An Interview With Dr. Mike Morea – Doctor of Chiropractic, Bodybuilding Champion, and Believer in Integrated Supplements
For years, we at Integrated Supplements have been educating the masses on the true nature of the health food and nutritional supplement industries. We’ve repeatedly shown that many of the most heavily-marketed health foods and supplements may not be quite as healthy as they’re made out to be. In fact, many of the nutritional products currently marketed towards athletes and fitness enthusiasts may be no healthier than the junk foods they’re supposedly meant to replace.
Unlike most supplement companies that seem to promote dozens of unnecessary (and even potentially harmful) products, our philosophy has always been to offer a select few high-quality nutritional supplements – while emphasizing the importance of integrating them into a healthy diet and intelligent exercise program.
That’s why it’s so exciting for us to see the Integrated Supplements philosophy in action.
Several years ago, we received a call from Dr. Mike Morea – founder and namesake of the Morea Chiropractic Wellness Center located in Fruitport, Michigan. Dr. Morea had read some of our articles on IntegratedSupplements.com and noticed many parallels between the Integrated Supplements philosophy and his own. After discussing the details of exactly why we formulate our products the way we do, Dr. Morea decided to make Integrated Supplements products available to his chiropractic patients.
As it turned out, Dr. Morea was not only a medical professional with a keen eye for quality, but was, himself, an accomplished natural bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast. Unlike many bodybuilders these days, Dr. Morea knew full well that he didn’t need to sacrifice his health to be a great athlete. He knew as well that only quality foods and supplements build quality physiques. So, both personally and professionally, Integrated Supplements were a perfect fit.
After adding the full array of Integrated Supplements products to his regime, Dr. Morea was able to reach new levels of muscularity and leanness, allowing him to earn natural bodybuilding professional status at the 2013 NANBF Natural Southern States Classic as well as an overall first place finish at the 2013 IFPA Pro North American bodybuilding championships earlier this year – at 43 years of age, no less.
Dr. Morea’s success is especially exciting to us at Integrated Supplements. It reinforces what we’ve been saying all along: with a little hard work and dedication, we really can forestall the ravages of aging and reach our full potential at any age. The good doctor truly is the Integrated Supplements philosophy in action.
Dr. Morea and Integrated Supplements are both dedicated to education as well, and, along those lines, we recently conducted a question and answer session to gain insight into the universal principles driving his success. We discussed the many unrecognized benefits of chiropractic care, how the quality of what goes into our body influences our health and athletic success, and how limiting beliefs so often hold people back from reaching their full potential.
Integrated Supplements: As a chiropractor, you require expert knowledge of the muscular and neurological systems of the body. As a bodybuilder, you’ve no doubt gained practical experience as to how the body responds to even the most subtle changes in diet and exercise. How does your bodybuilding experience influence the type advice you give your patients, and how does your chiropractic expertise influence your success as a bodybuilder?
Dr. Morea: First as a “Doctor” of Chiropractic, the word Doctor in Latin means to be a teacher. We have to give good advice that we ourselves would follow and do follow. As a bodybuilder, my experience has helped out in many ways. First, our patients here at Morea Chiropractic know that when I give advice it is genuine and is something that I am not just promoting, but actually doing and living. Being a lifetime natural drug-free athlete has allowed me to truly know about living a drug-free lifestyle, not just in regards to not taking steroids, but also taking other unnecessary medications. As a bodybuilder, when it comes to nutrition and supplementation, it is easy for me to give information that has not only been researched extensively, but also that I have done in regards to brands and foods that have worked for me as well. So many times advice is given because it is standard of practice. I feel that each person has an athlete inside of them and it is up to me to give them advice that is true and tried. When it comes to exercise and stretching, I have to realize that if I am not willing to do it, they shouldn’t either – so we keep our recommendations simple, to easily fit into their busy schedules and lifestyles.
As a chiropractor, I have had a fascination with biochemistry and physiology. It is a given that all chiropractors have extensive training in the structure of the body. After all, that is what we work with every day. However, nutrition has really peaked my interest, as well as the effect that lifestyle plays in my patient’s overall quality of life. It is this fascination with body chemistry and incorporating whole foods into my diet that I believe has allowed me to become a champion bodybuilder. I have attended seminars around the country taught by chiropractors who have shaped my thoughts on human nutrition including Dr. Dan Murphy and Dr. James Chestnut. Both of these researched chiropractors have hammered home the points of a whole-food diet with the elimination of the omega-6 fats and a healthy omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio. Since eliminating almost all processed carbohydrates and increasing my fruit and vegetable content, I have eliminated a tremendous amount of inflammation in my body.
