It can be challenging to write an upbeat article on health and wellness in Mississippi. We've all seen the barrel-bottoming numbers. Good news about the subject is difficult, though not impossible, to find. According to the United Health Foundation's rankings for 2006, for example, Mississippi moved to No. 49 on the overall health scale, up from No. 50 in 2005. That's a small blip on the radar, but every little bit counts, right?
Other strengths for us include ready access to adequate prenatal care (we're No. 8 in the U.S.), high per capita public-health spending (at $197, we rank No. 11, although Gov. Barbour wants very much to lower it) and high immunization coverage (we're no. 14). We've also cut smoking rates by about 7.5 percent since 1990, and lowered the rate of infectious disease from 26 cases per 100,000 people to 22.5 cases in the last year.
There are other signs that Mississippi is beginning to turn the wheel of the Titanic that represents health-care issues. One of those is the movement toward wellness. Wellness is, for lack of a better term, a "movement" that's been underway since the '70s in the U.S., and it's finally making some real headway in Mississippi. The Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary defines wellness as "the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal." Dictionary.com defines it as "an approach to health care that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases." By these definitions, being well requires being an active participant in your own health. It means you watch what you eat, exercise, don't smoke and manage your stress levels.
For people actively involved in the wellness movement, a balance of healthy mind, body and spirit is the ultimate goal. Nothing exists in a vacuum: overall well-being requires all systems to be in balance. Unlike traditional health care that focuses mainly on treating your symptoms after you become sick, wellness is more than just the absence of disease—wellness focuses on achieving optimal health so that disease doesn't have the chance to get a foothold. Often, wellness combines the most up-to-date medical knowledge about body and brain function with Eastern approaches to health, such as energy work and meditation. Cleanliness is paramount: of the body, the environment we live in and the foods we eat.
At 53, Dr. Joseph Smith is CEO and medical director of the Optimum Health Institute, a wellness clinic in Jackson. A Missouri native and a traditionally trained internist who graduated from the University of Missouri, Smith is a diplomate in anti-aging medicine. His approach to medicine is very much in line with the wellness movement. I met him at his office on Dogwood View Parkway, off East County Line Road.
Tell me about what you're doing here at the Optimum Health Institute and how it differs from traditional medicine.
Every person in every practice has their own personality. I don't think you'll find two people doing exactly the same thing the exact same way. But there is a sense of awareness that traditional medicine has its limitations, as does everything. Some of the limitations inherent in traditional medicine can be bridged, can be overcome by being open enough to other approaches.
Can you give me an example?
Yes, sure. There's only so much we can do with heart disease, with arthritis, with diabetes (in traditional medicine) and with chronic diseases. Chronic diseases kind of hit the wall at an early point. So we find ourselves just treating symptoms to control arthritic pain, trying to chase a person's blood sugar and get it under control, or trying to treat a person's heart disease by making sure their chest pain and blood pressure are under control. That's good, but there are some things you can do, and you ought to do, to help people not ever have to have diabetes, and if they have it, to at least get to the root of the problem.
(With most chronic disease,) the one thing they all have in common is a condition we call "silent chronic inflammation." We don't traditionally think along those lines so we don't use the anti-inflammatory, dietary lifestyles, (using, for example) omega-3 oils, that get at the underlying inflammation.
Can you say a little more about that?
What we think of when we think about inflammation, conventionally ... the person who is having arthritis, or back pain or swollen joints. That's an expression—an overt form—of inflammation. But there is a more subtle form of inflammation that's an earlier, lower grade aspect of that same spectrum, chemically speaking, whereby things have not broken down, yet, but there are some things that can be measured. ... There are certain cytokines—markers of inflammation—and certain biochemical releases ... that should be addressed.
Now, what is inflammation? It's the body's response to irritation, infection or an injury. That's how we heal our bodies by first going through a pathway of being inflamed, and then coming out for a healing expression. For example, if you were to twist your ankle, the ankle becomes swollen, inflamed and very painful. If you rest it and stay off it, it would eventually go down and heal. But if you injure that ankle day after day after day, you're not going to heal—it's going to become chronically inflamed, and now you've got a serious problem.
