Self-care is the new health care
Consumers want options to conventional medical treatments that utilize drugs with serious side effects to treat a condition by masking the symptoms instead of identifying and treating the root cause. This page provides evidence based reference materials that can guide consumers to better health by introducing Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) programs as an alternative to prescription drugs.
Evolution in Medicine
The field of Medicine is evolving from a disease-based system, to a health-based system focused on prevention, early detection, arrest and reversal of chronic disease.1-5
Diagnosis of disease is evolving from labeling conditions according to recognizable clusters of signs and symptoms to a deeper understanding of the root cause of disease, which can be modified through therapeutic lifestyle change and supplementation. Rather than using powerful drugs to suppress the signs and symptoms, the emphasis is becoming how to support the body’s innate ability to heal. This approach is complementary to conventional medical treatment and may become an alternative treatment over time. Concurrently, advances in laboratory testing to identify biomarkers in the preclinical stage of the disease has supported this evolution and is essential in enabling one to take measures to prevent the onset of disease.1
Addressing the Root Cause
Since the root causes are largely the same or related, the appearance of any autoimmune disease markers signals the need for an immune system recovery plan, regardless of the specific autoimmune disease suggested by the preclinical or positive test. Clinicians identify several steps including these four steps to preventing and healing autoimmune disease.1
(1) Using food as medicine
(2) Understanding the stress connection
(3) Healing your gut
(4) Supporting your liver detox function.
Research and clinical experience have guided many functional medicine practitioners to develop clinical protocols that address the root causes of autoimmune disease. 1,24,25
Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)
Basic therapeutic lifestyle changes are similar for the prevention, arrest and reversal of most of the major chronic diseases that we face in America today: Heart disease,4 diabetes,2 obesity,6 cancer,5 Alzheimer’s disease,3 autoimmune disease1 and many others. Healthcare practitioners can partner with patients and their families to teach a basic therapeutic lifestyle change6,8,9,22 that addresses the root cause of disease and supports the body’s innate ability to heal.10 This effort at best may prevent or reverse the disease, but at the very least, it will be complementary therapy for standard treatment. Most medications carry the risk of significant toxic side effects while TLC has only positive side effects and benefits.26
Natural/Functional Medicine Approach to Chronic Disease
These approaches to human health are taught by the Institute for Functional Medicine,11 American College of Lifestyle Medicine,12 the American College of Preventive Medicine,13 the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine,14 and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians15 among many. Major medical centers like the Cleveland Clinic are leading the way with their rapidly expanding Functional Medicine Center.16
Early autoimmune marker treatment with Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC)
Screening and Early Detection
- Detailed medical history from birth to present day
- Family history
- Genetic code: (23 & me)
- Biometrics (height, weight, waist, BP, resting pulse)
- Physical Examination
- Laboratory tests: Standard blood tests plus a deeper look for human autoantibodies, hidden infections (bacteria, virus, yeast, Lyme disease), food allergens or sensitivities (including celiac disease), hormone imbalances, complete diagnostic stool analysis and many others.
Prevention, Treatment and Disease Reversal
- Nutrition: Eat for health
- Stress Management
- Human Connections
- Gut Repair
- Sleep Quality
- Natural Anti-inflammation
- Treat Infections
- Balance Hormones
- Remove toxins
- Vitamins, Minerals and other Supplements
Basic Therapeutic Lifestyle Change
Eat for health (Plant Slant Diet)
- Ideal diets are anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-acid (alkaline) and anti-coagulant: These features are all provided by a whole food plant-based diet.
- Strive for fresh, organic, non-GMO, regional and seasonal food sources. Seek out organic at farmers markets.
- Plan for 30+ grams of fiber per day (read labels).
- Include 7+ colors a day from plant foods (see rainbow chart)14
- Daily caloric intake: 50% at breakfast, 30% at lunch & 20% at supper.
- Avoid the ‘whites’: White flour, white rice, white sugar, white dairy, high fructose corn syrup, and junk foods (learn to read food labels).
- Drink 6-8 glasses water per day, change sugary drinks to tea, water.
- Choose foods that have lower glycemic index. (see chart)15
- Good fats: Omega 3 fatty acids (2-4000 mg/day): from sea algae oil capsules, fish oil capsules, flaxseed oil capsules, fresh ground flax seeds, walnuts, almonds and avocados. Fresh cold-water fish (organically farmed) like Alaskan Salmon
Habits for Health
- Avoid cigarettes/tobacco
- Limit caffeine and alcohol in favor of water and teas
- Avoid toxins and chemicals (read labels)
- EWG-Environmental Work Group16 recommendations for toxin free products (ex. Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen)
- Build movement into everyday life (10,000 steps per day by pedometer).
- Exercise 30 min per day 4-6 days per week (strength training-weights, aerobics-walk, bike, swim, and flexibility-yoga/stretching).
