In North America we have a strange tendency to favour one of the macronutrients at a time. Macronutrients are the basic components of food. There are 3 categories: protein, carbohydrates and fats. For some reason only one is allowed to be the cool kid and they get to be the king of all the land. They rotate in popularity: protein is in, carbs are out. Carbs are in, fat is out. But then fat is good again and sugar is bad (including all sugars such as fruit). Many diets will pop up to support that one macronutrient and by extension one type of industry that has a vested interest in their product being popular. Protein and fat have been BFF’s recently because protein that is animal based also includes fat. And lately fat is where it’s at. In this clique the only carbohydrates that get to play are soy and corn, mostly GMO (genetically modified organisms) that are grown to feed the protein and fat (animals). These guys have some power on their side: the agribusiness lobbyists have a lot of money to buy government support. This includes the whole factory farm industry, dairy and cattle industry and Monstanto.
It seems to me that we are currently obsessed with protein. There seems to be a concern that somehow we are not getting enough, but in North America it is not a big issue unless food intake is very low. Both my mom and I have been asked about the lack of protein in our cleanse. My mom, in particular, received a lot of comments. Even a hairstylist that she went to the first time told her the cleanse is “dangerous”. A staff person at a whole foods market told her that “there is no protein in plants” and she has to supplement even though she is on it for one month. However, no one thinks anything about the dangers of inhalers I use or the blood pressure medication my mom was taking. Shouldn’t getting off that stuff be much more of concern than lowered protein levels for a month? One of the warnings on the Advair inhaler I no longer use states “Salmeterol, one of the active ingredients in ADVAIR increases the risk of asthma-related death” Hmmm…. So I am MORE likely to do die from asthma using asthma medication then without it? They rate how often we experience certain symptoms. In the “common symptoms” column is “pneumonia (COPD patients), increased cough, fever with shaking chills, shortness of breath, sharp or stabbing chest pain during deep breaths and increased rapid breathing”. The rare and very rare symptoms are of course more severe. So is lower protein still a concern here?
Also, to set the record straight: there IS protein in vegetables. Not as much as in animal products, legumes and seeds but there is some. Vegetables such as dark, leafy greens and sprouts both have an abundance of essential amino acids which are the building blocks for proteins. Secondly, this is not a permanent diet, it is a temporary cleanse. I don’t think anyone would dispute that proteins are important, but certainly a month of lower protein is fine. I think the high protein and high fat trend is fading and there seems to be more and more interest in a whole foods, plant based diet. One that includes protein, carbs and fat by the way! Okay, my rant is done. Thanks for listening!
We recently went to my daughter’s high school graduation banquet and I was nervous about how I was going to eat just fruit and vegetables. However, to the credit of the school they had a vegan/vegetarian table and a lot of vegetables at the “regular” table. I had not signed up for the vegetarian table since at the time I didn’t know I would be doing a cleanse but they accepted my sad story and let me eat there. I still couldn’t eat some of the fun stuff but I got enough to fill up. Fortunately it was a dry grad so I didn’t have to turn down a glass of wine. However, just as I was feeling proud of myself they plunk a whole cake on the table for us to share. A REALLY yummy looking torte type thing. It sat there the whole evening but I resisted. I told everyone at the table about my cleanse to keep me honest. So when I got home I wanted something to eat. I wasn’t hungry at all, but what I realized is that I was trying to replace that cake and nothing was going to work. For the first time I felt deprived. I wasn’t even craving sugar, or chocolate, it was missing out on a treat. A treat that was all wrapped up in a big event that made me feel like I should have something special. It was a psychological thing. It was also late so I could just go to bed and ignore it and it was all good in the morning!
Woohoo! We are at the halfway point. This seems like a good time to update where we are at health wise. I am really happy with the results, especially since we are only half way through. I am finding it harder to find interesting things to eat, but I find new things all the time. My mom seems pretty content to eat the same things every day but I have to change it up. So, here is a list a summary of our health progress:
- Abdominal tenderness and inflammation are pretty much gone. My abdomen (from ribs down) no longer is swollen and tender to touch. I no longer look 6 months pregnant although I still have weight to lose on my abdomen
- I used to use Advair 250 twice per day (morning and evening). I now don’t use it at all
- I still use the Ventalin when I have asthma. I still use it every couple of days. I can now walk, most times, without using it
- It is now hay fever season and I haven’t really had any sneezing. I have had to use my inhaler a couple of times after doing yard work.
