When people find this site they want to find out a little about the guy behind the curtain. Or, they’re suffering from insomnia. Either way, here’s … well, me.
My name is Curtis Alexander. I’m the Curtis in Ask-Curtis. I’ve been a real life, in the trenches pharmacist since 1999. I’ve worked in just about every area of pharmacy you could possibly work in. I’ve even been a consultant in ‘correctional pharmacy’. Yes, prisons. And yes, I got to see where they did lethal injections (a common question I get).
I started this website because I get asked a LOT of questions about drugs, supplements, herbals, minerals, healthy eating (I was able to lose about 40 pounds of blubber naturally and have kept it off for nearly a decade. I then proceeded to add about 15 pounds of muscle) and a whole host of other health and medication related questions.
I figured that if I had so many folks asking me questions when they met me in person there just might be a lot more online who’ve had similar questions and would benefit from the information I provide. So, Ask-Curtis was born.
I was also frustrated with the either-or mentality of health information online. If you search for supplements or ‘natural remedies’ online you find that they can do anything. You know what I mean: “Look 10 Years Younger Overnight” and the like.
Or, other sites say they are ‘worthless’ and are essentially snake oil and that mainstream drugs and medications are the only way to go.
I always felt differently.
I think the truth is somewhere in between for both mainstream medications as well as natural treatments. I also have the added benefit of working on the marketing side of supplements and pharmaceuticals for a bit. So I know how that game is played as well.
In short, both sides of the aisle have good and bad points. I view my job here at Ask-Curtis to give you an honest opinion and to help you navigate some of the information available.
If you have a question the first step is to make sure you’ve searched for it on my site (this takes you to a dedicated search page). That search engine is specific to my site and catalogs all available articles. Look for your subject there and you might find what you’re looking for. If not, feel free to contact me with your question.
But, two important points about that. First, this site is for information only. I’m not your doctor, pharmacist or personal health care provider. The information I provide is just that, information.
Most folks understand that they are reading an article online and it’s truly not medical advice. But, for those folks who don’t like to take responsibility for their own actions let me say it again: this site is for information purposes only. You take full responsibility for anything you do. Including really dumb stuff.
Secondly, I get more and more questions every week so please be patient. I’ll get to your question as soon as I can.
Sound good to you? Great. I hope you enjoy the site.
My General Health Philosophy
Like a lot of things, I think we make health more complicated than it needs to be. Your body is an amazing machine. Absolutely amazing. If you work with it and let it do it’s job – instead of trying to fight it on everything it will richly reward you. So, that’s the biggest thing – give your body what it is designed for and needs. And that starts with what you put in your mouth. So, in a nutshell here is what I believe:
- Eat Natural Foods. Avoid anything processed if you can. My general philosophy is that if man made it – it’s not fit for you to eat. If it is a food that has a definite shelf life and can spoil than it’s a good food to be eating. Focus on eating nutrient dense, calorically light foods. Meats, nuts, fruits, vegetables. Avoid sugar like the plague. Retain your insulin sensitivity. Quit worrying so much about fats. The low-fat diet craze of the last thirty years has hurt more people than it has helped. You need fats for a number of functions in your body everyday. It’s well known that pregnant women who eat ultra low fat diets can stunt their babies brain development. Avoid soy and stop eating every two to three hours. Yes it boosts your metabolism a bit but you are slowly becoming a borderline diabetic by destroying your insulin sensitivity. Don’t deprive yourself. Natural foods will please anyone’s palate if they are creative and you have the right attitude.
- Treat supplements as the word implies. Natural supplements, vitamins, minerals and the like are great. But some are greater than others. Educate yourself. And then, and only then, add a supplement to your lifestyle. I’m big on antioxidants. But, as with any supplement, treat them just as the name implies: they should supplement your health – not serve as a substitute for it. All too often I see someone who is spending $99.97 a month on the next greatest super-food or supplement and they think that gives them the green light to live on McDonald’s. It doesn’t work that way. Supplements are exactly that…supplementing your health.
- Limit prescription drugs. Unlike a lot of other natural health advocates I don’t rail against the “pharmaceutical fat cats” and their “poisons”. Face it. Pharmaceuticals have saved many a life. Someone who tells you anything different is likely trying to sell you something. Hold onto your wallet. But, just like natural supplements, folks start using them as a cure all instead of focusing on the basics. Big mistake, and this is why they keep sliding down the slippery slope of declining health. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone overweight (morbidly obese in fact) with congestive heart failure on an oxygen tank coming in to get their blood pressure medications and inhalers (I use the plural forms because after a while the doctor has to start prescribing drugs to treat other drugs side effects) and then they go outside to get a smoke while they wait. You’ve got to be kidding me! Again, it all comes back to your lifestyle. I could take a lot of people and if you could give me 90 days I could turn a lot of things around just given the right education. Prescription drugs – in almost every case – are not the answer. They are a band aid. And generally a poor one at that. They often times treat symptoms, not the cause. That’s a foreign concept coming from a pharmacist.
- Use common sense. You need rest. It’s a cornerstone of a healthy immune system and life. Limit your stress when at all possible. I’m a hypocrite when it comes to this because I’m always striving. I guess that is my mentality. I’m not high-strung that way…I just want to achieve a lot. There’s nothing wrong with that unless you let it adversely effect your health. It helps if you have someone close to you to keep you in line. That’s where my wife comes in. We are both overachievers in a lot of ways. When we’re getting off track we both rein each other in. But the point is, if you are doing the things I mentioned above – getting rest and trying to limit unneeded stressors (plus dealing better with stress in general) you’re 97% of the way there. The other 3% is ‘tweaking’ things a bit. Say, for example, intermittent fasting and certain exercise routines. Speaking of exercise …
- I’m about functional fitness. Earl Liederman had the best advice on this – be fit enough to save your life or someone else’s if you have to. Exercise is great. Keep it varied and you’ll keep it interesting. Keep it interesting and you’ll have a much higher likelihood of sticking with it over the long term. However, like anything, exercise is a double edged sword. If your exercise is short and intense (like it should be, anyways) don’t do it everyday. Your body needs recovery time. Some weeks I won’t exercise at all. Others two or three times a week. Go for 20 to 30 minute walks 3 to 5 times a week. Some weeks I lift odd objects. Others I focus on functional bodyweight exercises (climbing a rope, pulling myself up on a tree limb, sprinting up a hill, log rolls, etc.). Compound movements are best (squats are an example – as are push-ups as they force you to stabilize your core). Avoid isolation exercises in almost every case (dumbbell curls and leg extensions).