I have also incorporated many of the Integrated Supplements products including the Whey Protein Isolate, Bio-Available Magnesium, and the Fiber Balance. This has allowed me to add over 6 pounds of muscle in the past two years, and feel overall energized. As a chiropractor, I have done the research and have eliminated all cheap protein concentrates loaded with artificial chemicals, and added Green Detox and another greens product to alkalize my body tissues.
I have also researched the best training protocols for natural athletes incorporating changing rep ranges, time between sets, and different exercises. Every week is different than the one before and this also benefits my soft tissue and joints as I am not doing the same repetitive movements week-in and week-out that can lead to a tremendous amount of scar tissue in the body. I also, over the last few years, started to study weight loss and realized, ideally, a very slow loss of weight would lead to the least amount of muscle loss and subsequently, the least amount of strength lost – which means a tremendous amount when you are trying to preserve that precious muscle tissue.
As a chiropractor, I also had the best care possible for my body as well: regular adjustments to keep my body functioning optimally and every other week massages to allow greater recuperation and blood flow for recovery. Just like I document patient notes meticulously, I did the same with my nutrition and workouts. Every day over the last two years, I knew how much food I was getting and exactly what workouts I did, as well as the reps and weights. This allowed me to track precisely if I needed to make any changes. I felt that my chiropractic knowledge and experience helped me tremendously against guys many years younger, and am grateful for this experience.
Integrated Supplements: A lot of people probably still think of chiropractic care as something they only need if they’ve suffered an injury, or if they’ve developed a problem such as chronic back pain. The typical overweight person with elevated cholesterol/triglycerides, pre-diabetes, and 20+ pounds to lose, however, may not immediately consider chiropractic care for their issues. What would you want this person to know about the benefits of chiropractic care in general, and about your services in particular?
Dr. Morea: You’re right. Unfortunately, we as chiropractors have not done such a good job of educating the public about what we really do. Yes, we are good at helping relieve a lot of acute and chronic conditions like migraine headaches, neck pain, sciatica, shoulder pain, etc., but most people don’t realize what chiropractic even works with. It is the nerve system. Unfortunately, our “why” does not get explained really well. Why would someone who has chronic health conditions see a back pain doctor for their problems? I get this question a lot actually. What we need to understand in regards to our health is that every health related problem that we have has a cause or reason behind it. If we have high blood pressure, or elevated triglycerides, or LDL’s, or even back pain, there is a reason. We have been taught that the problem is the symptom; but it’s merely the manifestation of the problem. The true problem is the cause. And that cause more often than not is our lifestyle choices. When I have a patient who wants to get off some medications, or even just reduce them, it is important for them to realize that we need to look at what got them there to start. Just blindly trying to get their blood pressure decreased or cholesterol lowered without educating them to what caused it to increase in the first place is the same thing that the Medical doctors do with prescription medication. It is my job as a chiropractor to show them ways – naturally with food choices, supplementation, and exercise – to decrease a symptom. And, as I start making changes to their nerve system by realigning vertebrae that connect with their vital organs, they will often say, “Wow this is a miracle.” And I tell them what I believe, and that is the truth.
Integrated Supplements: So many people blame age and hormonal/metabolic slowdown as the factor responsible for their poor health, expanding waistlines, and deconditioned physiques. Their implicit assumption is that the human body is just designed to start to wear out after only a couple of decades. But you, and so many other over-40 bodybuilders, simply prove this assumption wrong in every conceivable way – your level of bodyfat is remarkably low, your level of muscle mass is high, and, as natural bodybuilders, you’ve got to work with what nature gave you in the hormonal department. Obviously, you never could have achieved this success if you believed that your body began an inevitable decline after your 30th birthday. What, do you believe, are some other limiting beliefs that may be holding people back from reaching their full potential – and how do you address these limiting beliefs with your patients?
