Healthy Lifestyle Expo Day 2 Afternoon Session

Irminne Van Dyken, MD

Biohacking the Immune System

Dr. Van Dyken is sharp. If you ever have the opportunity to see her speak I would highly recommend going. She is young, bright, sharp and very articulate. 

Some key points from her talk:

  • Healthy immunity comes from good nutrition.
  • The immune system is overly complex
  • Chronic inflammation compromises the immune system. Acute inflammation is good. It means the immune system is working.
  • Diseases are the consequences of inflammation- Cancer, Inflammatory bowel disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Atherosclerosis, etc. 

Whole foods that decrease inflammation

    o Circumin – the most active ingredient in turmeric
    o Chili and Capsaicin
    o Ginger
    o Black pepper
    o Cinnamon
    o Green Tea (ECCG)
    o Berry Polyphenols
    o Pomegranate
    o Grapeseed extract
    o Glucosinolates (broccoli spouts, cruciferous veg)
    o Milk Thistle

    Factors negatively influencing the microbiome

    o Medications – NSAIDs, Antibiotics, chemotherapy
    o Food
    o Stress
    o Soap, things we put on our skin
    o Infections

    • Hygiene hypothesis: less exposure to bacteria and parasites increase risk for illness.
    • You are only as healthy as your gut bacteria

    To create a healthy microbiome:

    o Eat a diet high in fiber
    o Eat fermented foods like miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, rejuvelac
    o Shower less and avoid antibacterial soaps and products with laurel sulfate
    o Avoid antibiotics
    o Get a pet
    o Open the windows in your home as often as possible
    o Use probiotics – if you buy over the counter probiotics be sure to get one that is enteric coated, has 7 different strains and 50 billion CFU of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium
    o Prebiotics – non-soluble fiber in dandelion greens, garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, lentils, beans, chicory, flax

    • Cardioviva is a probiotic that has been prescribed in Canada and has been proven to lower LDL by 11.6%.
    • Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Every time our cells divide we lose a little at the end of the cell. Telomere shortening is linked with inflammation and aging

    Avoid things that speed up telomere shortening:

    o Smoking
    o Obesity
    o Environmental pollution
    o Stress
    o Fatty diet

    How to biohack telomere shortening

    • Increase fiber
    • Decrease waist circumference
    • Decrease protein type and consider changing the type of protein you eat
    • Omega 3
    • Antioxidants
    • Dietary restrictions, fasting
    • Exercise

    Through telomere maintenance we can change the rate at which we age

    Key point = decrease inflammation in the body

    Jane Esselstyn, RN
    Health Care is Self-Care

    Jane is the daughter of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, best known for his cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Jane is an accomplished educator as well as co-author of the book The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook.

    Jane is a natural speaker. Her lecture was interactive and visual. She started by getting us all up and out of our seats for a little moving and grooving. I’m not shy, I shook my booty!

    Jane spokeabout a research study she assisted with published in the Journal of Pediatrics – Plant-Based, No Added Fat or AHA Diets: Impact on cardiovascular Risk in Obese Children with Hypercholesterolemia and Their Parents.

    The Plant Based diet resulted in more positive effects though both did demonstrate weight loss for the participants.

    Jane references 3 influential names in the WFPB movement:

    1. Dr. Neil Barnard – runs the PCRM and his research on Type 2 Diabetes has shown that a WFPB diet can reverse the disease.
    2. T. Colin Campbell – author of the China Study proved through his research that cancer is preventable. Read Chapter 3. 
    3. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn – His research on heart disease led him to begin treating the cause to prevent and reverse heart disease.

    Dr. John McDougall
    The eat more starch challenge…

    Dr. McDougall suffered a stroke at the age of 18 with resulting paralysis of his left side for 2 weeks. He still walks with a limp. After medical school he began practicing medicine in Hawaii. He grew frustrated with the lack of healing amongst his patients. His work on a sugar plantation brought him in contact with elderly immigrants from Asia where rice was a staple of the diet. He noted that as the generations progressed the diet became more westernized opting for meat, dairy and junk food rather than rice and vegetables. The third generation was obese and sick. This experience led Dr. McDougall to treating the modern day illnesses with nutrition and a return the diets of our ancestors. He can demonstrate that throughout time diets were based on starches – potatoes, rice, oats, etc. People were never as sick or as obese as they are today.

    What changed? Our food changed.

    Dr. McDougall advocates more starch in the diet for optimal health. Starches are low in calories (calorie dilute), low in fat and highly satisfying.

    He has been advocating a WFPB diet with emphasis on eating starch for more than 30 years. He has proof that his methods work through research, his patients, and the many people who have participated in his program.

    Dr. McDougall is cantankerous and sometimes downright rude in his response to questions. It was a bit of a turn off, but in talking to others who had seen him before he was apparently in a good mood at this conference. I’d hate to see him in a bad mood. His talk more than the others really got under my skin and after pondering it I realize it was because of his attitude. He speaks the truth. All of the speakers do. Their research and the research they reference proves what I know deep down, but sometimes don’t want to admit to myself because it would require me to make more changes. The way we eat is wrong. Food is not supposed to come from a package. We are not meant to ingest chemically produced food. We are supposed to eat carbohydrates in the form of whole grains. We need them to survive. We eat too much, way too much and we don’t move enough. Dr. McDougall is simply telling the truth, but I can imagine it gets exhausting repeating yourself over and over knowing most of it falls on deaf ears. 

    Bottom line for Dr. McDougall is “the fat you eat is the fat you wear.”

    I think this video says it all with very little words. 

    4 thoughts on “Healthy Lifestyle Expo Day 2 Afternoon Session

    1. The hygiene hypothesis is interesting. I’ve always heard that you want maximum bacteria/germ exposure for the first 12 years of life, then minimal exposure after that. On this trip my husband and I have been contemplating attempting some kind of vegan, alcohol-free November. He thinks it would help him lose some weight, which he wants to try to see if his hip (osteoarth) would hurt less. And I just want to try it because I should lose some weight and because it sounds fun. But I’ve got 3 work dinners and 1 work trip that may complicate things, and my husband hasn’t actually agreed yet. But step 1 is considering it!

      • I think that consideration and thoughtfulness is definitely a huge part of making any change in diet or lifestyle. I hate for people to think I believe that it’s all or nothing. Over time without any prodding or pushing I’ve seen everyone in my family not only become more accepting of my lifestyle, but incorporate small changes in their own diets. I love it when someone tells me they’ve tried a meatless Monday or switched to almond milk for a week.

        The whole hygiene hypothesis is fascinating to me. I really believe we are overprotecting ourselves to the point of harm. For many people, our bodies are no longer equipped to fight things off on their own.

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