We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Barry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
I have a one year old (Ryker), and with the knowledge I’ve acquired working on human health and development, I know the way my wife and I utilize breast feeding and proper whole food nutrition are probably the most important things we can and possibly will do for him. From a societal standpoint, most acknowledge it’s pretty bad to feed kids a standard American diet (SAD), but we don’t take it seriously enough (yet) to begin to change the system. Unfortunately, the damage this kind of eating and lifestyle inflicts on future generations is criminally under reported and widely misunderstood, especially during formative years. Essentially, the way you feed your child will have long lasting effects on his or her overall health, behavior, disease risk, socialization, looks, dentition/jaw structure, etc– and will continue to have impacts beyond his or her lifetime as what you feed your children will also influence their kids, grand kids, great grand kids and so on for multiple generations (look into epigenetics if interested). And I know what I’m saying sometimes seems extreme or little crazy to the lay person — 10-15 years ago I would have agreed — but as I’ve discovered, the truth is worse. Let’s look at the dental health and jaw formation aspect for a second. Think about this: What are the only animals that need braces, have to have their wisdom teeth removed due to crowding, and get cavities on a normal basis? The answer: humans and their domesticated pets. Have you ever seen a wild animal with crooked or rotten teeth? There are exceptions, but it doesn’t really happen on a population level like it does in Westernized human societies. No other animals on the planet who live and eat how they evolved to eat develop chronic, population wide issues with their teeth and jaw development. Why does this happen to modern humans though? Malnutrition from fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) not as commonly found in a SAD for one, but mostly because we do not use our jaw musculature like we evolved to. In the US, we don’t encourage breast feeding and the majority rely on bottles. The way we feed kids (and adults really) with bottles, formula. and highly processed foods allow kids and adults to slurp down food (no chewing) and eat (quickly) without using their muscles as they were intended to be used. Just like exercise ensures proper bone formation and density across your body when your muscles pull on bones, the same happens to your face when you exercise it by chewing, sucking, swallowing, etc. And breast feeding (and chewing) involves a lot of this! Breast feeding is a complex and coordinated sequence of muscular contractions, much different and more involved than bottle use. The proper use of your jaw and facial musculature to breastfeed ensures proper jaw development, muscle growth, and facial construction at an early age via stimulation from muscular contractions on the jaw and skull. Over time, the lack of jaw muscle use results in kids (and adults) having improper bone growth, delayed and altered jaw development, recessed jaw lines, over/under bites, and crowded space for teeth to properly grow in. The crowded jaw we see in industrialized societies is one of the main reasons so many people have to get braces and need their wisdom teeth removed. But this doesn’t happen in traditional cultures not or less impacted by the West. Tribes in the Congo, Papa New Guinea, etc that still live traditionally have wide and well formed jaws, straight teeth, and no cavities (despite not using tooth paste). My wife and I love that Ryker will most likely have some advantages compared to the majority, but are also saddened that this is the state of the state. How we as a society feed and raise our kids is lacking and detrimental. But hopefully outlets like this will reach some and continue to spread the important message.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a registered dietitian and trainer at Lifetime Fitness in Alpharetta. When I was hired, Lifetime couldn’t keep a RD if the entire company depended on it — there was a >90% turnover rate year over year for RDs across the company. Within about a year though, I was consistently one of the top ten producing nutrition program leads in the company, many times taking the top spot. Why was I different? I wasn’t afraid to go against the grain. Even though it was only about 10 years ago, at the time, good nutrition information wasn’t available like it is today in relation to health optimization. The fitness industry was still rich with myths, misconceptions, and bad nutrition practices (it’s still bad today actually, but back then it was 10x worse). And the corporate side of Lifetime had their own protocols and nutrition counseling ideas that to me, seemed ineffective to say the least. But I grew up living “fitness life style”, so I knew what worked and what didn’t. And I wasn’t afraid to go against the grain with what I believed in either– and it paid off. So against some heavy push back from management, friction, and long stressful nights in development, I began running my own programs and protocols for client results. To their credit though, over the years Lifetime changed and aligned more with what is effective and have really brought their A game to the nutrition side of the fitness industry. It’s a great company to work for and they are always looking to evolve and be better, which I love!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I recently moved about a 5 min drive away from Lake Lanier and I (unexpectedly) love it! Not that I thought I wouldn’t like it, but the thought of being further away from city center was a little scary for me at first. So if my best friend came in to visit, we would rent a boat, joy ride around the lake, get some drinks at Margaritaville and enjoy the party and people watching. There’s a great Korean BBQ place called “Q” by my house we’d frequent I’m sure. I love Brazilian steakhouses, so that’d be on the agenda as well. Later on, maybe go check out Ponce City Market and/or Krog Street. I’ve been wanting to see the Bamboo Forest at some point, but we’d probably hang out around the lake and the beaches on the lake for the most part.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Too many people, but most of all, my grandmother (we called her Nonnie). I grew up relatively poor with an alcoholic, partially absent father. We didn’t really understand it at the time, but life was a lot tougher than it is now. Nonnie gave up over 20 years of her own life and privacy to let my mom, sister and I live with her in a small home in Savannah, GA. She supported us like a second mom and continued to as best she could until she passed just a few years ago. She loved us unconditionally, gave up so much, and allowed so many opportunities to pass her over the years for us.