Nutrition, Food Allergies & Lab Testing

Nutrition, Dieting, Weight Management

Nutrition

"What Should I Eat?"

That’s a very complex question. The answer involves many factors that should be considered.

Your biochemical individuality an’d current health issues are priorities. These involve allergies, food sensitivities, macronutrient ratios, blood type, metabolic type, hormone balance, toxicity levels just to name a few. All these combined factors determine how your body processes your food and what it does with it.

Determining an individual’s therapeutic dietary protocol can mean the difference between success and failure of permanent weight loss or optimal nutritional health.

Be sure to check out our other pages for more information on hormone balancing, low testosterone, adrenals, thyroid and medical weight loss.

Do You Suffer from a Poor Diet?

Along with poor diets, studies have found that key nutrients in foods have declined from 1909 to 1994, likely because the soil is not as nutrient-dense as it once was, and processing of foods degrades nutrients that do exist. So not only are we eating fewer healthy foods, but those we do eat contain fewer nutrients than they once did. As a result, many Americans — even those who think they are eating relatively healthy– may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency.

If you are experiencing any unusual health symptoms, a nutrient deficiency could be to blame.  At AMOWC we have a test that lets you know what your deficiencies are.

Some of the more common ones in the United States include:

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • B Vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamins E and C
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin D
  • Fiber
  • Folic Acid
  • Essential Fatty Acids
  • Chromium

Is a Calorie Really a Calorie?

The old school of nutrition, which is most often taught by nutritionists, “is a calorie really a calorie” when it comes to gaining or losing weight and that weight loss or weight gain is strictly a matter of “calories in, calories out.” Translated, if you “burn” more calories than you take in, you will lose weight regardless of the calorie source and if you eat more calories than you burn off each day, you will gain weight regardless of the calorie source.

This long held and accepted view of nutrition is based on the fact that protein and carbs contain approximately 4 calories per gram and fat contains approximately 9 calories per gram. The source of those calories does not matter. They base this on the many studies that finds if one reduces calories by X number each day, weight loss is the result and if you add X number of calories above what you use each day you gain weight.

The “calories in calories out” mantra fails to take into account modern research that finds fats, carbs, and proteins have very different effects on the metabolism via countless pathways based on their effects on hormones, hunger and appetite, thermogenic effects, effects on uncoupling proteins and thousands of other effects that could be mentioned.

This school of thought fails to consider the fact that even within a macronutrient, they too can have different effects on metabolism. This school of thought ignores the ever-mounting volume of studies that have found diets with different macronutrient ratios with identical calorie intakes have different effects on body composition, cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, etc.

Translated, not only is the mantra “a calorie is a calorie” proven to be false, “all fats are created equal” or “protein is protein” is also incorrect. We know different fats, fish oils vs saturated fats, have vastly different effects on metabolism and health in general. We know different carbohydrates, such as low GI vs high GI, have their own effects. And we know different proteins can have unique effects.

Proper Nutrition

The "Calories Don't Matter" School of Thought

This school of thought will typically tell you that if you eat large amounts of some macronutrient in their magic ratios, calories don’t matter. For example, followers of ketogenic style diets that consist of high fat intakes and very low carbohydrate intakes (i.e., Atkins, etc.) often maintain calories don’t matter in such a diet.

Others maintain if you eat very high protein intakes with very low fat and carbohydrate intakes, calories don’t matter. Like the old school, this school fails to consider the effects such diets have on various pathways and ignore the simple realities of human physiology, not to mention the laws of thermodynamics!

The reality is, although it’s clear different macronutrients in different amounts and ratios have different effects on weight loss, fat loss, and other metabolic effects, calories do matter. They always have, and they always will. The data, and real-world experience of millions of dieters, is quite clear on that reality.

The truth behind such diets is that they are often quite good at suppressing appetite and thus the person simply ends up eating fewer calories and losing weight. Also, the weight loss from such diets is often from water vs. fat, at least in the first few weeks. That’s not to say people can’t experience meaningful weight loss with some of these diets, but the effect comes from a reduction in calories vs. any magical effects often claimed by proponents of such diets.

