All Disease Begins in the Gut
Four hundred years before Christ was born, a guy named Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut. When I was a teenager, my mom would shake her head and tell me that I was what I ate. (as I smeared potato chips with cookie dough)
With the Father of Western medicine and my mom imparting all this wisdom to me, you’d think my journey to healthy eating would have commenced much earlier in life.
I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater. Growing up, we ate a lot of whole foods and had a varied and colorful diet. I was taught moderation and self-control in eating and my parents made sure that we ate meals together every day. Partly out of economic necessity, we lived and ate very traditionally. We drank raw milk and made butter from our Jersey cow, grew a garden, made our own bread and hunted a lot of wild game. Until I was about 12 years old, we rarely ate out and lived on a farm.
As I grew older and we moved to a suburban setting, things changed a little. I was teenager with a car of my own, and my eating habits changed dramatically. (cue the chips and cookie dough) This trend continued into my twenties and through my first couple years of marriage. We ate what we wanted, when we wanted and for a time continued to enjoy our svelte waistlines.
I cringe when I think about what I ate during my first pregnancy. We still joke that my daughter is made of ding dongs and ho hos – which is funny because she has no idea what either of those things are. Things changed when she was born. I realized that there was a brand new and perfect little body that I was responsible for growing and caring for. I really wanted to do it right and not defile her perfect little system.
I dabbled undisciplined in whole foods, vegetarianism, low-fat, no fat and every other thing I came across that sounded interesting. For a long time, I had no particular philosophy except that I wanted to do the best I could for my family and make sure that we were as “healthy” as possible.
I dutifully took my children to their well-visits and proudly flaunted their fully filled out vaccination records. I gave them grocery store multivitamins and switched them to 2% milk at two years old because they didn’t need all the extra fat in whole milk. I made sure we only used low fat margarine and sugar-free drinks. We ate lots of canned vegetables and conventionally grown produce.
The more I tried, the more frustrated I got. Must I really be miserable and eat terrible tasting chemical nastiness in order to be “healthy”? Was butter really bad for me? I love food. Cooking, baking and eating is very important to me. I will literally go into withdrawals if I don’t bake something on a fairly regular basis and I’m generally planning my next meal while eating another. I have always leaned toward natural living and had a desire to do things as naturally as possible, but would still take a pill for an ill if it were suggested by my doctor.
Shoved into Change
Things majorly shifted when my third baby was 8 months old. I was at the doctor for a super-disgusting case of poison oak on my arm. It had gotten so bad that I couldn’t go in public without people screaming and running, so I grudgingly went. Upon taking my blood pressure, his eyes bulged and he asked me if I’d always had high blood pressure. Um, no. I’m only 31 and I eat healthy, I proudly stated. My blood pressure had always lingered on the low end of normal. He took it again and showed me the read-out. 168/110. He wouldn’t let me leave the office without taking a pill to lower my blood pressure and made me promise to fill my prescription that day and come back in a week for a check-up. I assumed it was a fluke and was induced from being stressed over my leprosy-like case of poison oak.
After trying several types of medication without successfully lowering my numbers, my doctor sent me for a heart x-ray and started me on a pill that would slow my heart down. Sometimes that, with the other medications would “control” the most stubborn blood pressure problem. That magic concoction worked and my blood pressure dropped to the normal range. I felt relief that I wasn’t in imminent danger of a stroke, but extremely uneasy about the handful of pills I was taking to maintain my “health”. With a flushed face and fat fingers (from the pills), I frantically Googled until I was mind-boggled. I ordered a pile of supplements to help with blood pressure and stress and continued to visit my doctor.
At a follow up visit, my doctor asked if I had considered stopping birth control. He explained that there were numerous studies showing that hormonal birth control pills can cause high blood pressure in some women – his wife had been one of them. Willing to try anything, after ten long years I quit taking birth control pills.
That was the start of my family’s lifestyle revolution. The more I researched, the more I learned. I began to see a pattern in all of the holistic and alternative treatment options. They were all based in eating the right foods to get the result you wanted. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Over the last four years, I have seen dramatic results in my health. I no longer have high blood pressure and only take vitamins and supplements. By changing the food I ate and mainly following the Weston A. Price diet, learning stress control techniques and getting adequate sleep, I am a changed woman. I’m still a raging sugar-holic and really struggle to keep it in check. I still have health struggles like allergies and yeast over-growth because of my indulgences, but health is a life-long journey and we humans are not infallible. Little steps bring about great change.
Here is a list of ailments I was able to improve or get rid of simply by changing my diet:
Psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis
Frequent yeast infections
High Blood Pressure
High Blood Fat
Deficiencies in calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D
Thin and broken nails
Moderate to severe back, knee and joint pain
Sleeplessness at night
Geez, when I stop and look at this list I’m amazed I was able to walk around unassisted! The only thing I changed was food! We recently went on vacation during which we ate terribly, didn’t get enough sleep and ran around like crazy people. Upon arriving home, I noticed things going down-hill. I was tired, my psoriasis was flaring up and my allergies were horrible. I get reminded time and time again that food is the key.
Just Keep Swimming…
I encourage everyone to reconsider what they eat and take steps to implement small changes one at a time to impact their health in big ways. I’m living proof that it works and it matters. Take it one small change at a time and as Dory says, “Just keep swimming…”
Images Courtesy of Brandon Sigma, Dream Designs and freedigitalphotos.net