27 August 2013

There is a Pill for That

Mother's Little Helper. from the Album, Aftermath (1966)
Lyrics by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

From previous posts, folks know that I have been on a journey.  It is one that has (and is) profoundly reshaping my physiology, daily routines and engagement with life itself.  It is not something I did on a whim, or because it seemed like a good thing to do at the moment.  It took a long time for me to open the door to this shift.  In some ways, I waited too long.  I am past the point that "diabetes won't happen to me."  It did.  And, once the gene for that condition "turns on," it will never "turn off."  This is a journey to change fundamentally  what I eat, how I eat and the choices I make to engage my environment on a daily basis.  

In the eight blog posts that reflected my first two weeks of this journey, I made a lot of statements and shared a lot of information.  One thing I learned a long time ago, in my craft/vocation of being an Episcopal Priest, is that a decision to change something isn't just about that thing being changed.  It is much more complex, and nearly everything in one's sphere shifts at some level in that one decision.  

I also have learned that it always helps to go to a number of sources in the process of making a decision or embracing a modality that will lead to a shift.  I am not, for example, an "MSNBC devotee," or a "CNN junkie," or a "Fox News fanatic."  Truth, in both event and impact, is always somewhere in the middle of all of those opinions, prognostications, and diatribes.

So, being who I am, this journey began not simply with an impulse or a resolve.  It included the desire and determination to research and read as much as I could find in the field of human nutrition, diabetes research, food science and the chemistry that happens in the metabolic processes that create hyperlipidemia, tryglyceride saturation and insulin resistance.  

Now, beginning my sixth week of this new journey, I have not only researched a number of significant websites, but have read a number of journal articles, books and other published materials available in both local and online library systems.  In all, I think I have read more than 700 pages of material in these weeks.  Much of it is in the form of research results and data from studies over the past twenty years.  A lot of it is cutting edge research by such noted institutions as the National Institute of Health (NIH), Harvard Institute of Public Health, Duke University, Johns-Hopkins University, Mayo Clinic -- along with data published in articles appearing in Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).  This list is just a representative listing of what I explored.

When one is using the internet as a source of research, inevitably one's contact will be part of that site for future reference -- like a bookmark we use on our own browser systems.  I have found this useful in some of the sites I listed above, because additional materials will be sent, as research continues.  On some websites, however, I have discovered something I already knew intuitively.  Some folks who are publishing credible independent research data also "front" for companies that make claims with what I call that "Disneyland Appeal."  

Example:  I read a very credible report on metabolic processes in nutrition on one site that is located in Oregon.  Since reading that report five weeks ago, I have received four emails from the site owners touting "the latest development in metabolic balance," or "the answer to the problem of Type II Diabetes."  Great.  So, I click on the report.  It begins with a somewhat convincing presentation on what condition the body is in at a particular stage of a chronic condition (gluten intolerance, diabetes, colitis, etc.).  After a time of rehearsing the effects, there begins a litany of "what you find tiresome" (as if that was a standard experience).  To wit:  constant dieting; inability to enjoy the foods you like; cravings; "hours of exhausting exercise."  The litany can get pretty long.  This is where the pitch generally kicks in.

"Dr. X, after exhaustive research, has put together a formula of natural herbs and essential nutrients guaranteed to control and lower glucose, while you can continue to enjoy all the foods you have always loved."  Then, the ingredients are listed with explanations of how this particular herb, seed or plant has, for centuries, been used by an indigenous group in some part of the world.  Just two of these a day, and you can enjoy health and vitality.  The price for the supplement is always hidden behind the "order now" button.

Seriously, I am all for free enterprise.  However, what I have learned is the painful truth that almost all of these "we can save your life now" products play upon the naivete and gullibility of a culture that has, for a very long time, demanded the easiest, fasted and most effortless means to achieve perfect health, perfect looks and longevity.  Remember the slimming belts sold in our parents' generation (post WW II)?  Remember the slimming beds?  Simply lie down, relax and the movement of the table (twisting in the center) will burn that midriff fat right off!   I remember one of my aunts, who used both machines and could never understand why they didn't work for her.  Well, they didn't work for anyone.  It's not how fat is burned in the body.

