What Your Gut is Telling Your Brain and Other True Stories

no bread

Growing older I have become more food aware.  Not because I watch the Food Network or Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (which is rather fun to watch). But rather because I am more conscious of what my body is showing me and telling me. And, because of what I see around me every day. It’s not a pretty sight.

 At work, I sit in a cube. The cube is in a quad.  There are two other women in the quad and one open desk.  Of the three of us, I am the only one that drinks water all day long.  The other two women, one who is about my age and the other who is much younger but very old-looking from cigarette smoking, both drink Mountain Dew and all day long.

I only ever see The Smoker eat bagels and cream cheese and crackers.  The other woman eats pretzels from the vending machine.  The smoker is thin, of course, and no doubt malnourished.  The other woman is extra-sized and seems to be aging quickly.

 Now I don’t judge them. I just observe them. It’s not my place to say a word about eating habits.

 Another observation:  I walk to and from work every day from the train station. What I see is that at least one in ten people on the street is obese. I don’t mean heavy I mean obese.  They waddle down the sidewalk with knees that will buckle at any moment.

 Mirror, mirror on the wall:  I see a woman in her early sixties with some facial wrinkles but most people tell me that I don’t look my age when they find out.  I believe this has to do with the fact that I changed my diet a couple of years ago.

 First off, I drink lots of water and an occasional soda drink. I drink wine only the weekends and have stopped drinking beer, except, again, occasionally.  Beer has gluten and I try to avoid all the gluten I can.

 I don’t eat bagels, muffins, oatmeal, cereal or toast in the morning. I eat yogurt, eggs, nuts, and different proteins, including red and white meats and fish. I eat a lot of nuts. I don’t eat peanuts because they are legumes and do not qualify as nuts. I eat salads with olive oil dressings containing almost no carbs or sugar. I always find a good tasting dressing and eat a lot of salads at night.

 I steer clear of gluten, which for me means carbs like breads and pastas and also fruits and sweets. I made other changes as well but let’s move on to how I came about this change. It began when I started reading the following book Wheat Belly

 At that time I knew that I never felt good, that I was often depressed and especially after eating a meal I really wanted to eat. I did not sleep well and my belly was an emerging market.

But there was more.  My doctor, after he and I reviewed my bi-annual blood tests found that my Triglyceride number was always above the ‘safe’ level.  My body was turning carbs into fatty cells that would eventually give me heart problems. I need to make some health-smart changes.

 I began noticing that the supermarket seemed to be packed with carbs. Take a look at the frozen food section, the cereal aisle and the snack aisle. Even many condiments have gluten and sugar in them. I learned to be discerning and no longer lazy. I read the labels.

Also, I watched what restaurants offered on their TV commercials.  i don’t have to tell you that all of them offer up all varieties of breaded, carb-ed up, sugared-up filler that is not worth partaking of. I have, infact, learned to think of this ‘kind’ of food as mostly ‘cardboard’ filler and not comfort food.

Now, if you are like me you just might benefit from the following books.  à votre santé

 From the Introduction of Dr. William Davis’ book, Wheat Belly:  Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back To Health:

“You will see that what we are eating, cleverly disguised as a bran muffin or onion ciabatta, is not really wheat at all but the transformed product of genetic research conducted during the latter half of the twentieth century.  Modern wheat is no more real wheat than a chimpanzee is an approximation of a human.  While our hairy primate relatives share 99 percent of all genen found in humans, with longer arms, full body hair, and lesser capacity to win the jackpot at Jeopardy, I trust you can readily tell the difference that 1 percent makes.  Compared to its ancestor of only forty years ago, modern wheat isn’t even close.

I believe that the increase consumption of grains ~ or more accurately, the increased consumption of this genetically altered thing called modern wheat ~ explains the contrast between slender, sedentary people of the fifties and the overweight twenty-first century people, triathletes included.”

