Life is all about enjoying the journey—and making mid-course corrections. Wellness means different things at different points in our journey. According to Michael Thompson of Performance Chiropractic, overall health and wellness can be assessed by three questions: How am I keeping myself fit? Am I feeding myself the fuel I need? How’s my outlook on life? “No question, we’ve gotten out of control in the last 50 years,” he says. We are more sedentary than ever, our diet has degenerated and we’ve added a lot of stress, Thompson notes.
He promotes wellness by helping clients improve in all three areas. “We have a Web-based program with access to dietary and shopping lists,” Thompson says. “We give them sound advice and even provide an MP3 player so they can move and listen to information that helps them eat better, read food labels, select better fast food, sleep better and even create a spending plan (a major source of stress). In any wellness program, people see lifestyle change as a negative, having to give up something. So we focus on adding good things. For example, which do you want, an apple or a donut? When in doubt, eat them both. The apple will have a positive effect and slow the sugar rush from the donut!”
Dr. Russell Imboden with Body Solutions focuses on digestion and metabolism. “I practice metabolic medicine, and through research, have identified amino acids the body needs to cut visceral fat, reduce widespread systemic inflammation and get us back on the road to health,” he says. “Amino acids are the building blocks of life. We don’t take enough in, and then can’t process them because of an aging gastrointestinal system. We get constipated because we can’t digest protein. We have diarrhea because we can’t digest fat. Our kids have ADD because of digestive disorders that disturb their sleep patterns. With a variety of health problems, we have to assess the missing amino acids and replace them.”
Imboden also zeros-in on visceral fat, fat that is concentrated in the abdomen. It has high metabolic activity and produces widespread inflammation, he says, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. It also blocks leptin, the hormone that tells us when to stop eating. So we get fat; visceral fat increases; and inflammation increases.
“Patients also come to me when they have been to other doctors and can’t control chronic diseases, most of which are inflammatory in origin,” Imboden says. To battle this problem, he creates ‘medical foods,’ all-natural, protein/amino acid supplements. “The exact composition depends on the patient and the disease we are treating, but it is always aimed at rebuilding muscle mass,” he say. His focus is to move patients from pharmaceutical solutions to nutritional ones.
Chiropractor Dan Fazio with Roots of Wellness Chiropractic and Holistic Therapy also takes a multidimensional approach to wellness. “We want to structure a wellness shift, not a diet, by satisfying cravings with healthy alternatives,” he says. “Rather than remove all sugar, we coach people into healthier eating styles that still satisfy those needs. For instance, when a sweet craving hits, you can eat grapes. I encourage them to eat the whole fruit, rather than drinking the juice. Fruit has more fiber and the sugar that satisfies, along with digestive enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, all of which slow the release of sugar so it doesn’t turn into fat.”
What he’s really excited about is a new program under development called Wake Up (Wellness Action for Kids Everywhere), because wellness begins in childhood. “We are trying to make a shift in health and wellness in kids, starting about age eight, because of the obesity epidemic,” he says. “We want to give them ideas on which foods are best for making them feel good and providing good fuel.”
One of Fazio’s recurring themes is avoiding high fructose corn syrup. “High fructose corn syrup is metabolized in the liver and suppresses the satiety signals,” Fazio explains. “You have a large soft drink and supersized French fries, and nothing tells your body to stop eating.”