- Hot flashes are reduced by about half
- No longer taking blood pressure pills. She continues to monitor her blood pressure every day and will continue to do so for awhile just to be sure. Her blood pressure varies throughout the day, but it is usually between 106/75 and 130/82.
- Her head feels less “foggy” and heavy.
- I have noticed (just in the last two days) that her memory is better. This is something that is easier for someone else to pick up, because she wouldn’t know if I had already told her something.
Tomorrow is the halfway point and I will give a summary of our health successes in that post. However, today I thought I would go over some of the challenges we have encountered:
- Eating only fruit and vegetables. That eliminates a lot of the fun foods. However, I am trying foods I didn’t before and have developed some new favourites. I also really like fruit and vegetables so that helps.
- No fats. I don’t miss meat at all, or even dairy for that matter. And I LOVE cheese. And whipped cream. God I love whipped cream. I know it isn’t normally a stand alone food but seriously I could eat a bowl of it by itself. And butter, don’t even get me started on butter. Brie – I could melt brie on a stick and have an awesome meal. I think you get the idea. However, I am not craving them so that is okay, but what is a challenge is not having any oil. Creating salad dressings without oil is a bit tough. So we use citrus a lot as the liquid part of the dressing. Or pureed avocado.
- I’m cold. I live in Canada, not a country known for it’s warm climate. However, it is spring and it should be warm and sunny. I live in Calgary, the sunniest city in Canada. However, it has been damp, rainy and COLD. It snowed 2 days ago! That is a problem because I have been cold even aside from the weather. For awhile it was a nice change from my perpetually overheated hot flash state but now it is just getting old.
4) Raw food only. This wouldn’t be as big of deal if it was a normal spring, however with it being cold I just want soup and cooked vegetables. And I love sautéed vegetables. For our one week celebrations we are having cooked food, and one day I had steamed green beans just to warm up. I am okay with that. I am getting so many nutrients from my food it doesn’t hurt to lightly cook them occasionally. Do I sound like I am convincing myself? Maybe a little.
Why is there so much fruit fear these days? This one puzzles me. The low carb craze really kicked this off, and fruit was targeted because of the fructose (fruit sugar) in fruit. However, fruit also comes with it’s own digestive enzymes and fiber to help it digest fully and slowly. It is not the same as eating refined sugar. I think a better strategy for deciding whether something is good for you is to look at the role it plays in the body rather then how it is classified. A date and candy are both carbohydrates that are high in sugar but to your body they are the opposite in nutritional value.
In one of the textbooks used in my Nutrition Diploma, Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Dr Haas, the role of oligosaccharides are explained. These are short sugar chains and fructose are called fructo-oligosaccharides. This discovery has sparked research of late because they can go right through the small intestine where most digestion occurs. They are marathon runners that make it all the way to the large intestine. Why is this important? Because crucial bacteria production occurs in the large intestine and the oligosaccharides feed the good bacteria. Therefore they are very important for the digestive and immune systems. Many supplements and foods are unable make it past the small intestine and therefore are not able to do the job that fruit can. It is crucial to our health, and very important for healing. So 3 cheers for fruit!
So Turmeric is getting a lot of attention these days. More specifically it is curcumin in the turmeric that heals anything and everything. I am primarily interested in it’s ability to help reduce the inflammation that comes with asthma, or causes it perhaps. So I dug the shot glass out that hasn’t had much partying lately and decided to go for it. I made one with a tiny bit of juices from garlic, turmeric and ginger and then added orange. It looked like liquid sunshine, even though turmeric itself looks like a really gross bug/worm thing. They look like they could scurry off the plate and build a home under the fridge.
Anyway, apparently I had the wrong proportions and it burned. It burned real bad. It really wanted to come back up, and I heaved a couple of times but it stayed put. I hung over the sink for a few minutes, panting and sweating, until I was sure it would was staying inside my body. Funny how we don’t just let it rip, less painful in the end really. Now I have an aversion to turmeric. So that’s awesome. I guess I need to try one drop and build it up. Plus I don’t really know why I needed the garlic in there, enough is enough already.
If you do decide this fun adventure is for you then I have a very valuable tip. You can easily scrape the ginger and the bug shell from the turmeric with a grapefruit knife.
No big health news today folks!
I am having to get really creative in just eating fruits and vegetables. I am craving something stronger, kind of edgy and bad ass.
