Reversing Irreversible Health Conditions While Training for His Next Ironman
Philip Oubre is a functional medicine doctor in the Austin area who is also an accomplished Ironman triathlete. He recently sat down for an interview with AFM contributing writer and local physical therapist, Jarod Carter.
Carter: Dr. Oubre, please tell us about your background and what got you into functional medicine?
Dr. Oubre: I started as a traditional family practice doctor, but becoming a functional medicine doctor was an unexpected path, because I wasn’t raised with a holistic background. It was Austin that brought me to functional medicine because Austin’s a pretty holistic town. I had patients that were taking vitamins, going gluten-free, etc., and I just asked questions and kept an open mind.
After significant additional training and study, I’ve now been practicing functional medicine for about six years. During that time, I’ve seen conditions be reversed that conventional medicine, to this day, still says are irreversible.
Carter: I’m just curious, what are some of those reversible conditions that the conventional medical approach would say are irreversible?
Dr. Oubre: There are two big ones I’d like to mention today, and number one is autoimmunity. There’s so much autoimmunity in this world. Fifty percent of commercial insurance dollars go to treat autoimmunity, and it’s a completely reversible condition. Many doctors don’t believe autoimmune syndromes are reversible, and I used to be kind of scared to say it, but I’ve seen it happen enough now to say it. We’ve yet to have a patient with autoimmunity that we haven’t been able to reverse. Some take a lot longer than others and are more difficult than others, but there’s always a root cause, so if they’re patient and committed, it’s reversible.
Now, there always needs to be a little asterisk, because some autoimmune diseases create destructive mechanisms, and that destruction is sometimes irreversible. For instance, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that causes the destruction of a type of pancreatic cell. Once you run out of those cells, you will be a type 1 diabetic forever. Once they’re destroyed, they’re gone. However, the underlying autoimmune condition can be reversed.
Number two is heart disease. Once again, a heart attack destroys heart cells and once those heart cells are dead, they do not come back, and there’s a scar there. However, the actual blood vessels feeding the heart, the disease that caused the heart attack, the narrowing of the arteries, atherosclerosis, etc,, is all totally reversible.
Carter: I know with autoimmunity there are a huge variety of manifestations of autoimmune disease and symptoms. So, with each individual one, do you find that there’s also a wide variety in what it takes to reverse one type of autoimmune disease versus another?
Dr. Oubre: Every autoimmune condition has a unique trigger, and very few autoimmune conditions share that trigger. So, there is no single thing that heals any and all autoimmune conditions. In my practice, I take all patients through almost the exact same steps, but they all end up on a unique path and treatment plan because of their individualities.
The very first thing we look at is the gut, because without an intact gut, none of the other processes matter. Your gut is both your portal for your nutrition and also the way you get rid of toxins. So, without a healthy gut, you can eat the greatest food in the world or take the best CoQ10, but it’s not going to do much good. You know the saying, “You are what you eat”? Well, “You are what you absorb” is actually much more accurate.
After the gut, there are four other categories we examine to get to the bottom of our patients’ issues: first, biological toxins like yeast and bacteria. Number two is mold toxins, which are technically biological toxins, but they get their own category because they’re very difficult, and people are usually living with mold in the environment, so mold gets its own category of special problems. Then, number three is environmental chemicals. Think of Roundup, makeup products, soaps, non-organic foods, pesticides. All that stuff goes in the environmental chemicals bucket. Then, last but not least are heavy metals, and they get their own category because they’re the only ones that detoxify completely differently than the other toxins.
Carter: It’s fascinating how much our health can be impacted by things that are not commonly evaluated in traditional medical approaches. I’d now like to shift gears a little. You’re an Ironman triathlete and currently training for your next Ironman. What components and strategies of functional medicine do you incorporate into your training and preparation for a race? What nutrition and training mistakes do you commonly see endurance athletes make?
Dr. Oubre: Interestingly, per several research studies, Ironman triathletes don’t actually have a better survival rate than the general population. When you’re training for an Ironman, you need a ton of calories, and it’s easy to stay thin and fit even if you’re eating Oreos and things like that. So, the number one mistake I see in these athletes is that they’re actually eating junk. If you’re doing something that your body wasn’t really intended to do, you need to make sure you’re putting even better nutrition in your body than the average person. You’ve gotta pack in the good nutrients.
Secondly, a lot of athletes still utilize “carb loading” before races and long workouts, and that is such old science! We are not supposed to be carb loading. A mix of protein and fats are key, so I like to mix those into the carb-based race fuels that are commonly used by endurance athletes. More specifically, during a race, I consume a mixture each hour that gives me 100 calories of carbs, 15 grams of essential amino acids and a tablespoon of MCT oil. Ideally, you can switch your body to be a “fat burner” rather than a “sugar burner,” but this requires a long process that’s harder for some than they expect.
So, whether you’re training for an Ironman or just trying to ease symptoms of an autoimmune disorder, there’s quite a lot that nutrition and functional medicine can do to help you accomplish those goals.
This was just a small extraction from the full video/audio interview. If you’d like to watch or listen to the full interview, click the button below.
About the Author
Jarod Carter PT, DPT, MTC, is the founder of Carter Physiotherapy, where active people in Austin go to quickly recover from injury so they can keep playing their sport, exercising and enjoying life. Offering specialized, hands-on manual therapy as well as online telehealth treatment options, all sessions are one-on-one with a Doctor of Physical Therapy and designed to get you maximal results as quickly as possible. Jarod is also the author of two books and has helped thousands of healthcare providers around the world to create private practices offering the highest level of treatment and care. Jarod provides monthly resources and discounts specifically for Austin Fit Magazine readers here: www.CarterPT.com/AFM