Making Changes

I see two roadblocks to patients making the changes necessary to heal and to be healthy. The first is education. Meaning, they may be doing things in their life where they are simply unaware of the consequences. An example: Most people know that caffeine is not very good for their body. Therefore, many people will opt for decaf coffee; however, most don’t know that while decaf coffee has less caffeine, it has not been completely removed. In addition, there are other naturally occurring chemicals in coffee that can cause symptoms/health problems. These chemicals are called phenols (“fee-nawls”). Phenols are largely what give natural foods their brilliant colors, flavors and odors. Coffee (regular and decaf) is loaded with phenols, giving it such distinctive color, flavor and a (terrific) smell. I’ll admit, it’s hard to walk by the coffee shop at the mall and getting a whiff without having a bubble pop up above your head and Homer saying “mmmmm, coffffeeeeee aaghhhhh”!

It’s important that you understand that phenolics can be a strong irritant to the body. They can irritate the digestive tract, gall bladder, liver, pancreas, adrenals, kidneys and bladder. In addition, coffee is very acidic, and can greatly disrupt the body’s pH and blood sugar balance, especially when consumed on an empty stomach and first thing in the morning.

So knowing all of this can help patients and consumers make better choices. I’ll be the example: I do not avoid coffee completely; I have a few cups per month, as I do enjoy it. I NEVER drink coffee on an empty stomach and I always have decaffeinated (so not to disrupt my sleep quality). I also make a good attempt to use alkalizing foods (like green leafy vegetables) or an alkalizing supplement to counteract coffee’s acids in my body. It is nice to not be addicted to the affects of coffee, and I feel I can have it because I want it, not because I need it.

The second roadblock patients seem to suffer in regaining and maintaining their health are the skills to make changes in their life. I think we find comfort in statements like “old habits die hard”. It is this thinking that keeps us from growing, changing and improving our lives. Unfortunately, it is when we hit rock bottom or contract a serious illness that we decide to make changes; often this is too late, as we may have squandered our health, our youth and our vitality.

So how do we make change? Once we have the knowledge (education) of what we need to change, it takes personal skills to make better choices. For most, when we realize we have to make changes, it boils down to our “will-power” to do so. This is why so many patients don’t want to know what will truly help them get well, as they know it will require work on their part to make it happen.

This is how America has gotten stuck in the mentality of “take this pill and everything will be alright.” And that’s not a jab just at conventional medicine; it is also aimed at a lot of natural medicine practitioners who have gotten stuck in the “green medicine” mentality: take this herb for a cold, take that homeopathic for headaches, etc. In natural medicine circles, we have our little anti-drug statements like “headaches are not from a deficiency of aspirin in the body”. I will add that headaches are not caused from a deficiency of Feverfew (common headache remedy) either.

The simple fact is you need to take action. Action is what makes the difference in life. As Nike says, “Just Do It”. That one little step is all it takes to reach your goals and dreams. And it’s most often not the big changes that you make that will matter most; rather, it is all the tiny little ones you make along the way that will last forever.

It is said that men and women are creatures of habit; slaves to habit in fact. Good habits are the key to success and bad habits lead down a path towards failures, sickness and unhappiness. If we are indeed slaves to habit, we need to be slaves to good habits. Habits are formed through repetition. So don’t be lazy and don’t make excuses. Get educated, make some changes and repeat this behavior to keep the process going. You’ll find that what you give up (i.e. your morning coffee) will come back to you many times over in health, energy and control over your own life. On the other side awaits a better, healthier and happier life for you and your family!

In health,

Dr. Saks

Dr. Brett Saks is a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (NMD), author and lecturer. His book “The Bio-Logikal Diet: Your Guide to Optimal Health” helps readers develop the knowledge to make better, more informed lifestyle choices that they can implement in their daily lives. For more information, or to order a copy of his book, please visit

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