Weight Loss VS Fat Loss

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss chart

This is where we get into the crux of the true debate and why the two schools of thought are not actually as far apart from one another as they appear to the untrained eye. What has become abundantly clear from the studies performed and real-world evidence is that to lose weight we need to use more calories than we take in, but we know different diets have different effects on the metabolism, appetite, body composition, and other physiological variables.

“Total calories dictate how much weight a person gains or loses; macronutrient ratios dictate what a person gains or loses”

This seemingly simple statement allows people to understand the differences between the two schools of thought. For example, studies often find that two groups of people put on the same calorie intakes, but very different ratios of carbs, fats, and proteins will lose different amounts of body fat and or lean body mass.

Some studies find for example people on a higher protein lower carb diet lose approximately the same amount of weight as another group on a high carb lower protein diet, but the group on the higher protein diet lost more actual fat and less lean muscle. Or, some studies using the same calorie intakes, but different macro nutrient intakes often find the higher protein diet may lose less actual weight than the higher carb lower protein diets, but the actual fat loss is higher in the higher protein low carb diets. This effect has also been seen in some studies that compared high fat/low carb vs. high carb/low fat diets. The effect is usually amplified if exercise is involved as one might expect.

Of course, these effects are not found universally in all studies that examine the issue, but the bulk of the data is clear: diets containing different macronutrient ratios do have different effects on human physiology even when calorie intakes are identical.

Knowing the above information, leads us to some important and potentially useful conclusions:

  • An optimal diet designed to make a person lose fat and retain as much LBM (lean body mass) as possible is not the same as a diet simply designed to lose weight.
  • A nutrition program designed to create fat loss is not simply a reduced calorie version of a nutrition program designed to gain weight, and vice versa.
  • Diets need to be designed with fat loss, NOT just weight loss, as the goal, but total calories can’t be ignored.

Therefore, the diets I design for people, or write about, for gaining or losing weight are not simply higher or lower calorie versions of the same diet. In short, diet plans I design for gaining LBM start with total calories and build macro nutrient ratios into the number of calories required. However, diets designed for fat loss vs. weight loss start with the correct macro nutrient ratios that depend on variables such as amount of LBM the person carries vs. body fat percent, activity levels, etc., and figure out calories based on the proper macro nutrient ratios to achieve fat loss with a minimum loss of LBM. The actual ratio of macronutrients can be quite different for both diets and even for individuals.

Diets that give the same macro nutrient ratio to all people (e.g., 40/30/30, or 70/30/10) regardless of total calories, goals, activity levels, etc., will always be less than optimal. Optimal macronutrient ratios can change with total calories and other variables.

Perhaps most important, why the traditional diets focus on weight loss vs. fat loss by most people, including most medical professionals, and the media, will always fail in the long run to deliver the results people want.

Weight Loss

Finally, at AMOWC we make it clear that the optimal diet for losing fat, or gaining muscle, or whatever the goal, must account not only for total calories, but macro nutrient ratios that optimize metabolic effects and answer the questions:

  • What effects will this diet have on appetite?
  • What effects will this diet have on metabolic rate?
  • What effects will this diet have on my lean body mass (LBM)?
  • What effects will this diet have on hormones?
  • What effects will this diet have on (fill in the blank)?

Simply asking, “how much weight will I lose?” is the wrong question, which will lead to the wrong answer. To get the optimal effects from your next diet, whether looking to gain weight or lose it, you must ask the right questions to get meaningful answers. Asking the right questions will also help you avoid the pitfalls of unscientific poorly thought out diets which make promises they can’t keep and go against what we know about human physiology and the very laws of physics!

Why is Nutrition Important?

Basket of fresh vegetables

No single food contains all the essential nutrients the body needs to be healthy and function efficiently. The nutritional value of a person’s diet depends on the overall mixture; the balance of foods that is eaten over a period of time, and the needs of the individual. That is why a balanced diet is one that is likely to include a large number, or variety of foods, so adequate intakes of all the nutrients are achieved.

