Feature Article: February 2021 – Food as Medicine Highlighted at AMMG Conference in Miami

Food as Medicine Highlighted at AMMG Conference in Miami

Jeff Morris

The upcoming 30th Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine Conference in Miami, Florida, will highlight the role of nutrition, diet, healthy eating, nutritional deficiencies, nutrigenomics, and how these and other factors influence many aspects of age management in a series of fascinating lectures on Saturday, April 17.

Leading off the day, and a major influence on the topic of Food As Medicine, is Arden Andersen, Ph.D., D.O., MSPH,  a respected teacher, consultant and physician, with work based in the field of sustainable agriculture. As a world renowned influence in biological farming, Dr. Andersen is well versed in the connectedness of soil and plant balance.
Dr. Anderson is both a doctor and a farmer. As a doctor he helps his patients take dynamic control of their health using proven therapies and diet; as a farmer he has long made the connection between healthy and nutritious foods grown in rich soils and the health and vitality they offer to us.

Dr. Andersen began his professional life as a consultant in the field of Agricultural Nutrition, working to improve soil and crops through the understanding that weeds, diseases and insect pests were directly correlated to nutritional deficiencies and imbalances in the soils and crops. He was motivated by the desire to help people and make a difference, and after ten years in agriculture he decided he could help even more people by practicing medicine.

In the course of his agricultural work, Dr. Andersen has met many farmers suffering from various disorders, from infertility to cancer, as a result of pesticide exposure and poor diets. This experience inspired him to take a holistic approach to medicine that included nutritional medicine and making the connection between the farm and how food is grown and consumer health. He is the author of three well known publications specializing in spreading the awareness and necessity for the practice of healthy eating and wholesome farming practices, including: “Science in Agriculture”, “Real Medicine, Real Health” and “Anatomy of Life and Energy in Agriculture”.

In his lecture, Dr. Andersen notes that medicine is most often thought of strictly as manufactured synthetic substances limited to one or two specific physiologic functions. Food, on the other hand, though specific foods can target specific physiologic functions, is generally thought of as related to the entire organism physiology—or no physiology at all, just food. However, he says the Standard American Diet is the most disease causing diet on earth, is highly inflammatory, and is rarely discussed in the context of “medicine.” Further, he says, just as we are finding more and more medicines are carrying and contaminated with undesirable substances, we find foods, especially conventionally grown foods to be contaminated with pesticides, heavy metal, and other undesirable contaminants that further adversely affect the consumer. But just as food causes chronic disease, different food can reverse and ameliorate chronic disease in the same way as “medicine.” He further makes the point that the third leading cause of death in the U.S. is the medical system itself—and that a corollary would be that conventional agriculture, including the processing industry, is the number one contributor to death and disease via its lobbying and imposition of the SAD.

“Good nutrition comes back to agriculture and the way our foods are grown,” says Dr. Andersen. “Western farming systems have raped the soils, depleted the minerals, and compromised our food resources. Real medicine must start with the patient’s diet and ultimately the nutrition on the farm.”

Dr. Andersen aims to raise awareness in natural soil fertilization and the natural maintenance of agriculture worldwide, to ensure healthier futures of the human race. While he reiterates the importance of these key tools for health and agriculture, he also pushes to maintain the management of soils, crops and animals in a productive, profitable and economically sustainable way.

Currently a Family and Occupational Medicine Physician at McDonough Medical Center in Gladstone, Missouri, Dr. Andersen has been warmly welcomed as “Best in Medicine” by the American Health Council for his dedication to healthcare during 21 years as an osteopath, physician and expert in nutrition. Beyond his role at McDonagh Medical Center, Dr. Andersen maintains reserve status as a Flight Surgeon and Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and has earned the Warrior’s Creed Award. In 2013 he was awarded the Acres USA Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Always be conscious of the fact that the purpose of agriculture is to produce food for people, and, thus, food must have comprehensive nutrition suitable for people,” Dr. Andersen wrote in 2006. He has remained consistent, and attributes his success to his persistence and his desire to make a difference.

