Get into your kitchen.
That's right! I'm not talking about running to the kitchen to binge-eat that bag of chips that you bought at a low point of energy on your way home from work. I'm talking about getting into the kitchen and whipping up whole food recipes loaded with nutrients and nutrition that don't have the fake foods from processing. Cutting fruits and vegetables to eat raw, or put into recipes.
Many of the poor food choices available today are responsible for the burgeoning growth of disease in our culture. Of course, some of this trend may be because highly skilled medical teams are better at testing and diagnosing symptoms and diseases. We have more information than we've ever had before.
Yet we have to wonder how we've gotten here in the first place. Why do we even need highly skilled medical teams so often, and why are we feeling so poorly most of our days? I'm not knocking the medical profession here. It's fabulous that the medical teams are there when we need them to jump in an help us with a symptom, or perhaps a medical emergency. I am challenging you to think about why you are allowing yourself to feel unwell.
Our ancestors, and I'm talking way back to the Hunter-Gatherer days, would never have let themselves feel as weak as many of us do today. They needed to survive the harsh elements of weather, food scarcity, and the predator population. They needed to build their homes and camps, search for water and food, raise their young and protect their elders. These activities required feel strong and having energy throughout each day.
They had a natural support system in nature. Soil was loaded in minerals and probiotics. Food came straight off the land in their area. Food varied by season, designed to give them the ingredients needed when they were needed.
Hunting meat and fish required physical skill and functional movement to make the catch, then they needed the strength and stamina to carry heavy animals back to share at camp. They ate the whole animal - brain, heart, organs, etc., in reverence, and used every part of it for tools, clothing, shelter and more.
Picking fruit required searching, climbing, reaching, stooping and carrying. Occasionally they had to run for their lives (literally) or chase an animal at high speeds for food. The Hunter-Gatherer days were loaded with a variety of movement. The activities kept them functionally fit and their brains healthy and thriving.
Fast forward to today, and we can farm food like never before. Many of us eat way too much food too often. We don't have to do burn a calorie to get it, just drive to the local eatery and pick up a bag of yummy tasting ingredients.
We work out at the gym for an hour, if we work out at all, and we consider ourselves to be in shape. We live with such convenience that it almost seems like we've lost our way. Yet, these changes have allowed humans to thrive and procreate in ways that would've amazed our ancestors.
I think we've gone too far off the grid - the natural grid.
And one way to take a step back towards our natural support system that is still there, and we once used, is to get into our kitchen.
First, go to your local farmer's market, food coop, or natural grocer. Pick out fresh, local ingredients (ask the produce partner if you need help knowing how to tell what's fresh.) Stay away from the boxed and frozen items (they aren't at the Farmer's Markets for a reason!) Become unprocessed. Start cooking from scratch.
Play. Try new vegetables and proteins. The better quality the ingredients, the better tasting the result. Invite members of your tribe over to prepare food with you. Put together recipes and see how you can create healthy, good tasting foods.
Eat slowly. Rest to digest. Listen to your body after you eat to see how you feel. Does this food work for you? Make it an adventure to learn how to cook in the kitchen.
We are lucky today that we only have to go to our kitchens with purchased foods to find our meals. So let's be smart about it. Let's choose foods that provide nutrition to our bodies as well as satisfy our taste buds. It's really fairly easy for us to do that compared to our ancestors.
If our Hunter-Gatherer ancestors looked in on us now, what would they think? They'd certainly want to be a part of our luxury living and play if they were still on the planet.
Let’s talk about something. Symptoms.
What are symptoms?
Merriam-Webster defines them as:
a : subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance; broadly : something that indicates the presence of bodily disorder
b : an evident reaction by a plant to a pathogen
2 a : something that indicates the existence of something else symptoms of an inner turmoil
b : a slight indication
I think so many of us think that symptoms must be serious - like a major disturbance that says "Hello, this is really a problem. Look here..."