- Move from your chair a few minutes every hour when sitting. Consider a standing desk.
- Learn and practice a stress reduction skill, 10+ minutes per day
- Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Relaxation Breathing, Centered Prayer, or other practice.
- Love and be loved. Spend time with people that make you feel good. Avoid/limit exposure to toxic people. Be a human connection for others.
- 7-8 hours per night.
- No food for 3 hours before bed, and 12-hour overnight fast.
- Sleep aids: Magnesium Glycinate 250-400 mg, an hour before bed. Melatonin 300 mcg (micrograms) 6-hour Time Release capsule, an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid cell phones and TV an hour before bedtime and overnight.
Heal the gut microbiome
- Stop junk food and increase fiber from plant foods up to 30+gms of fiber per day.
- If experiencing gas and bloating (particularly foul odor of stool/gas) suppress undesirable gut flora with natural plant antibiotics (such as plant tannins, berberine, oregano, others).
- Probiotics are bacteria or yeast that are helpful to human health. They help prevent or heal ‘leaky gut’ and include bacteria Lactobacillus, Bifidobacter and the yeast Saccharomyces Boulardii.
- Prebiotics are fiber-containing foods that provide nourishment for good bacteria. Examples include fermented foods (sauerkraut, kefir, Jerusalem artichoke, others), inulin (not insulin) from Chicory, and foods high in soluble fiber.
Detoxification (see Susan Blum’s book1 chapter on Liver support/detox)
- Avoid toxins (organic foods) EWG Environmental Work Group(19) (look up EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen).
- Test for and remove any toxins: Heavy metals: (Lead, mercury, other), Organic toxins: BPA (plastics), Glyphosate (Roundup), DDT (Pesticide).
- Support liver function: Vitamins and Minerals and Amino Acids (making toxins water soluble so they can be excreted), Increase Glutathione.
- Exercise, sweating, sauna, hydration.
Be ready to wean medication doses, as people are able to move toward a healthy therapeutic lifestyle. In particular watch blood pressure medications (dizziness on standing) and diabetes medications (hypoglycemia) that will need to be tapered under a clinician’s management as health improves.
Be under Doctor’s care: This information provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for advice of the reader’s own Physician(s) or other medical professional. Inform all your healthcare providers of your self-care practices and therapies.
Roger L Greenlaw MD FACP FACG ABIHM
Chief Medical Advisor Aurora Life Sciences
1. Susan Blum MD: (Book) The Immune System Recovery Plan (2nd Ed) 2016.
2. Neal Barnard MD (Book) Program for Reversing Diabetes 2017.
3. Dale Bredesen MD (Book) The End of Alzheimer’s 2017.
4. Caldwell Esselstyn MD (Book) Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease 2008.
5. Dean Ornish MD (Book) The Spectrum 2007.
6. Mark Hyman MD (Book) FOOD – What the Heck Should I Eat? 2018
7. Textbook of Functional Medicine by Sidney MacDonald Baker et al.
8. Institute for Functional Medicine: See website at functionalmedicine.org for more information, physician locator service by zip code, and courses for physician certification and CME courses in functional medicine.
9. American College of Lifestyle Medicine: lifestylemedicine.org.
10. American College of Preventive Medicine: acpm.org.
11. Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine: aihm.org.
12. American Association of Naturopathic Physicians: naturopathic.org.
13. Facing Huge Demand, Cleveland Clinic Doubles Its Functional Medicine Center: holisticprimarycare.net, 18 February 2016 by Erik Goldman.
14. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: https://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/Nutrition-Rainbow-Poster.pdf
15. Whole Foods (glycemic index) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=32
16. EWG Environmental Working Group ewg.org (Research on non-toxic and environmentally safe consumer products).
17. Dean Ornish MD (Book) Love & Survival 1998. The Role of Love and Human Connection in Health and Disease
18. Roger Greenlaw MD: Gut as Gateway to Autoimmune Disease. RETHINK FOOD (2014), Chapter 3, p53-55.
19. AMA Prediabetes Preventation and Reversal Program (TLC) https://www.ama-assn.org/prediabetes-campaign-1-3-us-has-prediabetes-learn-your-risk
20.TLC for Prediabetes: Program for Health Professionals – Learn How to Provide Your Patients with a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Program. www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/lifestyle-program/index.html
21. Corporate Health and Wellness Company: WellSteps.https://www.wellsteps.com/blog/2018/01/10/therapeutic-lifestyle-changes-tlc/
22. The Complete Health Improvement Program (an example of TLC program): https://chiphealth.com
23. TLC example -Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol with a Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institiute, NIH Publication No. 06-5235 (December 2005)
24. Terry Wahls MD: (Book) The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions … (2015).
25. Amy Myers MD: (Book) The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Systems and Diseases (2015)