Once the COVID pandemic is finally over, we’ll still have another pandemic to deal with, says Dr. Nick Norwitz, a rising star in nutrition science. The health crisis he’s talking about is the prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in America.
What is Metabolic Syndrome? It’s a constellation of markers that suggests underlying metabolic dysfunction.
It’s one of the strongest predictors of heart disease and is also a risk factor for many other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and cancer.
The markers are:
- Obesity – particularly excess belly fat
- High blood pressure
- High triglycerides
- Low LDL (good cholesterol)
- Insulin resistance
- High fasting blood sugar
About 25 percent of Americans had Metabolic Syndrome until 2005. By 2012 more than one third of all Americans met the criteria. And studies show that the risk increases with age. Almost half of adults over 60 have it.
A 2018 study found that only one-in-eight Americans is achieving optimal metabolic health.
How does Dr. Norwitz know so much about Metabolic Syndrome and its causes? His health started failing when he was still in his teens. When he was just 18, he developed ulcerative colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine in the gastrointestinal tract.
30% to 60% of people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis have lower-than-average bone density. In some individuals, it takes the form of osteoporosis (a condition that literally means “porous bones”).
Nick was one of them.
One particularly bad flare up of the UC put Nick in the hospital with a bad prognosis. His heart rate was in the 20’s! He’d seen many doctors and specialists and had tried all kinds of different medications, but nothing helped. He was not getting any better.
It was at that point that he decided he needed to take responsibility for his own health and started to research other possible remedies for his condition. He discovered nutrition science and started changing what he ate.
The effect was phenomenal. Within a week his colitis symptoms went away. The inflammation improved and soon he was able to come off all medication. Even his bone density showed signs of improvement.
“Food is one of the most powerful tools we have to transform health,” says Dr. Norwitz.
The realization that his experience was not unique, but just one instance of the wave of metabolic diseases affecting the developed world, led him to study nutrition science further.
“Poor nutrition is one of the most important causes of these risk factors that underlie so many of the diseases we see today,” says Dr. Norwitz.
“When you examine the circumstances that led to the current medical system, which is built on a drug-centric and procedure-centric model, and you look at all the economic and social forces, I understand why things are the way they are,” he explains.
He believes that any compound you put in your body, be it food, a food supplement, or a powerful drug, is just an input into our biological operating system. There is only one that we have multiple times a day, and that we need to have, that really determines what we are composed of. That is food.
It is possible to avoid or reverse Metabolic Syndrome and its related markers and degenerative conditions. We know that poor nutrition and lifestyle choices lead to these conditions and it can be prevented or reversed with good nutrition and an active lifestyle.
There is no disagreement amongst practitioners of traditional medicine or alternative medicine that nutrition is important. What is in contention is what constitutes good nutrition. And what nutrients each person’s body needs to heal itself.
“I don’t think people are truly investigating that,” says Dr. Norwitz. “Most health practitioners just follow the standard guidelines.”
The perception is that the guidelines are based on good evidence and that they’re being supported by an expert panel who are going through a proper systematic review of the literature. They believe they are impartial.
“You often have to realize that the guidelines are not correct through trial and error in your own life or that of your patients,” says Dr. Horwitz. “You try something new and realize, Wow! This works!
“It can be a tough message to get across to the public. There are a lot of nutrition “truths” that people have internalized. They tend to believe that the USDA is right. That’s why it’s hard, not just for me but for this community, to say things that are that are supported by literature but are a little bit fringe. How do you get that message across?
“What I do know is, in the end science will win. That means that metabolic medicine, low carbohydrate diets, and ketogenic options will come to be a part of conventional medicine. It’s just going to take time.”
If you would like to discover what underlying health issues you have and get a personalized, clinically- designed nutrition plan for your body, find the Nutrition Response Testing® practitioner nearest you.