In response to my Turkey Day post in which I resolved to avoid partially hydrogenated tainted food at my family's celebration feast, finndistan guy made a point for which I myself have contemplated as well:
About your memories on hydrogenated oily poisons.
First memory: Three years ago got bronchitis related to dust allergy and my laziness. did not go away for two weeks so I went to the doc. Got some antibiotics; and even if the bronchitis went away after a ten day regimen, those ten days were pure suffering. Talk about bloody diarrhea and such.
Second memory, a recent one.
I am lazy with dusting the house, so there was dust in the house, but I had no problem, zilch. Then one sunday; after a saturday party at a friend's, including little alcohol, and lots of "healthy vegan food" like whipped cream from oat milk, and milkless butter (took some questioning to get the words margarine out); I went to eat at a local ethnic diner. Lots of food. Almost binged.
The system did not recover from this assault, and for a week I was down, until few days ago; then I got a sore throat.
Realizing what is happening, I cleaned the house, but the throat turned into similar symptoms as the bronchitis three years ago.
I will not take any antibiotic I said to myself.
Since the binge, I had been eating clean, so there was not much to do there,
Took off from work, popped 15.000 ius of vit d every meal (2-3 meal per day), slept 12 hours, ate only food that I made (now am thinking of 100% my way (except the weekend alcohol) till christmas);
The same symptoms that took me ten days to clear three years ago, that took another friend two weeks, another three months (yea, this one is a grain lover); took two nights of 12 hours of sleep with enough tea and vit d, coconut oil, good butter and no processed crap.
The lungs went to crap on wednesday morning, now it is friday afternoon, and I have them running at 95%.
Definitely a placebo effect. Both on the negative effects of the vegan/processed stuff, and the positive effects on what i did to cure.
I have distinct recollections of my health and well being prior to discovering the Weston A Price Foundation and the Paleo blogosphere and figuring out unconventional, anti-establishment truths regarding diet, health and nutrition.
I frequently lament to myself, "If I had known then, what I know now..."
From my mid-20's to my early 30's I thought I knew what eating healthy was, and I thought I knew what foods I should avoid. Yet I was overweight, had frequent allergy attacks, caught every cold and flu bug that I happened to come into contact with, and always took a really long time to recover. I frequently had chest colds turn into bronchitis and occasionally turn into walking pneumonia.
I also suffered from chronic asthma. I could not live without daily doses of asthma control medicine. I've had asthma since I was a young child, so I've always lived with it. I've become used to frequent attacks, and always carrying a rescue inhaler with me 24/7.
I used to also get an asthma attack every single time I exercised. Every single time. Usually withing 5 to 10 minutes of commencing some sort of physical activity or recreation, I would inevitably feel the tightness in my chest and immediately have to stop whatever I was doing and take a few puffs of my meds, hack out a few coughs and finally feel good enough to resume whatever I was doing.
My entire life, I was told by my HMO GP Doctor to avoid dairy, that my asthma was most likely related to milk allergy.
In hindsight, I now realize the truth is that I ate a grain heavy diet ('heart healthy whole grains!'), and the primary source of fat was Omega 6 rich vegetable/grain and legume oils. Margarine, low-fat/non-fat food products, and cooked with Canola, Soy and Olive oils.
Also ate a lot of commercial peanut butter brands, most made with partially hydrogenated oils.
When I first read the good folks at the WAPF article Know Your Fats, it was the first time I ever came across this piece of knowledge:
Saturated fats play many important roles in the body chemistry. They strengthen the immune system and are involved in inter-cellular communication, which means they protect us against cancer. They help the receptors on our cell membranes work properly, including receptors for insulin, thereby protecting us against diabetes. The lungs cannot function without saturated fats, which is why children given butter and full-fat milk have much less asthma than children given reduced-fat milk and margarine. Saturated fats are also involved in kidney function and hormone production.
My first thought here was "well fuck me." Then I kept reading:
The crux of Dr. Price's research has to do with what he called the "fat-soluble activators," vitamins found in the fats and organ meats of grass-fed animals and in certain seafoods, such as fish eggs, shellfish, oily fish and fish liver oil. The three fat-soluble activators are vitamin A, vitamin D and a nutrient he referred to as Activator X, now considered to be vitamin K2, the animal form of vitamin K. In traditional diets, levels of these key nutrients were about ten times higher than levels in diets based on the foods of modern commerce, containing sugar, white flour and vegetable oil. Dr. Price referred to these vitamins as activators because they serve as the catalysts for mineral absorption. Without them, minerals cannot by used by the body, no matter how plentiful they may be in the diet.
An honest assessment of my overall dietary patterns brought me to the point of realization: while I didn't oft eat white flour, I ate plenty of whole grain flour and bread based products like pasta. I also ate a lot of sugar, and yes, all the oils I was eating where largely the so-called "healthy" vegetable oils. I was following the mainstream advice to avoid saturated fats, minimize your animal foods consumption, and that a plant based diet was optimal for human physical health. This WAPF stuff was the very antithesis to everything I thought I knew.
