A Therapeutic Approach to the Food Debate
If we are what we eat, then it would make sense that the perfect diet could rid the world of diss-ease, right? Wrong…
Why, because the metabolic process includes enzymatic stimuli from our hormones, which work together to maintain equilibrium, everyone is different. The environment also greatly impacts which fuel is best suited to run the human vehicle. For example, the harsh terrain of winter leans us towards healthy fats to keep warm. Whereas the dryness of summer produces more fruits and salad to lubricate us. The problem with a one size fits all approach, is that we negate our unique ancestral connections to the earth.
It’s a sad fact, even with the advancement of modern technology, as a species we are becoming sicker. We may be living longer, but if later years require medical intervention, at what cost? It is clear, something is not quite right. That something is balanced body chemistry. If we put rocket fuel into a car with a faulty engine and it will not run on all cylinders. If the exhaust becomes blocked or the fuel tank rusty, performance will suffer. In short, the whole vehicle must be in synergy for optimal performance.
THE HUMAN PHARMACY
Our capacity to convert food into fuel relies on many factors. Firstly, gastric juices are secreted to break down nutrients required by our cells. This feeds an internal universe of bacteria, pathogens, and fungi, some more favourable than others. Collectively, these are known as the microbiota, they can either support or hinder the neuro chemistry of the brain. The problem lies when certain strains over populate through poor food choices. The idea that we are in control of our food intake becomes somewhat diluted, when we take into consideration the microbiota has its own agenda.
The good news is, with education and ratio tweaking, we can tailor an individual diet specific to ‘our’ needs. This is where altering carbs, proteins and fats becomes a science. When it comes to macros, there is no one size fits all. However, the internet is full of ideologies that will have you believe otherwise. The conflicting opinions, among foodies and health gurus, means many become confused. The rest simply lose hope and eat what they crave. Such uncertainty does not breed satiety at meal times. Whether it’s vegi, keto, paleo, or thin air, to label and pigeon hole any diet comes with a metabolic price tag. Better to become a ‘nutritarian’.
DOGMA FOR DINNER
With the growth of Esoteric practices, such as yoga and meditation, the concept of Ahimsa (none violence) has populated. Such ideals suggest reducing animal protein from the diet to reduce Karmic load. But, if not approached intelligently, such good intention may come at a cost to your health. For many, reducing food variety means a reduction in essential nutrients, unless supported wisely with supplementation.
But it’s not just about food choices. To source, consume and digest optimally, each living organism must be in harmony with its environment. The problem arises when we are told what we should eat, ‘shoulding’ does not aid digestion. When food choices are made from a standpoint of activism, righteousness or emotional conflict, digestion suffers.
ANYONE FOR A FOOD FIGHT?
If, the human organism is to function pain free, with limited diss-ease and inflammation, then the emotional charge around food must change. The vegan, carnivore debate is fuelled by anger and frustration, not dissimilar to road rage. You can argue, that consuming or reducing animal based proteins and fats is the answer to all our problems. You can believe that farming animals destroys the planet or that plant based alternatives lack essential nutrients, but neither will satiate your hormones.
Whatever the reason, for our food choices, the mind must be relaxed. Intention alters brain chemistry which in turn affects the metabolic process. Everyone has their own internal orchestra, finely tuned for optimal energy and good health. Thus, each dietary journey is need specific. And, if one camp rules, how come certain individuals thrive on one diet whilst others don’t. If the goal is to live in harmony with our environment, change will not be born from conflict. This may explain why some centenarians live on pie and peas, perhaps their food is peppered with love.
LET FOOD BE THY MEDCINE, OR POISON!
A plant based diet, may reflect a more altruistic approach to the planet and its inhabitants. If approached correctly, it could be the golden ticket. But much work is still to be done. Due to toxic overloading, from food and fuel industries, meat, fish and dairy are questionable food sources, but with awareness most toxic burdens can be mitigated. Getting the right balance depends on numerous factors. Poor food choices are being made on both sides. Many newcomers, to the world of nutrition, see a ‘green V’ on packaging, and assume it means super healthy. This is often a marketing myth. Many, so called ‘healthy’ options, are highly processed, filled with refined grains and vegetable oils.
Due to over processed foods and poor soil quality, many already suffer with a damaged gut. If you think this is you, then even a plant based diet could aggravate your symptoms. Getting the recommended ‘five a day’ may be the general approach for healthy living. But is this true for you and which five? Just like animals, plants have their own protection mechanisms. Animals have claws and teeth, but did you know that plants produce irritants, such as oxalates and lectins, to protect themselves. These compounds bind together cell membranes and are often not digested properly by humans.
For some, even too much fruit can cause blood sugar levels skyrocket towards planet diabetes. Legumes, seeds, nuts and grains may all seem like healthy options, but these can be hard pills to swallow for a compromised digestion, if over consumed. Other possible antagonists are gluten, histamine, and research on trans fats is wise homework when using food therapeutically. The advice is, tread cautiously and do your due diligence!
CONFUSION IS THE CULPRIT
The problem we have, is too much choice…This, along with the mentioned moral pressures and we have a recipe for confusion.
Instead of seasonal foraging and hunting, we are told, teased and tempted by choice. But, the problem with many health food and supplement fads is they are driven by profit and not results. Thus, the human collective is sick and tired in more ways than one. Mental health, hormone dysregulation, diabetes, coronary heart failure and the big C all stem from the metabolic process. Without the right enzymatic response to food, the nasty stuff proliferates. In the future, health care, that is serious about its people, will focus on education as well as fighting disease. Until Doctors are better informed and broaden their spectrum of laboratory testing, our population will continue to drain its resources.
WELCOME A FUNCTIONAL APPROACH
To retune an instrument requires a skilled musician. If we are approaching diet from a therapeutic standpoint, then cellular and microbiota knowledge is crucial. Much like the ancient Ayurvedic model, which heavily relies on results, functional medicine is the new way forward. The Ayurvedic approach was such that the Doctor charged for keeping his patient well. If the patient became sick, it meant the Doctor was not doing his job correctly. In such cases, all ‘wellness fees’ would cease until the patient returned to full health. Functional medicine requires skilled intervention. Here, a practical working relationship, between practitioner and patient, achieves positive results. The role of a health coach can map this journey, removing any emotional blockages along the way to sign post accurately.
It’s all about your frame of reference, what is your diet trying to achieve? This varies for everyone, which is why the, ‘my diet is better than yours’ model is flawed.
Firstly, we must ensure we have real food on our plates. If it comes in a box, packet, tin or coated in plastic (BPA contaminates is another topic) it’s contaminated. If it comes with a label, explaining what’s inside, then it’s processed. Refined oils, grains, sugars and flavourings are all obese-agens and potential carcinogens when mixed incoherently. To the best of our ability, the process of preparing and eating food could become more natural, fresh and enjoyable. Optimal nutrition is about nutrient density. Field, farm forest is key. Whether its meat, plant based, or it swims in the sea, is down to preference and dietary requirements, not moral or standardised factors.
Eat consciously, eat whole, listen to your body and not anyone else. When you hear, yourself giving dietary orders to others, ask yourself this, can I be sure it’s right for them?
Remember… Food is life, but the environment, in which we eat, holds all living things in its palm. Choose your food with purpose based knowledge. Perhaps most importantly, bring gratitude and love into your relationship with food and to those with whom you share it.