Author Archives: Zuzanna Walter

5 Topics You Can’t Miss at the 29th Annual World Congress

In just one week, the 29th Annual World Congress will be underway! We hope you will be joining us live in Las Vegas between December 9-12, 2021, for the medical education event of the year hosted by world-renowned industry leaders. In line with A4M’s mission to equip clinicians and other medical professionals with the most clinically current advanced education, this year’s conference will deliver a packed agenda of the most relevant topics in advanced integrative medicine education.

The premier event will delve into the numerous challenges and changes that have occurred in the last two years and highlight emerging opportunities in the health care field. Themed “The Next Chapter: Unmasking the Hidden Epidemic,” this year’s World Congress will address the crises within our medical system that have left patients and health care professionals neglected, and our shared communities vulnerable. Attendees will leave with forward-thinking expert insights to help them confidently lead the next chapter in health care with comprehensive knowledge, innovative care strategies, and invaluable tools. 

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Metabolic Flexibility: Retraining the Metabolism for Optimal Health

In an attempt to ease digestion, improve energy levels, and promote weight loss, many popular health recommendations focus on increasing metabolic rates. However, while manipulating metabolic speeds may help burn a few extra calories, the efficiency with which the body expends energy largely relies on age and genetic factors. A critical factor is often overlooked in the pursuit of improving metabolism: metabolic flexibility.

A key to optimal wellbeing, longevity, and chronic disease prevention, metabolic flexibility directly measures the body’s ability to respond and adapt to conditional changes in metabolic demands. Access to high-calorie processed foods as part of the standard American diet combined with increasingly sedentary lifestyles have directly impacted the ability of the metabolism to be flexible, and thus, support sustained energy production. Studies have shown that metabolic flexibility can prevent and treat metabolic diseases like diabetes and insulin resistance and help the body run at its optimal levels.

The real key to long-term health is not a fast metabolism – it is a flexible one.

What is Metabolic Flexibility?

Metabolic flexibility refers to the capacity of the organism to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability as energetic demands and nutrient availability fluctuate. The mechanisms governing fuel selection between glucose and fatty acids impact the risk for insulin resistance. If they are not functioning correctly, long-term health consequences ranging from hypertension to type 2 diabetes and obesity can arise.

The body of literature regarding metabolic flexibility expands as more clinical data points to its vast implications on overall health. Authors of a recent manuscript published in Cell Metabolism highlight that advances in omics technologies have spurred research that aims to interrogate mechanisms for improved metabolic flexibility in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue with the goal of preventing and treating metabolic disease.

Risks Associated with Metabolic Inflexibility

Due to poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles, metabolic inflexibility has become the patient standard. In the short term, this may manifest as decreased energy after meals, midday energy crashes, weight management difficulties, and mental illness symptoms, such as anxiety.

Over time, the physiological impact of weakened metabolic flexibility, including elevated glucose levels and insulin resistance, can lead to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other long-term health conditions. Impaired fat utilization associated with metabolic inflexibility can lead to weight gain and obesity, furthering the risk of chronic disease. Additionally, a weakened metabolism can alter the mass, structure, and function of the mitochondria in cells, thus causing elevated free radical levels in the body.

Health Benefits of a Flexible Metabolism 

Sustained energy, fewer glucose-related energy crashes, decreased cravings, and optimized fat usage, are only a few of the many benefits of having a flexible metabolism. When the body can seamlessly shift between fuel sources, it can adequately utilize energy instead of inefficiently storing it, resulting in improved weight maintenance, increased energy levels, and decreased risk of metabolic disease. Furthermore, metabolic flexibility is associated with consistent glucose levels, optimized workout performance, better sleep, and improved overall health.

Retraining the Modern Metabolism

Current data suggests that only 15% of the population has a flexible metabolism. While the concept continues to be a subject of scientific research and beneficial interventions are likely to emerge, there are already several methods that can help retrain a disrupted metabolism.

Dietary Interventions

The standard American diet emphasizes carb consumption and frequent eating, which accustoms the body to seeking out carbs for energy and promotes fat storage. On the other hand, low-carb, high-fat diets promote ketosis – or the state in which the body burns fat instead of blood sugar – forcing the body to adapt to changing metabolic demands.

Intermittent fasting has proven to achieve metabolic flexibility and address insulin resistance as well. By restricting the food intake for 12-18 hours per day, intermittent fasting allows the body enough time to burn stored fat for energy and release a healthy level of toxins. Combined with intermittent fasting, the benefits of low-carb diets rich in whole, real food are numerous: glowing skin, fat loss, improved brain function, and elevated healthspan.

Regular Physical Activity

Physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of metabolic inflexibility, while regular exercise is one of the most effective techniques for boosting metabolic flexibility. Incorporating as much movement throughout the day can train the metabolism to respond to shifts in energetic demands. Consistent physical activity is the key to increasing mitochondrial content, improving glycemic control, and improving insulin sensitivity.

All forms of physical activity are beneficial to overall health; however, experts believe that a combination of aerobic cardio and strength training exercises can yield optimal results for metabolic flexibility.

Key Takeaways

The majority of the population has an inflexible metabolism that cannot respond effectively to changing energy demands and nutrient availability. As a result, many struggle with weight management, chronic disease, and poor health and wellbeing. Retraining the metabolism with dietary and other lifestyle interventions can help develop metabolic flexibility – a key component of overall health.

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The Children’s Mental Health Crisis: How Social Isolation in Childhood Alters Brain Development and Function 

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children’s mental health. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, mounting challenges across the spectrum of childcare have deepened disparities in pediatric primary care and are particularly evident in racial and ethnic minority groups. At the same time, pandemic conditions have led many children to lose their caregivers and forced them into increased social isolation – all of which has culminated in a mental health crisis among the youngest of the population.

Current statistics reveal the urgency of the problem at hand. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency department visits for mental health emergencies rose by 24% in children aged between 5 and 11 years and by 31% in children aged between 12 and 17 years during March through October of 2020. In early 2021, emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts increased by 51% among girls aged between 12 and 17 years as compared to data from the same period in 2019.

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