diet, keto, ketogenic, lifestyle, nurse, nurse practitioner, paleo

Fats Got a Bad Rap…

For the past 50 years or so, we’ve all been taught that fats are unhealthy for us; we believed these “experts” because they seemed to be honest and respectable scientists and doctors.  However, most of these experts had very strong personalities and pushed their way to the forefront of nutrition advisory councils, various dietary boards, and media outlets across the nation.

Capitalizing on President Eisenhower’s heart attack, researchers and nutrition “experts” used the diet-heart hypothesis to set forth recommendations to cut fats.  Food processing companies fell right into line with these new low-fat recommendations, producing a myriad of convenient food items.  More families became 2 wage-earner supported and life became busier and more hectic; convenient, boxed low-fat foods began to line the shelves and household pantries.

Time rocked on; companies produced more convenient foods.  More scientists said low-fat nutrition was good for us. As the low-fat mantra was repeated and stressed, more of us believed it; more of us cut fats out of our lives.  We swapped natural butter for factory-developed low-fat margarine; we traded natural farm-raised dairy cow’s milk for low-fat and skim milk, and we succumbed to peer pressure to stop using old-fashioned lard for highly processed and lower fat vegetable oils.

Food-like Items Take Over the Supermarket…

As less natural food entered our daily intake, more chemicals and preservatives found their way into more and more foods.  Low-fat became the buzz-word for sure.  One of the biggest battles was in the dairy industry.  Low-fat and skim milk products were not well-accepted by the public; it just did not seem “natural” to alter nature’s apparently near-perfect food.  Finally, in the 1970’s repetition was finally successful, and low-fat sales actually overtook regular whole milk sales.  However, as fats were removed from our daily diets, the incidence of heart disease and diabetes sky-rocketed.

Millions of dollars were donated to research studies and organizations with goals that ranged from reducing heart disease, curing diabetes, to the development of dietary guidelines.  The major problem here, though, is the list of companies donating to organizations.  The American Diabetes Association had been struggling to make ends meet, as it tried to develop resources for millions of Americans being diagnosed with diabetes.   (Diabetes is a condition where insulin is no longer able to transport glucose out of the bloodstream into the body’s cells for use.  When the glucose cannot leave the bloodstream, it remains within the bloodstream, resulting in very high levels of glucose and serious organ damage.  The ADA was trying to organize and develop dietary and management guidelines to aid patients in better control of their health and thus reduce organ damage.)  As medications for diabetes were developed, pharmaceutical companies began donating millions of dollars to the ADA and the American Heart Association.  ADA and AHA board members often included physicians, researchers, authors, and other medical experts, employed or contracted by pharmaceutical companies.  So, not only were the operating expenses for these non-profit agencies being funded by pharmaceutical companies, but these same companies were “loaning” or “sharing” many of their most well-respected experts with these health-oriented organizations trying to help heal Americans.

Remember the food processors? Well, they wanted to help Americans too, so big cereal producers like Kellogg’s and General Mills also began donating money to the ADA and/or the AHA; while intentions were likely honorable, now that we are beginning to understand carbs, fats, and funding relationships, it doesn’t look as honorable as CEOs and other health experts once thought.

Significant Conflict of Interest…

Now, take all that information… Fats have been removed from diets; carbs and grains have replaced them.  Grain processors and pharmaceutical companies have become the major funding sources of agencies which are also providing board members and decision-makers to non-profit organizations and governmental agencies that are developing dietary guidelines for Americans.  The USDA was urging people to consume 9-11 servings of grains per day.  The grain processors and drug companies were financially supporting the non-profit agencies now in control of making dietary recommendations.

Are you still with me?  The diet guidelines that we have used for the past 40 years have been established by people with a serious conflict of interest.  In no other segment of our society, would rules be allowed to be made by people or companies profiting from the advice.  How have we allowed this to happen?  What do we do about it now?

It is time to take control over our OWN health and that of our families.  The food industry responds to our dollars.  If we stop buying all the processed food, they will hear.  I recently read an article where cereal companies have already begun to see a drop in sales.  They see the handwriting on the wall.  The advent of the internet, social media, and ease of interacting online has contributed to grass-roots efforts to change dietary advice, using N=1 experiments.  The N in a research study is recognized as the number of participants; a well-designed and reputable study usually includes as many participants as possible in order to account for variables.  But over the past 20 years, the internet has multiplied the effects of N=1 experiments via social media.  People from across the country are researching and finding their own methods to healing, reversing illness, and taking control of their health.

