The modern American diet (MAD) consists mostly of foods that manipulate our eating behaviors and contribute to many of the chronic diseases that are plaguing our population. We have to restore our priority of eating food that truly nourishes us. If we don’t do this, we will not be able to become well.

Much like someone addicted to cigarettes must quit smoking if they want to stop the progression of smoking-related diseases, those with chronic metabolic diseases must begin to reject the foods that are controlling their behaviors and making them sick. This must be done, but we must all do it together with the right understanding of the true nature of the problem. Those afflicted should not feel bad about themselves. Guilt and blame will not help us solve this problem. And by the way, if we do not solve this problem, it will become everyone’s problem. Just go look at the CDC’s statistics on this issue if you need proof of that.

Our “convenience” foods ultimately are not helping us feel good. And the truth is, they really do not even taste that good. We have to recognize this truth and make the decision to walk away from the foods that are making us sick. It is not convenient to be sick or to feel bad.

Greasy fast food meal with no nutrition. Burger fries soda.

The Modern American Diet (MAD)

Our modern American diet, developed out of convenience, reducing costs, getting more food to more people, and primarily for the purpose of making money for the food industry, is calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. Essentially, we are overfed and undernourished.

So many of the maladies that I see, such as chronic fatigue, chronic inflammatory conditions, brain fog, anxiety, mood disturbances, and many others, are directly related to the food we eat. Our brains and our gut are intricately tied together. Many experts refer to our gut as our second brain. 90% of the serotonin in our body, which is our feel-good neurotransmitter, is actually produced and used in our gut, and only 10% in the brain.

The Truth about Convenience

The convenience of our diet is actually a great inconvenience. Poor nutrition directly impacts our productivity. The time we save not having to think about, prepare, eat, and digest real food is actually lost due to the fatigue and sickness that we deal with because of these foods.

So many times, when we begin to eat in a way that heals our gut, all of the other conditions remedy themselves. I’ve had cases of depression that resolved with an approach to eating that healed the gut. I’ve seen children diagnosed with ADD and treated with powerful stimulants who were able to resolve all of their symptoms by eating a diet that targets gut health.

Woman holding a shopping basked filled with nutrition including fruits and vegetables.

Changing Our Nutrition Mindset

I often have conversations with patients about the issue of poor nutrition and the American diet, and many times the patient reflects back, “This is what I like to eat.” I totally understand what they’re saying. They’ve been eating these foods since they were young. They have strong emotional associations with these foods. There are ways in which these foods directly trigger their reward system, and actually, foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugars do in fact increase a little serotonin in the brain while also increasing dopamine. They make you feel good for a very short window of time.

But if you back up and think about it, what they’re saying is counterintuitive. It’s admitting, “It doesn’t matter that what I’m eating is making me sick and feel terrible. It’s just what I like to do.” To sum up, what we’re really saying is, “I prefer to eat in a way that makes me sick. What I really hope is that you will be able to prescribe me a medicine that no longer makes me feel sick. Because I don’t want to eat in a way that promotes my best health.”

The typical reasons people give me that they cannot change their diet are either:

  • It takes too long to prepare nutritious food. I would suggest that if they had all their energy available to them, and they weren’t dealing with chronic diseases, they would find they have more time and that they’d enjoy food preparation.
  • Nutritious foods are too expensive. By the time you add up doctor’s visits, lost productivity, chronic sickness, and medications, I think you could make the case that everybody could afford to value nutrients over calories.
  • Healthy food tastes bad. You have to reorient your brain to feel well and be healthy.

Man holding a salad full of nutrition and vegetables like carrots and greens.

Desire Nutrition

I need to be clear that I do not judge or blame the individuals who think this way. This conditioned pattern of thinking starts early in life because engineered foods take advantage of the human reward system. However, there is only one way to be free of dysfunctional food preferences.

Ultimately, if you are determined to continue habits that are making you sick, such as eating a modern American diet, then you are determined to stay sick. No one can really help you. You have to want to be well first. It all starts with your own desire to feel good and experience your best health. Then you have to make choices that support this desire.

Please consider nutrition as one of the most important variables that will help you to be healthy. Please consider rejecting the modern American diet with its processed, food-like substances engineered to make you crave them. Consider stepping into the world of nutritious whole foods that provide your body and mind with health and life.

Interested in learning more about nutrition and authentic health? Contact us, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram. We’d love to have you join us on the journey to wellness!

I recently read a short article illuminating the usefulness of artificial intelligence (AI). The article suggested that, in the future, AI will be capable of replacing your primary care doctor. It also indicated that a nurse or nurse practitioner working alongside the AI will be able to manage most of the issues that a primary care physician would handle. This was only one industry that the article suggested artificial intelligence could disrupt professional roles.

I had to think about it for a minute. It’s always helpful to look for the truth in an idea before dismissing it. Since I am a physician, my first instinct might be to be defensive and offended. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there is an element of truth to this. But I want to be clear that truth is based on a condition. The condition is that we maintain the status quo of primary care health delivery.

The Demise of the Doctor-Patient Relationship.

If we continue the current trajectory of primary care delivery, then I would agree that IBM’s Watson could end up being just as effective as many primary care physicians.