We want to address the underlying causes that release these inflammatory markers with things like a fish oil and some of the more natural anti-inflammatory products.
Are you talking about inflammation of internal organs?
Right. What happens internally is something very similar by virtue of the same process—not necessarily a twisted ankle—but injury to the internal organs that occurs by way of something called "free radicals," which are little molecules or atoms that are very unstable, and released and generated in our bodies by stress, toxins in the environment (and) lifestyle issues. These free radicals are ... looking for electrons to pair off with so they can become stable. In the process, they tear into other issues and affect injury on a cellular level. That would be the microscopic equivalent of twisting your ankle ... and the same thing needs to happen. The internal organs need a "rest" from the injury process, and we do that by using antioxidants and anti-inflammatory supplements.
Are you saying that this inflammatory condition at the cellular level is actually the root cause of some of these other issues, like diabetes and heart disease?
Absolutely. There's good research to back it up, to show that heart disease at its root is an inflammatory condition. We look at the end product when we look at the arteries being plugged up, at cholesterol obstructing the coronary arteries—that's more or less the end of the song. The earlier part of the song is that there are inflammatory conditions that have been loosed in the body affecting and inflaming the blood vessels, allowing (them) to be more receptive to the plaque adhering and so forth.
What we see with heart disease, you can extrapolate out to the vascular system to the brain. Now we're talking about dementia and other neuro-degenerative diseases. You might say, "It's not that simple," but it is partly that simple. We know that there are other things involved.
We know heavy metals are also involved. We know there's a relationship between Alzheimer's and aluminum, and other neuro-degenerative diseases and heavy metals. So what do heavy metals do? They also create free radicals ... and they lend themselves to producing damage to the cellular tissues.
Where do the heavy metals come from? Where are we consuming them and getting them into our bodies?
Good question. We're getting heavy metals in all manner of ways. Effectively, we're getting heavy metals from our environment and the foods that we eat, (which contain) cadmium and mercury. That's why we tell our patients not to eat fish, for example, more than a couple of times a week. (Fish is) healthy the way it was designed and what it should be able to offer our body's nutritionally, but it's not healthy in terms of what our environment has done to it, for example, pesticides that flow into our rivers and streams. The pesticides themselves have mercury. Pesticides are environmental contaminants and toxins, and they're flowing into the rivers and into the oceans and getting into the fish. It's coming back to our dinner tables.
The air we breathe—we're breathing air from combustible engines that (put) lead and mercury ... in the air.
Those are some of the environmental contacts that we engage in on a day-to-day basis. Our water source, particularly if we're drinking out of a tap, (contains) pollutants. If we're drinking out of plastic, then we're getting the plasticizers from the plastics—and most everything is wrapped in plastic. Now we're getting into the whole issue of xeno, or foreign, estrogens. ...
As American consumers, we're loaded with estrogen or estrogen-like substances through plastics, through makeup, through pesticides (which are also estrogen-like). Xeno-estrogens ... are not real estrogens, but they act like estrogens in that they interact with estrogen receptacles. ... (Xeno-estrogens) are chemically structured close enough to real estrogen that the estrogen receptors can receive them and respond to them. So we have all these extra sources of estrogen-like, fake estrogens, stimulating the estrogen receptors (and they're) responding to them. (This causes) growth of tissues in places that shouldn't be growing, uterine fibroids, breast tissue, creating tumors and cancers, prostate tissues, because we have the extra stimulants from the environment.
I'm not saying these are the only contributors and causes to some of these problems, but I'm convinced that they are major players.
The thing that comes to mind for me is the early onset of menses in girls.
Right, right, there you go. That's part-and-parcel of what we're talking about, a living example. Little girls, 8 years old, having periods because they have chemicals in their bodies, molecules stimulating their reproductive organs before they should be stimulated, at strengths and levels that they ought not to be stimulated at 8 years old. That causes the estrogen-responsive tissues to grow.
What are the kinds of issues that you're going to see in the foods that are available from the typical grocery store?