If we change our spending habits, manufacturers will see the drop in sales and will perform market research to identify food interests; this research will in turn create opportunity for companies to create and sell lower carb, higher fat foods.  If we stop eating cereals and low-fat products, companies will stop selling them.  If we eat more vegetables and fats, more farmers will grow more vegetables and animals.  Becoming a healthier nation really is a grass-roots effort…pun intended…LOL

Cut the CRAP…

We START by cutting out the CRAP – literally.  C – stands for carbonated drinks; R – stands for refined sugars.  A – stands for artificial sweeteners; P – stands for processed foods.

Basically, if someone else made, bagged, boxed, or canned it, it isn’t likely to be healthy for us.  To keep food stable on the grocery shelf for 3-6 months at a time, there are likely unhealthy preservatives and chemicals that contribute to high blood pressure, elevated glucose, and organ stress.  Even the FDA recently published a statement that says most processed foods should no longer be recognized as safe for human consumption, due to the high content of trans fats used.

Carbonated drinks contain lots of chemicals, sugars, and chemicals that companies are not required to divulge on labels.  Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide; remember basic breathing anatomy? We breathe in room air, consisting of nitrogen and oxygen and we breathe out carbon dioxide.  Why should we have a DESIRE to swallow hundreds of ounces of carbon dioxide weekly, when they human body recognizes it as a toxin that should be eliminated by the lungs with every breath? Many people who have lung problems often find that the more soda they consume, the harder it is for them to breathe; why?  Because intake of carbon dioxide stresses the sick lungs; the weakened lungs are struggling to keep up with the demands of normal life and then there’s a whole new load of carbon dioxide to eliminate.

Refined sugars are extremely dangerous; high intake of sugars causes elevated glucose levels and signals the pancreas to secrete insulin in order to transport the extra glucose into cells and triggers a myriad of processes throughout the body to help keep blood levels of sugar within normal range.  When we overeat carbohydrates that our bodies cannot utilize right away for energy, the liver begins to store some of the extra sugar as glycogen; glycogen is like “money in the bank” for our bodies.  After glycogen fills muscles and the liver, the excess sugars are then knitted together to form chains of triglycerides; this process allows for longer-term storage… like putting money into a trust or annuity – it’s there, but it takes more work to get it back out.   Elevated glucose and triglyceride levels within our bloodstream contribute to thick, sticky blood… like syrup.  Imagine pouring syrup from one bottle while you pour water from another.  What do you see?  Syrup moves slowly and in very thick and large globules or streams, while water runs freely and in a thin stream. Which do you think moves more easily through tiny blood vessels?  Which do you think forms microscopic beaver dams, preventing proper nutrition and oxygenation to body parts?

Artificial sweeteners have been found to contribute to all sorts of potential hazards to health; from chemical poisonings to Parkinson’s, to multiple sclerosis, hundreds of ailments have been linked formally and informally to the use of aspartame, saccharin, and other artificial sweeteners.

Processed foods, as mentioned previously, contain all sorts of preservatives and trans fats and can sit on grocery store shelves for many, many months at a time prior to purchase; many foods come with expiration dates up to a year away from moment of final production.  Foods are packaged, boxed, and shipped via boat, train, and truck for days to weeks at a time, often sitting in shipping containers in the heat or cold of the day, in warehouses with poor ventilation, and then are stocked on a shelf, just waiting for your purchase.  Chemicals and colors used as food additives have been linked to allergies, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, and even cancers.

Time to Make a Change…

Reducing the CRAP is where we start — start by picking something you are willing to live without and ADD some healthy fats.  Many people are afraid of change; they don’t want to spend money on another “fad” diet.  Patients are tired of yo-yo diets and are skeptical to make a change.  So start small.  Pick a couple things you KNOW are unhealthy and replace it with vegetables and healthy fats.  And gradually keep this habit up until all the unhealthy items are completely out of your pantry.  While some people are willing to make massive changes, it just isn’t practical for many of us; most of us have hundreds of dollars invested in our groceries in our pantries and refrigerators.  I couldn’t afford to throw all that money away either, so starting small helps avoid a huge grocery bill.

The other problem that many people believe about eating healthy is that it costs more.  This myth can often be seen as real when shoppers try to ADD healthy groceries to their normal purchases.  And in the past, buying “healthy” foods would be much pricier than “regular” foods; for example, replacing a $2 loaf of white bread with a $4 loaf of whole grain bread doubles expenses. Eliminating CRAP, though, is about cutting out expenses… NOT buying processed and pre-packaged foods.  When most of these food items are cut out, most people actually see a reduction in grocery costs.  Focusing on natural, farm produce and less expensive meat cuts, not only reduces costs, but increases nutrient density…. Meaning, you get more vitamins and nutrition for your dollar than when you eat processed foods.  Another benefit to eating low carb, high fat is that we usually purchase the higher fat-content meats; I buy the 80/20 ground beef, at a savings up to $1 per pound or more.  We eat chicken, pork, turkey, beef, fish, and other wild game.  We use heavy cream and butter; we eat fresh and frozen vegetables, and we drink bulletproof coffee.  Our grocery bill runs about the same now as it did before low carb nutrition.  We just get more nutrients for our dollar now.