We need energy to live, but the balance between carbohydrates, fats and proteins must be right for us to remain healthy. Too little protein can interfere with growth and other body functions, too much fat can lead to obesity and heart disease. Adequate intakes of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber are important for health, and there is growing evidence that several bioactive plant substances, also termed phytochemicals, found in fruit and vegetables are also important in promoting good health. Antioxidants help protect your body from damage that comes from the sun, pollution, smoke, and poor dietary choices. They are found in the phytochemicals of fruits and vegetables, as well as some vitamins and amino acids.

Good Nutrition Means Good Health

A healthy diet will give your body the right amount of energy, enough raw materials and all the “little helpers” you need to stay healthy. Good nutrition will provide phytochemicals and antioxidants that will help keep you feeling young, looking great, and perhaps even disease-free. A bad diet will give you too many or too few calories, not enough vitamins and minerals, and will make you need more of the antioxidants that you aren’t getting.

What are Antioxidants and Why Do They Benefit Me?

Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals  which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers”, helping to prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. Health problems such as heart disease, muscular degeneration, diabetes, cancer, etc. are all contributed by oxidative damage. In fact, a study conducted by researchers from London found that 5 servings of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

Most Commonly Known Antioxidants

  • Vitamin A and Carotenoids
  • Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots
  • Vitamin C
  • Citrus fruits, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes
  • Vitamin E
  • Nuts, seeds, whole grains
  • Selenium
  • Fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic

Other Common Antioxidants

  • Flavonoids / polyphenols
  • Soy
  • Red wine
  • Purple grapes or Concord grapes
  • Pomegranate
  • Cranberries
  • Tea
  • Lycopene
  • Tomato and tomato products
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Lutein
  • Dark green vegetables, kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussels sprout and spinach
  • Lignan
  • Flax seed, oatmeal, barley, rye

Vitamin-like Antioxidants

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
  • Glutathione

Antioxidant Enzymes Made by the Body

  • Superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione peroxidase

Lab Testing

It is extremely important to conduct a comprehensive and complete blood test prior to beginning any specialized medical program or procedure. Our detailed and comprehensive blood tests will provide an excellent snapshot of your overall organ health, hormone levels, and risks for potential life-threatening health issues. We find underlying issues in 20% of the people that we test, mostly years before any serious symptoms would occur. This important tool allows our medical personnel to properly determine the correct program, physician, and location that best fit your needs.

Our panel of tests will also act as the baseline in which to monitor any medical program or procedure and will provide our medical professionals the information they need to properly prescribe the proper medications, dosages, and ongoing treatment plans.

Proper and complete blood work and testing and ongoing specific testing will help to minimize any health risks associated to any specialized or advanced medical program.

The Alcat Test for Food Sensitivities

The Alcat Test may help uncover which foods and other substances trigger chronic inflammation and its related health issues such as gastrointestinal, metabolic disorders and others. The Alcat Test measures cellular reactions to over 450 substances. Medical studies using the Alcat Test to guide diet have shown significant improvement of many common symptoms. To date, the Alcat Test has helped over half a million people change their health.

A small sample of your blood is sent to the laboratory overnight. Upon receiving the sample, the blood goes through a multi-step quality assurance process. During testing, your white blood cells are tested against foods and other substances in a process known as flow cytometry and cell impedance methodology. After testing, the results are presented in a clear and easy to read color-coded format.

There is a new paradigm in health and medicine – personalization. Health can be improved and maintained by knowing how food plays a role in your body. The Alcat Test enables you to take advantage of leading technology to create a personalized nutrition plan resulting in benefits that can be seen and felt.

The results from the Alcat Test can help determine which foods and other substances may trigger unwanted inflammation. The personalized nutrition plan based on your immune response can assist with food choices that are better for your health and well-being. When complying with the Alcat Test results, many clinical symptoms associated with food sensitivity may be substantially improved or possibly prevented altogether.

FIA Testing for Nutritional Deficiencies

SpectraCell’s FIA™ is a clinically effective diagnostic tool for the prevention and management of chronic disease conditions. There is overwhelming evidence confirming that nutrient deficiencies have been shown to suppress immune function contributing to chronic disease processes including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Procedure for Nutritional Deficiency Testing

  • Blood is drawn at the lab.
  • Tubes are shipped by FedEx to the FIA lab, in Texas.
  • White Cell culture is accomplished over a 2-3 week period, and results are forwarded to our office.