The current status quo of primary care health delivery is dehumanizing to both the physician and the patient.

If ultimately, we primarily view people and their health issues through the lens of algorithms, then perhaps AI will be better at processing the algorithms than most physicians. If we continue to prioritize billing, data collection, risk management, and compliance over deep, human engagement, then perhaps Watson will be better at achieving the desired outcomes.

The current status quo of primary care health delivery is dehumanizing to both the physician and the patient. It treats the patient as a problem to be solved and the physician as a technician to be managed. This completely dishonors the fundamental concepts underlying the historical doctor-patient relationship.

How Humane Should Health Delivery Be?

Throughout all of human history, human beings have sought direction from those they view as healers when they’re experiencing various problems. These encounters involved knowing one another, and sensing or feeling one another. All of us have the basic need to be known, felt, and heard. It is fundamental to any therapeutic encounter that the person seeking solutions have these needs met.

We know that when a patient has an experience where they felt listened to and understood, the outcomes from the visit will be better regardless of whether or not the physician can find specific solutions to the problems presented.

We know that when a patient has an experience where they felt listened to and understood, the outcomes from the visit will be better regardless of whether or not the physician can find specific solutions to the problems presented. The encounter has had a positive therapeutic benefit, even if the problem cannot be solved that day. This is fundamental to the practice of medicine, especially primary care medicine.

How Humane is it Really?

The current primary care delivery system does not allow this to take place. Not only is the time for doctor-patient engagement limited based on financial caps imposed by insurance companies, but also the actual agenda of the office visit has been hijacked by risk managers. The physician enters the room with bureaucracy draped all over them. They have to properly document the encounter, even if that documentation is pointless to the actual outcomes. There is risk management and report quality. They have to assign their patients a score in order for money to be properly allocated.

People seeking health are not looking for engagement with artificial intelligence.

It creates an environment where a physician is more engaged with a computer than they are with the actual patient. A typical medical encounter will last less than 15 minutes, and for much of that time, the medical consultant will be performing data entry duties rather than intently listening to and feeling the presence of the patient.

The current delivery system has created serious obstacles for both the doctor and patient to have this kind of experience. So yes, if this is the best we can do, IBM Watson probably can do better. At least Watson can use an empathetic voice, and perhaps pop up a face on his screen that’s actually looking at you while you punch in your data.

Not only is the time for doctor-patient engagement limited based on financial caps imposed by insurance companies, but also the actual agenda of the office visit has been hijacked by risk managers.

At the same time, we know better. People seeking health are not looking for engagement with artificial intelligence. They’re looking for deep engagement with someone they trust. Someone who knows them, who listens to them, and can offer wise counsel. So if we’re going to just have a system based on sick care, treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals, and watching people with chronic diseases slowly get sicker, then we might as well just let computers take over.

What about a Future with Both Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence?

I use technology in my practice and I am very grateful for the research search engines provide when I need up to date information while working with my patients. I believe that AI can help physicians manage the algorithmic side of medicine. However, it cannot search out the deeper influencers of symptoms and conditions people are experiencing. It takes a human to know and understand a human.

If we’re truly after our healthiest selves, and want to experience the best possible lives, then we will have to change the way we experience primary care delivery. We will have to reinvest in the kind of engagement that produces the desired outcomes. And the outcome is for everyone to experience their best health.

Join us at Health Shepherds. The only way we’ll ever get a different system is if we work together to demand a different system.

In a recent article about the correlation of eating fat and weight gain entitled, Largest Study of its Kind Shows Eating Fat is The Only Cause of Weight Gain, it’s crucial to note that the journalist, NOT the scientists who conducted the research, titled the article.

This is just an example of why you have to be very careful when you read articles about health. The journalist chose to use a title that is an incorrect interpretation of the research study itself.

Anti-fat Bias

I’m not going to go into the details of the study. Essentially, it was on mice in a controlled setting. While you can develop models about metabolism based on studies in mice, it’s very difficult to then draw conclusions about the root causes of more complex issues, such as chronic weight gain.

Obviously, the title is meant to get attention. The problem is some people will actually accept the journalist’s conclusions as accurate.

“Consuming a higher fat diet does not cause you to gain weight unless you eat too much of it.”

We live in a time where there is a bias against fat because of the decades of teaching that diets higher in fat cause heart disease and weight gain. We now know this is not true.

Consuming a higher fat diet does not cause you to gain weight unless you eat too much of it. Eating any primary macronutrient—protein, carbohydrate, fat—in excessive quantities will eventually lead to weight gain. It doesn’t matter who you are, a mouse or a man.

Healthy fresh vegetables prepared by two people. Low fat fresh.

Higher Fat Diets Aren’t the Problem

I have many patients with insulin resistance and chronic weight gain issues who really need to use a lower carbohydrate, higher fat diet to correct the hormonal signaling going on in their body so they can begin to lose weight successfully. They are already nervous about eating a diet higher in fat because of all the past information they’ve been exposed to.

“If you were to try to pick one primary cause or contributor to chronic weight gain and metabolic derangement, it would actually be inflammation.”

