Why Your Doctor Can't Tell You How Diet Affects Your Autoimmune Disease

This morning while I was poking around Facebook (admittedly, I do spend a lot of time on Facebook, but I spend a lot of it on Functional Medicine, Autoimmune Scientists, and Nutrition pages, so it’s research!) and came across a free e-book from Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s page. His free book has some really good information on celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and why both are so often missed in medical tests, and how they both are related to other autoimmune diseases and chronic fatigue syndrome (my own CFS and fibromyalgia are gone, since celiac dx and switching my diet to free from gluten).  He also mentions how US medical schools have very limited, if any, nutritional courses. So, me being the tenacious pitbull that I am, I went poking around to find out how much nutritional courses are offered at Canadian universities. Turns out, not much at all!

"Medical schools concentrate on how to treat disease with drugs and surgery, and doctors are never taught how to properly counsel patients on changes to diet and lifestyle, says Temple, who recently coedited the Desktop Nutrition Guide for Physicians. “The doctor’s office is a pretty lousy place to go for guidance on this. People are badly confused. There is a desperate need for a system of credible sources of good information from credible people. When you go to Chapters, the good books and the bad books are not colour-coded.”"

From my Facebook rant: <rant>Doesn't this just rile you up? Our doctors tell us what to eat, but they have no idea WTF they're talking about! Nutrition as prevention or treatment of disease is not taught in Canadian or US medical schools, nor in many other countries around the world.

So, who do you go to for nutrition and lifestyle counseling? ME! You go to ME! I've been researching this shit since 2008, and my training at IIN was a full year long course, it wasn't just a few hours over a long weekend. I learned over 100 dietary theories, from some of the world's top nutrition and coaching experts, and some of my own personal heroes, like Mark Sisson, Colette Heimowitz, and David Wolfe. I have thousands upon thousand of hours of nutrition studying under my belt, while your doctor has thousands of hours of studying drug treatments for made up diseases like "restless leg syndrome" (which is basically a nutrient deficiency and doesn't need a pill, you just need to eat more dark chocolate, avocados and leafy greens!)

Go to your doctor if you have broken your leg, or you have something oozing green goo, or you've grown a tail. They can help with that. That's what they're good at. Because it requires medicine, or plaster and sutures. Don't go to your doctor for nutritional advice. They admittedly don't have a clue.</rant>

I really do wish there was a <rant> font on social media, don’t you? It should be red, with flames and smoke shooting out of it, and it should scream at you like a howler letter from Ron Weasley’s mum!

This really does piss me off, and it should piss you off too! How many times have you gone to your doctor and s/he’ll say something like “eat more fiber” or “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, or my personal favourite, and yes, I’ve had more than one doctor say this to me, or something very similar “food really doesn’t have much to do with your health” or “doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you take a daily multi-vitamin”. Ugh…yeah…(we also need a sarcastic font)

Remember when I was struggling with the onset of Sjogren’s Syndrome? I immediately went to my family doctor and asked for auto-antibody blood tests, which came back rather high for ANA (anti-nuclear antibodies, indicators of Sjogren’s, Lupus, and about a dozen other autoimmune diseases), but inconclusive for Sjogren’s specific antibodies. Which is common with autoimmune diseases, and why they’re all so frustrating to pin down. I had more than enough symptoms, and the ANA count was high enough for her to refer me to a rheumatologist. My appointment was 4 months later, but I immediately started The Paleo Mom’s AIP elimination diet. Even though my doctor waved me off and said “yeah, good luck with that. It’s just food, so I guess it can’t hurt” as she walked out of the room and down the corridor away from me. Great “people person” she is! By the time I got to the rheumatologist appointment, they ran some more blood tests, they came back negative. ANA count down to zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch. In only 4 months. She was of course gobsmacked, asked me what I did and I proudly pulled “The Autoimmune Protocol” out of my tote bag to show it to her. Complete with Sarah Ballantyne’s signature on the inside cover! She wrote down the title of the book, and promptly stuffed it under her desk blotter, probably never to be seen again. And she sent me on my way, saying if severe symptoms return within a year, give her office a call. I never had to. Though I wanted to, just to say I don’t need to. HA!

Honestly, doctors are great at emergencies, if you’ve just been hit by a bus and you’re broken in pieces, they can put you back together again. A health coach can’t do that. Unless they’re also an ER trauma doc. Doctors are great at treating acute disease, like infections that you get from public hot tubs on cruises. Health coaches cannot prescribe medications. We can help you learn what is a healthy lifestyle for your particular situation, and even help you reach health goals that your doctor says are not possible! (ballsy of me, ain’t it?) We can’t prescribe statins, and we wouldn’t want to. That shit is highly overrated, and only works in 1% of patients. If you only performed your job to satisfaction 1% of the time, would you still be employed? No, I don’t think so. So why the fuck are doctors still prescribing statins? Ugh…I’m getting all riled up again…

So, you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and your doctor says you’re doomed to live with it, suck it up buttercup. What do you do? You click the “Contact” link up there in the right hand corner of the screen, you set up an appointment with me for a no charge one hour health consultation, and we will talk about what you need to get you through this maze of conflicting information, and how my programme can support you with that. Should you stop taking the medications your doctor gave you? NO! Never do that without first speaking with your primary care doctor, there could be dire consequences of withdrawal, and other unfavourable side effects. AFTER we work together for a while, you may be able to reduce or eliminate medications, but WITH your doctor’s support and knowledge, and proper medical testing.

If you know of anyone struggling with an autoimmune disease diagnosis, send them my information. Tell them to contact me. Because one conversation really can change a life.


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