I think we need to think along the lines of plastics. Almost everything is wrapped in plastic, and plasticizers are one of the heaviest contributors (to the problem). We're inundated with plastics, particularly in the way we micro-wave our foods with plastic covers, (which causes) leaching. In the grocery store, we see everything that's been commercially "fixed" for us. Even natural foods are wrapped in plastic ... lettuce ... meat products ... almost everything. Look at vegetables and fruits, which are your safest category of foods. Think of the paraffin film on (apples). That's a synthetic "organic" form of plastic (on) the apple to make it shine.
Our food is designed to make it appeal to the public so it can sell more, or to increase the shelf life. ... There are 3,000 known food additives on the market to make foods look pretty, taste good, emulsify well in our mouths and color it a certain way.
Let's take a piece of meat—wrapped in plastic, again. But even if it wasn't wrapped in plastic, cows are given synthetic estrogens to make them grow bigger and faster and produce more milk. They're given antibiotics so they can be raised in a closed-in environment ... controlled ... and keep them from getting infected. Then they're fed grains that have been sprayed with pesticides to keep the bugs off the corn or sorghum. So now that's being fed to the cows, so you've got all that in the meat. It's all connected. Just the fact that they're fed grains and not allowed to eat grass makes for a different piece of meat. It makes for an inflammatory-producing piece of meat to feed a cow grain as opposed to allowing them to eat grass.
Is there a way to avoid those kinds of foods?
You can cut your losses by choosing to eat free-range meats, beef ... we ought to hold our beef consumption down to three or four times a month ... and chicken that's been allowed to range freely and eat grass, (that haven't been given) antibiotics and steroids ... that compromise the quality of the meat. The same holds true for fruits and vegetables. There are some organic choices. They're more expensive, true, but it's like the old Midas commercials where the guy says, "You pay now, or you pay later." You may pay more up front for organic foods, but in the long run it will pay dividends to your health. And I think because it does cost more, it will help us not to overeat. Those are some practical things. The other thing I recommend to my patients, (who) can't or won't buy organic—and very few of us can buy pure organic, including me—you can buy a vegetable wash and wash some of the pesticides off. To mass-produce vegetables or fruits—whether they are produced domestically or come from a foreign land and are shipped—they are sprayed with pesticides. I wouldn't rely on just water to rinse it off.
Trans-fats are in just about every processed food, is that correct?
Yes, they are ... candies, cookies, chips ... trans-fats will be there.
Tell me what trans-fats do to your body.
Trans-fat is good oil that's been ruined. Trans-fats can be produced from corn oil, soybean oil and safflower oil, whatever plant exists has a component of an omega-6 oil. Because those oils tend to turn rancid after a short half-life, someone got the brilliant idea, "Ah! If we chemically alter the oil, we can extend the shelf-life, and therefore extend the bottom line."
So the oil is pressed out of the seed and hydrogenated by having the hydrogen atoms bubble through the oil (causing) the hydrogen to stick to the oil (molecules, resulting in) hydrogenated oil ... or trans-fats. The oils have been transformed into something that the body doesn't recognize as usable, and the body has no way to process it efficiently ... (which) leads to free-radical generation. There's that word again ... Free radicals are going to injure the body and drive inflammation. Trans-fats are going to drive the production of cholesterol. (I said earlier) that heart disease was connected to inflammation. We all know that trans-fats are not good for the heart.
And Mississippi is No. 1 in incidents of heart disease. There are more people in Mississippi (per capita) with heart disease than anywhere else in the U.S.
True. Trans-fats, because of the inflammation they ultimately produce in the body, (are) bad players in terms of heart disease and diabetes and almost any other chronic disease you want to name, including producing cholesterol.
Here in Mississippi, as another doctor put it so politically correctly, people tend not to want to eat low-fat diets. How do you talk to people who tell you "I have to eat grandma's cooking on Sunday, and I have to eat two plates of it?"
I guess one of the blessings I have in having a practice like this is that I'm very up front with what I believe. So people know what to expect when they come, for the most part. They're not hearing anything that they did not expect. They know the direction that I'm going to take them they come already open (to my approach).
That's good to hear given the rates of disease in Mississippi. Do you get most of your patients through referrals?
