A requirement for my medical school was to participate in health teaching. I chose to provide an informal session on alcohol, sex and drugs for a small group of freshman girls, the next generation of diverse women. I find this subject so important, because the issues confronting teenagers are numerous and can create a significant generational gap between them and their parents. It’s not as simple as just staying clean and not having sex to avoid pregnancy. The reality is that most teenagers at some point will drink alcohol and take drugs and/or become sexually active.
A fellow student recently equated being a medical school student with bumpy downhill skiing. You rocket down a hill and you jump, making some of the jumps, and missing many others. However, you can’t look back because you’ll fly into a tree. Of all the descriptions of being a first-year medical student, this is my favorite. Unfortunately, at the time all I could think about is how I hate downhill skiing. It terrifies me. Is hurtling down a hill on thin strips of metal to be considered fun? So, how do I, and all of us, get through this experience, and do it together, without flying into a tree?
Wake up in smiles
Because you are alive,
As God permits you
To see another day
Providing patient care without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, or religion is a core value of all medical professionals. However, do they extend the same level of tolerance, stand against prejudice, with other members of their profession?
Beginning in colonial America, the myth of the drunken Indian persisted throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The current, more “enlightened,” explanation for the high incidence of alcoholism among Native Americans, concludes that since they were exposed to alcohol for only the past few hundred years, they were genetically unprepared and, therefore, have little genetic “immunity.” American Native people, therefore, have little tolerance for alcohol, become intoxicated on small amounts, and, consequently, experience high rates of alcoholism. This belief, like many others concerning Native American culture, adds to the stereotype of genetic inferiority that continues to influence white American thinking.
Ninety years of living reduced to this: the slow counting of breaths followed by the Himalayan trek from bed to bidet to dimly observe the color of pee, the lethargic, sometimes movement of bowels, the hasty swipe with a baby wipe. And here we go again.
Regardless of whether it is a sudden sickness, fever, or an accident, a disability forces a person to face a new reality. No longer the same, he or she has to tackle the impediments that bind and overcome the barriers that appear on his or her horizon. A person in such a situation is labeled disabled.
I recently attended a fitness symposium featuring a presentation of the findings of the Lancet Study on global physical inactivity. The Lancet study on global inactivity was an attempt to measure global inactivity. And while the task could not be performed as scientifically as one would hope, the Lancet study is a milestone in researching the pandemic proportions of global inactivity, its determinants, harms, and strategies for intervention. Data was collected in 122 countries on adults and 105 countries on children. The information that I’ll share with you comes from the largest study on physical inactivity ever.
A few years ago I read Dan Buettner’s book, Blue Zones. He has written a follow up and has continued to research. I want to share with you what he calls the Power of 9. According to Buettner’s, Reverse Engineering Longevity, Life expectancy of an American born today averages 78.2 years. But this year, more than 70,000 Americans reached their 100th birthday. What are they doing that the average American isn’t (or won’t)?
I get asked about gluten on a regular basis! “Gluten free” has become the new health fad, and, as with most health fads, it has created a lot of confusion. The truth is that we don’t know a lot about it! We know that it is a protein complex found in wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye, corn, rice and farro – although corn and rice contain gluten too, it is a different form. Gluten gives dough its chewy, doughy feel and taste. It is also used as a stabilizing / thickening agent in many processed foods like ketchup, ice cream, pasta, beer, salad dressing and cold cut meats.
We also know that not all flours contain gluten, because not all flours are made with wheat. Gluten free flour can be made from potatoes, tapioca, amaranth, arrowroot, millet, montina, lupin, quinoa, sorghum, taro, teff, chia seed, yam, soybean, nut flours, buckwheat, gram flour and chick pea flour. Nut, seed, bean and vegetable flours are gluten free. In short: nut, seed, bean and vegetable flours are gluten free.
Who needs to avoid gluten? Anyone who has been diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that keeps a person’s body from tolerating gluten. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, his or her small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged, resulting in malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss because necessary nutrients cannot be absorbed properly. Symptoms may include a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue and headaches. Celiac is diagnosed through a blood test and a small bowel biopsy.
Some people simply have a sensitivity to gluten. Their symptoms are similar to those with celiac. For some, irritation is reduced when they eat less food that contains gluten; others must stop eating food with gluten all together.
However – for those who are not celiac and do not have a sensitivity, there is not a health benefit to discontinuing the use of foods that contain gluten, other than avoiding those which are not whole clean foods and are processed and refined!
There are many nutrient dense healthy foods that are high in gluten. In fact, if you eliminate all foods that contain gluten, and especially healthy one’s like whole wheat, kamut, spelt, rye and farro, there is a possibility that you might develop nutritional deficiencies.
As always, the key to nutrition lies in eating the following foods, in the following order:
- Green Veggies / Cruciferous Veggies
- Fruits and other vegetables
- Beans, Nuts, Seeds Potatoes / Corn / Whole Grains (except for those who are celiac or gluten sensitive)
- Organic Dairy Products from Grass Fed Sources (mainly plain yogurt)
- Beef, Poultry, Pork from free range / grass fed sources & Wild caught fish/seafood
Avoid refined processed foods. They are not foods at all. Eat a diet rich in a variety of clean whole foods, based in plant products. If you have any questions contact your physician, but remember that true medicine is regular exercise and clean whole foods.