 From Part One: Wheat: the Unhealthy Whole Grain, Chapter One, What Belly?:

 “A wheat belly represents the accumulation of fat that results from years of consuming foods that trigger insulin, the hormone of fat storage. While some people store fat in their buttocks and thighs, most people collect ungainly fat around the middle.  This “central” or “visceral” fat is unique:  Unlike fat in other areas, it provokes inflammatory phenomena, distorts insulin responses, and issues abnormal metabolic signals to the rest of the body.  In the unwitting wheat-bellied male, visceral fat also produces estrogen, creating “man breasts.

The consequences of wheat consumption, however, are not just manifested on the body’s surface; wheat can also reach deep down into virtually every organ of the body, from the intestines, liver, heart, and thyroid gland all the way up to the brain. In fact there’s hardly an organ that is not affected by wheat in some potentially damaging way.”

 Heads up:  This brings me to the Introduction of Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar ~ Your Brain’s Silent Killers:

“I’m here to tell you that the fate of your brain is not in your genes.  It’s not inevitable.  And if you’re someone who suffers from another type of brain disorder, such as chronic headaches, depression, epilepsy, or extreme moodiness, the culprit may not be encoded in your DNA.

 It’s in the food you eat.

 Yes, you read that right:  brain dysfunction starts in your daily bread, and I’m going to prove it.  I’ll state it again because I realize it sounds absurd: Modern grains are silently destroying your brain.  By “modern,” I’m not just referring to the refined white flours, pastas, and rice that have already been demonized by the anti-obesity folks;  I’m referring to all the grains that so many of us have embraced as being healthful ~ whole wheat, whole grain, multigrain, seven-grain, live grain, stone-ground, and so on.  Basically, I’m calling what is arguably our most beloved dietary staple a terrorist group that bullies our most precious organ, the brain.  I will demonstrate how fruit and carbohydrates could be health hazards with far-reaching consequences that not only will wreak physical havoc on your brain, but will also accelerate your body’s aging process from the inside out.  This is science fiction; it’s now documented fact.”

 He goes on to say that “Brain disease can largely be prevented through the choices you make in life…This (book) is a game-changer.”

From the book’s cover jacket:  “The cornerstone of all degenerative conditions, including brain disorders is inflammation, which can be triggered by carbs, especially those containing gluten or high in sugar.”

 The book discusses a host of health problems generated by our unhealthy diet:  a low cholesterol number (perhaps due to meds w/statins) has been shown to correlate to depressive mood disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, diabetes, digestive disorders, memory dysfunction and so on.

 Do you think you should read this book?  You better before you lose your mind!no-Grains

 My son gifted me a book this past Christmas:   Death By Food Pyramid:  How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Ruined Your Health…and How to reclaim It! by Denise Minger.

 From Denise’s blog Raw Foods SOS, “About:”

“This site isn’t specifically low-carb or high-carb, vegan or carnivore, raw food or cooked food, or anything else that could be neatly labeled. My own experience as a (recovered) raw vegan taught me that diet-dogma is killer, so the emphasis here is on unraveling research rather than building an ideology. My goal is to make nutritional science accessible and non-boring to those who really care about their health”

Denise takes on the well-known food pyramid that most of us were taught as school kids.

 “Though my faith in white coats would eventually crumble, I started in the same place most people do:  a state of blissful ignorance.  We grow up thinking nutrition is a fine-tuned science ~ one carefully guarded by the National Institutes for Health, the American Dietetic Association, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and other big-name authorities with clout and confidence far beyond our own.  We spend our lives soaking up their ubiquitous advice, filing it away in the brain cabinet where true things go.

Saturated fat clogs your arteries.

Whole grains are heart-healthy.

Lowfat dairy makes your bones strong.

White meat is better than red.

Vegetable oils are healthier than butter.

High-cholesterol foods cause heart disease.

In most cases, we can’t pinpoint where we first heard these things ~ we just know they must be right.”

As usual I am reading several books at the same time. So, I am just getting into Death By Food Pyramid.  And, as usual, I will question what I believe to be factually true against further evidence or knowledge. More food for thought.

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