Dr. Tro Kalayjian Hopes to Help Other Practitioners As Founding Board Member of SMHP
Many forces must align in order to launch a non-profit organization like the Society of Metabolic Health Practitioners (SMHP), with the lofty mission of representing and supporting researchers and practitioners around the world as they work to improve metabolic health.
One of those forces is a formerly 350-pound physician who went back to the medical literature in a quest for the knowledge that would allow him to break free from the shackles of obesity and metabolic disease.
Dr. Tro Kalayjian, who is board certified in both obesity medicine and internal medicine, learned the hard way that most physicians practicing today do not have sufficient training in nutrition and are unable to help patients lose weight or reverse metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
They’ve routinely been taught these conditions are chronic and progressive, and that they should be treated with prescriptions. Rarely are the root causes of these diseases addressed.
Nearly half a billion people are living with diabetes worldwide and the number is projected to increase by 25% in 2030 and 51% in 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas.
Dr. Tro has also discovered how difficult the food industry and special interests have made it for people to understand what a healthy lifestyle really is.
Kalayajian’s life took a turn for the better when he discovered the difference therapeutic carbohydrate reduction can make in the lives of people looking to sustainably lose weight and improve their metabolic health. He used the approach to sustainably lose 150 pounds and improve his own health, and for the past few years, he’s been helping patients do the same.
Now, he’s hoping to change even more lives as a founding board member of the SMHP.
“We’ve had a need for a medical organization that offers education, mentoring, partnering and networking for a long time,” Kalayjian said, when asked about the need for an organization like the SMHP.
Kalayjian mentioned his desire for such an organization in a Tweet he posted last year, and that prompted a response from LowCarbUSA founder and CEO Doug Reynolds, who had been visualizing creating a new non-profit for some time. The discussion revealed the two shared a vision of supporting practitioners worldwide who were working to help patients address the growing epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease.
“We’ve long needed a unified front in the area of low-carb,” said Kalayjian. “The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and other medical organizations hold conferences and are able to organize their members and communicate information, but practitioners and researchers who see the value of carbohydrate reduction are all on their own. We need an organization that will support our work and help practitioners as they help patients.”
Under the leadership of Dr. Adele Hite and an extensive group of advisors, Reynolds and LowCarbUSA had been able to create a set of Clinical Guidelines, the purpose of which is to provide clinicians with a general protocol for implementing therapeutic carbohydrate restriction as a dietary intervention in hospitals or clinics.
It has long been Dr. Hite’s and Reynolds’ hope that these Guidelines would lead to a Standard of Care, a task which involves the creation of a community of clinicians who agree on and practice the approach laid out in the Guidelines.
“The creation of the SMHP is a way of gathering the community to talk about, and form a consensus around, the idea of practicing carbohydrate reduction,” said Reynolds.
“We need to find a way of aggregating data with respect to low carb, and we need to start building a consensus so we can begin developing a set of best practices that practitioners can follow,” said Dr. Tro. “People shouldn’t have to go to YouTube to figure out how to do a low-carb diet.”
Dr. Tro visualizes a day when low-carb therapies are well documented, and practitioners can easily understand and access best practices, as well as potential concerns and adverse events that they should be aware of.
One of the SMHP’s stated goals is to establish an evidence-based, unified lobbying group representing carbohydrate restriction as a valid approach to metabolic health.
“Low carb therapies should be no different than any other accepted medical treatment,” said Dr. Tro. “We need an organization like the SMHP to figure out how to support practitioners who want to use low carb to help their patients.”
Dr. Tro is also enthusiastic about the accreditation process that the SMHP has introduced. SMHP accreditation certifies that a practitioner has met the SMHP standards of understanding competence in the practice of dietary and lifestyle interventions that address metabolic health.
“The SMHP is creating a standard framework of medical education that will establish that a practitioner knows and will abide by the ethics and is competent in this treatment area, and that is a big deal,” said Dr. Tro.
“Another important aspect of the SMHP is the mentorship and fellowship it will provide,” said Dr. Tro. “There is value in having an organization where we support one another and make the process of learning and practicing metabolic health more accessible and efficient.”
The SMHP has also established a member practitioner directory of profiles for all practitioners in each of the different categories with an easy, user-friendly search capability that will allow for practitioners to be found by patients and colleagues alike.
“The SMHP will make it easier for physicians and other practitioners to find each other, which is helpful with respect to networking and learning,” said Dr. Tro. “It’s also essential that patients be able to locate practitioners who are knowledgeable and competent in these treatment areas.”
Doug Reynolds will serve as president of SMHP and is joined by a board of directors who are all recognized as leaders in the metabolic health and lifestyle medicine field. The founding board members are:
President – Doug Reynolds
Secretary – Heather Pickett DO, FAAFP, FAAMA, Col (Ret), USAF
Treasurer – Mark Cucuzzella, MD, FAAFP
Miriam Kalamian, EdM, MS, CNS
Robert Cywes, MD, PhD
Tro Kalayjian, DO
Eric C. Westman, MD, MHS
Practitioners interested in being listed in the directory should visit the signup page.
The basic listing is free, but practitioners are encouraged to become members, and ultimately pursue SMHP Accreditation, which certifies the practitioner has met the SMHP standards of understanding of concepts and proficiency in practice adopted by SMHP for diet and lifestyle practices that address metabolic health. There are several different pathways to accreditation, including pathways specifically designed for nurses, dietitians, advisers, sports trainers, and nutritionists.
Those interested in gaining all the benefits of membership can learn more and join the SMHP here.