The Third Suggestion… Nutrition: Find What’s Best For You
From The Zone, to vegan, to Eat Right For Your Type, there are countless approaches promoted by doctors and experts that promise good health. They all make a similar claim: if you follow my diet you will obtain “optimum” health. Oftentimes, these methods are completely contradictory. All these methods work, just not for the same person. Would you feed the same diet to a sumo wrestler as you would a jockey? Does a teenage soccer player need the same food as an old woman? A diet that stresses large amounts of fruits would be poison to one with severe Candida. A vegetarian diet may be good for some and not for others. We mentally cling to a concept of eating, but life and health requires change. We move with the rhythms of life or suffer. Each of us has a unique body and unique needs.
The truth is, anyone that says there’s only one best way to eat simply hasn’t had enough life experience working with real people. Take my last suggestion of eating raw foods. Personally, I think that raw foods are so important, I eat nearly 100% raw. But I’ve had patients that tell me they can’t digest raw foods. As a doctor, I’m not going to argue with my patients; I’m just trying to find a way to help them. That’s why I’m not telling you exactly what to do. I’m offering suggestions. With nutrition, you have to find what’s best for you.
I had a patient that ate fruit and yogurt for breakfast for twenty years. It was healthy enough, all pure and natural. He used only the best organic ingredients, and even mixed in flaxseeds and flax oil, (a healthy combination a la the Budwig diet). It was health food, sure, but he started to get a little bloating after he ate, the food didn’t sit well, and he couldn’t seem to focus the way he usually could—all signs that it might be time to make a change. He was insistent in keeping the yogurt, so I suggested that he switch breakfast with lunch. Some people need protein for breakfast, just to get their blood sugar stabilized. For most, fruit, yogurt, or sweet cereal for breakfast won’t make them feel well. Sweet foods, even when healthy, can make the blood sugar spike. Experiment for yourself. If you are one of these people, you will feel much better if you eat dinner, such as protein and salad, for breakfast.
Back To Common Sense
Match your diet to your activity, constitution, age, and metabolism. For example, it’s not wise to eat cold salads while winter camping. Common sense for most, but I had to learn the hard way. It was late November and I went up to the mountains for a couple of days. That night, I made camp and pulled out a raw salad and some cheese. After eating it, I started to shake. I was so chilled, I had to get into my sleeping bag. I shivered for over an hour until my body warmed up.
The great Doctor Bernard Jensen once said that you should be your own best physician by age forty, meaning that it is up to us to discover our own “optimum” health plan, and to know when to change. Don’t look in a book to find the best diet, take the time to discover what is right for you!
Certain foods cause inflammation as soon as we eat them. Dairy, wheat, soy, peanuts, corn, the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant, potato, peppers) are some of the more common offenders, but one may be sensitive to an obscure food such as lentils. Sensitivity may even be passed through the genes. Our parents likely ate tons of dairy and wheat foods and so did our grandparents. It’s not uncommon for a third of one’s diet to be wheat and dairy. Eventually, the system just can’t take it anymore. The food is seen as a threat and treated as an invader.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Essentially, Leaky Gut is caused by ingesting toxins, resulting in an overload of inflammation and system failure. When we eat foods we’re sensitive to, or that are simply unfit for human consumption, along with other factors such as chemicals, stress, and heavy metals, there’s a weakening of the junctions in our intestinal cells. These junctions, normally tightly closed, loosen and allow bacteria, yeasts, and macro-molecules to pass into the bloodstream. These out-of-place molecules are seen by the immune system as enemies and the immune system tries to fight them off. The result of the battle is systemic inflammation, and the normal flow of internal energy is severely blocked. With leaky gut, the body is essentially fighting itself; it gets into a vicious cycle of inflammation. Leaky Gut Syndrome is an example of the kind of physical degeneration we can expect to progress as the laws of nature are violated.
How To Determine Food Sensitivities
There are several ways to go, all depending on you.
If you’re eating mainly raw foods, the process is tremendously simplified. You don’t really need an elimination diet. It’s very common to be sensitive to pasteurized dairy, but not to raw milk, or cheese. (The raw dairy contains lactase) Raw soured milk is predigested, and often tolerated where uncultured dairy isn’t. Raw goat or sheep dairy may be handled easily, while cow products cause sensitivities (raw cow butter is almost always well tolerated.) That said, dairy may still be less well tolerated than some other foods, even when raw. If a food causes symptoms, eliminate it for a while and retest it. If you are still sensitive to it, try Dr. Howell’s method, or else just leave it alone. For severe reactions, omit the food.