Referrals, mouth-to-mouth, person-to-person. People come in and have a good experience and they tell their friends about it. That's how I get most of my patients. I get a few referrals from other doctors, but it's mostly people who have had a good experience. I very often get patients that have run the gamut—they've been everywhere else and didn't get satisfaction—so they figure, "Let's give this doctor a shot at it and see what he can do."
They haven't found satisfaction in what way?
In terms of getting their problem resolved. Some people have some very complex issues ... (that are) not amenable to conventional approaches, like certain allergies—food allergies—I do food allergy testing that picks up a lot of stuff. I do heavy-metal testing, and (prescribe) bio-identical hormones. As we age, our hormones decline and sometimes we can't feel good until we get them balanced. Bio-identical hormones are natural hormones. I use them because they make sense, in terms of giving a person back their biologically identical hormones, structurally. I don't use any synthetic hormones like Premarin and Proferrin—those kinds of hormones that were associated with the increase in breast cancer and heart disease. ...
Bio-identical hormones are structurally identical to human hormones and they come from plants—from yams and soy plants. Sometimes I'll see that problems (patients) have not been able to clear up, clear up (with the use of bio-identical hormones).
Let me balance that out by giving you a fuller picture: I don't rely on, or believe that any one approach, even in what I do, is the answer. It's the whole approach. I think nutrition is the foundation ... everything else is built on top of that. But you've (also) got to have good water intake and a good exercise program, you've got to manage stress, and you have to have your hormones balanced. You've got to have all of these things in place. Each one is just a piece of the pie. When you get all of the pieces in place, you're going to feel better. It is not a mystery.
People talk about all the health problems in Mississippi, and it's not a secret that those problems are more acute in the African-American population.
To what kinds of things would you attribute that?
I think it's mostly lifestyle. There are obviously things that the African-American population is doing that are different from the white population, and there are probably some genetic dispositions. But, when we disregard race and look at the state in total, the whole state lags behind the nation. So that removes the racial disparity... It's something about the lifestyle of Mississippians that differs from others. ... There's a lifestyle that Mississippians participate in that's a little different from the rest of the nation that puts us at risk.
The issues of how we eat and how we stress, (and) probably more about diet than anything else. I've heard, particularly from gynecologists that came from different states, how much higher the incidents of fibroid tumors are in Mississippi—in both black and white women. There's a difference between Mississippi and other places that ties the black and white population together. As you said earlier, we have more heart disease as a state. We have more obesity as a state.
But again, you can't ignore (the black/white disparity in health issues).
Well, there are two slices to it. There's the slice as Mississippi as a whole, and then there's a sub-slice that slices out the racial difference. I think that we're still talking about lifestyle differences as a state, cultural differences within the state, and perhaps some genetic predispositions as well. I don't think we can break it down and explain it any other way.
It always comes down to culture—nature vs. nature—genes and environment. As to what's contributing the most, I think they're both contributing to one degree or another.
You talked about (problems) in meats, are you finding the same kinds of problems in dairy products?
I have a list of what I call my "five whites" that I ask my patients to avoid. One (of those is) milk: Milk, sugar, salt, white flour and white oils (trans-fats and saturated fats)... so dairy products are on my hit list ... and I give my patients the reasons why... It's because what's in the cow is in the milk—the estrogens... antibiotics... the omega-6s... pesticides sprayed on the grains. What's in the cow comes out in the milk, so the milk is inflaming. That's why you see so many people with ear infections (and other) types of mucous-producing problems. Those are inflammatory stations and milk makes it worse. Plus, (a lot of people are allergic to milk). Now, I make a distinction, and say, "if you really want to have cow's milk, at least use organic milk, and we'll at least be able to eliminate some of these inflaming components." Also, you can choose soy, almond or rice milk. Commercially graded cow's milk is the lowest of my choices. I'd rather people not drink it.
Why white sugar and white flour?
When you process the sugar cane or the wheat seed, you remove about 80 to 90 percent of the nutrient value of that plant. You have dead calories left. You've removed virtually all of the vitamins and antioxidants and minerals out of that wheat seed and sugar cane. What's left is going to hurt you.
Can we talk about women's health for a moment? You've identified the high incident of fibroids for women in Mississippi. What are the other kinds of issues that you're seeing?