Dr. Morea: Some other really common limiting beliefs are “It’s genetics, Doc.” I will often see people my age (43) and younger letting me know that their bad knees, or weight problem, or arthritis, is related to their mom and dad passing it on to them. They have been told this by their doctor who, in turn, took care of their parents who had the same condition. By association, this could seem very true on the outside. Upon further review, we find out in the case history that they eat the same foods as their parents ate; processed carbohydrates and too many trans fat foods. They exercise even less than their parents because more of them have sedentary jobs, and they get continued reinforcement in drug ads and television commercials about the next miracle pill that will save them. If we believe that old age and disease is related to our genetic lineage then we have an easy way out. This limiting factor must be broken, and self-responsibility taught, for us to make true strides. Once we show each of our patients that their lifestyle is what is causing their ill woes, we can move forward. For those that don’t want to believe this, their reliance on pain pills and surgeries continue to occur. Another limiting belief is that the body is not self-healing. In chiropractic, we truly believe in the body’s incredible ability to heal itself. Think about it: what happens when we have a cut? Do we have to intervene? Most of the time no – the body repairs itself through natural clotting mechanisms – white blood cells help invade the area, and within a week or so the body has done what it is supposed to have done. For most things that go on in the body, we have a built in homeostasis that regulates us and keeps us in great shape. As I get patients to understand with greater clarity the power animating their body, they start to take more responsibility in keeping it in shape.
Integrated Supplements: In your practice, you offer a full gamut of health solutions including nutritional and exercise consultations, supplements (including Integrated Supplements), massage, and yoga – in addition to traditional chiropractic services. I think it’s important for people to recognize that you can help them make meaningful improvements to their health precisely because you address the many different aspects of health in a natural and sustainable way. How would you contrast your approach to that of other chiropractors?
Dr. Morea: As a chiropractic doctor, there are different schools of thought on how to take care of the patient. There are some who try to be everything to everyone, there are some who only work with the spine and don’t want anything to do with supplement or exercise suggestions, and there are those who only work with nutrition and don’t adjust the spine at all. Having had severe back pain back in my early 20’s, I found a chiropractor who just adjusted, and it worked great for me for the few visits before I attended chiropractic school. When I got to Life University, the chiropractic college I attended, that is when I knew that there were many other approaches out there. So with that being said, with the 11 years now being in practice, I have recognized, more than ever, the importance of coaching my patients, and giving real lifestyle advice that they can apply today and start getting results. Every other week, we have our WOW talk, our wellness orientation workshop, that discusses chiropractic care, lifestyle stressors, exercise, supplements that almost every American is deficient in, with emphasis on whole food that is simple yet so effective in combatting many of today’s major illnesses. We also discuss the importance of creating simple habits that can been implemented right away – whether it is to create more abundant energy, to drop 15-20 pounds, or to just break away from the myriad of medications they are currently on. So I believe overall that besides walking the talk, I give patients plenty of opportunity for understanding and application that they can use right away.
Integrated Supplements: Traditional physicians often take a lot of heat from the natural-health and chiropractic communities for over-relying on pharmaceuticals to treat problems (e.g., overweight, obesity, diabetes) which respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes. But in fact, traditional physicians often implore their patients to improve their diet and exercise more. The problem is that, more often than not, their patients simply don’t do it (at least not with any meaningful consistency). Why do you think so many people struggle to consistently implement even the most basic diet and exercise strategies, and what approaches have you taken to make diet and exercise a more permanent part of your patients’ lives?
Dr. Morea: The major challenge is that there is no accountability when they see their primary care health doctor. It is so easy to say to a patient, “eat more fruits and vegetables” – and most people already know that anyway, and they already know they need to lose weight. Why do they continue to struggle and yet some make it look so easy? The answer is that the majority of patients go to their doctor only when they are sick, or have some type of symptom. Maybe their blood pressure is high, maybe their energy is low, maybe they have had some other recent scare. When they do their follow up appointment with their doctor, it is to check usually some diagnostic value whether it is blood pressure, a cholesterol reading, or an MRI. And occasionally, on those follow up visits, the doctor will ask if they have lost weight or started eating better. But that is not good enough. There has to be more one-on-one support with the patient on a more regular and consistent basis to make true change. In my office, follow up appointments are much more regular, sometimes in the beginning up to three times a week, and we do regular reexaminations where we get to ask questions related to changes in their diet, changes in their medications, and what exercise have they started. Many times, we will get patients that truly start a lifestyle approach to eating better and we address the common foods to eat, the ones to stay away from, and even how many times they should be eating in the day. We get to follow up with them on how often they are doing the recommended stretches, exercises, etc. So, by checking them regularly and holding them accountable, they feel more motivated to continue with those positive action steps that have helped them along the way.
