THE HEALTHIEST YOU

Progress not Perfection, straight forward changes to create your healthiest you.

One half of ALL adults have a chronic illness, which means multiple medications...side effects....drug interactions and yet nothing to solve the ROOT of the problem.  Instead we treat the symptoms of the disease.  Sure some medications help to prevent complications of the diseases, but what about PREVENTION or better yet HEALING!?!    As medicine advances we are learning that increasing certain foods, herbs, vitamins, minerals and decreasing others can help us heal from the inside out.  Limiting our chemical exposure...increasing our movement...focusing on natural or homeopathic medicine we can heal ourselves from the inside out.

it can be very confusing and extremely overwhelming!!!  Most people make drastic changes and then cannot stick with it.  Let's learn about making lifestyle changes that stick. If we take time to learn the WHY behind things it helps motivate us to make the changes more permanent.  I'm not your average physician, I trained and practice as an MD, but I love the intersection of traditional medicine and holistic medicine.  Every day I learn more about both.  

Join me on this journey of decreasing stress and inflammation through the food we eat and the life we live.  Let's become the healthiest version of ourselves one step at a time while learning the science behind it all!

BIO

Marguerite Weston, MD
I am a Family Medicine and Sports Medicine Physician practicing in Ohio. I have been practicing for over ten years and in three different states, but am finally back home, Go Buckeyes!  I am currently studying Functional Medicine and planning for certification to be complete this fall.  I love the intersection of traditional training and holistic medicine.
I am a wife, mom, encourager of others and lover of education.  I love trying new recipes although I am not an adventurous foodie!  I love to make healthy choices although I also love pizza and homemade chocolate chip cookies.  At the end of the day we are all a lot more alike than we are different let's show each other some grace.

 

MY TEST RESULTS THAT LED ME TO FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE

MY JOURNEY INTO FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE

 

I have always wanted to be a doctor and I loved every rotation in medical school so family medicine was the logical choice.  I also love sports, I played soccer at a small university in Ohio (GO POLAR BEARS!)! And so I completed a sports medicine fellowship after my family medicine residency.  

 

THE TURN

My first job was with the University of Oklahoma and in Oklahoma everything changed.  I started having numb patches over a couple different areas.  I cannot remember if it was before or after my first child.  You think you are going to remember things…like the date of your last mammogram…you can’t!!  I’ve had patients unable to tell me which knee was operated on!  We’ve had to look for scars!  So anyway…weird neurological symptoms in a 30 something year old female equals MRI’s and labs to rule out MS.  Have you had an MRI?  I felt like the criminal in Con Air with that mask on my face.  My ANA (an autoimmune marker) was in the “gray zone”, not negative, but not quite high enough to be considered positive. However it was definitely high enough to freak me out.  Plus my brain MRI had some abnormalities, abnormal but not quite consistent with MS.  Great just what everyone wants to hear...that your brain is not quite normal.  Couldn't be my left elbow or a toe...had to be the brain!  Followed that up with spinal MRI’s, which were completely negative (great news because typically lesions in the spinal cord means active MS).   And so I will continue with MRI’s yearly to every other year-ish to make sure nothing is changing in my brain.  What caused the MRI changes?  No one knows. But it is pretty freaky knowing they are there.  

THE FREAK OUTS

Many of you have gone through similar scenarios I’m sure.  So you start playing the “WHAT IF” game…a dangerous little game!   I can what if myself into having an incurable cancer, into something happening to one of my kids, to the plane crashing.   Specifically with the MS scare I “what if-ed” myself into a wheelchair.  I remember one day my kids were in the car and one of them forgot something so I ran back up into the house, bounding up the stairs to grab it.  While I was going up the stairs I thought to myself, “what if in ten years you can’t run up the stairs?” ….cue water works.  I cried often and hard.  In my warped mind I already had mom guilt about imagining the girls having their mom in a wheelchair at graduation and worried that they would be embarrassed of me, sad they would have to care for me.  Seriously…and I have a lot of anxious patients so I know I am not the only one with the “what if’s”.  Why don’t we “what if” my kid is so smart she gets a full ride or “what if” I meet an amazing group of friends that I just click with?  Why does it have to be worst case scenario on crack?? 

THE UNKNOWN & UNCONTROLLABLE

I tend to be a tad of a control freak.  So logically I looked at what I could control with these symptoms.  How could I normalize my labs?  I wanted to know the WHY.  And so I started studying inflammatory foods, which led me to functional medicine.  I changed my diet.  Luckily I’m married to the most amazing man ever so when I said we are now eating a plant based diet he was totally supportive.  We were not perfect but we were pretty good.  And lo and behold…my labs normalized!  My ANA dropped from 1:640 to 1:40…whoop whoop!!! Now the MRI is still abnormal, I'm not saying it is going to be normal next time. Honestly, medically speaking ANA is not part of the MS diagnosis, BUT no one likes having abnormalities.  You want to be boring and normal when it comes to medical testing.  

NEW WAY OF THINKING

For over ten years I have been treating patients with medicines...medicines and more medicines. I wanted to learn about natural ways.  Well guess what…FOOD IS MEDICINE!  What we eat matters.   

Now I'm not perfect, we still love ourselves some pizza and I still bake cookies with my girls. We are no longer all plant based but we definitely eat more plant based.  It is so cool (inner nerd alert) to see what a body was made to do and how a body uses the foods we give it. I grew up learning a calorie is a calorie is a calorie....oh so not true!! It is about the cascade of hormonal reactions that occur when we eat certain foods...it is amazing!! 

