The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Nutrition, Why It Matters & How It Could Save or Change your Life
I used the right kind of physicians and nutrition to save the life of someone I love preventing a cancer diagnosis in the process as well as other rather horrific diagnoses that were predicted. Imagine my shock in about 2010 when I attended the American Dietetic Association (now called the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) and the Registered Dietitians who came to my booth there could not believe that my child was not on a feeding tube. I am not sure who was more shocked, me that having a feeding tube for a failure to thrive diagnosis with other complications was the norm, or the Registered Dietitians that I had managed to avoid both a feeding tube and an NG tube. One of the reasons for this post is that this subject comes up a lot when I talk about how to be healthy. Having this post allows me to refer consumers here for both information and downloadable images. Here’s what I am going to be covering for consumers relative to nutrition:
Medical disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical practitioner of any kind. You should get your medical advice from a licensed medical provider. What I am sharing with you does not constitute medical advice of any kind. I am merely providing my experience and research in this area, which is not medical advice. If you have a health problem, you should seek help from a licensed medical doctor or other licensed healthcare provider.
Personally, I have 14 years of experience with malnutrition, advanced nutritional testing, correcting malnutrition, malabsorption and the diagnosis of malabsorption, and IV nutrition therapy. In 2004, over a period of 5 months, once a month for 5 months one person per month who was in the medical field instructed me to research cancer even though I had a two-year old with food allergies. After the 5thperson in 5 months told me to research cancer I began researching cancer even though I was pretty angry about it. Two years later, in 2006, that research paid off as I was able to recognize through my research that without some immediate and significant change in this 4-year old’s nutritional status that a cancer diagnosis was on the horizon. The specialist at the time confirmed my research as a matter of fact. The next medical challenge for my little one without an immediate turnaround in nutrition was either cancer, leukemia, or a heart attack.
At that time, I was not schooled in the relationship between nutrition and cardiovascular disease or much else. I was in the infancy of my nutritional education. With a diagnosis of malabsorption, which came a year after intense supplementation to correct nutritional deficiencies that were demonstrated through advanced nutritional testing, I requested IV nutritional therapy because based on my research at that point, the only way to bypass malabsorption was either IV therapy or by injection. IV nutrition therapy made the most sense to me as an educated medical researcher – layperson that I am was then and still am. Repeat advanced nutritional testing was used at yearly intervals to determine the success and then alter the IV nutrition therapy based on the current results. It’s not easy getting a young child to sit still for a 2-hour IV. This proved to be one of several critical and pivotal turning points in getting my child on the road to wellness. So, I am a huge fan of advanced nutritional testing and correcting nutritional deficiencies. Fast forward 14 years and I know more about nutrition and the impact that a lack of nutrition has on the body.
Even people who don’t own a car understand that for a car to run it requires certain things like gasoline, as well as transmission fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, and so much more including tires. Likewise, the human body runs on a complex makeup of nutritional components. Without the correct nutrition, it is impossible to be healthy in the long run with emphasis on the phrase long run. The relationship between nutrition and good health is well established although not well practiced in American medicine with traditional physicians. Good nutrition is essential to disease prevention. Why this matters is because according to the research Americans are not meeting the Federal Dietary Recommendations for nutrition (The Journal of Nutrition: J Nutr. 2010 Oct; 140(10): 1832-1838. Susan M. Krebs-Smith, et al).
The likelihood that anyone of us is meeting the nutritional standards or recommendations set forth in the Federal guidelines is slim to none. According to the American Society for Nutrition, which was established in 1928, millions of cardiovascular deaths (worldwide) are attributed to not eating enough fruits and vegetables (Baltimore, MD, June 8, 2019 ASN Staff). The National Cancer Institute, the U.S. government’s principal agency for cancer research and training, studies have reported malnutrition in 30% to 85% of patients with cancer.,Let that sink in for a moment if you want to grasp the significance in preventing cancer. Our principal cancer agency states on their website 30% to 85% of the patients with cancer have some reported malnutrition (National Cancer Institute: Nutrition in Cancer Care (PDQÒ)-Health Professional Version). It should alarm you and wake you up IF you care about being healthy and well and avoiding cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and other chronic diseases.