Dr. Howell’s Method
Howell believed that there should be no reason why anyone should be sensitive to whole, pure, raw foods. He gave strawberries as an example. If one is sensitive to strawberries, try eating one strawberry a day. Even a half or quarter of a strawberry per day. The idea is to let the body get used to the food slowly. Increase the amount daily until the food is well tolerated. Howell speculated that using this method to overcome sensitivities might have profound effects on one’s health. It only works with unadulterated, raw foods.
Determining Sensitivities For Cooked Foods
A diet of cooked food is more complicated. The problem is often the cooked food itself. One may be sensitive to the harmful toxins formed by the heating process or the resulting denaturing of the protein or fat. The very first thing before eliminating any food would be to cut out all refined, or unnatural foods. This alone will decrease the irritation levels in the body. Oftentimes we may be sensitive to wheat, but not to freshly ground organic wheat or spelt, although giving up wheat is a good practice for anyone. Why? One might be sensitive to the chemical reaction that occurs when the air touches the germ of the wheat and turns it rancid, known as oxidation. The gold seal is to grind grain , nuts, or seeds right on the spot to make sure of it’s freshness.
The easiest way to determine food sensitivities is via a simple blood test that checks for IGA and IGE antibodies. The test analyzes many common foods and gives you a sensitivity rating for each. If a person omits these foods, it will lessen inflammation and one generally feels better.
It’s quick and easy. You simply take a blood test and then omit the necessary foods. It’s perfect for the person that resonates with the medical model of taking a blood test, and doesn’t really want to fuss with time consuming elimination methods. It usually works fairly well, and following it is better than nothing.
There are false positives. For example many test positive for eggs, usually a well-tolerated food. The test is reacting to the albumin, which was in our childhood vaccinations. And so giving up eggs, a super nutritious food, is unnecessary. There’s also the cost. The test can cost several hundred dollars.
The Elimination Diet
One of the best ways to learn how foods affect us is through an elimination diet. This has two phases: clearing and testing.
The Clearing Phase
For 3-4 weeks eat a non-inflammatory diet that avoids common food sensitivities. All dairy, sugar, beef, eggs, wheat, peanuts, all soy products, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, yeast, eggplant, alcohol (another form of sugar), are omitted. You absolutely must read labels, nearly all commercial products contain wheat, sugar, dairy, soy, corn, and other additives.
The Purpose Of Eliminating Commonly Sensitive Foods
Trying to test foods in the condition that most of us are in would result in false information. Our system is crammed up. It’s like the old days where there was an operator and switchboard. When too many calls were coming in at the same time, you got a busy signal. Even today, when trying to make a call there’s sometimes a recording “all circuits are busy, please call later.” All circuits busy is what happens in our bodies. We eat garbage foods we’re sensitive to in impossible combinations and in greater quantities than our enzymes can handle. Do that day after day and the circuits get jammed up. Our insides are gunked with toxins and inflammation. In a state of chaos, an accurate reading isn’t possible. Gas, bloating, stomach pain, poor digestion, lack of energy, pain in any part of the body, headaches, poor elimination, constipation, diarrhea, etc. are signals that our diet is causing inflammation. But it’s impossible to tell if our headache came from last night, today, or two days ago. The clearing phase of the elimination diet is to uncross signals, to stop the cascade of inflammation, to de-gunk the system, merely so a more accurate reading is possible.
Options For The Clearing Phase
For many years, I had patients go on fish and vegetables for three weeks. Lamb, goat, and chicken, in most cases, works just as well. The idea is to have an extremely simple, non-inflammatory, non-reactive fare. This is much more difficult than it sounds.
Some get tired of it, not only because it’s boring (fish and vegetables for breakfast), but also because it takes a certain amount of preparation. You don’t want to purchase food in a restaurant, you need to know exactly what’s in it. If you go with fish, get fresh ocean fish, preferably not frozen. Don’t use farm-raised fish. Farm-raised fish is fed an unnatural diet. We have the same potential for an aquatic version of mad cow disease with beef (feeding beef their own internal organs is the cause of mad cow disease). If meat is used, it should be organic.The fish and vegetable cleanse is good because it needs no supplements and can easily be implemented almost anywhere in the world. Most people aren’t sensitive to fish or vegetables, providing you don’t eat the vegetables previously cautioned against, such as tomatoes.
