Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Getting to Know Your Primary Care Provider

About two years ago, I was forced to find a new primary care provider (PCP) because my women's health provider no longer wanted to take on this responsibility.  To be honest, I didn't blame her, but I simply did not like the PCP that I had chosen when I first moved to Texas.  I just hated the idea that it was going to take forever to find one who would really listen to me rather than ignore me.  You can say, she pushed me out of the bird's nest, and I'm glad she did.

The biggest reason why I stopped seeing my PCP is because when I met him for the first time, my current allergy medication was not an over-the-counter drug.  I explained to him that while in Michigan, I went to see an allergist, and these were the three prescriptions the allergist gave me, even though I really only needed the allergy pill and eye drops, and not the nasal spray.  Instead of listening to me, he wrote me a script for an allergy medication that was in the highest tiered co-pay (I think it was $70 at the time).  This turned me off so much, that I never went back, with the exception of the time that I needed a vaccine.  Thankfully, my allergy medication of choice soon became an OTC after this episode, so I just paid out-of-pocket for it.  This was about $20 per month, rather than $70 per month!  The other issue at hand was that my labs were showing that my thyroid was not functioning correctly, and that I might have hypothyroidism.  This actually became a battle between my women's health provider and my PCP at the time, should I or should I not be medicated?  This is when my women's health provider became like a PCP to me for a period of time, before she asked me to find a new one.

After chatting with some friends, I was referred to a fantastic physician in a father/son practice who specialized in integrative medicine.  He thinks like I do - prevention over treatment.  The number of resources on their website is incredible, and the fact that he incorporates holistic medicine into his practice means he's open minded.  I feel like a team member rather than a patient.  I actually never thought I'd have this feeling with an MD, which is why I always looked for a DO.  (My original PCP in Texas an MD as well.)  I do not fear talking with my new PCP.  I'm grateful that I found a provider that complements me.

The reason why I am writing this blog is because I want you to be an advocate for your health.  If you choose to supplement like I have, insist on being heard so that your PCP has all the information that he or she needs to keep you safe (especially as it relates to possible medication/supplement interactions).  In 2002, 18.9% of adults in the U.S. used natural herbs or supplements in the past year, but only one-third told their provider about it (Kennedy, Wang, & Wu, 2008).  We should not fear our PCPs.  In the end, we have the final say on whether or not we take their advice.  They are the experts in their field in which we should seek their advice, not expect them to to fix our health problems.  We need to be a part of the solution.  I consistently use the word "provider" rather than physician because your primary care provider does not have to be a physician (truly depends on your insurance company).  I encourage you to have an open dialogue about your health with the provider that you choose.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sugars and Nutrition Labels

I will confess that as a child, I did not know or understand anything about a nutrition label.  My dad tried teaching me when I was a preteen, but I shrugged him off, as any hormonal preteen does to their parents.  To be honest, I wish I hadn't.  However, I remember when I finally started reading nutrition labels before I bought items in the grocery store, I actually taught my parents something - buy "no salt added" if you are going to buy canned vegetables.  I wonder, though, how many people actually read and pay attention to labels, and how effective the new nutrition facts labels will be in 2018.  I think there is a typo on the new label, can you find it?

So what's different with the new label?  Not too much.  Some bigger font at the top, adding micrograms/milligrams, and having a line for added sugars.  That's the one that upsets me; there is still no guideline for TOTAL sugar intake.  The U.S. is still going by the 10% of your total caloric intake for the amount of added sugar you may have in your diet.  The guidelines for added sugar are all over the place, as Erickson and Slavin highlight in Table 1.  In 2015, the World Health Organization changed their added sugars guidelines to 5%.  What's right?  And why is there still no guideline around TOTAL sugar rather than just ADDED sugar?  Most arguments seem to be based on the argument that people are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, so having a TOTAL sugar guideline would even reduce the consumption even more.  However, when I was super diligent on counting my TOTAL sugar intake, the primary food sources were my two fruits per day, and I did not consume fruits that were high in sugar.

I only found two sources in which any country ever referenced a guideline for TOTAL sugar.  There could be others, so please feel free to leave a comment.  The United Kingdom's National Health Service states 90 grams of sugar per day in which 30 grams could be "free" sugars (aka, ADDED sugars).  The other article that I found was from a fellow blogger who wrote that Germany has a 90 grams per day recommendation as well.

Since removing sugar, in general, from my diet worked well last time, I plan on doing that again.  I do, though, travel for work, so I will be supplementing to help reduce the amount of sugar that is absorbed during those trips by using Plexus Block.  The Brown Seaweed blend targets two enzymes responsible for the digestive breakdown of carbs and sugars.  These two enzymes, alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase, are then inhibited in their ability to convert carbs and sugars into glucose (which then turns to fat if not used).  Plexus Block can block absorption of 48% of the carbs and sugars you consume.  Please also see this article.  I also think Sandi Busch provides a good overview of kidney bean extract, another key ingredient in Plexus Block, and how it blocks alpha-amylase.

I will keep you up-to-date on my journey back to health, I plan to fully use the tools that Plexus has given me.

**Please note, always talk with your primary care provider about the supplements you take.  The FDA does not evaluate these products.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.**

Friday, September 02, 2016

A Mental Change

I am now a firm believer that if you don't have good mental health, you will not have good physical health.  For the past few years, I had developed a depressive funk that I just could not get out of.  It took a lot of effort to get out of bed.  I thought a lot of it had to deal with all the things happening in my life, but I truly think there was something at the micro level that was off.  I started investigating gut health, autoimmune diseases, Plexus products, gluten-free diets, and a paleo lifestyle.  While it's taking me longer to get on a paleo lifestyle, I am using a new tool to block 48% of the carbs that I consume while traveling, since I have less control over what I eat when on the road for work.  To learn more about this product, please send me an email or visit my page.