Thursday, February 23, 2012

Food, glorious food

The next few posts are going to be about food.  Food for Lymies and non-Lymies alike.  Let me tell you why what you eat is so, so, SO much more important than you may think. 

First, did you know that the average American eats more than 60 TONS of food in their lifetime?  That’s A LOT of food!  Think of how healthy you would be if you ate 60 tons of spinach, or how unhealthy you would be if you ate 60 tons of french fries.  Yipes!

Consider that the function of food might be more than just to keep you from being hungry.  Food is what your body needs to give you energy – and you need it 3 or more times per day!  You know this if you haven’t eaten in a while – of course you’re hungry, but you’re probably also tired and ornery.  Your body needs nutrients to pump that blood around, make use of the oxygen you breathe, and give you the mental energy to get stuff done (as well as support everything your body does to kick Lyme's butt).  

There’s a reason that those skinny, North Face gear-wearing, running, biking, healthy people we all hate are happy – they’re healthy – because they eat right!  (And running and biking helps, too)

Probably more important than what you DO eat is what you DON’T eat.  We all know it’s not healthy to eat fast food (if you don’t know this, watch Super Size Me – this will give you a little information you don’t have).  And unfortunately, because of the way our country subsidizes corn, most of the food you will find in the supermarket isn’t food at all, but instead food products, completely devoid of the nutrition that your body is supposed to be getting from food.  This cheap corn is in everything.  Truly, check the ingredients of any of the food that’s in your cupboard – you will find corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, hydrolyzed corn protein, or maltodextrin in nearly everything.  Not nearly as healthy as a head of broccoli.  For more on this whole thing, watch King Corn, available on Netflix.  Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food is another great resource, it’s a book and I think also a movie.

The bottom line is - what you shove into your face matters.  You can feed yourself food products that don't really have the nutrients your body needs (so of course your body won't function very well - it's not getting the fuel it needs), OR you can feed yourself real food - full of nutrients your body needs (so your body has what it needs to work really well).  

Eat nutrient-dense foods like organic (wow – there’s a whole other post topic right there) veggies and fruits and good proteins like fish.  Another way to get these nutrients the shortcut, kinda cheating way, is to juice or take a greens powder supplement.  More on that to come.
To read more, see my post on these glorious shortcuts here:

Now, to a great way to relieve pain for Lymies: eating an alkaline diet.  In my experience, food has been the #1 pain reliever for Lyme.  Truly!  The point of an alkaline diet is to reduce acidity in the body, which will also reduce pain.  Pain is a type of inflammation and it’s much easier for your body (particularly joints and stomach) to be inflamed when your body’s environment is full of acid.  So, to reduce the acidity in your body’s environment, eating the right foods is key.

My LLND told me to eat basically just veggies and fish.  She also explained which alkaline foods are better to eat than others in a great way – by looking at the whole picture.  She drew me a little chart, and here it is:

Alkaline ----------------------------------------------------------------------------Acidic
Veggies/starchy veggies/fruits/oils        grains/nuts/legumes/meat/dairy

(So veggies will be more alkaline than starchy veggies, and starchy veggies will be more alkaline than fruits…and so on and so forth).

Many people want to figure out just which particular vegetable will be ‘the most alkaline vegetable’ and just eat that one – because, let’s face it – we Americans are so extreme, we never do just a little bit of anything consistently, if we’re going to do something, we want to ‘go hardcore.’ 
But looking at the chart above, really, any vegetable is going to be a good alkaline choice – better than say a cup of whole grain rice even.  So no nitpicking, just stick with any veggies and any fish.  I know fish is a meat and is on the acidic side, but you CANNOT skip the protein.  You just can’t, or you’ll send your blood sugar haywire and cause so many more problems.  And fish is the best protein to eat, full of good oils that our brains and joints need.  
For more on fish, read on:
I should also mention that most alkaline diets are more like 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic, so don't fret too much if you love a more acidic food item.  Maybe just don't eat it all the time.  :0)  

After just a half a day switching to eating alkaline foods, I noticed a big change in my pain – a drastic reduction in pain, more than any other synthetic or natural pain-killer I tried.  And when I eat something that's more acidic, I can feel an increase in pain after just a couple hours.  

So give it a try – steam some broccoli and bake some fish, it’s much easier than you think.  Another tip to make your body more alkaline is to drink your water with a little bit of 100% juice in it (just enough to tint it and give it a little bit of flavor) - this makes your water alkaline!  (But watch out - don't add too much ~ it should not taste sweet ~ otherwise you'll make your water more acidic).  Happy eating!

‘Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.’  ~ Hippocrates

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