The Institute for Functional Medicine, IFM conference was one of the best conferences I’ve attended over the many years that I’ve been in the functional medicine, nutrition and holistic health industry. Five of the world’s top medical doctors including Dr. Mark Houston, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Shilpa Saxena, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, and Dr. Mimi Guarneri presented endless clinical pearls and cutting-edge information over a period of four days.
The focus of the 2012 conference was “A New Era in Preventing, Managing, and Reversing Cardiovascular and Metabolic Dysfunction.” Below are just a few of the valuable clinical pearls from days 1 and 2 that these brilliant doctors presented at the conference that I’d love to share with you.
• The body can respond by only 3 insults. These top killer insults include:
• Autoimmunity is the 2nd leading cause of morbidity and mortality due to damaged food supply, gut dysfunction, and heavy metal toxicity
• There are over 400 cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. The body does not know if it’s an E.coli infection or too much sugar consumption; cardiovascular disease can be caused by any type of underlying infection.
• Lead toxicity is more of a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) than cholesterol.
• Data shows angioplasty does not work! What does work? Changing your lifestyle works and can prevent 90% of all heart disease.
• Aldosterone is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It increases autoimmunity in the blood vessels and up-regulates 30 inflammatory genes.
• Endothelial dysfunction (ED) is the initial and earliest marker for CVD that eventually leads to functional and structural changes in the blood vessel. ED can occur in the absence of atherosclerosis when only risk factors are present. ED precedes clinical atherosclerosis and events by many years. Endothelial dysfunction leads to all disease. Endothelial testing test is the #1 test – Trumps all.
• Arginine improves EDV (endothelial vasodilation). Never give a heart patient L-Arginine because it becomes a pro-oxidant.
• Women are very different from men when it comes to heart disease. LDL cholesterol is not an effective marker for risk reduction in women. Arrhythmia increases in women during peri-menopause because of hormonal changes, which affects lipids. The worse their menopause symptoms are, the greater the risk for heart rate variability thereby increasing risk of myocardial infarction (MI).
• Women who experience greater menopause symptoms usually consume too many processed carbohydrates, do not metabolize carbohydrates, experience too much stress, adrenal insufficiency and are deficient in essential fatty acids and magnesium. After menopause, women become more inflamed. Eating an anti-inflammatory organic diet and implementing the appropriate lifestyle modifications to reduce inflammation is imperative!
• “The bigger your belly, the smaller your brain.” —Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D.
• Rate of obesity in children has quadrupled since 1963! Currently, 1 in 5 children are obese and 3 in 5 are overweight.
• All of the medical doctors presenting at this functional medicine conference reinforced and encouraged strength training with a focus on gaining lean tissue (muscle).
• Levels of the hormone, adiponectin are inversely related to how much body fat a person has. Adiponectin is an anti-inflammatory, insulin sensitizing marker. Adiposity is linked to reduced adiponection, and can be an early marker for future insulin resistance.
• High insulin manifests before high fasting glucose, therefore insulin values should always be included in lab testing. There is also a high triglyceride shift before an impaired fasting glucose shows up. High insulin levels prioritize glucose oxidation and inhibit fatty acid oxidation.
• Stress is not the situation, but your mental and emotional reaction to it. Seventy-five to 90 percent of all visits to health care providers result from stress-related disorders.
• We have over 1400 chemical reactions that occur in our body as a result of stress.
• The most lethal emotions for the heart are anger, grief and hostility.
Anger increases risk of myocardial infarction (MI) by an astounding 230 percent!
• When cortisol goes up, DHEA goes down and telomeres shorten. Women with highest levels of perceived stress have the shortest telomeres, indicating that they have a cell age 10 years ahead of their biological age.
• Stress causes brain cell death and impairs memory and learning. Overtime, stress increases cellular aging, osteoporosis, reduces muscle mass, increases blood sugar and fat accumulation around the hips and waist.
• Don’t just think positive. FEEL positive. Recall a positive or fun time in life and attempt to re-experience it. Sustain that positive feeling for about 20 seconds.
• “Knowledge leads to information. Meditation leads to transformation.” Use repetitive prayer, a mantra, an affirmation or a positive word to shift the autonomic nervous system. We have to practice discipline of the mind to get rid of the monkey mind.
• Asked: “Does your wife show you her love?” Outcome: Those who answered “yes” had 50% lower rate of angina onset than those who answered “no.”
• In a study of 1,400 men and women post cardiac catheterization, those who were not married and had no close confidant had over three times the death rate of the other groups over 5 years (15% vs. 50%).
• The Harvard Mastery of Stress Study Outcomes for Incidence of Significant Illness (cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, ulcers, adverse childhood events plus more) revealed that……
• Another study conducted at John Hopkins, looked at the relationship with parents and disease later in life. Those closer to their parents were least likely to have cancer in midlife.
• Regarding adverse childhood events and disease at midlife: the more trauma a child faces such as fighting, arguing and violence among parents, parents in jail, sexual abuse, emotional disconnect, mental and emotional abuse, the higher the risk of major illness, and drug and alcohol abuse.
• We all need to embrace our past, but not be victims to it. Forgiveness and acceptance are the keys.
• Unhappy marriages led to 34% more coronary events regardless of gender and social status. Optimism is clearly linked to happier and more satisfying romantic relationships. Optimists had a 55% lower risk of death from all causes, and a 23% lower risk of cardiovascular death.
• Those who have the least number of positive relationships develop cold symptoms four times more frequently.
• Social isolation and stress contribute to heart attacks. Concept of being connected is of utmost importance not only for humans, but animals as well.
• Genes are plastic based on environmental epigenetics. You can turn certain genes on or turn them off depending on what you’re doing in your environment. Turn off your stress genes and turn on your bliss genes modulate epigenetics. We are what we see, act, think, believe and feel.
• The largest risk factor for heart disease (and, the least talked about) is poverty – not from an economic sense, but poverty from lack of contribution, lack of love, and sense of locus of control.
• Humira, a prescription drug for RA, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis is going to be the #1 prescribed drug in the next 5 years. – Mark Houston, M.D.
• Food hits our receptors, just as drugs do.
• Important lab tests:
• On blood labs, when GGT is in upper limits of normal in conjunction with upper range of uric acid, homocysteine and CRP – it’s time to DETOX. This individual has a xenobiotic overload.
• High uric acid levels? Do not give niacin as it can exacerbate gout. Niacin (2 g daily) raises HDL, lowers LDL, triglycerides, and Lp(a) Lipoprotein levels approximately 15%, however it must be flush niacin.
• Never overlook the gut, intestinal issues, parasite infections, dysbiosis, heavy metal toxicity and bacterial toxemia when it comes to heart disease.
— Nonsense media-hype confuses patients!
That’s it for Days 1 and 2 of the 2012 IFM Conference.
—More Clinical Pearls from the IFM Conference