Yet, let's considering something. The quieter a symptom, the kind you can notice early on, way before something becomes a disorder, is where your true power lies. It's your body's feedback. Listening to early feedback gives us a greater opportunity to turn things around and heal before a major event occurs.
The daily aches, pains and discomforts may feel normal and you shrug them off, but you shouldn't. These constant, low level symptoms are not normal as most of us consider them to be. And that goes for people of any age. Even as we age, symptoms are providing feedback and it's important, the older we become, to respond to this feedback quicker and with vigor. We don't heal as quickly as we age.
Sure, from time to time we may wake up with an ache or pain that we don't know where it came from, but that shouldn’t be happening day after day. And when it does happen, what information are we not receiving?
Symptoms are aches and pains that come in a variety of ways which may creep up on us over time and sneak into our lifestyles. We:
When we are completely in line with what our bodies needs through our supportive lifestyles, then we:
We've got to start realizing that if we’re putting up with discomfort, THEY ARE SYMPTOMS. If we're not centered in our joy each day, something is off that we need to pay attention to. We need to be curious about the symptom, and ask ourselves what it means. Maybe it's simple, like we shouldn't have that morning coffee (that may not feel so simple to some - it doesn't to me!) so that we can keep that tummy-ache away. Perhaps we need to get out and move more so we don't feel stiff. Or we may need to address a living situation, a relationship, a work situation or something else. Maybe we're not eating healthy enough, or often enough, or drinking the wrong kinds of beverages. You may not be okay with yourself, who you are at your very core.
If we listen to our bodies and minds carefully, we will get the answers we need. We have to spend time listening to ourselves, and asking what we need, just like we would our partner, spouse, or child. Love is paying attention to someone. Loving yourself is paying attention to yourself.
We’ve also got to get over the idea that there is a “quick fix“ for everything. It often takes a commitment to really look at how we’re doing things, and to change the way were doing them. This is a muscle that we need to find, develop and strengthen, and over time, it will become second nature.
It’s often really hard to strengthen this muscle on our own if we have gotten out of shape by not listening to our bodies and thoughts. As a friend of mine says, we are all in our own fish bowl of water, and we can’t see our environment because we are in it. We need objectivity.
It’s really helpful to work with someone who could help you on a day-to-day basis, Like a wellness coach or therapist who can help you understand the cloudiness of your water.
If you answered YES! to this, then you are among millions of people that are experiencing unwell bodies. Aches and pains are not "getting old," as I hear so often. Sure, there may be some extra care needed - like an older automobile - as we age, but we shouldn't struggle to get around. We should not be waking up every day with soreness.
Take my Great, Great Grandfather Padarev in Predgrad, Slovenia. By some accounts, he lived to 105 and his wife to 103. I don't know specifically if they had aches and pains; surely they needed to attend to self-care as they aged. I do know that they stayed active throughout their lives, climbing trees to gather firewood for heat, filling the attics in their home with hay to feed their cattle, taking care of their property and farm, and picking fruit from their front yard trees. These are the kinds of activities that we are born to -- and meant to -- do. So if they did have aches, it wasn't enough to prevent them from doing what they needed to do.
So why are so many of us feeling limited in our abilities due to our aches and pains?
I have one word for you - PUFAs.
WHAT THE HECK ARE PUFA?
PUFAs are Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid Oils. These oils are refined, which oxidizes the oil, making it particularly destructive to our endocrine systems, promoting symptoms like poor fat metabolism, diminished energy, sluggish thyroid, insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, immune problems, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. That is quite a list!
After training to be a Primal Health Coach, I finally honed in on these oils as the source of my aches and pains.
I'm an active person. I walk, sprint, hike, bike, do yoga, do push-ups and pull-ups, practice slack lining, jog, do weights and I am on my feet a lot. When I work, I average 20,000 steps a day - about 10 Miles.
I think of these activities as today's version of what my Great Great Grandparents did - although I wish I could get our fruit trees to be as plentiful. I eat close to the land, visiting my Farmer's Market every week. I've made friends with the farmer's and know how they grow and process their wares. I read labels. I shop organically. If you ask my young adult children, they will tell you that all they heard about was - nutrition - until they went crazy. It even prompted one of them to go to the restaurants and ask for a gluten menu!
