Month: April 2014
Healthy eating is one of the key parts of the health puzzle, but what exactly is healthy eating? You will certainly struggle to find any anecdotal stories of miraculous healing following the government’s recommendation for 5 a day. The Standard Western Diet is just too full of rubbish to allow most of us to gain the full potential benefits of any fruit and veg we may add. However, more radical approaches often have many people citing them as reasons for their recovery.
So in this blog I want to look at an overview of two popular diets that people often cite as a reason for their drastically improved health.
By the time someone has decided to come and see me they are keen to make serious changes to improve their health and are often looking for a food plan to follow, as part of their healing journey. Normally I recommend either Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet (CSD) or the Paleo approach followed by the likes of Chris Kresser’s Personal Paleo Diet. Both of these diets have anecdotal accounts of healing and being at either end of the spectrum at least one should seem possible for you to follow. Kris Carr’s approach is what she believes has helped her recover from Cancer. The CSD is certainly very close to the way Debbie ate while recovering from CFS/ME and an autoimmune thyroid problem. While at the other end of the dietary spectrum, the paleo approach outlined by Chris Kresser also has many advocates, especially those with autoimmune problems.
On the face of it these diets are two extremes; CSD being vegan and Paleo often touted as meat heavy. I’m talking about CSD rather than just vegan or vegetarian as you can be vegan/vegetarian and still have a very unhealthy diet packed full of soy and processed foods. Crazy Sexy Diet is aimed at improving health and happens to be vegan. The concepts are also different: In many ways the Crazy Sexy Diet is very modern; While on the other hand Paleo is an attempt to eat as our Paleolithic ancestors did in the belief that their hunter gatherer diet is optimal for our health because that is what we are designed to eat.
The key fact is that both diets have their supporters who claim huge benefits to their health by adopting their respective diet.
So lets do an overview of the approaches and start by comparing what the diets both exclude. I’ve done the comparison using Chris Kresser’s 30 day reset tweaked for those with autoimmune problems. as that seems fairly standard recommendation for a lot of health conditions.
Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo – What they Exclude
The diagram opposite shows the foods that are excluded, on the left from the Crazy Sexy Diet (CSD) and on the right from the suggested Paleo diet tweaked for autoimmune problems. In the middle cross over area are the foods excluded from both. You can click on it for a bigger version
As you can see there are actually more similarities than differences which may begin to explain why they can both seemingly facilitate healing. If the key concept is that some foods are damaging our health, then what is excluded may be more important than what is included.
Adding ‘nice things’ really is a joke as both diets can include truly delicious meals. It is the reaction of most people though to focus on what they will be missing rather than all of the nice things they can have.
Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo – What Do They Suggest I Eat?
Lets look now at what you can eat on each diet. Both diets once again contain an overlap of foods that the authors say are good to eat. The diagram on the right shows an overview. Both authors certainly agree more on what not to eat though. It is also worth mentioning that supplementation of B12 will be needed on a vegan diet; I’ve not included that as it not a food but rather a supplement.
The key thing here seems to be that the Crazy Sexy Diet gets a lot of protein from beans, nuts and legumes, where from a Paleo perspective meats offer a more nutrient dense source of protein.
Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo – The Contradictions
The source of protein is one of the big discrepancies between the two diets; it would seem that the Crazy Sexy Diet relies on a food source that is actually excluded from the Paleo approach and the Paleo diet relies on animal products that are excluded from the Crazy Sexy Diet.
Let’s look at at why beans and legumes excluded from a Paleo diet, when they hold such an important role in the CSD. This seems somewhat of a grey area. Some experts say they are excluded because of the phytic acid they contain. Phytic acid is said to block absorption of some nutrients like zinc. However, according to some sources it seems that beans and legumes have less phytic acid than some of the foods that are included in the Paleo approach. Compounds called lectins which cause leaky gut and inflammation are another reason for excluding beans and legumes, but it seems that research suggests most of that is destroyed by heat and cooking. FODMAPs* are another reason, but then there are other fruits and vegetables that contain FODMAPS that are not automatically excluded. Chris Kessner seems to exclude them because they may cause problems and more importantly they are less nutrient dense than animal products, and those nutrients they do contain may also be less bio-available.
Time to move onto to why animal products are excluded from the Crazy Sexy Diet. Two main reasons are glaringly obvious; firstly the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, though obviously this is a moral standpoint rather than a health based one. Secondly the research between fat, red meat and cancer. On the face of things this would be damning to the Paleo approach, but when you look at the research there are potential flaws. A lot of Paleo supporters have pointed out that the study linking red meat to cancer seems to include a lot of meat eaters who are overweight, smoke and are inactive. The quality of meat eaten is also ignored and those following the Paleo approach would agree that factory farmed produce is bad for our health.
The diets also disagree on Fats; Crazy Sexy Diet is promoting that saturated fats are bad for us and lead to cholesterol. This seems to be a rather outdated view point though. The Paleo diet promotes saturated fat as good energy source that we were designed to use.