Following Dr. Anderson’s Food As Medicine presentation, a second lecture with that title will be given featuring updated research on Carnosine and Beta-alanine. The faculty member for this lecture is Jay R. Hoffman, Ph.D., FACSM, FNSCA, a Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Director of Health & Sport, at Ariel University, Israel. Dr. Hoffman explains that β-alanine is a non-proteogenic amino acid that combines with histidine to form the dipeptide molecule carnosine. β-alanine is the rate-limiting precursor of carnosine formation, and supplementation with β-alanine increases muscle carnosine. Carnosine is found in high concentrations in both meat and fish. Carnosine is a H+ buffer that has an important role in muscle function and may impact ischemic events. In addition, carnosine has been suggested to have various other roles in the body, including acting as an antioxidant, antiglycating agent, and ion-chelator, which may have significant effects on aging and other health benefits. Dr. Hoffman says β-alanine supplementation has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety in both human and animal studies, and in this presentation he will provide an overview of the health benefits known, and potential other benefits associated with elevations in both muscle and brain tissue carnosine levels.

The World Health Organization has recommended that planet-wide, people should follow a Mediterranean diet, as populations that follow the Mediterranean diet, even outside the Mediterranean region, have longer lifespans and better overall health than those who adhere less. In 2020 US News and World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as the #1 overall best diet, #1 best diet for diabetes, #1 best diet for health, and #1 easiest diet to follow, and the #2 diet for heart health. Multiple randomized clinic trials show that if properly followed, the Mediterranean diet will reduce rates of cardiovascular disease, dementia rates, extend both lifespan and health span, and help with long term weight loss. Plus, the food is delicious, simple to prepare, and easy to find in a local grocery store, increasing long-term adherence.

So why isn’t everyone following the Mediterranean Diet? Steven C. Masley, M.D., President of the Masley Optimal Health Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, explains that there are myths regarding the Mediterranean diet that should be corrected, and physicians generally lack evidence based nutritional recommendations that are effective and easy to implement. In his lecture, Evidence-based Review of the Impact of the Mediterranean Diet on Heart Health, Cognitive Function, Longevity and Weight Control, Dr. Masley will help to bridge that gap.

Betty Wedman-St Louis, Ph.D., a Nutritionist & Environmental Health Specialist in Pinellas Park, Florida, will address Nutrition Controversies in Patient Care. First up, she asks, Is Nanotechnology Safe in Foods? She notes nanotechnology in foods is used as a delivery system for colors, flavors, preservatives, nutrients and nutraceuticals—and there is evidence that some of them can have harmful effects. Neither consumers, regulators nor medical personnel are fully aware of the toxicity, and food products are not labeled as produced using nanotechnology.

Another controversy Dr. Wedman-St.Louis will address is CDP-Choline as an Essential Nutrient. She notes Cytidine 5-diphosphocholine is essential for cellular membranes, especially in phosphatidylcholine, and can be administered in intravenous or oral format. CDP choline increases cerebral metabolism and acts on neurotransmitters to increase noradrenaline and dopamine in CNS. So she asks, why is it not used in CVD, head traumas, and cognitive disorders? Another controversy surrounds digestion of A1 vs A2 Milk. Dr. Wedman-St. Louis says food-derived peptides, especially from milk, may adversely affect gastrointestinal health and have been shown to increase the risk of insulin-dependent diabetes. Beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) may function as an immunosuppressant and impair gut immune tolerance. Cow’s milk intolerance may be more than lactose intolerance caused from lactose malabsorption. Increasing evidence shows that A1 beta-casein (protein produced by European-origin cattle) is associated with milk intolerance compared to A2 beta-casein (Asian or African cattle). A1 beta casein increases production of dipepitidl peptidase-4 and the inflammatory marker myeloperoxidase compared to A2 beta casein.

Dr. Wedman-St. Louis will also address Risk Management Issues in Food Delivery Programs. She notes that in a pandemic world and after, food delivery options need to adhere to essential food safety requirements. We’ve come a long way from pizza delivery. Today consumers can order everything from shelf-stable ingredients to perishable produce/meat/poultry to prepared meals and meal kits. Yet no regulations for food delivery exist to insure safety of cold foods (delivered below 40*F), hot foods (delivered above 135*F) or food tampering assurance.