So you'd think that I'd feel great, right? And I do feel very good for my age. I'm clued into my body. I originally thought, in my late 40's, that my aches and pains were from exercising. Until I went on a nutrition-oriented eating 12-step plan - Food Addicts Anonymous - and after 3 months, I no longer felt sore. This amazed me. I had been having chronic back pain, soaking in the jacuzzi, sauna, and stretching all the time. And cleaning up my food did the most. It totally surprised me that my aches and pains WERE A SYMPTOM when all along, I thought they were a by-product of working out.
We active people have more reason than ever to clean up our food plan. Our overall health is primarily dependent on the genes we turn on or off (the latest epigenetic research shows we can indeed turn them off). When we sprint or lift weights, the biochemical process from that activity turns on certain genes to repair and strengthen our exercised muscles. Good right? Of course.
However, if we do too much exercise, other genes go into excess production and we have prolonged inflammation and slowed recovery. An autoimmune disease is often a genetic over-reaction, much like after too much of a workout, that causes the same kind of inflammation. Our bodies cannot distinguish between too much of a workout and eating something that makes us sore.
We athletes can turn on too much inflammation simply by our healthy lifestyles. Since we are trying to live a healthy, active and balanced life, including eating healthy foods, why is this happening?
GET A GRIP - CHANGE YOUR THINKING
Besides getting a grip on that pull-up bar at the gym, we also need to have a grip on our own personalized body and what the offenses are. We are all an experiment of one. We eat different foods, have different genes, do different workouts, think different thoughts, experience different stresses and traumas. How could there possibly be one diet, or one lifestyle, that fits each of us. There isn't, so now you can breathe a sigh of relief.
Except, now what do we do?
First of all, we have to change our mindset.
CHANGE THE FISH WATER
I have found that I have autoimmune challenges in my genes. My Mom died of ulcerative colitis at the age of 88. My Dad died of heart disease and arthritis at the age of 61. They both did a lot right. Yet they had a lifestyle which ultimately did not nurture their bodies. Both of them experienced aches and pains for years before they died.
My dad regularly went to doctors, got tests, and religiously took his prescriptions. My Mom did the same. It turns out in my opinion that doctors are fabulous and brilliant at diagnosing disease, prescribing medicine to reduce symptoms, and providing surgery when needed. They save lives every day.
Eating has gotten complicated. That blueberry bagel my mom started eating in the 1940s for breakfast deteriorated in quality over the years. The grain became less whole, the wheat it was made from got homogenized (no weeds adding nutritional value), and the wheat got sprayed with chemicals to increase the drying process. All these events contribute to our body's stress through inflammation.
So what needs to be done? We need to find people to support us in our daily care. Since we are in our own fish water (as one of my dear teacher's calls it!) and can't be objective about ourselves, we need to have others help us to take a look at ourselves and let us know how to clean our fish water. They need to help us determine what is muddying the waters of our health.
DOWN WITH PUFA OILS
As much as I thought I was healthy and practicing good ways of life, I realized that I had these annoying little aches and pains. It's like they were saying to me - listen, look at what you're doing, something is not right here, hello! Are you listening?
Now I"m listening. I realized that the PUFA oils are significantly contributing to my aches and pains. I'm on an Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) - a food elimination diet to help me see what's causing my inflammation. And even though it feels very difficult, I am committed to the effort. I am committed to turning off my genes expression of an autoimmune disease.
I have found a huge success by eliminating the PUFA oils. That means canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, coconut oil and anything else that's refined.
It's not easy. I find them at the hot bar at work. They are in the olive bar. They are in canned foods. They are often tossed on packaged items. They are in salad dressings. And let's not get started on restaurants! Most restaurants use them to cook meat, fish, and sauté vegetables.
I have one challenge -- eliminate the PUFA oils. It could be life-saving.
If you need help, let me know.
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