go back and your sugar is still high. That, combined with the fact that your father had diabetes, is impetus enough to start writing prescriptions.
The same scenario happens for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Our doctors do not have the time or financial incentives or maybe even the proper training to institute a meaningful Therapeutic Lifestyle Change program with us. Not only is this a huge shame; it is also the single most important reason why we are facing a health care crisis in this country today. The overwhelming cost of prescription medicines is the iceberg that this ship hit years ago… and we are about to sink. And the amount of suffering caused from the side effects of those medications is immeasurable; not to mention the reason for even more prescribing.
An important issue to consider is how to assess your individual risk for chronic disease. In other words – how do you know when it is important to pay attention to what your body is saying and intercede?
First of all, are you functioning at optimal levels or have you accepted that with aging comes decreased function? We are talking about fatigue, joint pain, poor sleep, poor memory, an expanding waistline, and hormonal imbalances to name a few. And, of course, the obvious indicators like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, low HDL, high triglycerides, increased blood glucose. Also, if you have a family history of any of these issues then you are automatically at risk.
Medical science has proven that if you have “Metabolic Syndrome” (sometimes also called Syndrome X or Insulin Resistance) than you are already laying the groundwork for practically every chronic disease that we are concerned about as we age, even many cancers. If you have 3 or more of these 5 indicators, then you likely have Metabolic Syndrome:
- Increased waist circumference
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Elevated Blood Sugar
- Elevated Triglycerides
- Decreased HDL
When this degenerative process begins in the body there are certain blood tests that will start to show abnormalities. The final change to show is fasting blood glucose. Once your fasting blood glucose is elevated your body is well along the road to trouble. In fact, at this point the horse is 9/10 of the way out of the barn. Unfortunately, this is the only blood test that our doctors typically do. A better test is fasting insulin, which is an important blood test that alerts us to problems with handling sugar much earlier in the process. That would allow us to intercede earlier and more easily affect positive change.
An appropriate Therapeutic Lifestyle Change program is one that focuses on gaining muscle mass and losing fat. Muscle mass is the number one biomarker of aging. Hence, the higher the muscle mass is, the greater the longevity. The best TLC programs then comprise dietary changes to include low-glycemic foods, moderate exercise, the right nutritional supplements, and stress management. These factors together allow the body to heal and optimize it’s potential for health. This kind of plan, when administered by trained medical practitioners, will assure the loss of fat, rather than muscle, as you lose weight.
When beginning a TLC program, it is important to understand your body composition. Just losing weight is not necessarily a suitable measurement of success. The percentage of fat vs. lean muscle mass, the percentage of water outside your cells vs. inside your cells, how healthy your cells are, your resting metabolic rate (how many calories you burn while at rest) — these are all important measurements to understand the true health of your body. Following changes in these measurements over time will give an accurate picture as to how your body is changing and healing.
At Well Being Healing Center and Holistic Pharmacy, we have the perfect measuring tool for assessing all of the above. Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) is a noninvasive method for computing body composition as it sends a tiny electrical pulse through your body via electrodes placed on the right hand and right foot. Using regression analysis the analyzer computes and prints results based on patient age, height, weight and gender. Body composition is measured via Resistance (the amount of effort it takes for the pulse to move through your body) and Reactance (the capacitance properties of the cell membrane).
In other words, we measure how quickly an electrical pulse travels from your hand to your foot and back. Water is an excellent conductor, so the more water content your cells have the faster the electrical impulse travels. Fat cells are only 15% water while muscle cells are 70% water.
With these amazingly accurate results, along with blood tests and evaluating how you feel, it becomes possible to chart the change in your health as you participate in a therapeutic lifestyle change program. Ultimately, what we find is that blood pressure comes down, cholesterol normalizes (LDL goes down and HDL goes up), triglycerides come down, blood sugar evens out, fat is lost and muscle is gained (or maintained)… and that people feel better, younger and more vibrant.
Learning to eat properly brings about these changes without medicine. Eating low-glycemic foods is the basis of healthy eating. Eating smaller, more frequent meals is also key. When we put someone on a TLC program there are certain rules that need to be followed in regards to the diet:
- You have to eat 5-6 times a day (every 2½ to 3 hours)
- You are never allowed to be hungry
- Your first meal should be within 30 – 45 minutes of waking up in the morning
- 2 of the 5-6 meals need to be “medical foods”
- Your diet needs to be as colorful as possible
A Therapeutic Lifestyle Change should be your first line of defense when it comes to treating chronic disease and maybe, more importantly, preventing those diseases from ever happening in the first place! And you don’t need to wait for your doctor to tell you to do it nor can you rely on your doctor to help guide you. This has to be a choice that you make on your own. And it has to be taken seriously. And if you do, we promise you, it is much more likely that the only time you will need to see your doctor is for yearly check-ups instead of monthly visits to see if your medicines are working.
The most powerful TLC program that we know of is called FIRSTLINE THERAPY, administered right in our office. This is a formal, structured, medically supervised program designed to help people learn to eat and live differently so that they lose weight and see all of the indicators of health change for the positive.
In patients that have followed the program, we have seen tremendous changes occur in 12 weeks. Not only do people loss weight and reduce their % body fat significantly, we also have observed blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels make amazing changes, and we have had patients be able to reduce or even completely eliminate prescription medicines (with the help of their MDs, of course) for the above conditions.
The FLT program involves scheduled visits to the office to first educate and then measure how things are changing as one goes through this process. Support is offered for every aspect of lifestyle, including; diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep, and monitoring progress. Each participant gets an FLT GUIDEBOOK, which we consider to be the owner’s manual for your body that you never were given when you were born.
We also recommend and provide “medical foods” to use as part of the program. These are specific shakes and bars that are a very important part of this process for specific reasons:
- They provide a low-glycemic, nutritionally balanced, protein source.
- They are a very convenient way of supplying 2 of the 5-6 meals a day eaten.
- They help enhance specific needs for individuals. For example, there are specific shakes that help with lowering cholesterol, or helping the body handle sugar more efficiently, or help to alleviate inflammation.
Studies have shown that people that use these specific “medical foods” along with the dietary changes lose more fat and maintain or gain more muscles than people who make the dietary changes alone.
Please feel free to call the office to discuss this program in more detail to see if it seems right for you!!