I received access to a "kit" that has nine PDF modules for diabetes solution.  It is actually rather close to what I have been doing.  The only difference is that wheat is allowed.  This is a problem, but it isn't a total deal-breaker (if you don't yet have a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes).   The real problem for me is that the same group that put out this "kit" now regularly sends long and tedious audio-visual presentations to tell me that a particular kind of supplement is "the" answer for folks with diabetes.  Okay, which one of the five you have now sent me is the real "the" answer?!

Fact:  There are medications that are necessary for metabolic disorders.  I will be on a heart medication for life, due to a genetic coronary artery disorder.  I will be on a blood pressure medication for life, because of the same disorder.  However, there are ways to work with disorders like diabetes, gluten intolerance,  and ulcerative colitis that can result in being removed from medications.  This is backed by a number of very credible studies...published and available.

Fact:  The wheat that we are eating is not the wheat eaten by our ancestors...or by us, if we were born prior to the mid/late 1960s.  One-hundred percent of  American wheat is a genetically produced hybrid strain that includes a protein that was not present in any wheat in human civilization prior to around 1970, when this hybrid strain was introduced.  That protein is gliadin.  It acts on both our neural and metabolic processes in ways that quadruple the negative affects of gluten and glucose in the body.  It also negatively affects insulin production.  There is hard science in this.  Why aren't we concerned about this?  Perhaps because the neural affect is identical to the addictive process of cocaine and heroin.  We are essentially addicted to wheat.

Fact:  It is the amount and forms of sugar and carbohydrate consumed that are responsible for most metabolic dysfunction.  Wheat products, high fructose corn syrup and other sugar additives are at the center of why more than 33% of the U.S. population alone now has diabetes.  It is why, since 1970, the average American consumes 440 per day more than we did prior to that time.  That's 68,000 calories per year!  This does not take into account that China reports that nearly 400 million of its people have either diabetes or metabolic syndrome (aka pre-diabetes).  Diabetes in China's population was almost unknown until 30 years ago.

Fact:  There is no "magic bullet" or "little pill" that will make all this go away.  None!  Pills only mask a problem.  They are an expensive way to remain in denial about what we purchase and consume in grocery stores, restaurants and, yes, even in most health food stores.  Example:  Most "gluten free" foods may have no gluten, but they contain other by-products to enhance taste that will send blood glucose levels through the roof.

What I am doing is not THE answer for everyone.   I keep saying that to folks who hang out with me around Sarasota.  I no longer consume products with added sugars.  I no longer consume "low-fat" products, because they contain sugar additives to enhance taste (compare the amount of sugar listed in a quart of fat-free milk with the sugar in a quart of heavy cream....you will be stunned...guaranteed).  I no longer consume wheat products or processed foods with wheat additives.

I eat lean protein (the less processed the better...no sugars or carbs), fresh vegetables (excluding root vegetables right now...high in carbs), blueberries, raspberries, a few strawberries, a variety of nuts (with a few exceptions).  I eat in moderation.  I am almost never hungry.  After a trip to the gym, if my blood glucose has dipped a bit, 1 ounce of hard, natural cheese, or about 1.5 ounces of almonds, walnuts,  or pistachios (or combination) will do the trick.  I drink coffee and use heavy cream.  I drink unsweetened black or green tea.  I like a sweet potato....half of one in a meal.   I am finding great recipes that use almond flour, coconut flour and other substitutes for wheat and corn to make a new kind of bread (yes, most corn is now genetically modified and metabolized differently).

In five weeks:  my average fasting blood glucose is within normal range (85-100 mg/dl) for the first time in over four years.  I have lost 21 lbs in five weeks.  Again, no starvation diet but a total change in lifestyle.  I exercise five days/week....moderate.  I am not "exhausting" myself at the gym to lose weight.  I sleep much better at night.  I have a lot of energy during the day...no need for a nap.  I don't think about food, and cravings left me about three weeks ago.  I no longer want breads or sweet stuff.  In essence, my body is regaining its balance.  I drive the person taking my order crazy in restaurants.

This kind of thing should not be marketed.  It needs to be available to everyone.  We need to change the food industry.  If we keep eating stuff that is killing us, the food industry will continue to stock the shelves with it.  If we demand that agri-businesses produce only healthy grain products and refuse to consume what isn't healthy, things will change.  It will take time.

I am not holding my breath.  But, I am already a lot healthier than I was less than six weeks ago.  There is no pill for this.  It is simply doing what really and seriously works with commitment.  No greatness here....simply a sojourner for honest balance.

Love and Blessings,


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