This morning I watched a youtube presentation from the latest low-carb summit (Low Carb Breck 2018) by Dr. Eric Kossoff, specialist in epileptic children and ketogenic diets. It brought back a memory. Two years ago I wandered the aisles in the health food store in Hot Springs looking for a low carb protein powder I could use to make faux pizza crust. As a diabetic I don’t “do” grain but occasionally would like to create a substitute. The sales clerk was very interested in my mission because her daughter is epileptic and treated with a ketogenic diet. Apparently this diet had almost completely eliminated her daughter’s seizures. So the question is, what do diabetes and epilepsy have in common? Continue reading
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/
With a friend at a local eatery for breakfast the other morning I observed a grandma and grandpa seated with their son and a grandson who was about three years old. I should point out here that both grandma and grandpa were definitively obese, filling their chairs with overhang. The son is on the road but has not yet arrived. The grandson was not even overweight. All three adults are enthusiastically helping this boy decide what to eat. Continue reading
Inflammation is a hot health topic but I often wonder if folks understand what that means to them personally. Really important for those with diabetes, heart and various autoimmune diseases. These are people with extreme inflammation. From a dietary perspective, grain and legumes (beans) are particular contributors. Here is why.
Think about this. What food, what supplement, what medication can you take or feed to your family to fix their health? Do you have or know children with sick brains? Do you have a parent with a sick brain? The fix is usually not in what you should add but rather what you need to subtract.
A hundred or so years ago people ate whole food from their garden or farm and pasture raised or wild caught meat and fish. All the nutrients our bodies needed to fight infections and bugs were in the food. All the nutrients needed to create the food were in the soil. A 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.
Now how the heck did that happen?
A more complete explanation is provided in my book, It’s All about the Food. But here is a high level summary.
People left the farm and moved to the city, leaving gardens and pastures behind. Commercial farms continuously growing massive quantities of the cheapest crops possible became common. Those cheap crops are grains like wheat and corn along with soy beans. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides were developed to increase yield and provide cheap maintenance. Eventually those chemicals and the prevalence of single crops damaged (and continues to damage) the soil and the food.
The meat in our diet evolved from the animal in the pasture to commercial feed lots supplying our grocery stores. As you might expect the animals are fed that very same grain (remember, it’s cheap) even though that is frequently not their natural food. Consequently they tend to get sick and antibiotics become a staple. And the plus for the meat seller is that that animals put on lots of (saleable) weight. We humans have the same problem with weight for the same reasons.
Commercial processed food manufacturers saw the light and figured out how to use all those cheap crops in every way possible. The main ingredients in cereal, pasta, bread, cakes (cookies and pies), chips, etc are grain of some sort. Another way to use cheap crops is to make vegetable oils from them. Consequently there hardly exists a processed food today that does not include grain or soybeans in some form – content that is calorie dense (as in lots of them) and nutritionally deficient.
Just because you may not see those particular words on the box or bottle ingredient list does not mean they aren’t in there.
The processes and chemicals developed to make those processed foods palatable are mighty handy. Why use real blueberries when you can achieve the taste, smell, and texture of blueberries chemically! Americans crave the right taste and processors know how to appeal to that craving. Americans love convenience and cheap food. Processors and fast food restaurants have made cheap (or at least they seem cheap) and easy into a fine art.
We are now paying a different price for cheap and easy. We have ceased to fight disease and are now feeding it.
Is food all that matters?
Not really. Persistent stress in our lives and lack of sleep are serious contributors to ill health. And toxic chemicals abound, well beyond those found in food. Chemicals are in your water, dirt, clothes, cleaners, skin products, building and home good, on and on forever. Chemicals contribute mightily to disease but it will be impossible in this world to avoid those toxic chemicals completely.
So my subject here is food. You are totally in charge of what goes in your mouth. Commercially processed food and vegetable oils are the number one contributors to chronic disease and extra weight.
I could talk for many more pages on the negatives of commercially processed food including vegetable oils. I could make massive lists of additives found in processed foods and explain why each is bad for us. But that isn’t my interest here. My interest here is the vitamins, minerals, amino and fatty acids, etc. that occur naturally in whole food and are ESSENTIAL to our health but are missing in commercially processed foods.
Essential is a real word. It means something is required. Commercial food processing significantly reduces or destroys the natural nutrition in food. Odds are the nutrients listed on a food label were added chemically. What we have is taste without substance.
Our poor bodies know what is required nutritionally and are designed to use those nutrients to keep us running and well. And when we don’t get those nutrients our bodies become chronically inflamed and we will be sick. We will be sick!
And we are sick which explains the escalating levels of chronic diseases, stuff like diabetes, arthritis, blindness, atherosclerosis, obesity, kidney disease, celiac disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a long laundry list of autoimmune diseases.
Some want to believe that they can take supplements instead of eating properly. However, there are literally hundreds of nutrients required for our bodies’ operation. Only nature knows how to combine nutrients together in food and deliver them in the most absorbable way. God did not create your body to expect that your vitamin C, calcium, or any one other nutrient would arrive in a pill.
Supplements are commercially manufactured, frequently contain additives contributing to toxic load, and are not in a form that our bodies can easily absorb. For your entertainment do an internet search on the different forms of magnesium supplements along with the pros and cons. You get to choose. And if you make that decision based on price, you might make a poor choice. A really good supplement will be pricey. And don’t depend on supplements (cheap or expensive) to do the job of food.
My advice, therefore, has not changed from the day my book was published. To the very largest degree possible, eliminate commercially processed foods and oils from your diet. You spent a lot of money for your kitchen. Learn to use it in a healthy way.
The answer depends on why you are fretting. If you don’t like the way you look in your clothes, that’s one thing. If you suspect that the fat is detrimental to your health that is another.
Extra body fat isn’t necessarily harmful. Continue reading
I see tons of advertising on TV and Facebook for probiotics. Just recently I read an excellent post from Silver Sneakers on Facebook, The Best Foods for a Healthy Gut. Unfortunately the reader needs to know just a bit more than the article provides.
The question is – why and when are probiotics necessary and what is the best way to take them? Continue reading
In my recent blog and newspaper article, Tomatoes are Healthy – Usually, Amelia just had one problem. On the other hand, Martha and Margaret in I am So Sick of Being Sick and There is No Way That Food Could be Causing This had many problems. Interestingly, in the end, the root cause of all their problems came from the same place.
So you manage to work your annual medical checkup into your schedule and part of that includes blood and urine tests. And you discover you have protein in your urine. The doctor says that isn’t a good thing. Continue reading