|Ivy Larson. (Supplied) |
Ivy Larson has nothing against doctors. She married one, in fact.
It’s just that countless physicians are all too eager to prescribe medication for whatever ails their patients, she says.
Rather than rely so heavily on pushing pills as the “first line of defence,” the former Lifetime TV personality would prefer if docs were more willing to espouse sound nutrition as an antidote.
“The problem is, though, that there’s no money for doctors in nutrition,” she tells Sun Media in a recent phone interview from her home in North Palm Beach, Florida.
She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 at the age of 22, after suffering with “an alarming stream of symptoms,” including incontinence, severe muscle spasms, muscle weakness and numbness in her limbs.
Larson was working in a hospital wellness centre at the time, teaching exercise classes and providing exercise prescriptions for patients with various medical conditions.
She had just graduated college with a bachelor of science degree and had earned her American College of Sports Medicine health fitness specialist certification.
And until then, she had been a picture of health: A former All-American cheerleader, dancer and gymnast.
Leading up to her diagnosis, Larson had been “shuffling from one doctor to another in search of answers.” Fortunately for her, the neurologist at the University of Miami Hospital who ultimately diagnosed her was a proponent of using nutrition - when possible - to treat a variety of maladies.
In Larson’s case, the good doc urged her to revamp her diet.
“This was kind of unusual,” she admits. “Most doctors don’t recommend nutrition as the first line of defence for MS.”
But he was concerned because Larson was exhibiting signs of depression.
“A lot of the disease-modifying medications that are used for MS exacerbate depression,” she explains. “So he thought, ‘You could try nutrition because you are in the very early stages of the disease and there’s nothing to lose. Even if you decide to go on the medicine, you should still eat healthy.’”
To this day, Larson has never taken any MS medication, although she did initially take medications to treat her symptoms, such as Ditropan, Amantadine, Effexor and Valium.
Fifteen years after her diagnosis, she’s pain-free, symptom-free and drug-free.
“I feel amazing,” Larson says, adding that besides managing to keep her disease in remission, she’s aging gracefully and staying trim.
The 37-year-old mom, a fit 115 pounds at five-foot-six, attributes her excellent health to consuming an “anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich whole foods diet, exercising regularly, taking nutritional supplements, getting adequate sleep and controlling stress.”
Over the years, Larson and her surgeon hubby, Andy Larson, have developed and fine-tuned what they’ve dubbed the Clean Cuisine program, which is based on their experience and research.
“We call it a nutrition program,” she says. “We don’t call it a diet because it’s not about counting your calories. It’s really just about making your food count nutritionally and choosing the most nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods.”
The couple - co-authors of Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Program that Will Change the Way You Age, Feel and Look - are focused on sharing their knowledge and helping others to live healthier lives.
Earlier this year, Larson also released Full Fitness Fusion, a zero-impact workout DVD.
“There’s no downside to exercising and eating clean,” adds Larson, who works out four times a week for 30 minutes each session. “If you still need to take a medication, that’s one thing. And it’s not like I’m against the medical community. There just needs to be more of an emphasis on nutrition. There’s an amazing amount of research that supports nutrition for everything, for everybody. So it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. It can’t make you feel worse, put it that way.”
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