Integrated Supplements: At Integrated Supplements, our philosophy has always been that there’s really no such thing as “sports nutrition.” There’s really just human nutrition. Athletes and bodybuilders may need different amounts of nutrients than the average person, but the same overall nutritional principles apply to pretty much everyone. This is why our product line contains effective “sports nutrition” staples like Whey Protein Isolate and Creatine, but also products such as Fiber Balance, Green Detox, and Bio-Available Magnesium which fill the most important nutritional gaps encountered by athletes and non-athletes alike. What particular benefits do you feel green foods, fiber, and magnesium have for bodybuilding?
Dr. Morea: As a chiropractor and bodybuilder, I have been able to witness on myself and my patients the deficiency in greens, fiber, and minerals. The problem is obvious to anyone who studies nutrition, and that is that most of us take in way too many processed foods that contribute to the very acidic bodies that we have. Ask how many people get at least 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and one hand in ten may go up. That is why we need a greens product in our diets. We are just not getting enough and this addition helps alkalize our systems which helps out with chronic inflammation and lowers our acidity which helps out with our bone density. When we are very acidic our bloodstream uses minerals from our bone to neutralize it; good for the blood, very bad for our bones. Obviously, fiber at the recommended amount of 30-35 grams a day is also not being gotten because of our lack of whole food nutrition. The addition of fiber in our diets help our digestive tract tremendously and, as bodybuilders, this can help with allowing our bodies to become more regular as many of us stick to the same basic foods. Fiber in addition can help out with keeping our sugar levels more sustained and that is always a good thing when it comes to weight loss and sugar metabolism issues. I include both Green Detox and Fiber Balance every morning in my diet. And finally Magnesium! Of all the minerals as a chiropractor and bodybuilder that I see deficient it is Magnesium. Once again this mineral is so deficient because we are not getting it through whole foods and the soil today is depleted of this vital mineral. Since magnesium is found in many green foods, including seaweed, spinach, turnip greens, and spirulina, you can see why we may not be taking in enough of this incredible mineral. As a chiropractor, I have seen magnesium deficiency lead to muscle weakness, insomnia, anxiety, phobias, brain fog, and even suicidal thoughts. Magnesium is important for a good mood and helping stabilize blood pressure. I have seen deficiencies in magnesium even lead to cardiac and blood sugar issues – so as an athlete looking to maximize their muscle potential and sugar usage, magnesium supplementation is a must.
Integrated Supplements: In almost two decades in the supplement and nutrition business, I’ve encountered thousands of people who want to take supplements to improve their health or physiques. Very rarely, however, do I encounter people who have actually sat down and calculated their overall nutritional intake for any period of time to see which nutrients their diets may be lacking. Bodybuilders are better than most, although they often have a tendency to calculate their protein intake and not much else. Most people I’ve met (bodybuilders included) often have almost no idea what their caloric intake is – never mind their intake of vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, and fatty acid ratios. I think not having this knowledge really holds a lot of people back from reaching their full potential. Can you share with our readers how important nutritional tracking is to your success as a bodybuilder? Were you ever surprised to find that what you thought was a healthy diet was actually missing a few nutrients that you then needed to supplement?
Dr. Morea: First of all, that is a great question. My bodybuilding knowledge in the last 20 years has come a long way. When I first began competing back when I was in my early 20’s, I would eat the same 4-5 foods every day and wonder why I was so burned out and exhausted. At that time I included quite a few processed carbohydrates, like bagels, as long as it fit in my protein, carbohydrate, and fat macros. Little did I realize the importance of a lot of green leafy vegetables and the colorful array of other vegetables out there as well. At that time, it was not uncommon for me to have a lot of muscle cramping and fatigue too, as I was definitely deficient in a lot of the minerals greens give us. When I won my natural pro bodybuilding card this year, I was definitely getting a much broader group of foods including fish, some lean steak and grass fed beef, healthy cage free eggs, and a small amount of organic peanut butter in my diet to supply my healthy fats while eliminating almost all omega-6 fats. I also included every night a huge salad with a mixture of dark green lettuce, different color peppers, tomatoes, and low fat cottage cheese.
