Food & Body Chemistry

High Performance

Local Fruit and Vegetables

What grade of fuel runs your living machine?

Though I appreciate their aesthetic, sound and performance, I couldn’t write about how high end sports cars or motorcycles run without doing some serious research.  I do understand, however, that these high performance engines require high octane fuel.

As a human machine we perform, function and recover best when we have been fueled with fresh (unprocessed) whole foods. But what if the fresh whole foods we choose are not compatible with our living machine?

I love serendipity. I just happened to flip open Outside Magazine (July 2011) to the article below.  This article could have been written for me. The article is about how gluten sensitivity is becoming more prevalent.  It is a quick read that will provide you with some great information.

I started experimenting with “Eat Right For Your Type” in December 2010, which categorizes certain foods as Beneficial, Neutral or Avoid according to one’s blood type.  I was experiencing on-going joint pain and inflammation for a number of years.  It was not getting better so I decided to experiment with food as medicine.  To my good fortune it is working.  Every once in a while when I let my guard down and reintroduce a “forbidden” grain, I get hit with that familiar joint pain. Read my post on Motivation for the full story. https://youasamachine.com/inspiration/motivation/

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

-Hippocrates

I don’t believe that there is one single approach for everyone.  I think we need to experiment and borrow ideas and create our own salad, so to speak.  Since reading the Outside Magazine article I will experiment more with eliminating all gluten.  According to the blood type diet, rye and spelt are neutral and I have been eating small amounts of those grains.  However, what I want to share with you, though it may seem very confusing or complicated and one too many steps ahead for you at this point especially if you are just learning about how food could be a factor in our health.  For the blood type diet there is what’s called a secretor or non-secretor:

“A secretor is defined as a person who secretes their blood type antigens into body fluids and secretions like the saliva in your mouth, the mucus in your digestive tract and respiratory cavities, etc.  A non-secretor puts little to none of their blood type into these same fluids.” From the Official website of Dr. Peter D’Adamo

In his updated Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia, Dr. Peter D’Adamo lists which foods are compatible for secretors and non-secretors.  So once I became familiar with the secretor list, which is what is in his original book, I still felt that I needed to refine things. When I discovered the non-secretor list, I speculated that perhaps I was a non-secretor.  I ordered the saliva test (which I have yet to do and send to the lab).  So here I am bouncing between these two lists.  When I eat Spelt, which is acceptable on the secretor list as neutral and listed as an avoid on the non-secretor list, I experience joint pain in my hands.I’ll keep you posted on my secretor status!  But in the meantime, I’m going to stay away from spelt and rye just to see what might happen.Many will panic at the thought of eliminating grains.  What can I eat?  There’s so much to choose from that we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity to explore because we get stuck in a pattern of convenience. What I love about the blood type diet is that I am filling my refrigerator with more foods from the Beneficial list.  Instead of making salads with Romaine (which is neutral for me) I hunt down Escarole.  I eat more vegetables than ever before.  I consider myself a vegetarian who eats meat.  I am an O type and completely need meat and fish protein. There is so much more to say on this topic but will leave it for another day. Our bodies are constantly changing.  It would be wise for us to adapt and work with these changes as opposed to resisting.
I’m quite happy to leave these gluten guys out of my life if it means less joint pain, better recovery and a body that can play hard.
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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2011 Outside Magazine, July 2011

ARE YOU TOO SENSITIVE?

The gluten-free movement isn’t just a fad. It could be the performance boost you’ve been missing.

By: GORDY MEGROZ

IT WASN’T A FREAK STORM or pulmonary edema that nearly derailed Dave Hahn’s attempt to top out on Mount Everest for the second time, in 1999. It was a piece of bread. For two years, the mountaineering legend had battled a host of maladies—upset stomach, diarrhea, and a lingering weakness—but he never suspected the foods he was eating to fuel himself (pasta, cereal, bread) were the root of his problem. Hahn, it turned out, had developed celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. “It was hell,” says Hahn, recalling the trip. “I was supposed to be the old hand, but because of me we got back down late, after it was already dark.”

Now 49, gluten-free, and trying for his 13th Everest summit, Hahn has never felt better. “I could not have continued climbing had I not been diagnosed,” he says.

Since Hahn’s near disaster at 29,000 feet, celiac disease has reached almost epidemic proportions, afflicting 1 in 133 Americans and creating a $2.6 billion market in gluten-free foods. Now, growing evidence suggests that it’s not just athletes with celiac who may benefit from giving up their pre-race pasta feed. A study published in March by the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research suggests that approximately 20 million people who don’t test positive for celiac or its less potent cousin, wheat allergy (which affects roughly 500,000 people), suffer from gluten sensitivity. Symptoms can range from fatigue to depression to joint and abdominal pain.

