Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hey Ma, No more Foie Gras !!

What is Foie Gras and how will reading about it help me to understand improved nutrition?

Should we ask The Donald?

Or maybe this Donald would be more apropo!!

Well, my guess is that "The Donald" partakes in foie gras, while "Donald Duck" hopes not to be on the menu.

From wikipedia: Foie gras (pronounced / fwa:gra:/ in English; French for "fat liver") is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. This fattening is typically achieved through gavage (force-feeding) corn.

When ducks, are force fed a starchy carbohydrate such as corn, their livers fill up with fat.

Does a similar mechanism occur in humans?

I am so glad you asked!!

There is a medical disorder called, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Otherwise known as NASH, this is a chronic condition that affects 2 to 5 percent of people in the United States. NASH involves inflammation or damage to the liver that can be severe and may lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. What I find especially concerning is that NASH may affect about 70 percent of people with Non-insulin dependent Diabetes (Type 2 Diabetes).

The liver has many functions in our body. One of the most important is as a major detox center or sewage treatment plant, helping to remove and make less harmful, many substances in our body. Our liver also plays a part in sugar metabolism. If our bodies sense we do not have enough sugar or glucose to burn, our liver can manufacture glucose for use.

Sounds like a good thing!

It is unless it starts over-manufacturing sugar that we do not need and is one of the mechanisms involved in Type 2 Diabetics and why they have a high incidence of fatty liver. In Type 2 Diabetics, even though they have plenty of excess energy stored in their bodies fat cells, they have trouble converting this fat to energy for use inside their cells. So their liver starts producing more sugar- glucose, which gets into their bloodstream, raising their glucose levels even further, in the hope that their cells can make use of this energy. A big problem with this mechanism is that the now higher levels of sugar in the bloodstream then gets converted into triglycerides (fat) and once again get stored in the liver, furthering the fat accumulation problem. Talk about spinning in circles!!

Sometimes a picture helps to get a point across.

Caution- some pictures below may not be suitable to view prior to a meal.

Below are three different livers which show the progression of fatty liver disease.

normal->--fatty-> Cirrhotic liver

The liver furthest to the left is a normal liver. It is smaller in size and has a deeper-rich and healthy color.

The center-middle liver is a fatty liver. It is somewhat bloated and misshapen, with a dull yellowish color.

The liver furthest to the right is a cirrhotic liver. It is huge and misshapen, with a pebbled appearance and coarser in texture.

OK, ugly pictures to look at, especially before eating!

So what can we do to prevent NASH or reverse it?

1) We must lower the amount of processed carbohydrates we eat to an amount that our bodies can handle. We accomplish this by closely monitoring diet, weight, waist size, and metabolic parameters. Each and every individual has a different "carb-tolerance", so to be succesful you need to find your own.

As we read earlier, to make Foie Gras, ducks are force fed large amounts of corn, a very starchy carbohydrate. In real life, we are feeding ourselves large amounts of processed carbohydrates such as cereals, breads and soft drinks, which act in our bodies just like corn!

2) Increase the burning of excess fat cells by change to a lower carbohydrate diet and if possible an increase in exercise. In other words, change your metabolism from a storer of excess energy (storing fat) to one that burns more energy than it stores ( a burner of fat).

The key to burning fat for fuel, is to limit the amount of glucose available. We accomplish this by a low processed carbohydrate diet.

If you are succesful in this dietary approach, the excess fat stored in your organs may diminish and hopefully allow your organs to once again work efficiently.

So let's recap:

If our bodies are overburdened by carbohydrates and sugar, excess carbohydrates get converted into sugar which gets converted to triglycerides which gets stored in our liver and other internal organs, eventually "gumming up" their efficiency. Consider it like rust occuring on metal. Just as the rust will destroy the metal, the excess fat will prematurely age and destroy our organs.

So that ends this lesson in, Hey Ma, please no more Foie Gras !!!

So hopefully Foie Gras gives you some added motivation to start a low processed carbohydrate diet. As mentioned in my previous newsletter, we have wellness programs set up to help you with the transition and also to provide extra guidance.
Other Institute For Medical Wellness Events

Our massage therapist, Julie, is limbering up for the fall season.

If you are enrolled in a Wellness plan, and have not yet experienced the benefits of massage, you can receive one one-hour massage for $35, or one 1.5 hour massage for $50. That is 50% off regular prices.

Package discounts are also available:

A 3 hour massage package, regularly $210, is now available at a 10% discounted price of $189.

A 5 hour massage package, regularly $350, is now available at a 15% discounted price of $299.

One of our newer network affiliates is Master Ting, from Silver Tiger Tai Chi in Hainesport. Master Ting is now offering one complimentary Tai Chi session for individuals enrolled in any Institute For Medical Wellness plan. More information on Master Ting can be found here.

One of Master Ting's long time students, David, is also offering a Tai Chi class. The Tai Chi classes begin October 1, running from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Classes will be held at the Boudinot Elementary School, corner of Pearl and Ellis Streets in Burlington, NJ.
Call 609-387-5895 to register.

To Good Health!!!

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Practice
Founder of The Institute For Medical Wellness
128 Borton Landing Road, Suite Two
Moorestown, NJ 08057
Phone 856-231-0590
Fax 856-294-031

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