For me, I have always tracked my protein, carbohydrates, and fat and knew exactly how much I was getting each day. This past year, however, I made it a point to include the Green Detox and an array of colorful healthy vegetables in addition to the healthy fats and I believe this was by far the best I ever looked on stage and the best I ever felt. I owe that to my increased knowledge of eating whole foods and just being part of my lifestyle and not just a diet. One month after my IFPA Pro North American bodybuilding win, I am still incorporating the same nutrition that allowed me to take home the first place award and my first overall pro card win at 43 years old!
Integrated Supplements: To me, one of the most frustrating things about bodybuilding is that it has the potential to be the single most health-promoting activity in which a person can engage, but, in actual practice, many would-be bodybuilders aren’t particularly healthy. It’s very common, for example, to see bodybuilders who, though muscular, still carry quite a bit of extra body fat year round.
And while bodybuilders often give lip service to the value of fresh, nutritious, “real” food, too many of them don’t practice what they preach. In fact, processed “junk” foods have become intertwined into the very fabric of bodybuilding nutrition. At Integrated Supplements, we’ve written many times about the true nature of things like whey protein concentrate, casein powder, protein and energy bars, so-called “good” fats, ready-to-drink protein shakes, and artificial sweeteners. Judging by the evidence in the scientific literature, these are the sorts of foods and ingredients that even a marginally health-conscious person would probably seek to avoid, and yet these ingredients are all staples in products marketed towards bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a successful bodybuilder like yourself who knows the value of natural, high-quality products like ours. We’ve always said that serious bodybuilders don’t fill their bodies with junk, and you’re living proof of that. Can you tell us how you came to place such an emphasis on natural, high-quality supplements and how you think such products helped you in your recent bodybuilding efforts?
Dr. Morea: When I competed two years ago, I overheard a guy who was 43 years old say this was the best he ever looked and he owed that to getting rid of all the artificial sweeteners and other pre-workout products that he used to take. At the time I was taking all the major brands that you see in Supplement Warehouse and Bodybuilding.com. I started looking into them and found that every one of them had an artificial sweetener in them whether it was aspartame or sucralose. I also found that almost every one of them was not pure; they almost all had a protein concentrate listed in their ingredients. Then one day after my contest was over, I ran into an old friend that had a smaller gym and he told me about a new protein he was selling that tasted great, had no artificial ingredients, and was a pure protein isolate. I was directed to your website, started reading the articles and the philosophy of Integrated Supplements, and decided first to try your whey protein out. I was pleasantly surprised that I was taking something so pure that tasted so good. And it had a totally different effect on my digestive system. When I used to take some of the cheaper products, I always had an uneasy stomach and just attributed that at the time to being on a contest diet. After I started taking the Integrated Whey Protein Isolate, I had no bloating, no stomach discomfort, and no uneasiness. That is when I began promoting Integrated and invited some of my friends to try it out as well. No doubt, I felt better and knew that I was not putting junk into my system; no artificial ingredients, no cheap fillers, and truly a product that was being absorbed to help the muscles recover as quickly as possible.
And then I started analyzing my pre-work out products and recognized that I was actually creating free radicals by taking in these NO products. That was the last thing I wanted to do as a natural bodybuilder trying to live the best life I could. I am clearly interested in eating as many healthy whole foods that I could, to have as many natural antioxidants in my system to help encounter those free radicals, and to turn back the clock on the aging process. I got rid of the pre-work out products, started taking some extra caffeine before my work out with some simple sugars and felt much better. Since then, I have been taking the Herbal Energy and feel that I am alert but not wired and that has made a difference. I also have always taken creatine and now use exclusively the Creapure Creatine carried by Integrated Supplements as well. I do five grams before my workout, 5 grams during, and 5 grams after my workout. And finally I believe that upping my greens with my salad and lots of veggies, and taking Green Detox has helped out with my inflammation tremendously and allowed me to stay injury free. I take your magnesium every day and this was the first bodybuilding contest that I did not have a Charlie horse in my calves when I was posing. Obviously, increasing my magnesium levels was paramount to my muscles feeling less tight and overall stronger. I continue to use Integrated Supplement products and will continue to endorse them as I feel that you stand behind what you believe and you understand the difference between hype and truth. Thank You!
Integrated Supplements: It's our pleasure, Dr. Mike. Keep up the great work!
Those interested in Dr Morea’s services can visit the website for Morea Chiropractic Wellness Center.