Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My Interests - Health, Nutrition, and Staying Fit

How did I get to be a columnist for the Beacon?  I’m told to avoid using “I” in my columns, but will ask for a pass on this column as I tell you a bit about myself and ask for your thoughts for future content.

I am a gastroenterologist (digestive, liver, and pancreas problems), now retired from The Everett Clinic in Everett. In my practice life, it was common to get patients’ observations on their diet and how it impacted their symptoms. I also fielded questions about personal nutrition changes patients could make to improve them. I was a digestive disease doctor so they naturally assumed I knew all there was to know about the food that digestive tract would need to process.

We didn’t focus much on nutrition in medical school, so I worked to expand my knowledgeable on nutrition in general. Staying on top of what was new in the field of foods and their impact on diseases and staying healthy became part of my regular reading and ongoing CME (continuing medical education).

When answering questions from my patients, I needed to provide the information in a way they could easily understand.  A brief explanation of the physiology helped them to understand the reasons a specific recommendation was being made, and understanding the connection would made it more likely that they would follow through. This reinforced my interest in effective patient education, and by extension a personal approach that crossed over into providing clear answers to other questions on medicine and physiology.
My interest in nutrition and education worked its way into my personal life as well. I was not an athlete in high school, in fact I hated PE. I ran my first mile when I was 30 and have stayed active running and bicycling. I started biking with a group of friends in the late 1980s and, being competitive, they would regularly turn to me with questions on nutrition and its impact on their performance.

Although there are now many books on nutrition and sports performance, there were none in the late 1980s. So I took my research of the literature, my advice to them, added in my interest in education and physiology, and wrote a short book on the subject of nutrition and bicycling performance - Bicycling Fuel.
In the 90s, I became interested in the Internet and decided to move my thoughts on nutrition and performance to a website.  As bikers’ (and other athletes’) interest in nutrition is really about their interest in improving their personal performance, I expanded the website content to include the physiology of exercise in general and training tips. That website Cycling Performance Tips ( continues to be my personal hobby.
Now that I am retired, a new set of questions have surfaced. Staying healthy. Staying active. Staying engaged in life. A friend is writing a book on the topic so we talk about it a lot. As I see it, it just an extension of the same questions I have been asked over the last 40 years.

When I was approached to in a column for The Beacon, it seemed a natural fit with my interest in education. My only question was “what topics”? So, this is where I make a public appeal. Please comment on past topics, on what areas you’d like me to explore in more detail and, of course, other ideas for the future. I’ve set up an email for you to contact me:

Send thoughts and questions my way. Nutrition, digestive problems, biking, and exercise physiology. I’ll do my best to avoid politics.

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