It occurred to me that capers are a flower bud which means they are a plant which means hooray – I can eat them. Don’t let that little shrunken head fool you – it may be small but it is big in flavour. I am going to be honest here – there is a possibility that a tiny, baby amount of that flavour is from salt. The salt that they float in their whole lives in jar captivity. So we are going to ignore that little detail. My new favourite is mashing them up with lime juice and then pouring them over sliced avocado, tomatoes and red onions. And by pouring I mean spread them over top.
For the most part the tenderness in the abdomen is gone. Sometimes I have it briefly, I haven’t figured out what causes it. The asthma comes and goes – one day I had to use the inhaler to get up a hill (walking) but the next day I went on a bike ride with hills and I was fine. I am so happy to ditch the steroid one though. Not much new on the Mom front.
For the cleanse we are eating organic food whenever possible. I think that in life after the cleanse I will eat a mix based on what is available. I think it is better to buy non-organic and wash it then not eat it at all. However, for the cleanse we are trying to put as little strain on the body as possible so it can use all it’s energy to cleanse. Having to detox pesticides is an extra strain for the liver. Plus, it seems kind of silly cleanse ourselves of chemicals while simultaneously putting them in our bodies.
I have seen such a change in the availability of organic food stores. When my kids were born 20 years ago I had to drive a half hour to get organic food. Now organic food stores are everywhere, I have one right in my neighbourhood and one a 5 minute drive away. All of our traditional grocery stores have some organic produce. Things are changing!
Nothing new for health today. Mom’s blood pressure is still stable and she stopped needing her blood pressure pills near the beginning of the cleanse. She still checks her blood pressure several times per day, you don’t want to mess with that stuff.
The cleanse has not fried my brain, I realize one week falls on the seventh day. However, the celebration had to wait one day. We went crazy and had a cooked sweet potato with Avocado Cilantro Crema (thanks to Angela Lidden for this recipe in her cookbook Oh she Glows Every Day). It was amazing. We also had Kale crisps and apple slices with date “caramel” for dessert. However, we ate half the sweet potato and we were full, even though we were hungry when we started. That is still strange to me, we must have had a reset on our satiation mechanism. Still no cravings, and I have been to coffee shops twice and at home my husband and daughter are still eating “normally”
My mom has found that her energy level is higher. She doesn’t require a nap in the afternoon any longer. I wouldn’t say I have a high energy level, but my energy is steady throughout the day. No crashes in the afternoon and evening, no falling asleep in front of the TV or when I am reading in the evening. I am not sleeping really well yet though and she does. I haven’t for several years. I tend to wake up at 4 or 5 and I am unable to go back to sleep. Or perhaps at 6 AM I will go back to sleep but that doesn’t give me a lot of time. Still, I can get through the day without a nap, and I usually go to bed around 11:30 so that is pretty good. I would still rather get a full 8 hours though, I definitely need that. To be honest my family needs me to have the full 8. Otherwise I get a bit, shall we say, sensitive. Not my fault really, they just need to learn to not piss me off. Problem solved.
One of my main goals is to get rid of asthma and allergies with a dog in the house. I know, it is like trying to get rid of a headache while someone hammers you in the head. He is a Shih Tzu, which are totally hypo-allergenic except when they’re not. Like mine. I got him because I have two friends that are allergic to dogs but had success over time curing their allergy to their dog. I guess it is like allergy shots. For one friend it was fairly quick, for the other it was a very difficult 6 months and then things started to improve. Me – 3 years! However, I do sneeze less then when we first got him. I try not to pet him and if I do I wash my hands. Plus, he was going to be put to sleep because he is an older dog with deformed legs. That just couldn’t happen.
So on to some highly technical details. Apparently, one of the most important foods to give up with allergies is dairy. My understanding is this:
inflammation = lots of mucus = allergies = sad pet owner
With asthma there is inflammation in the airways and excess mucus. However, I also have some at the back of my throat (post nasal drip), my ears are plugged often and my nasal passages are blocked occasionally. It is somewhat well accepted, except by the dairy industry, that dairy products can cause both inflammation and excess mucus. One theory is that because they are acidic extra mucus is created to protect the body from the acidity. All I know is that I am loaded with the stuff. So I have gladly set aside my celery juice to have lemonade. Citrus is great at eliminating mucus, and although citrus fruits are acidic they are alkalinizing in the body. Plus, who doesn’t love lemonade?! I juice one apple with one half lemon. I don’t know if you are supposed to do this but I just throw the lemon in, peel and all (they are organic). This is really yummy and thirst quenching.
Anyway, not much new today. My back is much better and my energy gets better all the time. One week baby! Three more to go. Tomorrow we are having a celebration dinner with (gasp) cooked food. I can’t wait.