Live Better Now – Part 2

Dr. Mimi Guarneri

In Part 1 of Live Better Now, Mimi Guarneri, MD, a founding board member of the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM®) and a board-certified physician in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, said that inflammation was one of the root causes and final common pathways of diseases. She also identified the 10 hidden causes of inflammation, including sugar, food sensitivities, midline weight, stress, and sleep disturbance. In view of this, what can we do to avoid inflammation and improve our health?

The Seven Steps to Optimal Health

Dr. Guarneri asks us to imagine that we are trees. Now, imagine that our trunk is our DNA and the flowers or fruit we bear is a chronic disease, whether it’s diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or arthritis. How would we treat a sick tree? Pruning it of bad fruit or leaves would be one way, but the illness would still be at the root. So, fertilizing the soil – feeding the tree with the nutrients it needs –   would be much better. It’s in the soil, Dr. Guarneri says, that our seven steps to optimal health reside. In the presence of nutrient-rich soil, our life choices interact with our DNA (the trunk) and determine whether we are healthy or sick.

Dr. Guarneri cites the case of a woman who had been suffering so intensely from chronic migraines that she no longer wanted to live. Her family brought her to Dr. Guarneri. After a comprehensive assessment, it was clear to Dr. Guarneri that the woman had an unhealthy digestive system. She had been suffering from gas, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, so, Dr. Guarneri treated her by fixing her microbiome. She put the woman on a healthy diet and soon discovered that gut inflammation was ultimately the cause of her headaches.

Ayurvedic medicine asserts that with the right food and a healthy gut, you don’t need meds. In fact, gut inflammation is recognized as the root cause of many common ailments, such as heart disease, cognitive decline, and depression. This brings us to the seven steps of optimal health:

  1. Food first – You are what you eat. Get proper macronutrients, like fats, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. To improve your health, the first thing to do, Dr. Guarneri advises, is to clean out our pantries. She encourages us to take the two-week challenge: Eliminate sugar in all its forms. This means no alcohol, no sugar, and no simple carbs. Also, eliminate gluten and dairy, which can lead to everything from arthritis to skin rashes. Substitute these foods with fruits, and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, which taste good and has fiber that fills us up. Additionally, we should drink lots of water and choose healthier forms of protein, like lentil soup.
  2. Balance your hormones – When hormones are unbalanced, we can experience fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, and more. That’s why it’s important that we get our thyroids checked and our hormone levels assessed, in particular, our adrenal – or stress – hormones, such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. High cortisol can cause midline weight gain and contributes to diabetes and high blood pressure.
  3. Get physically active – Even small amounts of physical activity are associated with significant health benefits. Exercise leads to lower blood sugar and triglyceride levels, helps control midline weight, and improves our sleep as well as our mood.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep – To do this, we should limit our intake of alcohol, sugar, and dark chocolate. And, at bedtime, we should put away light sources such as computers and cell phones.
  5. Get to Know Your Genes – Genes are not destiny, but our genetic makeup has huge impacts on our health. Our genes are related to our body mass index, how we metabolize drugs, and our predisposition to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. That’s why we should learn what foods and supplements we need based on our individual genetics. Today’s technology allows assessment of our genes through blood and saliva testing. Remember, Dr. Guarneri says, how we live our lives – i.e., what foods we choose to eat – supersedes genetics.
  6. Transform Your Stress Response – How we see the world affects our health. In other words, our response to events can determine whether we are happy, depressed, lonely, or anxious, and these emotional states affect our well-being. Simply put, stress can make you ill. We need not only medication, Dr. Guarneri suggests, but also meditation. She cites a study in which a group of random patients with high blood pressure saw a 48 percent reduction in their risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death by meditating 20 minutes twice a day.
  7. Connection – For better health, we should strengthen our bonds with people, nature, and our purpose – essentially, to what matters most in our lives.

Dr. Guarneri encourages us to take these seven steps, to find more joy, and to love more, not only other people, but also ourselves. Choose the path to health, she says. Love yourself enough to choose health and live better now.

The American Board of Physician Specialties and its Member Board the ABOIM support Dr. Guarneri’s efforts at educating the public about the science of integrative health in order to achieve optimal health and well-being. With interest in integrative health practices on the rise, the ABPS offers physician board certification in integrative medicine through the ABOIM. To learn more about this specialty, or for information about integrative medicine certification, contact the ABPS today.


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House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
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Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine