June 26, 2012 in Overcoming Medical Dogma
I am happy to announce a collaborative effort between myself and Dr. Ernie Garcia, the physician behind PaleolithicMD.com(also on Facebook and Twitter). We are working together on a new series of posts titled “Overcoming Medical Dogma”. The goal of these co-written posts is to go beyond the typical physician-patient interaction where the patient describes symptoms, the physician diagnoses and prescribes medication and/or dispenses diet and lifestyle advice. In each post, we will discuss a common medical condition, the typical treatments that your doctor may recommend, and what you should know about these conditions that your doctor may not tell you. We will reference relevant research and present our recommendations for addressing this condition. You won’t be surprised to see that our first recommendation will almost always be to adopt a paleo diet; but, we will also go into details of paleo diet modifications where appropriate. Lastly, we will address the benefits of pharmaceuticals (prescription and OTC) as well as home/natural remedies which may help.
I would like to properly introduce you to Dr. Ernie Garcia. So, I asked him some questions that you might be interested to know the answers to.
1. Hi Ernie. Thanks for answering some questions for my readers so they can get to know you better. Tell us about yourself and your practice? Sure, first I’d like to say how excited I am to collaborate with you on these posts. The reason I started PaleolithicMD.com was to not only get the word out about the paleo diet, but more importantly to help people understand how it may help them treat or avoid common chronic medical conditions. I’m 35 years old and I’ve been in private practice as a board certified Internal Medicine and Sleep Medicine specialist for going on 8 years now. I treat all ages above around 16-17 years old, but the majority of my practice consists of older patients. I see the results of our typical carb-based American diet on a daily basis and my hope is I can help my patients see a better way.
2. How did you learn about the paleo diet? My next door neighbors started the paleo diet around a year and a half ago. Initially I was skeptical, but I eventually came around to looking into it. My blog has a good deal on my journey to paleo in the About Mesection. I basically looked into it and it made so much sense. I picked up Robb Wolf’sbook and away I went. I’ve been strictly paleo for going on 9 months and have enjoyed every minute of it.
3. So, this is different than what you learned in medical school? It’s tremendously different. My nutrition education in med school consisted of a few hours of basic “calories in-calories out” information and a lecture on intravenous feedings. The best way to put it is that the concepts behind the paleo diet run basically contrary to everything I was taught. Heart healthy = Low Fat and High Whole Grains. It really could not be more different.
4. Why do you think the medical community in general is so hesitant to recommend paleo diets to their patients? I’m very much into defending the medical community on this. It’s very easy to get all wrapped up about doctors not pushing the Paleo diet. What it comes down to is simple, it’s hard to know what you are not taught. The amount of information you need to know to become a physician is extensive to say the least. Nutrition is just another of a long list of topics, and the fact that it is so poorly emphasized in school makes it a low interest topic for most physicians. Also, the medical literature, at least mainstream medical literature, has been very slow to publish studies involving the paleo diet. There have been articles here or there, but not many. As a busy practicing physician you are lucky to have the time to review articles from the 2-3 major journals in your field. Until the paleo studies become more mainstream, most physicians will not be exposed to the concepts. It’s very easy to mount what I call the “Paleo High Horse” and condemn doctors for not knowing more about paleo. To me that is the wrong approach. If you believe in it, spread the word, even to your doctor.
5. Tell us about your blog. My blog is all about blending the best of modern medicine with paleo concepts to lead to the most optimum health you can. What you’ll see on my blog includes Opinion pieces about certain aspects of paleo, opinion pieces on the healthcare system and its flaws, real patient data from patients who have converted to the paleo lifestyle, recipes and food photos because I LOVE to cook, interesting health articles, book reviews, and a few more surprises here and there. I’m very new to the blog thing, and I hope to grow it much more over time.
6. Is your family on board with paleo? Yes…and no! My wife was a little slow to come around, but she follows it pretty closely now. She is not as particular as me, but I’d say she’s a solid 80% paleo. The kids are into it, but we do not push the issue too much. I have a 3 year old and a 6 year old, and they are becoming better eaters every day. Generally I cook things I know they will eat, and they remain pretty darn paleo in the house. When we go out to eat, or if they are at school or whatever, we allow them to be kids. Since going paleo though, I’d say my kid’s diets have improved tremendously. I simply want them to understand as they grow up what are good food choices, and hope they make the right ones throughout their lives.
7. Are you excited about our collaboration (no pressure to say yes, of course)? Any opportunity to spread the paleo word is a good opportunity to me! It’s also wonderful to collaborate with someone else who is in the “trenches” you might say; although different trenches they are. I’m in the hospital and office daily working with patients to make their lives different, and you have given up your career to be a mom and raise your family hands on. Physicians passing paleo on to patients and parents passing paleo on to children are two of the most important jobs I can think of! We have the same job, with different audiences…
8. Any last thoughts? We have many topics we want to cover, and hopefully we can sneak in a few reader’s choices along the way. Thanks to everyone for reading!