It’s Just Too Expensive…

In general, fats are not very pricey, and keep you feeling much fuller than carbohydrates.  A mug of bulletproof coffee can keep me full til around 2-3 pm every day — No need to munch, no growling tummy, no snacking or craving.  On work days, I do carry a tiny plastic box of leftover dinner items for lunch the next day.  Occasionally, I have a piece of cheese or a handful of toasted almonds for a snack.   I can buy a 3 pound bag of almonds and use it over about 10-12 weeks; eating a small handful once every 3-4 days is a nice addition nutritionally and costs approximately $.65 per snack… less than most other individually-packed commercial snacks. So, while some foods may seem a little more expensive on this nutrition plan, it really works out about the same.  Fewer foods consumed in smaller amounts, with more nutrients available for absorption and use, with little difference in expenses, adds up to a much more sustainable, long-term lifestyle change that is much easier to maintain.

So, what’s holding you back?  You’ve seen the articles.  You’ve seen the dangers.  You’ve known for some time you needed to eat healthier.  You’ve heard the success stories of low carb, high fat nutrition.  What is keeping you from becoming healthier and reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke?

 

 

diabetes, diet, gluten-free, Grain free, Guidelines, immune system, insulin, insulin resistant, keto, ketogenic, lifestyle, low carb, Media, NAFLD, nurse, nurse practitioner, paleo, PCOS, supplement

Nurses as N=1? Let’s Do This!

As nurses, we are trained in critical thinking processes and much of our classroom and clinical experience is designed to facilitate practical application of critical thinking, logical reasoning, and actions and consequences.  We are taught to use these skills as we deliver care to our patients.  We are encouraged to utilize these reasoning skills even as we follow physicians’ and other provider’s medical orders.  For example, when a provider writes an order for a medication, we are taught to calculate it for ourselves, read and re-read the label, and even certain medications require verification by another nurse.  If we find that the order seems different from the expected order, we are obligated to notify the original prescriber to verify and ADVOCATE for the safety of the patient.  Over the years, I have seen many nurses and nursing students confront many providers over orders that seemed “not quite right” or somehow seemed unsafe.  I’ve seen labor & delivery nurses put their jobs on the line advocating on behalf of sick women who are in a most vulnerable state during labor and pre-birth situations.

Advocates – that’s what we are.  We are taught by some of the best advocate nurses in the nation.  We learn logical and reasonable process skills that help us determine the best method to advocate for our patients.

As patient advocates, nurses change the world…. or at least the world of the patients for which we provide care.  We make significant changes that patients remember; during some of the most dire moments in hospitals, nursing homes, private homes, and clinics, we hold hands, offer support, and administer treatments. We assist our clients and families make changes that improve quality of life.

Over the past 15 years or so, nurses have been recognized as the most trusted profession; we are trusted because we are advocates, and we help patients maneuver the health care system, medications, and treatment schedules with only the interests of the patient in mind… and patients SENSE that we are truly interested in their lives.  We laugh and we cry with our patients – sharing emotions helps build trust.

All this groundwork I’ve laid out serves to arrive at this point…Patients TRUST nurses…

For the past 50 years or so, nurses have taught the standard American diet rules: high carb, low fat, and encouraged many highly processed food-like items as food.  We listened to the “experts” who told us that President Eisenhower’s heart attack was caused by high cholesterol.  We heeded the warnings of the American Heart Association that issued statements connecting high fat intake to heart attacks and strokes.  We participated in teaching patients to adhere to the American Diabetes Association’s guidelines encouraging patients to consume upwards of 160 grams of carbohydrates daily.  We were GOOD nurses.  We listened. We learned.  We followed the rules.  We taught those rules.

We were wrong.

We have betrayed our patients.  We were wrong to blindly heed advice that goes against all our common sense, logical reasoning, and critical thinking.

Even ants will seek out the sweet urine of a person with diabetes.  That is how diabetes acquired its name; diabetes means siphon, and mellitus was added later as it means honey – diabetes mellitus… the disease where sugar is siphoned into urine.

