Thanks for coming back for part two, where I’ll cover the role of diet in turning on or off genes for chronic, preventative, disease. If you haven't yet, check out part 1 of this blog post first.
The Role of Diet
The truth is, most people aren’t taught how to eat properly. If the food pyramid we grew up with is what you looked to, then like most of us, you were led astray. Even doctors aren’t taught about nutrition in med school. Crazy right?! So it’s no surprise we’ve all been making shitty, convenient choices and getting fat and sick as a result. Many people still don’t realize that a diet heavy in processed foods is basically a breeding ground for disease.
Processed foods includes anything you can buy in a can, jar or package that has been mass produced in a factory setting with the goal of having the food last longer than it normally should. In order to avoid natural spoiling of these foods, the raw food ingredients are processed at very high heats which causes the food to lose most of its nutritional value including vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Then preservatives are added to prevent germs and extend the shelf life of the food. The goal of preservatives is to ensure that germs, bacteria and insects find the food too toxic to want to take up residence in the food. Think about that. Donna Nakawazka, author of The Autoimmune Epidemic, explains the process perfectly. “To process food is to take it from nature, remove everything natural from it, then add preservatives, dyes, bleaches, flavours, emulsifiers and stabilizers, to make it taste, look, feel and smell like it was originally supposed to be but no longer is.”
Honestly, if you can do yourself one favour - cut processed foods from your life and make a shift to whole, organic/non GMO foods wherever possible.
After removing processed foods, you can heal your gut.
Every organ in our body is connected to the gut – so when there's an imbalance there, it negatively affects the rest of the body. In fact, a whopping 90% of chronic, preventative disease can be traced back to an unhealthy gut. Because I suffered from it and have since healed it myself, I’ve chosen to specialize in treating one of the most common unwanted gut conditions, leaky gut.
Leaky gut is a condition where the intestinal wall becomes permeable (or gets tiny holes in it). It happens to us most often because of a crappy diet, unknowingly eating foods our body doesn’t agree with, medications, environmental toxins and stress. When the intestinal wall becomes too permeable (some is OK for nutrient absorption), undigested food particles and bacteria leak into the bloodstream and elicit a response from the immune system to fight off these foreign invaders. Over time, persistent firing of the immune system can create an inflammatory response in the body. Bad news, given inflammation is the root cause of all chronic, preventative disease.
How do you know if you have a leaky gut?
In today’s stressful and toxic world, I’d argue most of us have some degree of leaky gut. Because symptoms range vastly it can be hard to diagnosis; anything from excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, brain fog, poor memory, low energy, unrestful sleep, skin rashes like eczema or psoriasis, intense cravings, mood disorders, and joint pain could mean you've got it. A few years ago, I would come home from work everyday so bloated I looked 5 months pregnant! It wasn’t exactly painful but it definitely wasn’t comfortable. I shrugged it off thinking I ate too much. I also had trouble sleeping, recurring psoriasis, brain fog and fatigue, and had been struggling with chronic constipation since my 20’s. Pooping (rather, not pooping) was a huge source of stress for me for a big chunk of my life. Looking back, I felt like garbage! But I assumed it was normal; that everyone must feel crappy most of the time (*facepalm*). Like so many who suffer with similar symptoms day in and day out, I didn’t realize my body was trying to tell me something. I had no clue that I was suffering from a leaky, inflammatory gut and as result, my autoimmune disease was brewing.
The bottom line.
As an 80’s baby, I grew up eating all the processed foods; the majority of which were gluten, refined sugar and dairy filled. I drank and partied too much throughout my teens and 20’s and was naturally skinny (and very NOT sporty), so I never put an emphasis on physical fitness. Like so many with chronic disease, I didn’t recognize the warning signs from my body or understand the connection between the choices I made and how I felt. Eventually, my diet and lifestyle choices, paired with my genetic predisposition to autoimmunity was too much for my body and it fought back in the form of my autoimmune disease, Alopecia.
It was too late for me, but it doesn’t need to be too late for you. If you understand the central role you play in it all, you can create a balance that’s right for you. I say that because I want to be clear that this is not about perfection. Everyone needs to indulge a little! I don’t want to rob anyone of life’s pleasures. I simply want to empower people to make conscious choices and to think more critically about their diet and lifestyle overall. I want you understand that each and every choice you make either builds you up or break you down. That you and only you, are in charge of your choices and those choices ultimately define your lifestyle and to a degree, thanks to Epigenetics, also the future of your overall health. How will you choose to live?
- Lisa xx
1. A super brief and basic explanation of Epigenetics for total beginners. Whatisepigenetics.com
2. The Autoimmune Epidemic, Donna Nakawazka