Micronutrient deficiencies are identified, and an intelligent and cost-effective replacement is begun. Without knowing what is missing, how can you intelligently replace it? The test is re-performed 6 months, or so, after initiation of treatment. Testing on an annual or bi-annual basis is probably a good idea.

Food Allergies, Food Intolerance, Food Sensitivities

Allergies

A tremendous amount of health problems have been linked to food intolerance – common everyday problems like migraines, obesity, fatigue, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, eczema, aching joints, and even hyperactivity/ADD and asthma.

Migraines are painful, and sometimes disabling, headaches that are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise, and smell. Some people have several headaches per month while others have headaches much less often. In many people, migraines are triggered by certain foods or smells. Eliminating exposure to these triggers may stop the headaches.

It’s true that we gain weight when we eat more than we can burn off, but this conventional diet wisdom does not always hold true. Weight gain can also be caused by health conditions such as hypothyroidism, food sensitivity, Cushing’s syndrome, organ disease, prescription drug use, anxiety, blood sugar imbalance, and essential fatty acid deficiency. Many people respond to stress or depression by eating excessively. Sources of stress may not always be apparent, but may still affect eating habits and cause weight gain.

Reactions to foods are not always immediate. They can occur many hours later as bloating and swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, abdomen, chin and around the eyes. Much of the weight gained is fluid retention caused by inflammation and the release of certain hormones. In addition, there is fermentation of foods, particularly carbohydrates, in the intestines which can result in a swollen distended belly and gas production.

Food allergies as well as food sensitivities can cause weight gain. Yes, surprisingly, it’s possible to have no other symptoms. You can’t count on seeing runny noses or sneezes with some food sensitivities. Instead, a person’s body perceives the food as a poison and limits digestion of nutrients, thus causing the body to store fat.

Symptoms of food sensitivity can include headache, indigestion or heartburn, fatigue, depression, joint pain or arthritis, canker sores, chronic respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, sinus congestion or bronchitis and chronic bowel problems such as diarrhea or constipation.

Allergic reactions to food, food intolerance, refined food, junk foods, food additives, and chemical contaminants in food can alter our moods and lead directly or indirectly to a constant state of low energy. People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome frequently have sensitivities to foods, chemicals and other inhalants. Patients showing evidence of this often find that the management of these sensitivities can be an essential part of improvement or recovery from CFS.

While there is no specific diet for all fibromyalgia cases, different symptoms may suggest ways of improving your health through diet. As fibromyalgia sufferers often have one condition amplifying another, or several others, relieving even one can sometimes substantially increase your quality of life. If your body overreacts to certain foods, it could worsen conditions ranging from digestive troubles to fatigue, headache or migraine, joint pain, mood disorders, muscle aches, and skin problems. Beef, citrus, chicken, corn, dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, sugar, tomatoes, wheat, and yeast, are common problems for individuals with food intolerance.

The body can be allergic to any food; therefore any food allergy is capable of causing inflammation and arthritis. This includes RA, juvenile arthritis, and undefined joint pains. This is why it can be so difficult for one to recognize the relationship between their diet and their symptoms. Let’s use a dairy allergy as an example. If you eat any form of dairy, be it milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, or even dairy in the form of casein or whey in another food product, such as bread or milk chocolate, then you can potentially trigger the symptoms of your food allergy, in this case arthritis. Allergy symptoms may show up hours or even a day later, well after a food is absorbed into your system.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a behavioral condition in which children/adults have difficulties paying attention and focusing on tasks. Many adults do not realize that they have ADHD until their children are diagnosed and they begin to recognize their own symptoms. Eating a balanced diet can help all people function well, including those with ADHD. Those concerned about diet and ADHD hypothesize a toxic or allergic effect by some foods. The most commonly targeted foods are milk, wheat, dyes, preservatives, sugars, and caffeine. These diet elements are believed to cause or at least contribute to ADHD and ADD Symptoms.