A good man always knows his limitations”  – Harry Callahan

How and what we obtain as our nutrition for life is a complex set of events based on a myriad of factors. Mores and habits are crucial to life and survival. As an infant in the womb amniotic fluid is ingested to initiate the suckling reflex. As a child our environment dictates our nutrition, leading to lifelong patterns of how we eat.

In recent history food has become more easily accessible in modern cultures further adding to environmental aspects of how we eat. Simple overindulgence caters to increased body weight and the metabolic consequences the body suffers. Hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and gout are all conditions that are more prevalent when our weight rises above a healthy limit for the individual.

“Today 1 out 5 Americans is overweight and getting fatter…obesity is the nations’ most serious health problem” is an excerpt from the book Food is Your Best Medicine by Henry Bieler MD, in 1965. In the following years, medical science entered into a renaissance of discoveries of therapies to offset and treat disease, saving innumerable lives. Despite this the quote, the fact still holds true with even higher percentages.  At present, research is readdressing  other factors that guide eating, and seeking to define the roots of the problems by which we gain nutrition.

On a global scale, the need to adequately produce safe, nutritious, culturally oriented foods needed to feed populations has long been underway and becoming better defined. I direct your interest to an excellent series of articles called the New Food Revolution to be found in National Geographic Magazine between May and December 2014. Go to http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/archives and seek out the FOOD article in each monthly issue..

On an individual level, biopsychosocial research drawing from concepts from the 60s and 70s and coupled with current data, is adding to the issue. Stress as a cause of overeating associated with environmental and genetics factors have been identified. It addresses the choice of foods we make, how we make those choices and whether or not we choose physical activity as a necessity.  Ongoing research at the Nestles Institute of Health Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland and the Division of Personalized Nutrition and Medicine at the FDA Center for Toxicological Research have been studying how diets based on genetic makeup could improve individual health. The research of Dr. Jose Ordovas of Tufts University has shown that the intake of higher fat dairy foods will lead to greater weight gain in certain individuals over others depending on the type of an apolipoprotein A2 gene they carry http://genomemag.com/food-as-medicine/#.VNdhjfnF-So.

The hope is to monitor lifestyle and food preferences through a better understanding of our genetics thereby matching the individual with nutrition that better interacts with their own body. So, have trust in yourself that through correct nutrition you are able to reduce the burdens incumbent with personal disease. A good start is finding your Body Mass Index (BMI) on this chart, click here, then see the Doctor and discuss how to better maximize your path to maximum health.

 

Be Well, 

Rick Levine, MD

 Journey…Observation…Knowledge