Like celiac, gluten sensitivity prompts the immune system to inflame cells throughout
the body. And though the symptoms usually aren’t as severe as with celiac, which causes toxic particles to leak into the body, gluten sensitivity can have a corrosive
impact on athletes trying to stay at the top of their game.

Just ask professional mountain biker Brian Lopes. Though he has never been tested for celiac, Lopes gave up gluten eight months ago and is riding 5 to 10 percent faster. “I stopped eating gluten because my friend said it would make me fart less,” says Lopes, who’s won four world championships. “Now I don’t fart and I’m faster.”

According to Alessio Fasano, M.D., lead author of the Maryland study, Lopes’s bowel distress is a common side effect of gluten intolerance. “And if you do have a sensitivity to gluten,” says Fasano, “exercise may make the problem even worse.”

That’s old news to Robby Ketchell, the director of sports science for the Garmin-Cervélo pro cycling team. Since 2008, riders have experienced improved post-ride recoveries, which Ketchell attributes to the team’s gluten-free diet. “When our guys ride, they’re tearing muscle fibers, and that creates inflammation in their bodies,” says Ketchell. “We need to get rid of that inflammation so they can ride strong the next day. The last thing we want is something that causes more inflammation.”

Scientists aren’t exactly sure why there’s been an increase in gluten intolerance in recent years, but they believe it may have something to do with the proliferation of bread, pasta, and other gluten-laden foods in the American diet. “Gluten is increasingly found in the things we eat,” says Fasano. “It may be that our bodies just aren’t equipped to handle that much of it.”

Currently, there is no test for gluten sensitivity. But Shelley Case, a Canadian dietitian and author of The Gluten-Free Diet, offers this advice to help you determine whether you’re better off without it: Run a mile and time yourself, then go on a gluten-free diet for four weeks. Keep notes on how you’re feeling. Then do another one-mile test. “If you’re feeling better during your training and you perform better, you may very well have gluten sensitivity,” says Case.

The next step is finding enough carbohydrates to substitute in your new diet. A moderately active person requires about four grams of carbohydrates for every 2.2 pounds of body weight per day. For a 150-pound guy, that’s about seven large potatoes. Nancy Clark, a Boston-based sports dietitian and author of nine books on sports nutrition, recommends eating things like bananas, lentils, corn, and quinoa instead of muffins, bread, and pasta. “You can’t just stop for pizza after a race,” she says. “You need to be careful about what you eat.” Really careful. Gluten is found in everything from deli meats—it’s often used as filler—to sauces and salad dressings.

Fasano doesn’t recommend everyone go gluten free—after all, wheat is an effective fuel for athletes who can tolerate it. But since the Garmin-Cervélo team gave it up, Ketchell says that no rider has told him the diet isn’t worthwhile. “Part of that,” he says, “is that eating gluten-free foods forces you to avoid processed foods, and that just makes you healthier.”

Outside Magazine, July 2011

Motivation

View of Mountains in Zion National Park, Utah,...

What motivates me is very different from what inspires me.

I mentioned in an earlier post how I had been unwell for a few years.  Here’s the breakdown.

After the birth of our kids I was very sleep deprived, going non-stop during the day and what seemed like non-stop in the night; not so uncommon for new mothers.  I seemed to pick up any cold or flu with which the kids came into contact.  It felt like I was sick and tired all the time.  Once the kids were two and four, they woke less frequently throughout the night and I was starting to sleep more and get fewer colds.  I started back to a regular yoga practice and was feeling much better.  Until, one joint at a time started to become inflamed for what seemed like a few months only to get better and move on to another joint.  It was very peculiar, worrisome and exhausting.  I spent a lot of time researching, visiting doctors, physiotherapists and traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners.  Anyone, really, who might be able to figure out what was going on.

Long story short, I visited the Arthritis Society who suggested I had Palindromic Rheumatism, a type of rheumatism, which ‘comes and goes’.  What?!!

I was thirty-six at the time.  I researched again.  I tried eliminating certain foods from my diet, based on the studies done on arthritis and rheumatism.