In the early 1900s, diabetic patients were given a strict diet; there was no insulin.  There were no fancy medications.  Early practitioners made the logical and reasonable connection between sugar-in & sugar-out; they advised patients to have no more than 10 grams of carbohydrates, 75 grams of protein, and 150 grams of fat daily.  This nutrition plan also allowed for 15 grams of alcohol and provided approx. 1800 calories per day.  Patients were instructed to eat meats, poultry, game, fish, clear soups, gelatin, eggs, butter, olive oil, coffee, and tea.   This nutrition plan is a FAR-cry from the 160+ grams of carbohydrates recommended today.

Once our nation entered the industrial era following World War 2, companies and manufacturers began to produce massive quantities of food items.  Many of these floundering companies and small-time farmers petitioned and lobbied the government for grants and subsidies to help them reduce consumer costs so they could invest millions of dollars into more machines, planting, harvesting, and processing techniques – techniques that could save time and money, so the companies could invest more into production.  It was a vicious cycle and the American family thrived on this new form of employment.  The returning military veterans often transitioned back into society with handicaps and trauma, and at the time, there was little known or recognized in our mental health care system that helped these wounded warriors.  Many of these vets settled into assembly work easily; there was a set schedule, with pre-determined tasks and responsibilities, easy methods to do their jobs and bring home a paycheck.  Wives, often now widowed, entered the workforce like never before; many of these women had been denied education and thus were considered unskilled laborers.  Factory work suited many people, singles, marrieds, separated, etc.  No one questioned the plans.  Not that anyone had real plans then.  It was just the many pieces of the puzzle coming together.

As many companies made arrangements with government, grains in particular became much less expensive to grow and process.  With a growing season of approximately 4 months, wheat required a huge labor force and many hours in fields; too costly to really become profitable, governmental subsidies allowed companies to purchase smaller farms and bigger machines & equipment.  Researchers began looking for ways to shorten the growing season and reduce weed and insect infiltration.  As generation after generation of seeds were harvested and modified, the processing costs were absorbed by governmental grants and subsidies, providing companies with increasing profits.  This vicious cycle has continued into today’s modern American society; this subsidy program is why a box of cereal costs you about $4 at the supermarket, but actually costs about $8 to produce a box of cornflakes.

Then, President Eisenhower had his heart attack while in office; his care was widely publicized; many doctors and scientists capitalized on his illness by using the TV time to make claims that high cholesterol was going to kill all our citizens.  The media played a huge role in pushing the low-fat, low cholesterol theory, showing the President eating his dry toast and egg whites every AM for weeks.  The SCIENCE they all failed to mention is that at the time of his heart attack, Eisenhower’s cholesterol level was actually NORMAL.  By the time he left office, however, and while eating his low cholesterol diet, his cholesterol level climbed to over 250, well above normal limits.

As fat intake was discouraged and fat content in dairy products and other foods plummeted, the grain-producing manufacturers had an “aha” moment: “if fats were so unhealthy for us, then grains are not fatty and thus we can make millions of dollars selling all kinds of low-fat foods!”  And that is exactly how we came to be where we are today.

Nurses, are you angry yet?  The “system” has used us…. Used our connection to patients…. Used our ability to care…. Used our compassion…. Used our education… used our hard-earned trust….

It is time we take on our advocate role – more seriously than ever before.  It is purely common sense that intake of carbohydrates causes glucose levels to climb, forcing the pancreas to secrete more insulin, but eventually the pancreas is working so hard, something happens that changes the insulin; the insulin is no longer effective at transporting glucose into the body’s cells for use.  Over time, insulin resistance and continued unlimited carbohydrate intake worsens, and patients become diabetic.  This effect can easily be measured by using a glucometer to check fasting glucose levels, then eat a carbohydrate, and monitor glucose levels every 15 minutes for 3 hours.  Charting glucose levels is a simple and scientific method for monitoring the effect of any food on a patient’s blood.  It is much more expensive to check insulin levels, but that can be done at any health care provider’s office or lab.  Beginning to record this effect will help cement the concept that carbs are killing us, while fats were never the evil nutrient we were told.

Once the concept of “sugar-in, sugar-out” really registers, it is vital to start changing your own way of eating.  Eliminating the

C – carbonated drinks

R – refined sugars

A – artificial sweeteners & colors

P – processed foods

becomes easier.

This simple plan is such a great way to start your journey to a healthier you, and in turn, you will begin leading the way to improved health for your family, friends, patients, and colleagues. Yes, you can become a test case.   While N=1 experiments used to be frowned upon, the internet, social media, and bloggers are all promoting N=1 trials and experiments.

Nurses, it is time we band together, use our logical reasoning, and ADVOCATE for the health and well-being of ourselves, our families, and our patients.  N=1 usually means N is the number of participants in a research study for an experiment; let’s use it to mean millions of NURSES are working as 1 when it comes to advocacy & improved health for our patients; let our ONE voice be heard.