Ever since he discovered the many benefits of therapeutic carbohydrate restriction (TCR), Dr. Tony Hampton has been using this knowledge to help his predominantly African American patients on Chicago’s South Side.
The Society of Metabolic Health Practitioners (SMHP) recently announced Dr. Hampton has been named chairman of the organization’s Outreach Committee, which has been formed to ensure the SMHP message is delivered to all who can benefit, regardless of race, ethnicity. The Outreach Committee will also support research into metabolic risk and the response to lifestyle interventions based on ethnicity and other factors, and will seek to disseminate information to practitioners as well as those primarily interested in improving their metabolic health.
Dr. Hampton, a physician who is board certified in family medicine and obesity medicine, is familiar with the devastating effects caused by obesity and metabolic disease, and he understands all too well how much more difficult these problems can be for many of his patients who face a wide range of additional challenges.
“One of the first things you need to do if you’re going to help, is to develop an understanding of people’s needs,” said Dr. Hampton, as he explained the challenges faced by many of his patients. “It was our belief that nutrition had a lot to do with their health, but we discovered many of them didn’t even have access to a nearby grocery store.”
Dr. Hampton also realized patients were often challenged by transportation issues, (which makes) making food shopping or getting to and from the clinic difficult. Sometimes, he learned, patients weren’t getting important scans or other diagnostics because they didn’t have the money for a copay.
And these additional challenges compound the fact that, according to recent studies, Black Americans already have roughly twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-hispanic white Americans.
“There are certainly health related struggles within this community,” said Dr. Hampton. “You see diabetes and hypertension as a general rule, and you see obesity. So you have the disparities in health-related issues, you have the economic issues, and there are educational disparities. When you put all those things together, you see there are racial inequities.”
Dr. Hampton is the medical director of Advocate Trinity Hospital Service Area, and lab director for Advocate Medical Group.
“My practice is on the South Side of Chicago, and I live in Oak Park, Illinois, which is the first Western suburb outside of the city,” said Dr. Hampton. “I was born and raised in Chicago, so this is definitely home. It’s been nice to be in a city that is part of my roots, because it gives me more purpose in my work, in that I am serving a community that I grew up in, that has a tremendous need for the work I do.”
As part of his work, Dr. Hampton helped launch the Food Farmacy at Advocate Trinity Hospital to increase access to fresh, healthy food for patients and community members in need. The Food Farmacy is part of the hospital’s Healthy Living Program.
He is seeing great success with therapeutic carbohydrate restriction as a treatment option among the more than 3,000 patients he serves, but in order to achieve successful outcomes, patient care goes far beyond diet and nutrition.
“We have found as we tried to do these programs that there’s a lot of unmet needs, and a lot of reasons why people are not successful,” he said, “and it’s not because they don’t want to be successful. It’s because they have all these barriers that make it difficult for them to be successful.”
Dr. Hampton explained that acquiring trust with his patients is one of the top priorities in order to be able to effectively create a plan that aligns with his patient goals.
“I think the more comfortable you are with these communities of color, the easier it is to have those conversations and to create an action plan that aligns with the goals. The key is to understand what their needs are, what’s going to motivate them the most, and what is their ‘why’”.
“I try to be a person who listens to them, who tries to see the world through their lens so they can feel comfortable with what I have to share,” he said. “I listen to what their needs are, and then I try to create a recipe, a list of services me or my team can provide them.”
Dr. Hampton kept that in mind as he helped develop the Healthy Living Program. “One example of making people comfortable was making sure that at least some of our speakers looked like the audience a little bit, not all of them, but at least enough that they felt comfortable. And we worked to make sure we understood their needs.”
Dr. Hampton was a vegetarian for eight years before switching to low-carb about eight years ago. His switch to low-carb occurred after his wife developed type 1 diabetes, and he started looking at studies and data that suggested a low-carb approach might be a more effective path towards helping people heal.
“I’ve done the the low-fat approach, but in most cases, I saw it wasn’t sustainable,” said Dr. Hampton. “I can only recall one case where a patient did really well on a low fat diet, and came off hypertension medicines. Once I shifted to a low carb methodology, the number of people who were able to reduce or get off medicines started getting into the hundreds. With the low-carb approach, I found that getting people off medicines and helping them to be healthy and lose weight became fairly seamless.”