I see a lot of middle-aged women with menopausal and peri-menopausal symptoms (who) are quite miserable. I have a rather sizable patient population of women ... that I treat with bio-identical hormones. There are some good ways to do that that are safe. I don't just give them bio-identical hormones blindly, as we used to write Premarin: "Here's your prescription, go get it filled." First of all ... I never give anyone bio-identical hormones without first going over their mammogram and pap results. Beyond that, I need to go over your estrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels. I have to have all of that before I know which way to go.
I also want to know "How does your body break your estrogens down?" There are a couple of pathways ... when your body breaks (estrogens) down, and the breakdown bi-products are toxic. One is called 2-hydroxy estrogen, and the other is 16-hydroxy; 2 is the good guy, 16 is the bad, toxic guy. How those two are balanced is important. I want to know that, and I want you to know that so that we can get the balance tilted in your favor.
Is it balance similar to good and bad cholesterol?
That's a fair analysis. One is toxic, and the other is helpful. These are estrogen metabolites, and we can (test for them). The idea is that we're on a journey: We're going to walk through this, and we're going to work until we get you balanced. It doesn't take long to get the symptoms starting to improve and you're feeling better. But we want to go beyond just feeling better … to have some safety measures … where you're also not putting out toxic metabolites. (That) has nothing to do with the hormones that you get, it has to do with how your body is breaking your estrogens down. Let's face it, most women with breast cancer are not "on" anything—they're not on hormones. In many cases they may have been on birth-control pills at some point in their lives. And that's a very toxic form of a synthetic estrogen.
Especially early on, when there were huge amounts of estrogen in the pills…
Uh-huh. There's a 20% increase in breast cancer for women who have been on (birth control pills).
I enjoy working with women, but I also work with men (who are) menopausal—we call it andropause. Sometimes with the men, it's even more gratifying, because their symptoms are so seemingly unrelated to the fact that their testosterone is low. When we finally discover that their testosterone is low and then get it replaced, they come alive again in places that are seemingly unrelated.
Such as ...
Such as a gentleman who had back pain. He'd been seeing a pain specialist for a long time—he was disabled—a businessman who owned his own company who couldn't really work anymore ... because of his disabling back pain. He went to all the specialists and had the MRI. He had everything done, and he still couldn't get any relief. He was on a pain patch. We finally realized, "Ah ... lower testosterone," and we turned it around, as well as some other things, including his libido.
I would never connect chronic pain to testosterone…
Exactly. I'm also a board-certified in anti-aging medicine. That's where I do my (additional medical) training … when I look at the list of symptoms for men in andropause, it's there.
What's the age range for andropause?
Men drop gradually. (Men) are going to max out at age 20 or 25—that's when you're really virile. At 30, things begin to decline, but you really won't feel it until your 40s or early 50s. That's when things become symptomatic. And not all men—just like not all women are symptomatic; 20 percent of women sail through (menopause) never feeling anything. Half of women go through with some symptoms, but about 20 percent of women who go through just have a stormy course. Everyone won't experience menopause or andropause the same way.
I see people with the same type of problems that every other doctor sees, but it's how I look at it. I don't see new problems that other people don't see; I just approach it from a different paradigm.
Your approach seems to be prophylactic as opposed to symptomatic.
Right. When the symptoms are there, you're still trying to deal with them in a deeper place. When the system is out of balance, a lot of things are affected. We're not chasing the individual symptoms, but the system as a whole.
Are pharmaceuticals and surgeries your last resort?
I use them. I'm a conventionally trained doctor, and I believe in the power conventional medicine brings to bear. I make use of my surgical colleagues when a referral needs to be made. I make use of pharmaceuticals—some things I just can't control any other way. But I don't often; it is the last resort. I think that's the best way to say it: the last resort.
The approach has to be very personalized—I imagine it can be difficult to find that balance point (you spoke of).
It can take time to get to know each person and get to know that person's history and it is a process. Again, it's a journey of discovery that you're not going to get on the first visit. I think all doctors will tell you that you're not going to get the whole picture on the first visit. … You won't get everything in one shot.