In terms of ethos the Crazy Sexy Diet’s thrust is eating clean and ‘alkaline’ foods for detoxing and health. Where the thrust of the Paleo approach is to eat nutritionally dense foods that allow the gut to heal which they believe is key to correct immune function. That is a brief overview of ethos and really needs a more comprehensive post in it’s own right, which will follow soon 🙂
Crazy Sexy Diet vs Paleo – Where They Agree
Both diets also agree that inflammation is linked to many diseases and that the fatty acid omega 3 is very important for an anti-inflammatory diet. They also promote eating ‘clean’ in terms of reducing toxic load from pesticides and fertilisers etc. We also saw that both approaches agree on a lot of the foods to be excluded in a healthy diet. Although this paragraph seems short, in reality I think there are still more important aspects they have in common than not.
This blog is an brief overview rather than an in depth comparison because so many people are completely unaware of what these diets involve and how they compare. Eating healthily is is confusing, with advocates on all sides claiming scientific reasons behind their choices and those choices do often conflict. These two specific diets are no different. However, the worst thing you could do is continue eating a standard western diet because you’re confused. I have little doubt what these two diets agree to exclude is crucial in the healing process. I will be looking at both approaches in greater depths over the coming weeks, but I would love to hear your comments of how you got on with either/both approaches below 🙂
Raw Vegan, Blood Type O, Paleo, Low Carb High Fat Diets – what do they have in common?”
*FODMAP is an acronym for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides and monosaccharides and polyols,” which are basically a group of highly fermentable, short- and medium-chain carbohydrates that can cause digestive problems such as wind and bacterial overgrowth due to being poorly absorbed by some people.
If you are a woman who has lost hope of regaining or even improving your health my next webinar is for you. It’s so easy to lose hope, a careless word from a Doctor, an unhelpful chat with another patient, a program on the TV. Sometimes it’s the little things that erode your hope over time, sometimes your hope is discarded ignorantly during a consultation. Maybe your diagnosis was a crushing experience, taking your breath away, leaving you numb, scarred, unable to think.
Studies have shown that if you want a chance of being healthy again, the worst state of mind is a stoic acceptance of fate, to become hopeless. One of the things I will show you on this webinar is that hope is vitally important.
In the face of ‘expert’ opinions and a system that seems most proficient of stealing control from you, it is understandable why you can end up feeling hopeless and like a mythical phoenix from the flames you can regain your hope of being healthy.
To help we will be discussing three reasons why your body has the potential for ‘self induced healing’ and looking at some real life stories. Most importantly we will be giving you practical steps to get started with. Choosing to register now is the first step of taking back control, deciding how you want to live you life.
So I really do hope you will choose to join us and just register now.
Looking forward to talking to you again.
Like many ME/CFS sufferers, I experienced debilitating brain fog for most of the time when I was ill. For those of you that haven’t experienced this symptom, brain fog is the term used to describe impaired mental and cognitive functioning. Years ago when I used to attend an aerobics class, I remember the teacher telling the class to imagine we were moving through mud (although the reasoning behind this is totally irrelevant to the issue in hand, I think the idea behind this is to imagine resistance so that the muscles of the body have to work harder!). Well, for me, brain fog is the cognitive equivalent of trying to move through mud. My thought processes seemed to go in slow motion and no matter how hard I tried to formulate a coherent thought, it was like trying to access information from some very slow, archaic computer, which clunked along seemingly operating but either not retrieving the correct information, or doing so so slowly that I had forgotten why I wanted it or garbling the information causing me confusion and frustration. Holding a sensible conversation was totally impossible; I could not follow logical trains of argument on even the simplest of topics let alone formulate responses. Following a short television programme or reading a few pages of a book, likewise ended up in a garbled and addled brain, confused, befuddled and exhausted by the sheer effort of trying to follow a linear trail of information.
Brain fog is an extremely common symptom for ME/CFS sufferers and I think I can safely say that all of our clients with ME or CFS have experienced this for at least some of the time before their recovery. But what exactly is brain fog? Well one hypothesis is that any stress impacting on the sufferer can exacerbate this symptom, the reason being is down to how our brain physiology changes when under stress.
Our brains have evolved significantly from the time 6 million years ago when we began to stand up and walk. Scientists believe that back then our brains were not so different from reptiles today. They could handle the essential functions of survival and little else. Eating, temperature control, running away or fighting, reproduction just think of what the average lizard does and you get the picture. As we evolved we developed new parts of brains with new functions. The first of these new areas is often referred to as the mammalian or limbic part as it has characteristics you associate with mammals. Emotions, feelings and basic communication are things you would normally associate with a dog or a horse. Look into a reptile’s eyes and you don’t see much emotion, but look into your dog’s eyes and we can often detect the emotion. The final new part of the brain is the cortex or neocortex; this is the clever part of brain that is involved with creativity, complex thought and language.
