Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine

Ever since I was diagnosed with hypertension earlier this year I've been doing lots of research about how to improve that condition. Hypertension (very high blood pressure) can lead to early onset of strokes, heart attacks, etc.

What I've found is that in just the last 10 years we have significantly increased our knowledge of how the human body works. Advancements in medical technologies have allowed us to get a closer look into the functions of our brain, heart, other key organs and the human body as a whole.

A few years ago my friend Leah introduced me to the idea that the bacteria that lives in our gut might also be a key factor in our overall health. The scientific findings on it are still in their infancy, but are pointing to very powerful results.
"Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food"   - Hippocrates
Below are a couple videos made by an Australian TV show that nicely illustrate the problem and the solution.

  • 4:05 - the association between gut bacteria and health has only been discovered in the past few years (since technology has allowed us to examine them more closely)
  • 4:20 the bacteria that lives in our body far outnumbers our own cells by a factor of 10:1. The bacteria also contribute 100x the number of genes that our own genomes do.
  • 4:50 - some scientists say a human being can be looked at as a superorganism, like a termite colony or a beehive where individuals are just part of a whole
  • 9:30 - caesarean section babies have gut microbes that look more like the microbes in our skin than children born via natural birth whose gut bacteria looks more like intestine
  • 10:00 - c-section babies are more likely to have allergies and asthma issues
  • 11:00 - our gut bacteria change depending on what we eat
  • 11:20 - bad food, especially low fiber food, supports bad bacteria that create disease
  • 13:45 - taking antibiotics is like dropping a nuclear bomb on our gut bacteria
  • 15:00 - diseases like asthma, depression, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, autism, allergies, multiple sclerosis and obesity may be linked to poor gut bacteria (which is linked to poor diet)

So what do we do about it?
Part 2 of the video suggests some tactics....

  • 26:30 - see the dramatic improvement in insulin levels for one test subject after changing his diet 

The result of what's been learned so far is both striking and quite elementary -- what we put into our mouth has a direct effect on our overall health.

Hippocrates knew this in 400 B.C. but the corporations that produce and sell processed food have done a terrific job of changing our habits.

My goal is to get my blood pressure back to normal levels without the help of pills. I'm making progress but these habits are so ingrained and difficult to change, even when I know they directly hurt me. It's difficult when I know that any single donut or bottle of beer isn't going to kill me, but that only over a long period of time will their wrath be felt.

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