What are some of the hopeful things that you're seeing in your practice?
I see that people are taking their health in their own hands, now more than five years ago, definitely more than when I arrived. I would say that 60 to 75 percent of the people who see me are on some kind of vitamins, some kind of supplements already. Sometimes they want some direction—they want to know if what they're doing makes any sense. Sometimes they're not (on supplements), but a lot of people are. That, and the fact that they're coming to me tells me that they want to be proactive. They know what I stand for. They know what my literature says. They know that I'm interested in partnering with them and I expect them to be responsible. I even have my patients sign a pledge that they're going to be responsible and participate, and not just be a passive recipient. I welcome them participating with me, asking questions, bringing in things that they found on the Web. That's all good—I'm fine with that. That's what I see, and I'm hopeful about that. People are finding ways to feel better and get a higher quality of life, without necessarily throwing away the good aspects of what conventional medicine offers. But people are realizing that certain drugs won't make them well, and they're doing something about it.
You're connected with the spa, which does body work: massages, facials. They're working from the outside in, and you're working from the inside out. What role does massage and acupuncture—new age approaches, if you will—play in a person's health?
(The spa came out of) wanting a massage therapist on board to help with certain stress-related (ailments). Stress is a huge thing, that's highly, highly, underrated and not understood well—I'm still learning about it. Stress will hurt you. I knew that well enough, appreciated it well enough, that I knew a massage therapist would help with some of those kinds of things—muscular/skeletal kinds of things that are hard to get at with medications. As I studied what massage therapists did and the milieu that they worked with I started getting a picture of the spa. … People who are into spa therapy, I think they're healthier people. At the outset, (they) think more in terms of preventative medicine, preventive health care. They're more open to alternative ways … supplements, exercise and detoxification.
To the extent that stress is reduced in your life, you've just protected your adrenal glands ... you protect yourself from all the things that stress hormones, cortisol, do to the body, just from a physiological point of view.
So stress actually puts hormones into your body?
Yes. I was sharing with you some of the things I test for earlier. Another thing I test for is adrenal stress hormones, where you're looking at the adrenal glands. Those are two little organs that sit over the kidneys that release stress hormones—cortisol—and DHEA. When we're under heavy stress for long periods of time, our cortisol will flatten out. Have you ever been, or do you know someone who's totally exhausted and didn't want to get out of bed? They pretty much have adrenal fatigue. That's a stress-induced condition. Massage therapy helps to manage stress ... and there are some supplements that are very good in helping to manage stress—and I don't mean Valium and Xanax and things like that. There are things called adaptigens that help balance the stress hormones. You can actually feel the difference. Ashwaghanda and rhodiola—funny-sounding names, but they're kind of like ginseng—that help balance (the stress hormones). Sometimes a person's gone so far that that's not enough, and you have to give them adrenal extract, which is a low dose of physiological cortisone. ...
Detoxification is a part of the spa. … It's one thing to have information about toxins, but now, what are you going to do about it? There are certain supplements that can pull heavy metals out of the body. First we measure if they're (present); if they're there, why leave them there?
There's also colon hydrotherapy—colonic services that we offer. Some people believe all diseases start in the colon, and actually, you can make a decent case for that. ... A lot of diseases have their origins in a toxic colon that's out of balance and not healthy. (There's also) foot detoxification that pull toxins from the body. It's an energy-based modality. ... That's an area of Eastern medicine that we're just beginning to get a glimpse at. The Chinese have known about the bowel for years.
You mentioned acupuncture ... that's another area that helps balance energy. If we wanted to see what your heart was doing, I'd hook you up to an EKG, (and) what I'm seeing is the energy of your heart. If I wanted to look at your brain, I'd give you an EEG, and what I'm seeing is the energy of your brain waves. Every organ has its own energy spikes and patterns. I guarantee you, a failing heart looks different on an EKG than a healthy heart. Likewise, when the body has depleted energy, that can be measured by instruments ... There is a role for energy balancing. This area of medicine is so exciting to me. I can't get it all in at one time.
OK, it's a process. I like step-by-step.