To quote myself from my blog post on 8 Ways to be Healthy and Look Younger: According to the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 50% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and magnesium; greater than 50% of the general population is Vitamin D deficient; 9 out of 10 Americans are deficient in potassium; 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in Calcium; and the statistics just go on and on. What we know is that the majority of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients. And we also know that nutrition is a recognized determinant in 3 of the 4 top leading causes of death in the U.S. (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 May: 99(5): 1153S-1166S. Penny M. Kris-Etherton, et al.)
You simply cannot be healthy over the long haul if you lack nutrition in your body. Period. End of story. This is part of the reason for this post. If you are not healthy, then get advanced nutritional testing done. When you take your car into the shop for service, they hook it up to sensors to do the diagnostic work. If the mechanic said, our sensor is broken, but I can tell by looking at your car or listening to it what is wrong – you would say no thanks. You want your car to be hooked up to the electronic sensors because you know that is reliable. Likewise, you want laboratory tests to tell what your nutrition is inside your body if you want to avoid cancer or other diseases and conditions.
To quote a recent research article: “The importance of including nutrition in the training of health care professionals, as well as in the continuing education of practicing clinicians, remains a low priority. The absence of required medical nutrition education within medical and other health care curricula, and the lack of curricular coordination between health professions, bears witness to this problem.” – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 May: 99(5): 1153S-1166S. Penny M. Kris-Etherton, et al.)
So even though we know that nutrition can prevent diseases, and by the way saves money not to mention lives – we still have no focus on training physicians and health care professionals in the area of nutrition. So, what that means to you, my beloved consumers, is that you have to know where to go to get the right kind of nutritional testing and you have to find the right kind of physician who can order the proper tests, interpret the results and then correct any deficiencies. It has been my personal experience that the physicians (M.D., D.O., and N.P.) who have taken the time and energy to get trained in nutrition and how the body works are integrative physicians.
Let’s define an integrative physician: an integrative physician is a licensed medical doctor who goes to get specialized medical training outside of his or her original medical training. All physicians who are licensed in the U.S. receive their medical training, for the most part, from mainstream medical schools. Thus, a physician who becomes an integrative physician was at one time a mainstream medical doctor before he or she went for specialized medical training. If you are looking for an integrative physician, I would consider looking up the following organizations: American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), American College for the Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), International College for Integrative Medicine (ICIM). It is extremely critical that you have a highly trained integrative physician before you start correcting nutritional deficiencies. Continue reading for why.
Malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients and covers 2 broad groups of conditions. When we “consumers” think of malnutrition, we think of emaciated children in third world countries. We do not think that someone who is 20, 30, or 50 pounds overweight could be malnourished. You simply cannot tell by looking at a person if they are malnourished UNLESS they are emaciated, then yes, it’s clear that they are malnourished. But by the medical definition, it is blood work that would indicated if a person has malnutrition.
In other words, anyone could have an instance of malnutrition and based on the previously mentioned National Cancer Institute research that studies have reported malnutrition in 30% to 85% of patients with cancer – it should be pretty clear that malnutrition is more abundant than you might think in a country where obesity is a national problem. Malnutrition should be determined by advanced nutritional testing – the next item up for discussion.
Advanced nutritional testing is testing for nutrition in the human body done by specialty laboratories usually not covered by insurance although that is just too upsetting to discuss. This type of testing is typically only ordered by integrative physicians who have the training in knowing when this is appropriate, how to read the results and then in what order to correct any deficiencies. If you have had cancer, a stroke, a heart attack, or have a chronic disease or illness, then in my most humble of opinions, this is the absolute thing -advanced nutritional testing – that you must have. Because this has been confusing in the past when I have discussed this with consumers, I am including a sample of one type (brand) of nutritional test.
In my humble opinion the individuals who should have this kind of testing are those who have had cancer, a heart attack, a stroke, or who have a chronic health condition or who are interested in preventing these health conditions (and you have the money to pay for it). We know that chemotherapy kills about 40% of your healthy cells, and that requires your body to do more work. It seems to me that this type of testing would be extremely valuable to anyone who has had chemotherapy (and possibly radiation). Due to the preventative nature of this testing, individuals who have a family history of cancer or other genetic diseases can use this testing to prevent an array of diseases by getting their nutrition in order.