Derrick DeSilva, Jr., M.D. will be next up, discussing Nutrigenomics and Epigenetics: How Environmental Factors and Nutrient Deficiencies Affect our Genetic Expression. Dr. DeSilva, a member of the Teaching Faculty of JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey and Co-Chair of the Department of Complimentary Medicine and Senior Attending Staff at Raritan Bay Medical Center, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, says that reverse aging is no longer science fiction. He points out that leading edge science and technological advancements have provided unprecedented discoveries in the field of aging and age rejuvenation. Recently, nine hallmarks of aging were identified—genomic instability, telomere shortening, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, dysregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cell senescence, stem cell loss, and altered intercellular communication. These discoveries, he says, provide us with an opportunity to create interventions which mitigate the ravages of aging and importantly, provide the ability to rejuvenate the aging system to a place of youthful longevity. In order to achieve optimal age rejuvenation outcomes, a synergistic, stepwise approach is required.

There has been much talk about ketogenic diets. Many medical “experts” feel these diets are bad for people and should be shunned. Many feel that eating more grains and carbohydrate foods are better for you. Katrina J. Breece, M.S., an Exercise and Lifestyle Specialist at Better Life Carolinas in North Carolina, says the data simply does not support these ideas. In Ketogenic Diets: Good or Bad?, she maintains that Ketogenic diets can be not only very good for improving your health, but also are very good for weight-loss. In fact, they could be the cure we are searching for to reduce the expanding obesity epidemic we are presently experiencing, and which is predicted to continue. Many studies have confirmed benefits to heart disease, cancers, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases by using healthy ketogenic diets. She will present a summary of many studies that support the use of appropriate ketogenic diets.

Galen M. Eversole, M.D., FCAP, MBA, next presents Developing a Personalized Nutrition Plan: Epigenetics, Genetic Testing Integration with Correlated Health Factors and Patient Engagement. Dr. Eversole, who is board-certified in anatomic and clinical pathology and Cytopathology and molecular diagnostics, is currently Laboratory Director for Advanced Laboratory Services of Sherman, Texas, a CLIA-certified lab performing LC/MSMS and immunoassay testing for pain management support and PCR testing for respiratory and urinary pathogens and SARS CoV 2. He says nutrigenomics and genomic testing have added to the toolkit for helping patients improve their nutritional status, but that evidence suggests that just having this data available does not necessarily motivate patients to comply with a nutritional plan. An effective approach must include integration with other health goals such as fitness, preventive practices, and hormonal approaches. A multimodal approach with processes for patient engagement and compliance is critical to achieving an effective and lifelong practice of nutritional optimization. Dr. Eversole will explore the role of epigenetics and cell signaling with respect to micro, macronutrients and supplements; personal nutritional genomic testing; nutrition planning tools and the medical record; and integration of nutrition planning into overall health maintenance (fitness, prevention practices, hormonal status); patient engagement tools.

Wrapping up Saturday’s agenda, Rob Kominiarek, D.O., FACOFP presents Age Management Medicine Clinical Recommendations for Diet and Weight Loss. The highly respected President & Medical Director of ReNue Health in Springboro, Ohio, who is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, points out obesity has gained epidemic proportions and is now the leading cause of chronic medical illnesses that occur as we age. Correcting obesity, he says, should therefore be paramount for every physician who practices age management medicine. Old concepts of weight-loss, such as low-fat diets, have been shown to actually increase cardiovascular risks. The Mediterranean diet has been proven to have beneficial effects on health but, per se, may not provide a good option for losing weight, says Dr. Kominiarek. Newer concepts such as higher fat diets, ketogenic diets and fasting mimicking diets have accumulated a plethora of evidence that suggests these appear to be preferred options for patients to lose weight. Physicians, he says, should consider this new evidence when recommending weight-loss options, and that is what he will present.

For full details, visit www.agemed.org.