In a recent post, Every Bite You Eat Is Either Fighting Disease or Feeding It, I said that “hundred or so years ago most of the chronic diseases so common today were rare or had never been heard of. There is a message here. These days we are feeding disease”
Read here an earlier post describing three real people with autoimmune diseases who reversed their conditions with dietary changes. These are people who stopped feeding their disease.
Those folks and the rest of us are all different. Our genetics are not all the same. How our bodies react to certain foods or chemicals is not the same. You cannot presume that because John can’t eat grain, dairy, or oranges doesn’t mean that you can’t. Nor does it necessarily mean you can. So anyone (including the government) that suggests there is a perfect diet for everyone is, frankly, smoking something.
What matters is whether certain foods make you sick. Your challenge is determine what diet is right for YOU. So let me help you figure that out.
Start here. A chronic disease is a condition that persists ongoing. Anything that can’t be “cured” with a medication is chronic. Cured means it goes away and doesn’t come back. A “treatment” points at symptoms but doesn’t cure a condition.
Chronic diseases come with degrees of severity and consequences.
The worst will be those most affecting the brain, worsening at varying speeds, and ultimately robbing you of your very self. Examples are MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, a variety of dementia including the scariest, Alzheimer’s. There are no truly effective treatments or cures for these. And the chances of a cure discovery don’t seem to be good. Pfizer Drug recently halted research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Next would be autoimmune diseases.
The job of the immune system is to recognize and eliminate stuff that is harmful to you. Under persistent circumstances (like the immune trigger happens a lot) the immune system can get confused and attacks some protein in your body (like maybe your knees), misreading your knees as something pathogenic and needing elimination. You can treat these by medically turning down the immune system (which actually creates a whole new set of problems) but there are no medications that will cure them.
Then there are conditions like cardiovascular disease and heart failure, diabetes, obesity, etc. You can treat these with medication but there are no medications that will cure them.
Then there are the sometimes uncomfortable symptomatic reactions that are clues that something may be leading to the conditions above. These would be stuff like weight gain, stomach ache, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation, rashes, headaches, mental confusion, anxiety, high blood sugar, etc. etc. In many if not most cases, persistent uncomfortable symptomatic reactions will eventually become debilitating.
I spend my time researching the prevalence, causes, and fixes of chronic diseases. And here is what I know.
Everything I listed above is the result of an assault on the body. That assault could be chemicals arriving in the environment (air, water, anything around you that isn’t you). But the biggest and most common assault has to do with the food you put in your mouth. The effect of the assault can be made worse by your genetic makeup but, in most cases, eliminating the assault makes genetics less important.
Maybe you have been convinced that you will always be sick when you are old. And indeed your chances are greater because you have a lifetime of continuous assault that your body hasn’t been able to overcome. Today is the day to stop the assault.
You can accomplish that by paying really close attention to symptoms. For clarity, if you can say you feel good and are able to attack each day with gusto, you have no symptoms. On the other hand, if there are days when this is not true, then you do have symptoms attached to something.
Don’t be tempted first to take up the perfect diet you just read or heard about. Paleo, keto, LCHF (low carb/high fat), Mediterranean, South Beach, Weight Watchers, vegetarian, vegan, some supplemental drink, carnivorous (all meat), there are so many. First you must ask yourself some questions.
Can I easily connect my symptoms to something I ate or did? Like “every time I eat xxx I get heartburn.” “Anytime I do xxx I don’t sleep well and I get a headache.” “Every trip to my mother-in-law‘s makes me sick.” You may be surprised how good your instincts are when you don’t ignore them.
When I don’t eat/do/expose myself to that “something” do my symptoms go away? Is my diet dependent on commercially processed and fast food? These are the foods that are calorie dense (lots of them), chemically dense (in the processing and ingredients), and nutritionally empty (the nutrients so important to your body are largely missing.)
I spent some time with a friend yesterday who was deathly ill for months. Persistently she figured out the causes which were sugar, gluten, and acid foods. She sticks religiously to her diet which unavoidably includes no commercially processed food; she feels and looks wonderful.
You too can eliminate those symptoms by simple avoiding that “something.” Stocking up on Nexium, Ambien, and Tylenol is not the right answer. In other words, your symptoms are giving you clues about how to make your diet and lifestyle appropriate for YOU. It may take some work on your part but it is certainly doable.
The more “symptoms” you have, the more they will interfere with your life and the greater the chances that you health will escalate to the more chronic and debilitating conditions common with age. Today would be a good day to stop the assault.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry); chairman of the Tasty Acre project; and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Her website is http://allaboutthefood.org/