Whole FoodsOctober 31, 2008
In the last few years every time I’ve had a cold it’s knocked me down flat – and the kids bring home a lot of colds. Even working in a job where I can cope easily with a cold, all I was really doing was postponing the recovery period until the weekend. For a variety of reasons revolving around health I recently embarked on a diet composed of whole foods. It’s not easy to be 100% with this, all the time (and I haven’t tried) but most days of the week I do manage to eat only whole foods.
Added to this we have a copy of Nourishing Traditions in the house now and Karen, who is a keen cook (just as well because I’m not) has been dipping into it on a daily basis. We’ve been eating broths and a variety of fermented foods, including a crazy relish thing I like, which seems to have two quite different tastes within it. We’ve also been eating sourdough bread regularly and using unprocessed sea salt and sugar substitute rapadura in place of the usual stuff. Because I was eating only whole foods and Karen liked the look of what I was eating, she decided to try it to. There have been a number of interesting results.
The first thing we noticed (after someone gave me a commericially made cake a week into the diet change) was that my problem with blocked sinuses has mostly gone away. It used to be that when the air was cold or it dropped a couple of degrees as it does in the late afternoon, my nose would block up and I’d sound like I had a cold – which I hated. Sometimes in desperation I would turn on a heater and breath in the warm air just to get rid of it.
The next thing we noticed was that Karen, who normally gets a lot of headaches, had stopped getting them. Again we only realised this one day when she ate some white bread and immediately got a headache. She tested it one more time with some pasta before concluding that headaches were a powerful enough motivating force to put her off refined flour for a long time. Recently I also realised I was getting less headaches than normal. Anyway here’s what Walt Stoll has to say about the issue*.
The National Research Council recommended daily allowance of refined carbohydrates (CHO) is zero.
Until 300 years ago, refined CHO did not exist. The human body has had no time to evolve a way to cope with this substance. For the past five million years, whenever we took CHO into our bodies, all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, etc. present in the living food were eaten with the CHO. Now when we eat refnined CHO, our bodies must immediately provide the vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes etc. that manufacturing has removed, in order to digest it. This means we must create a definciency in our bodies of the essential substances – the opposite of nutrion: the more we eat the less nutrition we have.
Refined CHO causes more stress to humans than all the other nutritional stressors put together.
More details on the process behind this available here, and I will add that the fermentation process we are putting our wheat through when we make our sourdough bread deals with the problem of phytates. Phytates are a substance present in wheat and when not fermented (pre-digested) bind with minerals in the stomach thereby preventing them from being taken into the body and further enhancing the nutrition starved state of most everyone in our culture.
We have also read a book on Metabolic Typing, I seem to be a ‘mixed’ type and already eating roughly what I need but Karen has shown that she needs to eat more protein, especially in the morning, and as a consequence now has more energy in the first half of the day – especially when compared to how she was when eating fruit for breakfast.
The latest and best improvement we have found though is in my resistance to colds. As I said at the start I have been incredibly vulnerable to them in the last few years but a month back when one of the kids brought a cold home I discovered that I could keep it at bay simply by getting a good nights sleep – this was a turn for the better! Eventually I got a bad nights sleep and caught the cold but even then the symptoms were so minor as to be almost non existant. Then, a week ago another cold arrived in the house and I caught it before I knew it was around. I woke up one morning feeling rough and thought, “oh well, that’s it I’ve got a proper cold this time” but by mid morning I was completely unaware of any symptoms again and had a great day. The next day started the same way and the day after that it was all over. The worst I could say through the whole experience was that I felt slightly tired.
This is such a stunning reversal of my life over the last few years I can hardly believe it. I’m not sure what improvements we were really expecting but there have been a number of pleasant – and substantial – surprises.
I can’t recommend Nourishing Traditions highly enough. I wasn’t prepared to make a change in my diet unless it could be done with a minimum of fuss. If I found myself craving any kind of food I knew I would be wasting my time as the use of will-power is never a long term solution. Luckily this book provides healthy substitutes for every food group – including the all important, cakes and delicious slices group.
*This is from a wellness protocol PDF on the askwaltstollmd.com site, the exact URL of which I can’t seem to locate anymore, I have a copy if anyone is intersted though.