Restoring Health For Fire Fighters, First Responders, and Law Enforcement

July 21, 2017

The other evening at our TrueForm Running Clinic hosted by Two Rivers Treads, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella was focusing on nutrition and he began explaining how intolerance to carbohydrate can wreak havoc on the human body for those that have it. One of the primary indicators of carbohydrate intolerance (CI) is weight gain. During his lecture he discussed how CI mixed with physical and mental stress of a job can create a toxic cocktail of inflammatory responses and hormonal imbalances in the body, where severe obesity is a common outcome. He mentioned a colleague of his, Jonathan Sheinberg, MD, FACC Cedar Park Police Department, a doctor and law enforcement officer, who is addressing the issue of stress and diet in the police departments, fire fighters, and first-responders. Why? Well, one of out ten U.S. fire fighters is clinically in the highest category of obesity, and their civil brothers and sisters in law enforcement have the earliest median age for cardiac arrest in the country at 49 years of age! Here is an excerpt from a recent post by Dr. Sheinberg;

Heart attacks are always in the top two or three categories of police line of duty deaths. However, if extrapolated to a full 24-hour day, heart attack likely becomes the number one killer of men and women in uniform. This is not new information. More than 20 years ago, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published some of their initial data (Violanti, 2013). The data are shocking. The life expectancy of a police officer is 20 years less than his or her civilian counterpart. The average age of a law enforcement officer (LEO) who has suffered a heart attack is 49 years, compared to 67 years of age for the general population. Finally, it is known that a LEO is twenty-five times more likely to suffer death and disability from heart disease than from a violent action of a suspect. Despite this information, many agencies have been slow to develop wellness programs and cardiac screening assessments. It is now very clearly understood that the most effective treatment of coronary artery disease is prevention. With today’s technology, the understanding of nutrition and the development of certain medications, heart disease is completely detectable, preventable and even reversible. The key to this prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease is the development of a cardiovascular screening program and an overall wellness program.

In regards to the 1 out of 10 firefighters being severely obese, academic doctors, Sara A. Jahnke, Ph.D., the principal investigator with the Institute for Biobehavioral Health Research at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. and the director of the Center for Fire, Rescue, and EMS Health Research, and Nattinee Jitnarin, Ph.D., principal investigator with the Center for Fire, Rescue, and EMS Health Research within the Institute for Biobehavioral Health Research at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., believe fire departments across the United States also do not have the necessary health screening and physical fitness requirements in place to reduce these statistics. They state in their post, found here,

Without some [continuous] form of standards, similar to the requirement for passing the CPAT for entry into the fire service, the problem of obesity and low fitness among firefighters will likely worsen. Screening for obesity requires little cost for departments.It's time for the fire service to get serious about fitness and that includes body composition and fitness standards.

Fire fighting and law enforcement jobs, as well as, other civil response positions, are not sought after by glutinous, lazy people, that choose to become unhealthy. Hard working, disciplined people that want to serve the greater good seek out these jobs. Clearly for those that are struggling with their health are not having success dealing with the stress of the job and their lifestyle. With many departments not having screening programs or wellness programs, what can be done? Fortunately, both Dr. Cucuzzella and Dr. Sheinberg are seeing a lot of success in the men and women in these fields that are taking matters into their own hands with a program that focuses on carbohydrate intolerance. The diet restricts carbohydrate to an individual's tolerance level. This is the same model we advocate for in our endurance training. Learn here. It fuels fat-burning for weight loss and/or endurance activity (the life of fire fighter) primarily because the regulation of insulin is brought back to healthy levels of function, and the body's cardiovascular system improves dramatically as it's fed a healthy balance of real food that does not impair insulin regulation. 


Like all people, fire fighters' wellness is more than diet and exercise, however, a great first step in restoring wellness is by getting the body's energy systems in balance with the right diet for individual needs. Upon energy returning, progressions in healthy movement that support the physical nature of the job, in contrast to workouts that suck the energy out of them, are another primary piece of restoring wellness.


A few years back, we held a TrueForm Runner demonstration with the Santa Monica Fire Department and introduced some fundamental aerobic training applications that can be made with it.


We believe in the mission of service that these men and women in fire departments, first response, and law enforcement, vow to uphold. Despite the stress of the job, we want to see them live a resilient life not one that brings them to an early grave or to disease. We want to commit to supporting the wellbeing of fire fighters, first responders, and LEOs through discounts on our products and services, as well as, partnering with other health professionals in communities, like the TrueForm Clinic led by Dr. Mark, to bring wellness events to departments.


As a first step TRUEFORM will honor a 10% discount on any TrueForm Runner sale, and will offer a 50% discount for entry to any paid educational service we provide. For more information on events and products please contact


Also, checkout this blog post from our friend Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, MD, who, along with other healthcare professionals across the country, is addressing this issue of wellness for civil service responders.


For more information on the diet, nutrition, and aerobic training checkout Dr. Phil Maffetone's website






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