Dr. Hampton estimates that close to half of his patients are currently following some form of carbohydrate restricted approach.
“It’s so much easier to say you can eat your ribs, you can eat your steak, you can eat your chicken, and we’re just going to tweak what we put on the ribs and what we put on a chicken.”
“Up until I discovered carbohydrate restriction, I thought, as many of my colleagues did, that diabetes and other metabolic diseases were chronic progressive diseases. And what I learned is that you can improve these conditions.”
It’s become routine for his patients to regain metabolic health, reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes, improve their kidney function and lower their blood pressure, all through lifestyle changes.
Protecting Your NEST
Dr. Hampton is the author of a popular book, Fix Your Diet, Fix Your Diabetes, and he has expanded his influence through his Protecting Your NEST Podcast, which is focused on helping listeners reverse the root cause of disease with a whole body and mind approach to metabolic health.
The NEST acronym provides the foundational elements that represent the root causes of chronic disease if not mastered:
- N: Nutrition (what and when you eat)
- E: Exercise
- S: Less stress/more sleep
- T: How you Think/less Trauma
He also uses the ROPE acronym to help patients and listeners understand the importance of four additional factors that play a large role in one’s health.
- R: Relationships
- O: Organism (avoiding the bad/adding the good)
- P: Pollutants
- E: Emotions/Life Experiences
Dr. Hampton explains the NEST and ROPE acronyms in Episode 1 of the NEST Podcast. In the episode, he explains that food can be either a medicine or a poison, depending on the choices one makes. He believes most people will benefit from avoiding three types of food: starchy vegetables, sugar, and grains. Dr. Hampton goes on to discuss basic concepts and offers introductory advice on fasting, nutrition, hydration, exercise, metabolic disease, microbiology, sleep, and more.
The NEST Podcast has featured a long list of influencers in the metabolic health community, including SMHP President and founder Doug Reynolds, who was a guest in Episode 38.
Doing More to Reach and Serve Diverse Communities
Dr. Hampton is enthusiastic about his role as chair of the SMHP Outreach Committee, because of all he has learned about unmet needs that currently exist in various diverse communities.
Dr. Hampton appeared on LowCarbUSA Podcast Episode 51 with host Doug Reynolds, and asked Doug how we were going to reach communities of color with the appropriate messaging. Doug said, “‘Well, we’re going to start with guys like you,’ and after the SMHP was formed, he asked me if I would be the chair.”
“My goal is to leverage my passion for this community,” said Dr. Hampton, “and it’s not just people of color that are African American. There are a lot of communities of color that are in great need of this information. The benefits will be tremendous.”
Dr. Hampton believes there are many ways to reach people in these communities, and he’s looking forward to building relationships in the religious community, reaching out to political leaders, and building relationships with organizations such as the ADA and AHA. He also sees great value in connecting with educational institutions where they can reach future clinicians.
“The most important thing is to start reaching people,” he said. “We want the SMHP to be a household name, eventually, We want to get people excited. Let’s teach them and then they can help us spread the word.”
Dr. Hampton believes that in the area of therapeutic carbohydrate restriction, results can often speak for themselves.
“It is rare that a person who experiences success doesn’t drag a few more people along the way,” he said. “They see you transform, they see your mood improve, they see you’re nicer to be around, your energy goes up… They’re gonna want a little bit of that.”
Others who will be serving with Dr. Hampton on the Outreach Committee are Vyvyane Loh, MD, Gurpreet Padda, MD, Pam Devine, Doug Reynolds, and Mariela Bastian. If you have an interest in volunteering to be a part of this committee, please let us know using the Contact Us form on the SMHP website.
Dr. Hampton is currently pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition and functional medicine, and plans to earn the SMHP MHP accreditation.
“I’m a big fan of having the credentials to substantiate what you’re saying, and as we continue to look for ways to spread the message of metabolic health, I think it’s important that we have the education and credentials the SMHP provides.”