Patients often ask my advice on a basic, sound nutrition and supplementation regiment. Recommending a general rule of thumb for everyone can be difficult, but a discussion with one of my mentors, Dr. Alex Vasquez, DO, ND, DC, an expert in nutrition, introduced me to a five-part nutritional wellness protocol that can be utilized by most patients.
Elements of this protocol include:
#1 A Paleo-Mediterranean Diet
The Paleo-Mediterranean diet, which consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and berries, meets the body’s need for fiber, carbohydrates and most importantly, the 8000+ phytonutrients that have synergistic health benefits including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anticancer agents. These foods are also low in fat, sodium and simple sugars.
In the Paleo diet, high quality protein sources such as fish, poultry, eggs, and grass-fed meats are emphasized. Whey protein isolates are also recommended. Potatoes and other starchy vegetables, along with wheat and other grains (including wheat, barley rye and rice), are discouraged due to their high glycemic indexes and high glycemic loads. These foods also contain significantly less fiber and phytonutrients than fruits and vegetables.
Sources of simple sugars and foreign chemicals, such as sodas and high fructose corn syrup, as well as processed foods and manufactured snacks, are strictly forbidden. Chemical preservatives, colorants, artificial sweeteners, and flavored enhancers such as MSG and Carneegenan (as found in rice milk) should be avoided.
This diet plan provides plenty of variety as most dishes are comprised of poultry, fish, lean meats, fermented soy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and seeds. The many health benefits include reducing hypertension, alleviating diabetes, and reducing migraine headaches and other inflammation-related conditions.
#2 Multivitamin & Multimineral Supplementation
Because most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins and minerals through diet alone, it appears prudent for all adults to take supplements. Multivitamins have been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation as measured by CRP levels. A few cautions should be observed: 1) Ensure your multivitamin does not contain more than 10,000 to 25,000 IU of Vitamin A; 2) Your multivitamin should not contain iron unless you need iron supplementation as recommended by your health care provider.
#3 Vitamin D3
Studies show that more than 40 to 80% of the population is deficient in D3. This vitamin has been shown to help treat many different conditions including hypertension, migraines, inflammation, autoimmunity and low back pain. It is also thought to help prevent osteoporosis and (in many cases) cancer, as reported in several peer-reviewed biomedical journals including the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Lancet Cancer Research and the International Journal of Cancer.
Vitamin D levels can be measured through simple blood tests. The quantity of Vitamin D recommended depends on age, race, lifestyle and where you live. The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine recommends a range of 2000 IU per day for adults, but higher levels may be recommended based on health conditions and test results.
#4 Balanced and Complete Fatty Acid Supplementation
Omega fatty acids, found in fish oils and extra virgin olive oils, are shown to have many disease prevention benefits and should be incorporated into the daily diet — and regularly consumed as a dietary supplement.
Omega fatty acids are proven to help inflammatory disorders such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, autoimmunity, depression and mood disorders. Fish that are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden. They provide about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids in about 3.5 ounces of fish. Educated consumers will note that many grocery staples (eggs, milk, etc.) now show Omega-3 fatty acids as an added ingredient. Using olive oil for salads and cooking provides additional omega 9.
As for supplements, it is very important to have a balance of fish oils that provide omega-3, 6 and 9 and to ensure that your fish oil supplement is from a quality source. Your health food store will gladly assist with brand recommendations.
Different quantities of fish oil are recommended for different health conditions; however a solid rule of thumb is a minimum of 2 grams per day with a meal.
Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, promote intestinal balance and encourage overall health. Our digestive system normally has what we call “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health. Intestinal flora can become imbalanced by poor diets, excessive stress, immunosuppressive drugs, and antibiotics – factors that are increasingly common in the U.S. population.
Often this simple protocol is all that is needed for the effective treatment of a wide range of clinical problems, even those that have had medical failures for many years.
In conclusion, we must always remember that the attainment and preservation of health requires that we first meet the body’s basic nutritional and physiological needs. I believe this five-step protocol begins the process of meeting those needs for better health and disease prevention.
Dr. Mahdavi is a Primary Care Physician and Integrative Medicine Specialist at Eisenhower’s Wellness Institute in La Quinta. EWI can be reached at 760.610.7360.