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February 28, 2012 / amberwoodterracechiro

Always Learning and Maintaining the Right to Change Your Mind

My blog followers know that I am supporter of the Paleo movement.  I want to say that the reason I believe so strongly in these philosophies is a result of years of research.  It is hard to imagine that a young doctor like myself could possibly have that much knowledge and experience to draw from; however, I will tell you that I have been interested in health, nutrition specifically, since I started my undergraduate education.  I would say that I had the typical childhood in the sense that I ate what I wanted, played video games, frequented fast food establishments, etc.  The major difference that I can recall specifically is the frequency at which I visited the doctor.  I went to the doctor for sports physicals and that’s about it.  I never missed school, my parents were not fans of loading up on medication at the first hint of a cold, and I was never really sick.  However, when I started to live on my own, I began to bear the responsibility of my own choices.  Now I was faced with making the CHOICE about what I put in my body.  It was hard for me to walk down the grocery aisles and make the conscious decision to put Little Debbie Snacks in my cart.  The very food that I consumed on a daily basis all of a sudden made me think twice.  I KNEW that I should be buying fruits and vegetables; most people KNOW that!  That’s when I began my education as a premed student and dedicating myself to learning how to establish health in the population.

I started out eating what most people would consider healthy: whole grains, vegetables, soy milk, etc.  I also began studying the human body in depth.  The human body is an amazing thing, performing breath-taking tasks on a second-to-second basis, and it does it all without you even thinking about what is going on.  I began wondering how to support these amazing physiological feats, and the answers always led me back to nature.  That soon swayed my desire to attend medical school because I wanted to create health NATURALLY, without the use of medication or surgery.  Joining the Peace Corps and working in Public Health in Africa allowed me to see the drastic differences in how America eats and the diseases that rob different populations of their quality of life.  All of a sudden, I was not faced with people dying of cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders, I was faced with people dying of severe bacterial infections and trauma.  The grandparents in these communities were a huge contributing part of society.  The elderly still worked, helped tend to the children, prepared food, walked around without assistance.  This is a complete contrast to the elderly I often saw in American nursing homes.

Upon returning to the states, I was looking for the alternative niche that I so desperately knew was out there but had yet to discover.  I met a chiropractor, read a book on chiropractic philosophy, and the rest was  history.  I had found a profession that used noninvasive methods to restore function within the body.  The nervous system controls every single function including hormone release, pain, and digestion, and chiropractors refined the ability to enhance nervous system function.

I worked as an accountant for a year before attending Palmer College of Chiropractic.  While at Palmer, I was sold on the idea of avoiding medications, but I was still under the belief system that we could treat things with natural supplements.  I was eating the same food that most people consider healthy options.  About halfway through my schooling, we began to finally go in depth on studying nutrition.  I ran across a chiropractor that was preaching an “innate diet.”  He was educating us on how to eat for the best gene expression.  That is when I learned that I was NOT EVEN CLOSE to eating healthy!  The more research I read, the more books that passed through my hands, the more seminars I attended, I felt completely fooled.  I said the same thing many patients say to me “Why hasn’t any doctor told me this?!” After graduation, I bought tons of books, continued reading, reading, reading with the newly-found time I had since I wasn’t teaching, treating, or sitting in class anymore.  I read many books that supported an innate diet and just as many that completely opposed of the idea that there was such a thing.

I AM THE BIGGEST SKEPTIC IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!! If one things is for sure, I am not easily convinced of anything.  I ask questions, I challenge ideas, and I am the world’s worst person to argue with because I will find a way to poke holes in every single argument you present.  So, you can imagine how large my search became to decipher what a truly healthy diet looked like.  Who should we be listening to?!  I have settled on a lot of my beliefs around a healthy diet because they are simply the remaining facts that I was unable to find good physiologic and biologic arguments against.  Period.   At this point in my career, I have also had the added benefit of watching patients respond to different styles of eating, exercising, and adjusting methods.  I have clinical data to add to my research data.  Often times, things can seem great on paper but have zero applicable capability.  I have spent the last 11 years, researching at length, and used the past 4 years of clinical data to comprise a picture of health.  I have created a health paradigm around all of this data, and I have not settled there.  As I sit here on my day off, I am engaging in an online summit, listening to researchers, doctors, and nutritionists express their opinions based on their own research and discovery.  I LOVE to hear the other side of the coin; I think ignorance is anything but bliss.  After listening to a lecture that is quite opposed to a lot of Paleo concepts, I felt the need to let my followers know that I am NOT perfect, my opinions are based on what I believe to be true with relation to the human body, its physiology, and the principles of biology.  I have years and years of research ahead of me, and during those years, I reserve the right to change my opinion.  However, I more importantly want everyone to know that I have read books on vegetarianism, raw food, every health condition imaginable, paleo, primal, conventional, alternative, and the list goes on….and today my opinion is developed based on a wide array of information that I have spent hours sifting through.  I think it is AS IMPORTANT for me to explore the counterarguments as it is to research those that support my current views.

I appreciate the skeptic, encourage you to ask questions, read books, and find what makes sense to you based on the knowledge you have, and reserve the right to change your opinion once your level of understanding evolves.  If I had not reserved that right, I would still be eating whole grains and drinking soy milk because I truly believed those to be healthy at one point.  The best thing anyone can do for the development of their understanding in any field is to ask questions and listen.

One promise I made to myself and my future patients when I received my doctorate was that I would never stop learning, and my mission would always include educating.  I am glad to have so many supporters this early in my journey, but I truly believe those supporters have more  to do with the fact that when I express an opinion, give a diagnosis, or rendered a recommendation, they know that not only have I researched it and whole-heartily believe it is their best option, but I will also be the first to bring up options outside of my area of expertise, refer to another professional if necessary, and be open to changing the direction of care if things aren’t progressing as expected.  It is not about being right, it’s about changing the health of every single patient that walks through my door.

The faces in these photos are all the experts that I will be hearing from over the next week to expand my knowledge base.  I can’t wait!

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