In this week’s Health News Reviews podcast I answered a question I’m often asked: “How do you stay objective in such a polarizing world?” Remaining objective in a world of sensational media is important, especially as functional medicine expands its reach. I also examine recent studies and what they actually mean for you.
Staying Objective About Your Health in a Polarized World
In my most recent Health News Reviews podcast, I expressed the concerns I have for functional medicine’s broad reaching reductionism.
Functional medicine is a field that is gaining traction in mainstream media, primarily because it considers the body as a whole system more so than conventional medicine.
Functional medicine is known for its attack on the reductionism of conventional medicine, and yet, in some aspects, I’m noticing doctors in that realm beginning to make similar mistakes.
For example, I believe the whole gluten concern has been blown a bit out of proportion. Too quickly, some doctors treat patients with low-level gluten intolerance as if they have celiac disease. But I believe that does their patients a disservice.
Figureheads in the functional medicine world readily started saying, “You can never have gluten. It kills people,” which is only true for the small one percent of the population where gluten causes problems of life threatening severity.
I worry that we could be at a precipice where functional medicine authorities make all-encompassing claims, which could ultimately lead to an overall sense of mistrust in the functional medicine community as more studies come out.
Many people ask me how I keep myself objective in a polarizing world. The truth is that it was a long journey. At first, I was dogmatic and heavily opinionated, like many health practitioners you see today.
It took me years to understand and work past the overzealous health guru mentality and realize that life really doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. I now take my time and draw better conclusions without making definitive statements right off the bat.
In a way, I believe the fact that I studied both conventional medicine and functional medicine makes me more aware of the weaknesses and the strengths of both approaches.
With this in mind, I want to take a balanced look at a couple of recent studies and pull out the most important conclusions and what they mean for you.
Exercise & Your Mitochondria
The first study I wanted to talk about found that exercise improves mitochondrial function. Your mitochondria are the parts of your cells that produce cellular energy, which is very important for organ function and overall health.
When your mitochondria aren’t functioning at optimum levels, it can cause fatigue in your day-to-day life.
Exercising translates into a more energy during the day and an overall improvement in organ function. It may seem difficult to work out when you’re feeling exhausted, but I want to encourage you to push past that feeling and try to work out; you may find it’s the answer to your problems. Exercise is one of the cheapest things you can implement in your life today to improve your cellular machinery.
Though if you do exercise and find it fatigues you consistently, I encourage you to work with your clinician and find out what exactly is going on.
Yoga & Anxiety
When it comes to working out, a study that many fanatical yoga practitioners love to quote suggests that yoga classes can improve social physique anxiety and increase body satisfaction.
Unfortunately, this only adds to the pile of correlational evidence suggesting that yoga is beneficial for improving body image. This could very well be a product of the community and social messages transmitted in the yoga sessions more so than the resistance training itself.
Is a Paleo Diet Right for You?
The next study looks at the effects of both Paleo and Mediterranean diet on inflammation and oxidative balance in adults.
The findings show that these types of diets are associated with lower levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in humans. This is good news overall, but as with many other studies, I believe it’s important to keep in mind that what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.
If you ever wondered whether the Paleo lifestyle should be recommended across the board, this study shows how differently individuals react to a diet high in fat and protein compared to the low-fat diets that are already recommended by most conventional health experts.
The conclusion is that some might experience irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea on the Paleo diet. Therefore, for some people, a strict Paleo diet might not be the best choice.
Sticking to the discussion of diet, a study conducted on healthy non-obese Chinese shows that low-fat, high-carb diets actually work better in some women. The high-carb diet had the best results when it came to weight loss and cholesterol.
A study on patients suffering from diabetes showed that a low-carb diet worked only slightly better compared to a high-fat one. Also, after one year the HbA1c (an indicator of diabetes onset) was similar in the two diet groups.
These studies are perfect examples of the importance of remaining objective, especially when your personal health is on the line. To dig deeper into recent studies and what they mean for your health, check out my latest Health News Reviews podcast, where we look at 20 different studies in depth.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.