There were months where I felt completely fine, to periods where my hands were so sore I couldn’t tie my kids’ shoelaces or put a fitted sheet on the mattress without difficulty and pain.  Other times I would walk around with what felt like a fractured foot or hand.  This was shocking to me.  I was too young for this and could only imagine how much worse it would get with time.  As a physically active person my future looked bleak.  I blamed myself, wondering if all the years I had spent doing sport or working out (sometimes in the extreme) had caught up with me and it was pay back time.

Not long after these episodes started, I went for a long-weekend getaway with my mother-in-law to Hawaii.  I took in a lot of sun, relaxation and fit in some runs.  Sadly, I came home with a cough that lasted nine months.  I had x-rays, pulmonary function tests, you name it, but the doctors couldn’t find anything amiss.  For this entire period not only had I lost any desire to exercise, but I was physically unable to do any except for some light walking.  This was not me.

After about seven months and what felt like a broken rib from all the coughing, I finally took my friends’ advice and went to see her MD who consulted in Homeopathic Medicine.  After two months of homeopathic remedies, my cough was losing momentum and by the four-month mark there was no cough to be heard.  Who knows, maybe the cough had run its course?  Maybe it was the homeopathic remedies?  I don’t know, no one really knows.  But whatever it was that stopped me from coughing, I am grateful.

Now back to the inflamed aching joints.  It seemed like my whole body chemistry was off, which is not uncommon after pregnancy. My ferritin (iron) levels tested low so I started taking a daily Iron Citrate supplement. My thyroid test result at 10.8 was in the low-normal range.  Normal range is from 10 – 20.  But I was feeling far from normal. What if my normal should be closer to 20?  My homeopath recommended a low dose of Iodine.  After two months my free T4 test result had gone up to 12.6 – my eyelashes were growing back and I was running on real energy, not on my adrenals.  About a month before I started the Iodine, I also started to “Eat Right For Your Type”.  I was ready to try anything (natural!) that would help.  I don’t like taking medication and so working with food as medicine appealed to me.

I tried eating for my blood type in 1999, a few years after Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s book was published but since my husband and I rarely cooked at home it was overwhelming to follow the program while going to restaurants.  So we both gave up.  Fast forward to the present.  Five months ago I decided I would give it a real effort.  I had been eating a lot of foods recommended in the media as super-foods but my joints were telling me differently.  I’d reference “Eat for Your Type” and low and behold all those super-foods were on my avoid list.  Yikes!  So I eliminated them and my joint pain went away.

As a stay at home mom I am always grocery shopping and in the kitchen so the timing was perfect.  I focused on eating the foods that are in the Beneficial list, which react to the body like medicine and I avoid the foods from the Avoid list, which are dramatically defined as a poison to one’s system.  The end result?  My joint pain is mostly gone.  I can tell which foods trigger a bout of pain.  It’s all very fascinating.  But this was my experiment.  So far it is working for me.  It may be less convenient to follow a regimented program like this but I’ve got to tell you, it’s way less inconvenient than the debilitating joint pain I was living with.  Being pain free is what motivates me.

“If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

-Alan Cohen

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

-Alan Cohen, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Fuel

Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vor...

The modern world has a strange relationship with food.

While early humans foraged for survival, modern civilization indulges in the increased production and availability of food, which has enabled us to focus our attention on other pursuits.

Food has become an affordable disposable luxury item for the developed countries, while the majority of the third world’s population cannot get enough to eat.

How is it that we over-eat until we feel sick then do it all over again? It is a cruel Pavlovian reflex.

We eat or drink to celebrate.  We eat or drink because we feel we ‘deserve’ a treat or as an emotional response.  We eat or drink to be social or to ‘fit-in’.

And sometimes we do not eat enough with the hope to control our weight.  Both extremes can leave lasting negative outcomes.

 In his book How to Be Compassionate, The Dalai Lama says:

“There are many discrepancies between the way things appear and the way they really are.  Something that is impermanent can appear permanent.  Also, sources of pain, such as overeating, sometimes first appear to be sources of pleasure, but in the end, they are not.  They actually bring us trouble.  Although we want happiness, in our ignorance we do not know how to achieve it; although we do not want pain, we misunderstand its workings, so we end up contributing to its causes.”

This can also be the case with exercise. Pushing so hard, not taking enough time for the body to rest and recover to the point of developing stress fractures; knowing better but not listening to your inner voice or the physiotherapist for that matter.

Can you find a parallel in your life?  Something that you do in excess or even in what might seem like a negligible amount that you know is harming you or will harm you in the future?

Will you stop this cycle?  Do you want to?

Were you able to stop this cycle?  How did you do it?