a + b = c.
Sometimes regaining wellness can be as simple as that.
If the “c” in our formula is life free from chronic illness, then it behooves us to identify the other factors that can lead us to that kind of wellness.
In this case, the “a” and the “b” involve things you might not think of putting together in the same formula.
For example, I would never have thought of putting Sammy Hagar together with Van Halen, but for several years, it worked out pretty well. But that’s a topic for “Think Right Thursday.” 😉
Treating Chronic Disease With…Salad?
On this week’s “Wellness Wednesday,” I want to show you how simple changes to your diet can not only make you feel healthier in general but can actually treat most chronic diseases.
Sound far-fetched? Follow me on this for a moment.
Most chronic diseases start from a root of inflammation. Inflammation is a general term for the body’s cellular response to toxic invaders. When your body detects an invasion, it sends out a flood of messengers, called cytokines, to your immune system, triggering the first-responder T-cells to identify, quarantine, and neutralize the toxic cells. When that battle takes place, the tissues around it tend to heat up, swell, and send out pain signals. The word “inflammation” reflects this burning sensation as the body fights off disease. It may come across as a rash, a headache, a stomach ache, or a fever. Your body is fighting the good fight, so let it fight.
When the battle is over, the toxic cells are carried off to the lymph nodes and liver, where they await the final purge out of the body. The t-cells go back to their homes and tell stories to their grandchildren about their time in combat.
It would be great if it just ended like that and there were long periods of peace between skirmishes. But for most Americans, their life is a biological war zone that never has a cease-fire.
a = Inflammation Rooted In the Gut
Instead of a brief fever or a short time of swelling, they go on with swelling, bruising, blistering, rashes, polyps, or a host of other debilitating symptoms. When the battle goes on without an end in sight, doctors refer to the condition as “chronic,” which means “going on over time.”
As their condition worsens, most people with chronic illness do the logical thing: they find a doctor who can identify the problem and prescribe a chemical to combat the symptoms. That makes perfect sense if you don’t have any options.
Fortunately, we know some things about what causes the inflammation in the first place, and how to deal with the root, rather than the symptoms.
Much of the inflammation we experience starts in the gut, as the result of our body reacting to toxins in your food with that flood of cytokines and t-cells. Your gut communicates with the brain (in fact, your gut is often referred to as “your second brain”) along a thick neural passageway called the vagus nerve. When your gut recognizes a threat, it notifies the brain to release the necessary chemicals to fight the threat – whether it’s adrenaline to run away from a predator, or t-cells to fight off infection.
As we’ve examined here many times before, your gut contains a massive bacterial civilization made of trillions of cells that perform specific functions. Some are intended for digestion, but many are defensive immune cells that protect you from disease.
Your gut colony (or “flora” or “microbe”) is as individual as your fingerprint – it reflects what you’ve eaten, what your preferences are, what chemicals you have absorbed, and so on. It’s sort of an autobiography of your life thus far.
If you’ve eaten nutritious, living food your whole life and supplemented with probiotic food like kimchi and sauerkraut, your gut flora is going to reflect that with an abundant and diverse colony of living cells.
On the other hand, if you’ve lived your life eating the Standard American Diet (including sugar, genetically modified foods, chlorinated and fluoridated water), and taking antibiotics for every sniffle, your gut flora is going to look like a bomb went off in your gut. Antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately, and can’t tell your health gut flora from the virus it was sent to destroy.
If your gut flora is your first line of defense against toxins and it has been ravaged by the food you’ve been eating (not to mention the pollution in the air around you, drugs, stress, and even antibacterial soap), then you are sitting in a very vulnerable position. Vulnerable to chronic inflammatory diseases, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, psoriasis, Chron’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and dozens of other serious chronic diseases.
b = Remove the Inflammation By Repairing the Gut Flora
Here’s the good news: you can rebuild a damaged gut flora.
Remember how I mentioned that your gut flora is a kind of autobiography, reflecting what you’ve eaten and done in your life? You can teach your gut how to protect you. Your diet shapes what is in your gut flora, and how it is balanced. A high-fiber diet affects certain varieties of bacteria. A strong probiotic reinforces some varieties. A high vegetable diet has a different effect.
If you will make a determination to remove harmful foods from your system, you can rebuild your gut flora. Even people with food sensitivities can reduce or eliminate them over time by removing the sensitive food from their diet entirely for a period of time (I usually recommend 21 to 28 days).
Some foods need to be removed from your diet for good. For example, many people have to leave gluten products behind, including breads and pastas. Others have to remove nightshades, including tomatoes and peppers. It may be a temporary cessation, but sometimes it is a lifestyle change. The worst part is that often the food that you crave the most is the one that is most destructive to your system. I see that most often with people who are sensitive to gluten.
It’s not necessarily fun, but it could save your life, or at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs.
Fight Disease And Win!
What if you could prevent cancer or send it into remission? What if you could slam the brakes on degenerative diseases like MS? Would that be worth saying goodbye to your favorite food?
Along with removing toxic foods comes the addition of gut-restoring foods, like fermented foods, fresh vegetables, fruit juices, and balanced probiotics. Your gut flora has been manipulating your tastes for years, using the same vagus nerve to communicate with the taste receptors in your brain. Take charge of the game and teach your body to enjoy healthy foods in healthy proportions. You CAN do it.
If this was helpful to you, I’d encourage you to take 8 seconds to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever your circles go around. It just might help someone you know, and it might surprise you who it is.
“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas