What if it is not about the food?
Claire - Thursday, July 11, 2013
The 7 most commonly overlooked aspects to nutritional advice.
When you are struggling with a health issue and looking for answers inevitably food is one of the first things you would look at. Deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids are the cause of many Neolithic diseases. As are excessive toxicities such as MSG, aspartame and even naturally occurring substances like gluten, casein and sugar. Getting the balance of what you need and eliminating those things that are toxic can be a minefield. Not only that it can be emotionally draining, confusing and sometimes just too damn hard but the bombardment of different philosophies can lead you down the wrong path and into an even worse situation. It can feel like to more you try the worse it gets.
I have put together a list of the 7 most commonly overlooked aspects of nutritional advice that actually aren't about the food.
1. Different starting points.
When looking at a stock-standard eating protocol that someone has developed, whether it is something like GAPS, WAPF, whole30, various juice fasts, raw vegan or even commercial diets such as weight watchers there is an assumption by the diet developer that your starting point is the same as the next person. Now where I am in my health is different even to that of my husband, even though we would have eaten at least 70% of the same thing every day for the last 16 1/2 years. We have different starting points and some of our non-food related health aspects are different. Getting a thorough pathological work up, including bloods (thyroid and liver function, HS-CRP, hormone levels including insulin, minerals etc) stool samples etc. Can give you the big picture of where you actually are starting.
2. Your timing is off.
This is honestly one of the single most over looked aspects of health. Most people are night/winter deficient, their circadian rhythms are completely shot and it is doing terrible damage to your health. This in itself is a blog post or 10, but let me break it down to a few points. The first is the skin-gut-brain triad. When there is a mismatch of the information being collected by these 3 areas if the body or no changes that would naturally occur with different times of the day or seasons in the year. It is then that the cells start to do some funky things because they are totally confused. An example of this is : When the eyes (really an extension of the brain) register blue light, it tells the body it is morning time, time to get up and ready to go. This increases cortisol and initiates one form of metabolism. Fluro lights, computer and TV screens are all high in blue light and how often are we using these at night, especially in winter. Normal in the dark our cells begin to metabolise differently, they go from working in an oxidative way during times of high light levels (this causes the sort of damage that we use antioxidants to repair) to functioning in a reductive way (think of this as the healing way to spend energy). In summer or regions that are hot and have long days and short nights the foods that are found are high in antioxidants to combat the longer periods of oxidation in cells. This is a bit like constantly playing catch up. The best way to increase your antioxidants is to decrease your need for them. Longer dark and cold times, in other words experiencing night and winter and eating what is grown locally as they occur can save you from needing that $80 superfood imported from South America.
3. Being overly enthusiastic.
Juice fasting is a perfect example of over enthusiasm. It becomes so easy to consume large doses of phytonutrients by downing a few juices every day for a week or so. This sounds like a great thing, but in reality it often does more harm than good in the long run. For example, juicing large amounts of brassicas, such as kale puts your thyroid into hyperdrive. If you already have a Leptin issue, this type of stress on your thyroid will push it over the edge. So when you stop, you metabolism slows dramatically, your Leptin resistance increases and you find you health worse off than before. Another example of this can be consuming something every single day because it is "good for you". As we have already mentioned eating and drinking to suit the seasons has incredible benefits and there is really only a couple of foods that are available all year round and these are meat and fish. But, the diet of the meat and fish you consume would vary over the year, meaning the nutritional value would also change.
4. You hate this.
Your emotions and feelings around food have a massive impact on how your body receives the nutrients. There are 2 areas of science that look at exactly this, one is behavioural epigenetics and the second is psychoneuroendocrinology. But the basic premise is if eating is not pleasurable, but stressful or even mechanical you will not get any health benefit out of it.
5. You can't believe it.
Like number 4, if you are eating something and your mind is on a path of skepticism about it, you are very unlikely to see any significant change. This is like the anti-placebo effect.
6. Too much.
Sometimes we just plain old eat too much, too frequently. It stresses our digestive system, our hormonal system and our nervous system, particularly the brain. On occasions a good old fashion fast is much more healing than throwing everything at it.
7. It really isn't the food.
Chiropractors talk about a thing called the subluxation complex. It is when the small bones in the spine shift out of their normal position and get stuck there. This puts pressure on both the spinal cord as it travels through the spinal column and the individual nerves as they exit the spine. Now you are probably aware that the brain and nervous system controls every function in your body, so if there is pressure on these nerves it can impede the communication between your brain and the organs that nerve supplies. For example the nerve from T5 goes to the liver, if there is a subluxation at this point then the brain will have difficulty communicating with the liver so liver function would be impaired. You can do as many liver cleanses as you want, but until the pressure is off that nerve and communication is restored, your liver can not function properly.
This is not about ditching good nutritional advice, but being able to identify why changes in eating may not be working for you.