When they read an article like the one I’m discussing, it reinforces that old and inaccurate bias and makes it even harder for them to embrace the right next steps to actually solve their problem. Chronic obesity is a condition with many contributing causes. It involves genetics, hormones, environmental factors, stress, sleep, body movement, and many other variables. There is no one variable that causes weight gain, and certainly not the eating of fat.

Inflammation and its Role

If you were to try to pick one primary cause or contributor to chronic weight gain and metabolic derangement, it would actually be inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major cause of many chronic diseases. There are various contributors to chronic inflammation. You can read about them in our resources.

I would suggest that if you eat fake, industrialized fats, such as vegetable oils, canola oils, soybean oils, and other inflammatory sources of fat, then you will create inflammation and therefore gain weight. In this case, eating a lot of fat could cause weight gain. But it would be primarily because you were eating unhealthy fats. Eating healthy fats reduces inflammation and can help with weight loss.

Read between the Lines

I suspect you get the point. You have to read things carefully. Whether it’s to sell more papers, or get people to consume large amounts of sugar, there’s always an agenda. I don’t know the agenda behind this article, but it wasn’t to accurately communicate applicable conclusions from this study.

Man on park bench reading fat fact article.

If you’d like to know the truth about what causes chronic weight gain, and how to lose weight successfully, please review our videos and resources. There is a simple and understandable truth about health. We want to make it easy for you. Join us at Health Shepherds.

I’m happy that our government appointed a bipartisan task force of competent health professionals to study the issue of health in our country. It’s good to see they want to understand why we are so unhealthy even though we spend so much in medical expenses.

I’m glad that we’re beginning to look at healthcare through a different lens. That we’re trying to come up with solutions to our problems.

I am not critical of the summary. I believe they’ve taken an in-depth look at health issues, and are trying to come up with the best solutions. But I have a number of concerns about this.

Accessibility

The summary is a description of public policy processes. So we know it’s going to be a bit dry. But just trying to read through the document can be overwhelming, even for someone like myself who studies health and reads public health documents. It outlines the magnitude of the undertaking and how little understanding we still have of why we’ve become so diseased.

“Our healthcare problem arose in the current paradigm of healthcare delivery. We have to really look at it completely differently to find better and more accurate solutions.”

Current Paradigm

Unfortunately, they’re still applying the same overall paradigm of thinking to the wellness problem. They’re still looking at it through the lens of current healthcare delivery and current systems and structures. Our healthcare problem arose in the current paradigm of healthcare delivery. We have to really look at it completely differently to find better and more accurate solutions.

Hurry Up and Wait

The task force is very clear: it’s going to take an enormous amount of time and effort to collect the data about what really works. This will be a generational undertaking and is worth doing, but let’s be clear—nothing is going to happen quickly. We must come up with the solutions ourselves.

photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia

Continuing to Use a Broken System

“The last place you need to go for the best advice on how to be healthy is the current healthcare system. It is good at putting you back together again when life has broken you in some way, but it’s terrible at teaching you how to be your healthiest self.”

The recommendations of the task force revolve around the proper use of the current system which continue to be focused on a disease management rather than a disease prevention approach. You’ll know from our teachings that we believe the human body is designed well and it’s designed to be free of disease.

Chronic diseases are abnormal, and as I’ve often stated, especially in our children. Yes, we all may have certain conditions we have to live with based on factors beyond our control, but whatever your current context of health, you can still optimize it by taking the right actions. The task force would suggest that some of the right actions are:

  • Go to your regularly scheduled doctor’s visits
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Get your appropriate blood test screenings on schedule

I know that the task force also is recommending we improve access to nutritious foods, and reduce exposures to behaviors and substances that create disease. But when it comes to the current system of healthcare delivery, they seem to be emphasizing using it more to try and solve a problem the current healthcare delivery system has seen escalate under its watch.

If you take the right actions, you probably won’t need to see a doctor with regularity. And you’ll probably not need to take prescriptions. Good health will be natural for you. The last place you need to go for the best advice on how to be healthy is the current healthcare system. It is good at putting you back together again when life has broken you in some way, but it’s terrible at teaching you how to be your healthiest self.

What Can We Do Now?

The good news is the solutions, when it comes to you as an individual, are not as challenging as this document would lead you to believe. They are simple truths of health. Applying them is challenging because it involves change for almost all of us. But the actual underlying truths are simple. We spell those out clearly in our teaching resources and our Authentic Health curriculum.

For starters, let’s focus on what we can do right now, for you as an individual, which would then expand into our communities, and then maybe across our country. Let’s not wait on this task force to gather all of its data, and do all of its studies so we can finally get sound policy about not only access to health care, but access to effective healthcare.

“If you take the right actions, you probably won’t need to see a doctor with regularity. And you’ll probably not need to take prescriptions. Good health will be natural for you.”

Helping hands across train tracks.photo by Sarah Cervantes

Choosing A New Path

If you want to experience your best health, you’re going to have to choose a different path. Come visit us at Health Shepherds and join our online community. Together, we can solve this problem well ahead of the schedule that the policymakers have planned. Perhaps if we do this together, and we make enough noise about it, we can begin to get the right actions on the public policy side.