I've recently started reading books and blogs on nutrition (mostly Paleo and Primal). I realized the authors manipulate a lot of facts about nutrition and human physiology and use a lot of terms (insulin, GLUT-4, glucose, fructose, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, thyroids function etc). I feel I should be understanding this, not just believing in their arguments (as opposing camps operate with the same terms, while reaching completely opposite conclusions).
I've also suffered from some medical problems for the last 20 years, and conventional medicine completely failed to understand what's wrong with me (they usually treated the symptoms). I have a feeling all the problems I had are connected and are just parts of some bigger picture (hormonal/nutritional misbalance). If there someone who has a real interest and incentive to solving it - it's me, and the sooner I do it the better.
What would be the best place to start? A book or a series of books? An online class? A medical degree?
Great idea. The only problem I see, actually it's a bit of a big one, is that a Physiology textbook (probably what you're looking for) doesn't tie everything into pathology and certainly doesn't tie it into nutrition. So you could read a Physiology textbook but what you probably want is Clinical Nutrition, I am always impressed with those journals. http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-380165.html
You could simply read a lot of blogs and journal articles and then wikipedia the different terms and piece it together, but it might be better to read a textbook. Clinical Nutrition is where they actually have to get results rather than Dieticians who go "you're eating too much, fatty!". "But I'm eating less than 1000 calories per day, I swear" "eat less, and where are your whole grains?! No wonder you still have diabetes, your grains aren't whole enough! I HAVE A DEGREE, BITCHEZ!"
Actually Introduction to Human Nutrition looks good for the first one. Nutrition And Metabolism looks like the 2nd. Clinical Nutrition is more advanced stuff.
I think I may have the book for you.
It's called "Feed Your Genes Right".
This book unites the science of nutrition with genetics, examining how food impacts genetic expression in day-to-day life. I think there is his misconception that genes dictate every aspect of anatomy and physiology. This book explains how genes are dynamic way beyond their role in determining eye and hair color. It may sound awkward but genes act and remain active throughout the life cycle so personal eating habits largely determine one's state of health/disease, specifically by turning on and off certain genetic sequences in human DNA.
The inspiring message is that we are not doomed to some predetermined genetic fate of cancer or chronic disease because we can influence how our genes act through diet. The good news is genes actually do nothing on their own. If we take great care in providing them with proper raw materials from healthy foods, we optimize their function and therefore our state of health throughout life. When we activate genes, we have immense power to determine our own health/well-being.
Think of the genes as the control tower of every human cell, arranging amino acids in sequences that make important brain chemicals, hormones, digestive enzymes and antibodies for our immune system. Basically, if we eat healthy and bathe our cells in essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, we can manipulate how our genes (found in the nucleus of every single one of those cells) express themselves. We eat a piece of grass-fed chicken and WE put the amino acids there. The genes just direct how they are assembled. We eat spinach and WE put the vitamin catalysts necessary for vital cellular activities that bring balance and harmony to the whole of our anatomy and physiology. So by eating, WE direct cellular activity through those genetic control centers. WE send the messages. Our genes depend on US for cues. FOOD tells them what to make and what to do.
We are the boss of our genes, not the other way around.
In Feed Your Genes Right, renowned nutrition expert Jack Challem translates the hugely exciting science of nutrigenomics—which explores the link between nutrition and our own DNA—into practical eating plans and nutritional supplement recommendations for maximizing one's genetic inheritance, slowing the aging process, and reducing the chances of disease. After describing how food and nutrients can help repair flawed or damaged genes, Challem offers specific plans—complete with delicious carb-smart recipes—that target two dozen common or inherited diseases and conditions, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, fatigue, gluten intolerance, heart disease, and obesity.
As an aside, Nutrigenomics is a legitimate and exciting science. I hope the paleo scientific community embraces it and helps advance research. The Paleo movement could gain serious traction if we can find some common ground with geneticists. Nutrigenomics is the perfect tool to team up with them.
Here are some articles From Dr. Harris that cover a lot of these terms.
I also like Taubes Books as he shows how things have been manipulated.
Here is a list of some of my favourite books:
Not sure if you have seen an endocrinologist yet, but that maybe a good starting point for running accurate tests to determine what imbalances you have. Then you will be better able to narrow down your research and/or explore nontraditional options. Even for someone in the medical field, it can be very overwhelming with conflicting research. I would also make sure to give yourself a thorough understanding of What good research looks like (ie peer reviewed journals, double blind study, large sample population). Stop by your local library and ask the librarian for help and if possible, access to lexisnexis. This way you are the one doing the real research instead of at the mercy of someone else's interpretation, someone who's trying to sell you something or who is too busy to keep up with current research. I would certainly agree with the recommendation of a good anatomy/physiology text book. Although pricey, get the most current edition to learn the basics. If you want it "right now!" your local community college may have some used copies. Good luck!