We can't identify all of the toxins. Identifying heavy metals is easy. Identifying pesticides and stuff ... we know most people have pesticides, but we don't measure that. The only true way to measure pesticides is by taking a biopsy of your fatty tissue. It can be done if you're willing to give up a little fat. ... Studies have been done, commissioned by the government, which showed (levels of pesticides in all the people in the study). So, I think we can assume that we all have pesticides in our bodies.
A good clean diet will help detoxify the body. For some people, I also like to add a juicing diet—maybe carrots, spinach, celery-type juicing. I have people drink two or three glasses of juice per day.
Exclusive of other foods, or in addition?
It can be either, but usually it's in addition. For the real, hard-core person who might want to do a fast for two or three days, that person is going to benefit more if they do an exclusive juice-based fast. … It could be very beneficial to the person who wants to do it.
As a new patient coming to you, there are certain steps that you're going to take to find out what's causing the problems, and then get their bodies to a place where they can benefit (from your therapy), right?
Yes, cleansing, detoxifying—for certain people anyway—and then rebalancing hormones is important. It has to be in balance with the person's budget, too. You know, doctors love tests. We love to look at tests. Tests speak to us. It's almost like a recorder, with what they're saying back. ... you can get almost anything done, in terms of diagnostics, to find out what a person's body is doing inside. I had a lady that came to me who brought a test panel with her. I was familiar with the (lab) and I was familiar with the panel, I'd just never ordered one. I asked her, "How much did this cost?" and she told me "$750." But it was loaded with information. It was truly loaded. I have a good sense of what her problem is just working off of that. As time goes by, we'll refer back (to it) to see all the stuff that's missing in her body, and address it. It's kind of like "you get what you pay for."
Obesity obviously plays a big role in people's health, or lack of it. If a person comes to you who is obese, what are the things you're going to do for them immediately?
I'll put them on a diet—but I don't like to call it a diet. I'll put them on the same thing I put everyone on. The issues are always, "Are you going to follow it?" That's the first thing we're going to do therapeutically, but depending on the symptoms they're having, I also what them to appreciate that I (know) it's not because you're greedy, eating too much and not exercising. Your thyroid (and) estrogen hormones may be really low. Your stress level may be really up. (I ask them,) "Do you want to look at these and at what pace do you want to look at them?" I'm not going to force tests on people because they may not want to pay for them, but at some point, we may want to look at all of these things. In the meantime, even while we're doing all these things, you've still got to get the diet right. So let's have some respect for your glycemic (levels), the carbs and the kind of carbs you're eating.
I have a Mediterranean-type diet that I rely on. Those five whites we talked about? I go through them with every patient, because that's going to eliminate processed foods. That's going to take care of a lot of problems right there in one step. We talk about eating whole foods, and drinking a half ounce of water per pound of body weight.
That sounds radical to me: To drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day.
It is radical for most people. We're dehydrated for the most part, including myself. I don't drink enough water.
Do you follow your own medical advice?
Pretty much. If others followed it just as much as I do, I'd be satisfied.
Where do you fall off?
I don't exercise as regularly as I should. To (eat) junk food is rare and fried foods very rare. I tell people that I'm not looking for perfection. If you're going to do fried foods, just don't let it be your lifestyle. (Eating them) once or twice or three times a month, you'll still get the result that you want. It's not what you do every now and then that's going to get you into trouble, it's what you do every day that sets the pattern for what your body's going to do. Your body can handle a deviation here and there.
Be sure and check out Ronni's new Wellness Blog, here.
My Kind Of Doc
Mississippi: The Good And The Bad
Great article and good question from Ronni Mott. I was particularly interested in Dr. White's comments on milk. The long and short of this story is the cow is what he eats and our health depends on what we eat, and how we prepare our food, also.
Right, justjess. It's perfectly logical and scientific that we're eating or drinking whatever the cows, and other animals that people ingest, eat (or breathe). (Regardless of what the dairy, beef or poultry councils try to say).
As you can see from my sidebar, Dr. White is my doctor, and I am blessed to have found him in Jackson.
Thanks for sharing the sidebar. I will definitely find Dr. White and try to become one of his patients. I didn't know that such a MD existed in this community. GREAT!!!!