Local functional and integrative medicine experts weigh in on the link between metabolism and health, providing additional insights and tips for addressing well-being.
Dr. Linda Cole, Integrative Psychiatrist – BrainEnergyMD (Gahanna)
Many things in our lives can trigger inflammation. For Americans, however, our diet is number one for numerous reasons. Aside from food intolerances triggering immune reactivity and autoimmune disease, there is a big connection between excess carbohydrates/sugar causing inflammation. In fact, high glycemic loads cause repeated insulin spikes that eventually cause the insulin receptors to become insulin resistant, meaning less glucose gets into the cells to be burned for energy, and by default is stored as fat. In fact, the way our physiology is geared is to turn all sugar not being burned for energy directly into fat.
Stress causes the liver to make glucose, thus elevating blood sugar levels. When blood glucose levels are already high, ingesting an excess amount of sugar will actually make the sugar glycate, or bind, to proteins, preventing them from carrying on their duty and also creating an abnormal structure perceived as a foreign body by the immune system and consequently triggering an inflammatory response.
The pharmaceutical industry has done a good job of promoting the notion that depression is a neurotransmitter deficiency. That may be the case, but the underlying cause is chronic immune system activation, or inflammation, which is why antidepressants might not effectively work for some individuals. Although the brain has its own specialized immune system, it is activated by the same inflammatory signals as the rest of the body. The classic example of a prototype for depression is how people feel mentally when they get the flu. When inflammation is low-grade but sustained, a substance called IDO causes tryptophan to be shunted away from serotonin production and instead turns it into neurotoxic quinolinic acid.
Physical activity, including moderate exercise, will switch off the inflammatory response and might relieve depression.
Insulin receptors on the brain cells may be the first ones to become resistant. Current research findings indicate the possibility there may be a selective brain cell insulin receptor resistance as an underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain cells simply cannot produce sufficient energy, and begin to deteriorate.
Patty Shipley, Naturopath – Leaves of Life (Worthington)
As a gardener, I tend to think of my patients as plants I am tending. If a plant is not healthy, I focus on improving the soil. If patients are ill, my focus is on cleaning up their environment by ensuring that they are eating a nutrient-dense diet, are sufficiently active, are removing toxins, and I am helping them change their thoughts and reactions to stress. These environmental and dietary stressors are the factors that interact with our genes and contribute to some of the health issues we might experience.
Dr. Anup Kanodia, Family Physician – Systems Health (New Albany)
In Functional Medicine, identifying the root cause of a person’s health condition is the foundation of the treatment program and the key to helping the individual experience true health and well-being. This is a very different approach than conventional medicine. In Functional Medicine, the starting point is to look for the root cause, eliminate that cause and create a personalized treatment plan with a heavy focus on nutrition, lifestyle, stress management, targeted supplementation and a collaborative patient/physician relationship. In Functional Medicine, we limit the use of pharmaceuticals for those times when necessary and instead focus on finding the underlying cause.