One of the areas of my job that I love the most is education. I love educating patients. Now believe me there are times when I start on my "rants" about things I think are so great and a patient will stare blankly. Yes I then wrap it up quickly. However when I see a patient move towards the edge of their seat or their eyes widen in awe...it is on!! I will draw, demonstrate, re-inact, raise my voice in excitement! I love that part of my work. After all, who is going to do what I ask of them if they do not know the why behind it?! I have to "sell" my patients on the reason they need to eat a certain way or exercise a certain way. My goal is to give you the why behind things. Then and only then will you truly believe and then act.  And once you prove it to yourself then you will be hooked!!

 
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Elimination Diet-Dairy and Gluten

I am currently on day 17 of 21 of the elimination diet. I have to say for the most part I have felt great! I have not been starving, I have not felt bloated. I'll tell you what I have learned, I LOVE coffee and I want it back!! I love caffeine and caffeine loves me. I'll stick with my dairy free creamer but for the love, give me caffeine. Let's go through two of the biggies we cannot eat on the elimination diet....BUT FIRST let me remind you that the point of this diet is to help identify food triggers and thus heal your gut. It is not a forever diet (unless you have multiple food allergies).


~ DAIRY: 25%-90% of the population has some sort of lactase deficiency. This is not an allergy or a sensitivity it is an intolerance because you cannot break lactose down. This includes fermented dairy such as yogurt and sour cream because of the casein (a milk protein). Research is still being done on casein but for these three weeks just stay away from it all. Dairy intolerance causes GI symptoms: bloating, gas, upset stomach. There are plenty of dairy substitutes. We usually have at least three different kinds of milk in our house...currently cows milk (I am not sure how to start limiting this from my kids since I'm fairly certain my youngest has milk issues), almond and coconut. You can have Ghee which is clarified butter. I am determined to try to make it so stay tuned...I keep forgetting to find cheese cloth. You basically boil the butter down to get rid if the milk proteins so it is safe to eat. I LOVE butter and so I am eager to see how it tastes, although slightly apprehensive because if it tasted just like butter don't you think more people would be eating it?


~GLUTEN....Oh gluten....I have to say one thing right off the bat...just because you eat gluten free does not mean you are eating healthier!! (by the way this goes for vegetarian as well...there are plenty of gluten free and vegetarian foods that are packed with nutrient poor binders and fillers).

Gluten includes barley, rye and wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where gluten damages the small intestine. We have a bunch of finger like protrusions in our gut to help increase absorption and gluten will damage these and flatten them so you have less absorption. This can create major problems including leaky gut, decrease vitamin/mineral absorption, diarrhea, abdominal pain, thyroid problems, mood disorders, diabetes, skin rashes to name a few. It is estimated that 1% of the population have celiac disease. The interesting thing is 1/3 of the population are genetically susceptible to developing celiac...BUT only 2%-5% of those people develop the disease. So there are other contributors! More later.

It looks as though gluten sensitivity is on the rise. There are many postulated reasons why. One reason may be an over diagnosis. There was a study done out of Italy with 392 patients who believed they had a gluten sensitivity. Of those 6% had celiac and 2 had a wheat allergy. 7% had a gluten sensitivity but the crazy thing was that 86% of people who thought they were sensitive to gluten could tolerate it without negative health consequences!! Their gut issues were related to something else. Other reasons for the rise in gluten sensitivity are increased gluten in wheat (from how we grow the wheat), increased leaky gut from pesticides and processed foods, earlier introduction of gluten in our children, and our obsession with sanitizing to name a few. And don't get me wrong, I am the mom who whips out sanitizer after a play date at the trampoline park, for the love it is flu season! On the other side of the coin it is estimated in some studies that up to 20% of the population is gluten sensitive. And so honestly it is probably somewhere in the middle. There are hypothesis that some people are actually sensitive to other things (FODMAPs) rather than gluten, but that is for a future article.


No one digests gluten peptides completely, but what determines if this creates a problem? According to Alesso Fasano, an Italian pediatric gastroenterologist who is the director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General (mouth full!), there are three important things that decrease our risk for gluten sensitivity (and many other problems such as autoimmune disorders):


1. A diverse microbiome (the bacteria that is in our gut) created by the food we eat and the chemicals we are exposed to. We are learning more and more about the importance of that tiny little environment living in our colon. 70% of our immune system is in our gut and this microbiome regulates our immune response to outside "intruders".

2. An intact barrier in our gut (no "leaky gut"). The elimination is used to heal a leaky gut.

3. Normal functioning immune system/no genetic predisposition. This is not completely in our control, but we can try to create a healthy immune system with diet, sleep, and rest.


Gluten is not an enemy to everyone, nor is it the answer to everyone's bloating, but it definitely is for some and the elimination diet is a way to investigate your own intolerances!


And back to an earlier point...the goal is to eat REAL food without a list of ingredients on it and especially ingredients we cannot pronounce. So please do not just substitute gluten free alternatives at the grocery store thinking you are eating healthier.


This post may be a little science heavy so feel free to ask me questions in the comments!!

And please do not forget that this information is meant for education not personal medical advice. Before starting any diet please talk with your physician.



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