Monday, November 23, 2009

“All diseases begin in the gut,” Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

Every doctor will tell you that you need to eat right and exercise for your health. In theory this would be all that you need to do in order to get the benefits of a healthy gut. Unfortunately we all have different ideas on what makes a diet healthy. Consider for a second the excessive number of nutrition books that are out there. I believe this tells us a few things: 1. The Standard American Diet is not sufficient. 2. The recommendations from the FDA to improve our health are also not sufficient 3. Different diets may work for each of us.

Seen in the decoration at Stuyvesant Polyclinic, Manhattan, New York City 
As I do more and more research I find that just about every disorder that I come across can be traced back to a problem in the gut. Gut health has an enormous impact on preventing cancer, keeping viruses at bay, reducing (and/or eliminating) psychiatric disorders (such as depression, ADHD and schizophrenia), eliminating allergic reactions, mending autoimmune diseases and of course eliminating digestive disorders. It is amazing how many different pharmaceuticals there are for each of the issues I have just listed; which is by no means an exhaustive list.

Before there were all these disorders, before there were overweight people there were cave people. In order to get to the most simplistic outlook on nutrition, I like to consider how cave people survived. Let me just say for a moment that I do recognize that human beings have evolved since then and have different needs. But the cave people exercise is to see where nutrition would have come from without counting calories and fat grams, without worrying about IBS or Lactose intolerance and yet resulting in a healthy and fit body.

Dr. Weston A. Price explores in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, how the healthiest people in the world live on primitive diets, while modern diets, which include white flour, white sugar, refined vegetable oils, and canned goods quickly bring degeneration to overall health. 

So what is it that is different about these diets that protects these folks from modern illnesses? I believe that gut bacteria has a great deal to do with this. In my next post I will explore the differences in bacteria available in primitive foods versus modern foods and the impact on health. 

Image ID: theb3310, NOAA's Historic Coast & Geodetic Survey (C&GS) Collection
Location: Philippines
Photo Date: 1925
Credit: Family of Captain George L. Anderson, C&GS

Monday, November 16, 2009

Subversive Healing

The reason the word “rogue” comes to mind when I think about this angle on nutrition is that its almost subversive thinking to take your health into your own hands rather than consulting and trusting an educated doctor with any health concerns.  

I agree with the thinking of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride when she writes in her book, The Gut and Psychology Syndrome, that the world of medicine has grown so extensively in its knowledge that it had to be split up among specialists. So, now, there is rarely someone who can take a comprehensive look at how each part of the body can be playing a role in one’s overall health condition.

Even though there are some really good doctors out there, I believe there is still a need to understand one’s own body and to constantly pursue methods of health and healing that are nourishing to our bodies as a whole. The reason I believe that we have to continually be working on this, is that our bodies are constantly changing.  Every day our bodies give us new signs and symptoms, even if they are minute, that express its disorder—for example an unexplained headache or a moment of mental fogginess. These are messages to us from our bodies that something is off and it needs to be corrected, not masked by the easiest drug store fix.

Some people would say, “We’re going to die anyways, what’s the point?”  The reason for this approach is not to prolong life, although that can be a beneficial side effect. The point is to improve one’s quality of life-- To live life without unnecessary and annoying symptoms for as long as possible.

I always think about John Alison, the former CEO of BB&T, when he said that just because something is popular that doesn’t mean that it is true. The general belief used to be that the world was flat. How many beliefs do we hold today that years from now will totally be disproven?

I believe our bodies were meant to live in harmony with nature in their perfect form. Let your own body tell you what is right and wrong for you.