So how does this relate to stress? When stressed it is that old reptilian brain that takes over, and the rest of the brain goes on hold for a bit. If you think about it, this makes sense. When faced with a tiger, prehistoric man had few options. ‘Thinking’ would be likely to slow us down and result in a painful death! The part of the reptilian brain responsible for this prioritising of functions is known as the Amygdala. Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, uses the phrase ‘Amygdala hijack’ to explain what happens, which I think sums it up very well. When the amygdala interprets a situation as a threatening it hijacks the brain, beginning the cascade of reactions involved in the fight or flight response.
Along with creating problems with our thought process, the amygdala also affects our memories. How many people remember of the details of a life threatening situation? How often does it all appear a “bit of a blur”? This is because stress affects our ability to store and retrieve memories[i]. Chronic stress in particular can negatively affect memory and learning[ii] Even now, when I try to remember fine details of my illness before I recovered, it still seems a blur, because I don’t think my brain really focused on storing this information at the time; it was too busy counteracting the stress I was under and the stress associated with the condition itself.
Stress effectively robs us of the ability to think of anything more complex than running away or fighting and chronic stress hampers our ability to remember and learn. I don’t know about you but this certainly does sound like Brain Fog to me.
Thankfully, once I had started on my holistic journey back to health the fog did gradually clear, as I took control of stress and my limbic brain took over again and thinking through mud became a thing of the past 🙂
Sky Blue River
[i]Kuhlmann, S., Piel, M., Wolf, O.T. (2005). Imparied Memory Retrieval after Psychosocial Stress in Healthy Young Men. Journal of Neuroscience, 25(11), 2977-2982.
[ii]Pasquali, R. (2006). The Biological Balance between Psychological Well-Being and Distress: A Clinician’s Point of View. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 75, 69-71.
which may also help to:
- raise the efﬁciency of your breathing,
- improve your ability to solve problems,
- improve sleep
- encourage a calmer emotional state
- calm an agitated mind and
- boost your thinking
What is this miraculous thing…?
Well, its not some hi-tech pharmaceutical drug or some prohibitively expensive course of therapy on some tropical island; its actually free, easy to do and at the tip of your nose. Its called Alternate Nostril Breathing and its a its a method of breathing that is so very easy to do in only a few minutes a day, but which has some amazing health benefits.
Why is it Important? Alternate Nostril Breathing has been performed by Yogis for millennia. In Sanskrit, this method of breath control is called Nadi Shodhana and it involves unilaterally breathing through the right and then left nostril. However, the power of this form of breathing has only relatively recently come to the attention of Western cultures. Research in the late 90′s showed that Alternate Nostril Breath improved the balance of activity between the left and right brain hemispheres. We have learned that breathing through the right nostril fires up the sympathetic nervous system and left hemisphere of the brain, whilst breathing through the left nostril activates the and right hemisphere of the brain and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the relaxation response. Practiced (once or thrice) daily for a few minutes, your mind will become clearer.
So what do you need to do? Well…
- Sit comfortably, ideally on the floor to ground and centre yourself.
- To prepare, gently place your right thumb against your right nostril and your ring finger against your left nostril.
- Breathe normally
- Then press your thumb against the side of your right nostril to close it and breathe slowly in through your left nostril. Then close your left nostril by pressing on the side of your nose with your ring finger whilst releasing your right nostril and slowly breathe out through your right nostril.
- Then breathe in through your right nostril, close it with your thumb and then release your finger from the side of your left nostril and breathe out through your left nostril.
- Continue in this manner for as long as is comfortable.
Whilst my wife Debbie was recovering from, she used this method of relaxation regularly to help balance and clear her mind and also felt the practice helped her to deal with anxiety and stressful thoughts about her condition and her future. It only takes a few moments each day but I think the results are far reaching 🙂 Do let me know how you get on with it and what benefits you experience by commenting below 🙂
This is the next webinar in our series of FREE webinars that we are offering. I really hope you will register now because this webinar is packed full of information that could change your life for the better.
Knowledge is power they say and I’m sure you will gain a lot of knowledge from this webinar. It is a vital piece of the health puzzle whether you are ill or not and used to be a part of our attendance programme for those suffering from CFS, ME and PVFS. We have yet to meet anyone who has been diagnosed with those conditions who does not have stress in their lives, but few understand the very detrimental effect it has on their physical health. The very process of being diagnosed with one of these conditions is extremely stressful for most people.
Part of the problem is that the intangible phenomenon we call stress, has become an insidious part of western living. More than 40 million of us living in the UK admit to suffering from some form of stress. In fact, only 17% of us state that stress does not have an impact on our lives. But even those that do believe stress has impact are often amazed at the sheer depth of the physical effects that stressors can have.
So to help you understand the full implication of stress we explain the three main reasons why stressors damage your health. This webinar will allow you to make knowledgeable choices and fully understand how reducing your stress will improve your capacity for physical health. This is one of the key areas in Debbie’s recovery from CFS/ME so we know just how important it is.
If you want to be in more control of your health and imagine a healthier future register now.
Please share the event so as many people as possible will benefit.