There are many pictures of the different pages of the tests. This is so that you can print these out and use them as a reference when you are speaking to your physician. Let me be honest, a mainstream physician is not going to be able to understand or comprehend these test documents. I know this because I have shown them to enough mainstream physicians to have a pulse on this. These are to help guide you through the process of what things you should be tested for.
These images are from actual lab results and are not presented as an endorsement of the particular laboratory nor are they presented in any special order.
Assuming you get some advanced nutritional testing done, and you are deficient in one or more nutritional elements, then the thing that you MUST know is that you can’t go off willy-nilly and correct the nutritional deficiencies all together. The correction of nutritional deficiencies must be done in a special sequence fixing one before another. This takes specialized knowledge and expertise, which is why you must see a physician who has the training and expertise to not only order and interpret that testing, but then have the skill to know what to correct first, second and so on. This is critical! A lack of knowledge in this area could make things worse for your health.
This is my layperson’s version of explaining malabsorption. To get a diagnosis of malabsorption, you must first get nutritional testing that shows a deficiency. Once a deficiency is determined, you begin oral supplementation designed to correct the deficiency. After a prescribed period of time, typically 6 months to a year depending on the deficiency, if the deficiency is not sufficiently improved or not improved at all, then you would be able to qualify for a diagnosis of malabsorption. On a non-clinical level, if someone has a very high dietary intake of calcium for example, but has a deficiency of calcium in their blood work, then it would be suspect that there is an absorption or malabsorption because of the lack of correlation between the dietary intake and the blood levels.
And yes, even YOU could have malabsorption. And you would have to have the medical testing to know for sure.
If you believe the American governments numbers on the numbers of citizens who are deficient in the various nutrients stated previously in this post, and if you believe the previously stated research that Americans are not eating properly to meet the Federal dietary guidelines, then you might consider supplements. In a perfect world, the advanced nutritional testing would be a routine part of well visits because it would save billions of dollars in health care costs. That day is decades away or never unfortunately.
If you have a health condition, then you must absolutely discuss taking any supplements with a licensed healthcare provider. Based on the nutritional research available today, it seems to me that taking a high-quality supplement would be advantageous in preventing health problems. I take supplements although not every day. By high quality I mean not sold at my local pharmacy or grocery store. I mean the brands that integrative physicians would recommend. Some of those brands include, but are not limited in any way to: Thorne, Cardiovascular Research Ltd.,
Klaire Labs, Pure Encapsulations, Douglas Laboratories, Life Extension, Jarrow Formulas, and Kirkman Laboratories to name a few. I am not endorsing these manufacturers. Nor have I been paid to list them here. They are simply some of the ones that we have used over the years.
For 14 years I have been talking to consumers about nutrition and health and wellness. For the same period, I have been researching cancer and other health conditions. The book “Dr. Folkman’s War: Angiogenesis and the Struggle to Defeat Cancer”by Robert Cooke is a medical history book on cancer and well worth the read if you can manage it. If you have any interest in cancer then this is the book I recommend – it’s a stunning inspirational story about Dr. Folkman and his amazing efforts to prove the concept of angiogenesis, which by the way is now a medically recognized thing. If you have a health condition that is not being resolved to your satisfaction, or if you are not healthy, then it makes sense to me to consider advanced nutritional testing. The same thing goes if you are simply interested in preventing a future health condition.
Unfortunately, advanced nutritional testing is often not covered by health insurance which is an indictment of our health care system in my humble opinion. There are some health care practitioners that are using kinesiology of sorts to determine nutritional status, but I am not informed or educated about that so I will leave that alone. Those practitioners are welcome to leave comments on this post.
Whatever you can do to bump up your nutrition will go a long way to helping you be healthy. Ideas for what you can do to increase your nutritional status is a weighty enough subject to merit a separate blog post in the future. For now, let me know if you have any questions. Hopefully this gives you enough to speak to your health care provider about with respect to nutrition and quite possibly gets you thinking about your own nutrition and what you are eating.
Hébuterne X, Lemarié E, Michallet M, et al.: Prevalence of malnutrition and current use of nutrition support in patients with cancer. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 38 (2): 196-204, 2014. [PUBMED Abstract]
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