Today, there is a widely held notion of the universal “healthy” diet: with collective benefits applicable across all individuals. The U.S. federal dietary guidelines have aimed to establish blueprints for proper nutrition, which in theory should apply to all and lead to the same or at least similar results. However, increasing amounts of forthcoming research implicate the one-size-fits-all approach as fundamentally flawed due to its omission of a multitude of vital personal factors including biomarkers, metabolic capabilities, and genetic predispositions.
Dr. Jill Carnahan is a board certified physician in both Family Medicine and Integrative Holistic Medicine. In her practice, she emphasizes an integrative holistic approach to wellness, using both conventional medicine and evidence-based complementary therapies. Dr. Carnahan’s own journey through breast cancer was a powerful force in shaping her passion to teach people how to heal with functional medicine.
Q: Dr. Jill, what sparked your interest in anti-aging and preventive medicine? How has it changed your practice?
A: I was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer at the age of twenty-five. I was able to survive, beat the cancer and go on to thriving and living well through integrative holistic medicine, diet/nutrition principles and functional medicine.
I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I believe that I’ve been given a new chance at life and health so that I can help others! It’s my mission and passion to share that knowledge to help patients in their own healing journey.
Q: Would you recommend a more preventive approach to patient care to your peers?
A: Yes, indeed! We work in a disease-care system, not a true “health-care “system. True wellness and vitality starts with clean organic real food. The foundational healing principles of a whole food, clean, healthy diet are essential to wellness and disease prevention.
So many of the chronic disease epidemics faced today are not cured or fixed with medication, but instead by finding the root cause and transforming patients’ health with basic principles of good sleep, lowered stress, proper nutrients from diet and supplements, and great fulfilling relationships with those we love.
As physicians, we are not going to make a dent in diabetes, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease, or cardiovascular disease until we get to the root of our patients’ lifestyle factors like diet, sleep and fulfillment/purpose in life.
Q: Based on your experience, what are some of the challenges/considerations for physicians looking to apply a more integrative approach in their practice?
A: Once I decided to take the leap to a private cash practice, there were not too many challenges. I recommend keeping overhead low in the beginning, doing intake and office management yourself, until you grow. Start small and let the practice grow organically.
For anyone starting out, I recommend taking the leap and not being held hostage to fear of stepping out. Patients are looking for physicians who will take time to really listen and guide them to find the root cause of their symptoms, instead of just prescribing medications. They are willing to pay for time and personalized medical care, and there will be no shortage of business for a doctor willing to spend the time to help patients get well.
Q: What is your wish for the future of medicine?
A: I believe that it is essential to address the underlying root cause of illness, and to take a personalized approach to disease. That would include assessment of individual genetics, nutritional status, any underlying metabolic imbalances and infections, and then treat the patient as an individual with an individualized treatment plan.
There is no cookie cutter or one-size-fits-all approach that will work in addressing our patients’ illnesses. Most important, we need to model healthy behaviors, and teach patients to relax, sleep well, eat well and thrive
For many, the first of January means a new year, a clean slate, and lots of possibilities on the horizon. For many more, this also means it’s time to make a New Year’s resolution.
The most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and improve one’s financial situation. According to the American Heart Association, over 154 million American adults are overweight or obese. Many people just decide they are going to lose 10, 15, 20 pounds without any sort of plan of how to do so. Slowly working towards your goals and setting a timeline will prevent you from getting discouraged early in the process and will allow you to see positive results over time. A TIME Magazine article states “Content of the resolution doesn’t matter as much as how the resolution is set…you can approach a health goal in a way that guarantees failure or approach it in a way that will guarantee success.”
- Set realistic goals- If New Year’s resolutions were easy to maintain, everyone would look like supermodels, be filthy rich, be world travelers, experts at their hobbies, and be completely stress-free. Achieving goals means setting realistic expectations. For example, if you’re 30 pounds overweight, don’t expect to lose 30 pounds right away just because you’re ready to. It takes time, strategy and extreme commitment.
- Keep yourself accountable- Have a friend or family member check in with you and keep you responsible for your goal.
- Be strategic- Know what works for you. For example, if you know you’re going to have to work late one week, get your workouts done in the morning. Another example, if you’re trying to save money- dedicate a specific percentage of every paycheck to your savings account, set weekly grocery budgets, etc.
- Reward yourself- While consistency with a New Year’s resolution is important, don’t be too hard on yourself. Depriving yourself of a piece of birthday cake while everyone else around you is enjoying one, is cruel torture. Have a small piece, and make sure you get your exercise in that day.
- Be optimistic- Know that you can do it. Being your own worst enemy isn’t helping anyone, you’ll get discouraged way easier. A Positive attitude can go a long way.
Resolving to make a major life change without any thought or goals involved, is basically setting yourself up for failure. New Year’s resolutions are a great opportunity to change something you don’t like about yourself but they get a bad rep because their success rate is not always great. Gradual, consistent progress is a sure way to ensure triumph, no matter what you want the end result to be.