Post #10 Healthy Eating #3
So far in the Healthy Eating category we have added some healthy foods and we have swapped some processed foods out for healthy options. Today’s post is about a very complicated topic with many facets. I will have many future posts on this topic but for now, I will try to lay down the general concept without getting people to think I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist. Then again, maybe I am, who knows?
The best thing you can do for yourself for every aspect of your life is to learn. The information age is here and now and everyone can research and learn anything if they are willing to put in the time and effort. For me, researching food and the affects of food very well may have saved my life. So here’s the idea:
We all know that certain foods are poison. No one would eat a mushroom or berry out of the forest unless they knew exactly what it was. I don’t think anyone can disagree that certain plants can kill you. If that’s true why couldn’t certain plants or plant foods help your body heal itself? Well most people know that in fact, they do. This is what modern day society calls “alternative medicine”. According to Webster’s dictionary, alternative medicine is defined as,” any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula of the United States and Britain. “I will never understand why we call medicine that has been practiced since the beginning of man “alternative” yet the modern medicine of today that is driven by pharmaceuticals has only existed for about 100 years is referred to as main stream. In fact, Bayer released its first drug aspirin in 1899. The drug was derived from willow bark that had been used for centuries before. Lewis and Clark documented numerous times how effective the bark was on fevers that the crew had encountered. My intention is not to bash modern medicine, this is a post about healthy eating. But it is important to understand that many of our ideas about modern medicine are very young and we should not negate the findings and ideas of Hippocrates. We are constantly being bombarded and brainwashed with TV commercials for pharmaceuticals. I believe that we have turned into customers instead of patients. With that said, let’s talk about food.
You are what you eat. Yep, I’ve heard it my entire life but never really gave it any thought. As I started eating a little more healthy I started reading more about healthy foods. I had never heard the word inflammation used with regard to food. I had always associated it with medicine, mainly anti-inflammatories. My entire body was overtaken with inflammation. My legs were so swollen at the end of the day we had to literally pry the top of my socks out of my calves. There were days I couldn’t even wear socks. I had trouble breathing , sleeping, and moving all because of inflammation. Some of the inflammation was coming from my joint disease but the majority of it was from what I was and wasn’t eating. As it turns out, through countless hours of research I found out that most chronic illness is caused from, you guessed it…. inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic everything from cardiovascular disease to gum disease is directly related to inflammation. There is also tons of research studying the contributions of inflammation to cancer growth. I didn’t know it at the time but inflammation was slowly killing me. As with most symptoms, the inflammation set a sort of chain reaction off that made it hard for me to move and that paved the way for atrophy. Inflammation and atrophy was the perfect formula to make me fat, sick, and almost immobile.
My first encounter with “food as medicine” was when I was reading about arthritis. I had always thought that arthritis was a permanent thing. I had been on medicine for it but it was only getting worse and the less I moved the worse it became. I stumbled upon some research from Baylor Research Institute (the study) that said a single dose of cherry extract reduced inflammation by a whopping 20 percent. The biggest thing that stuck out to me is the dosage. Typically in pharmaceutical studies massive amounts of the chemical are administered to see minimal effects, this was different though. One serving of 355ml (about 1.5 cups) of juice for a 20 percent reduction is nothing short of astounding. Another study I read (link here)said that the anthocyanins contained in cherries were as effective as ibuprofen and naproxen with no side effects. I was on massive pain killers and they had terrible side effects and I have no way to know what percent of my pain they were actually taking away but 20 percent is very significant and definitely worth looking into.
Almonds – A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 found that over a 15-year period, men and women who consumed the most nuts had a 51 percent lower risk of dying from an inflammatory disease (like RA) compared with those who ate the fewest nuts. Fifty one percent, really? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this? The list of anti-inflammatory foods is huge but these are two that I started incorporating into my diet. The idea is not to eat two pounds of almonds and a pound of cherries though. I just toss a small handful of each into my oatmeal in the morning day after day. Over time as I focused on food that fought inflammation my arthritis disappeared, literally! This is not just my opinion, I have xrays and MRIs to prove it. As it turns out, many of the medical problems I was experiencing were stemming from inflammatory foods. My diet of highly processed foods and fatty animal products were effecting everything from my breathing to my skin condition. When I started to eat foods that targeted specific medical problems many of my issues started getting better. I started feeling better and had a much higher energy level. This didn’t happen over night though. You have to persistently feed your body the foods that it needs to start the healing process. Your body doesn’t want to be sick and unhealthy. It wants to be as efficient as possible. If you cut yourself with a razor your body repairs itself. It’s the same process for your internal “injuries” or illnesses. However, if you continue to aggravate and pull open that razor cut everyday your body will have a hard, if not impossible, time to heal itself and it may even become worse. This makes perfect sense, right? So the same concept is also true with the inside of our bodies. If you can stop feeding your body garbage that is hard to process it will have more time to work on keeping you healthy and vibrant. Many of the chronic diseases we get are sort of garbage bags for toxins that our body hasn’t had time to eliminate because it is taxed so heavily and overloaded. If we can “clean out” the system and start providing proper nutrients our bodies will start to heal things we never thought possible. I have even heard of people regrowing thyroid glands with proper nutrition.
So, I can’t list every possible disease, ailment, or sickness and I can not list every herb, spice, or plant that has healing properties. But what I can do is tell you this, if you want to find it, it’s out there. Get as much information as you can about foods that heal. Read other people’s experiences that have your similar issues. This is such a diverse topic that it is difficult to have a “one size fit all” solution. My experiences and research tells me that most people that eat the standard American diet (SAD) will have problems with inflammation that may reveal itself as sinus problems, joint pain, sleep apnea, cardio-vascular issues, hypertension, or a whole host of other problems. The best thing to start with is to eat foods that fight inflammation. Eat with a purpose, be a selfish eater and eat foods that will give you the best effect on your health. Hippocrates had it right,” Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”
We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.
“Eat plants and move your body, all ya gotta do is a little more than yesterday.” 😉
Until next time,