And yet it also jibed with my personal studies regarding Hawaiian history and culture. I've read numerous history books, oral traditions, and observations made by Europeans who first came to Hawaii. They were full of references to tall, muscular, very fit, healthy looking people. And they ate plenty of animal foods - fish and all other sorts of seafood, dog, chicken and pig.
This is why I investigated further into the WAPF...and eventually coming to the Paleo Blogosphere, and began a massive turnaround in my diet, health and well-being.
I've been basically eating a nutrient-dense, traditional-based diet while doing my best to avoid neolithic agents of disease for close to 5 years now. The transformation in my health has been dramatic.
While I still have asthma (I will probably always have it), it has nowhere near the same effects on my life like it used to. I no longer carry a rescue inhaler wherever I go, and it took me 10 months this past year before I had to refill my prescriptions...prescriptions for which I used to have to refill every single month, 12 times a year at a minimum.
This was not a placebo effect. It can't be. The difference between then and now is just too dramatic.
This was discovering the difference between a diet rich in inflammatory-promoting foods, and anti-inflammatory foods. As I've frequently stated in the past, I basically follow Mark Sisson's 80/20 paradigm. In other words, the occasional indulgence of junk food for things like special occasions.
For the most part, that's been my occasional dessert after dinner indulgence. I've never noticed any problems or residual effects when I have done this. But even in these cases, the primary NAD I'm indulging in is sugar. Even on my "cheats" I try to avoid partially hydrogenated oils. (I really do miss the local Hawaii favorite, the Malasada - A type of doughnut in which Portuguese sweet bread batter is deep fried and coated in sugar).
But there have been a few times where I did...like eating deep fried appetizers at a restaurant or party. I began to notice whenever I did this, I'd start to get asthma attacks within an hour or so.
Onion rings, french fries, or deep fried chicken (chicken katsu), doughnuts, all the stuff fried in partially hydrogenated oils (which is to say 99% of you eat anything deep fried from a restaurant), I always get asthma attacks within an hour or so, and sometimes multiple attacks over the course of the next 24 - 48 hours. But I never really paid much notice, as over the past few years in which I indulged on such occasions, were really few and far between.
But last year, I simply threw all caution to the wind and just pigged out at my family's partially hydrogenated Thanksgiving. I ate bread, dinner rolls, salad dishes containing mayo (soybean oil), loads of gravy (made with partially hydrogenated oil and wheat flour), and various desserts for which I know the crusts contained the crap too. Up to that point, having eaten "clean" for up to 3 years prior, it was quite the Omega 6/Hydrogenated oil indulgence.
I spent days with constantly recurring asthma and allergy attacks - which was how my life used to be on a daily basis when I ate the SAD. I had forgotten just how miserable I really was when I ate the neolithic agents of disease on a daily basis.
Is this nothing more than a placebo effect?
From my recollection, my attitude at the time was "I eat so good now, I'm doing so much better, this one time holiday gluttony won't affect me much! This is my cheat day, I'm with my family, let's just eat it all up and enjoy this without any worries."
Prior to that, the occasional indulgence like a few fries or onion rings or a piece of fried chicken may have caused me to have a small asthma attack, so no biggie, I'll just dose up on the meds and go back to eating good again.
So now I'm left having similar thoughts as finndistan guy. Am I having a placebo over-reaction? Or is it that when I used to consume these oils and other neolithic agents of disease regularly, did I have some sort of tolerance to the continual ingestion of inflammatory food products? Did largely removing this poison from my diet make me that much more sensitive to it when I actually do "cheat" and eat it again?
Of course, prior to changing my diet, I basically had to use asthma medication every several hours, both night and day, 24/7/365. I used to always double check to see if my inhaler was in easy reach whenever I went to bed so I could simply reach out and grab it for use when I would invariably wake up in the middle of the night with another asthma attack...usually several times, every night. So maybe I always had that same reaction to these oils, but simply managed my reactions to it by a constant dose of medications?
Now I'm not trying to make the case that my asthma is solely linked to the food I eat. I think it's more complex than that. I now believe my asthma is related to my immune system response to environmental allergen exposure (I'm hyper-allergic to dust mite allergens which are plentiful in Hawaii)...but my diet also affects my immune systems ability to deal with allergen exposure as well.
In other words, when I eat pro-inflammatory foods, my immune system becomes more susceptible to reacting to allergens, making it more likely I'll experience the bronchial tube spasms of an asthma attack.
For my own experience, the vast improvement in my asthma and allergy condition is the ultimate proof I need to validate the principles of the paleo-type diet. This is why I get annoyed when clueless people call the paleo diet a "fad."
There's so much more to your diet than simply your weight.
Ah, what the hell. Maybe I really am just a loon, and it's all just a placebo effect.