Usually people will feel terrific on this diet and happily go the full three to four weeks. One woman had chronic shoulder and neck pain. On the cleanse, she experienced no pain, and was shocked when she realized how much her diet had been contributing to her pain. This simple cleanse works so well, patients have reported coming back to the fish and vegetables every time they feel off. They use it as a re-balancing between seasons or when they feel the need to cleanse or reset their system.
Fish and vegetables works, but there’s an easier option. Thorne research makes a product called Mediclear, a powdered food supplement that helps to reduce inflammation in the gut, cleanse the liver, and facilitate detoxification. The Thorne program comes with an introductory booklet that explains everything and gives sample recipes. In the last decade, I’ve taken hundreds of people through the Mediclear program. I’ve had nothing but good results. It is easier than the fish and vegetables because it offers much more variety. It’s not expensive. Some find the powder so beneficial they continue to take it after the elimination cleanse is over just because they like it so well. For the strict purpose of the elimination diet, It doesn’t necessarily work any better than the fish and vegetables, but it is a more painless approach for those used to a more traditional diet. Mediclear is now available in Mediclear Plus, with a herbal anti-inflammatory and Mediclear SGS.
On The Cleanse
People often feel so good on the clearing phase, they consider it a sort of miracle. The feeling of well being comes about because you’re reduced the level of chronic inflammation that’s been plaguing you with symptoms; you’re not producing as much metabolic stress. Reducing inflammation, however, is only the first step. The next steps deal with the foods that are causing inflammation to begin with. This enables you to maintain the feeling of well being as you go back to normal eating.
After the three to four-week program, slowly reintroduce the foods you regularly consume. Slowly is the key. Try to isolate the foods you’ve omitted and reintroduce them separately. THIS IS THE HARD PART! Some get so freaked out by giving up what they have consumed for years, they immediately break the diet with say, Veal Parmesan. Such a dish contains wheat, dairy, meat, tomatoes, and egg, and that’s only if it’s homemade. If packaged or from a restaurant, it could contain other garbage. Going too fast just shocks the system into “all circuits busy” again.
Take each food, lets say cheese, and start by eating a little bit. Keep a journal of symptoms. Are there any reactions from the cheese? Is there a problem with digestion, gas, bloating, elimination, headache, cramps, pimples, or skin rashes, pain in the body, changes in concentration, balance, eyesight, hearing, or overall feelings of poor health? If there are no changes in your symptoms, try eating more cheese in a couple of days. If still okay, skip a day or two and eat a lot of cheese. If there’s still no reaction, including no change in the pulse test, cheese is probably okay for you.
Try this with all of the common culprits previously mentioned and any also with any food that you suspect sensitivity. If you find that a food is not good for you, try giving it up for three months and test it again. Some food sensitivities just need a short break. Some need years of, or even permanent omission.If you lose the feeling of wellbeing that you had on the clearing phase, try to retrace your steps back to the place where you were feeling good. If you can’t regain it, go back to a non-inflammatory diet for a few days.
The Pulse Test
The pulse is an accurate barometer of the autonomic nervous system. When the heartbeat increases in relation to consuming a food, it means the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is activated. The body perceives the food as a stressor. The pulse test is a valuable tool in determining if a food is causing inflammation.
Determine Your Resting Pulse While On The Elimination Diet
During the elimination diet, take your pulse many times a day. When you first wake, when sitting, standing, and lying down. Take it between meals and after eating. Try to determine a baseline for your resting pulse. After you have a clear idea of your standard resting pulse while on the non-inflammatory diet, you’re in a good place to begin testing foods.
Reintroducing A Food
Take your pulse immediately after you introduce a food. Then take it an hour, two hours, and several hours after eating the food. Also take it the next morning. The pulse will usually go up slightly in reaction to eating, but if a food causes a rise in pulse over 8 beats per minute, you are likely sensitive to it.
The Easy Way…Hardly
For those who aren’t able to undertake the rigors of an elimination diet, try giving up all soy, dairy, wheat, and sugar for a month. This isn’t a true elimination diet, nor is it easy in our culture; if you eat any packaged or standard restaurant food these things are hard to avoid. Giving these four foods a rest sure can help reduce inflammation, and that’s our goal. Try it. See how you feel.
Nutrition: find what’s best for you…Actions To Take:
If you eat mostly cooked food, consider pinpointing your food sensitivities by performing an elimination diet.