Senior doctors have recently called for ‘basic’ training in nutrition to be incorporated into the medical school curriculum as they have no idea about the relationship between food and health. Since your body is fuelled by, and formed out of what you eat, this has to alert even the most trusting patient and pill-taker. Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates said ‘Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food’, as he was probably the first to realise that diet is the foundation upon which your health, or lack of, is built. Today, the saying ‘if food isn’t your medicine, very soon medicine will become your food’ has taken this concept further.
But the modern doctor, not recognising that every patient who sits before him is under-nourished, microwaved from their mobile and wi-fi, and poisoned by the industrialised diet and toxic environment, has an innate blind spot to the most important part of the health jigsaw. It is said that if scurvy were discovered today, instead of looking for the vitamin deficiency that caused it, drug companies would first develop a drug to mask the symptoms, and if they were to market vitamin C it would have to be a synthetic analogue to ensure patenting and profit.
Functional medicine is not just about eating healthily. It’s about supporting the biochemistry by cleaning up your external and internal environment. It is a completely different modal, designed to address root causes and to prevent disease, compared to the mainstream medical model of chemical symptom suppression.
I have been studying nutrition for 25 years and the more I learn, the less confident I become about recommending nutrients or diets. It has been observed that, rather than obtaining certainly with knowledge, the more you learn, the more aware you become of the variables. The idea of ‘basic’ training in nutrition is as ridiculous as basic training in medicine. Never has the caveat ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ been more relevant. What about nutritionists learning a little ‘basic’ surgery?
The fact that nutrition has never been on the medical curriculum is because, if doctors were to start joining the dots and realise the industrialised diet is not only toxic but inadequate and that nutrition is a therapeutic modality in itself, the wheels would come off the drug juggernaut. But rest assured, if doctors are going to be taught nutrition, it will have little to do with diet and functional medicine and everything to do with prescribing vitamin and mineral analogues.
Just how fundamental what you eat is to your health has been brought home to me over the last few days when I have been watching my body’s reactions to reintroducing wheat and dairy. Having been off them for three days now, I am still experiencing symptoms. Antibodies continue being produced over a 20 day period, and it can take up the 18 months for them to become inactive.
At the risk of turning this into a bowel blog, the good news is that things now seem to be improving. Two bowel movements last night, one first thing and another after breakfast suggest that I am through the worst of the constipation. In addition to the weight gain, what is more disconcerting, is that I now have an uncontrollable appetite. Gliadin derived proteins (from gluten) have an opioid effect on the brain, dramatically increasing appetite especially for carbs. They also block the production of leptin, the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough, so once you start eating you cannot stop. Furthermore, Amylopectin A (stimulated by gluten) raises blood sugar and insulin levels in cycles of between 90 and 120 minutes, which is then followed by a crash, causing a desperate feeling of hunger.
Wheat and related grains are classified as ‘obesogens’ – foods that encourage weight gain. Gluten and dairy intolerance is invariably found in eating disorders and it has been my observation that anorexia can often precede bulimia. Recognising that it is easier not to eat at all than to try to stop eating, as an adaptive mechanism anorexia would seem an effective solution – apart from changing the diet, that is.
According to Dr Klinghardt, the vagus nerve (the main regulator of digestion) is involved in allergic reactions to foods. I have found it to be a major issue in many digestive and eating problems. Reduced sensitivity in the vaso-vagal reflex is found in eating disorders, and there is some evidence that the vomiting of bulimics resets the vagus nerve. Proteins in wheat – such as gluten, and casein in dairy may destabilise vagal function disrupting appetite signalling processes and contributing to addictive behaviours.
I had no trouble controlling my weight when eating a mostly raw diet, (grain and dairy free), when I remained stable at around eight stone. I also ate less food because my nutritional needs were met by the nutrient density of my diet, which included juices and superfoods. Another reason we overeat is because the modern diet doesn’t satisfy our nutritional needs, particularly if we are eating nutrient poor grains.
What I am aware of is, even after three days off the offending foods, my metabolism is still way out of whack. I am not only hungry, but craving chocolate. And although I am only eating sugar-free raw cacao, it is a stimulant nevertheless and may be fuelling the metabolic disruption. Dr Gabriel Cousens, author of Treat Diabetes in 21 Days, has observed, that even though high in carbs, a raw diet can stabilise blood sugar levels in three wekss in around 70% of type 2 diabetics. So, the form of carbs consumed is critical. There is a world of difference between cooked, refined grains and a raw carrot even though they are both carbs.
The joint aches and pains are reducing but haven’t gone completely. My body temperature is still low and although improved, my energy has not returned to its previous level.
At the moment, I am extremely reluctant to have any more gluten and dairy. My body has been thrown into crisis by these foods and I am not sure how long it will take before I regain my equilibrium. My health is hard won, and the thought of having antibodies hanging around for several months, weight gain, muscle aches and constipation holds no appeal whatsoever. Having learned that I need to consistently eat gluten and dairy for 10 days, I have conceded defeat. I will not be doing the labs.