Taking Moderation ‘With a Grain of Salt’

Moderation never worked for me...and why I don't think it works for anyone

The road ahead is narrower – choose wisely!

I think we have to break past moderation to feel an improvement.

With a holistic approach to improve our health, we find that it becomes harder to improve and detox, because the body tends to acclimate to any conditions where it finds itself.  I’ve been saying this for over a decade, because I realized what it took to propel my personal health from the grip of gravity and the decay of entropy into an orbit that gained momentum and made me feel alive again.  I was encouraged to see someone else shared this opinion – when I was recently watching ‘What the Health,’ a frequently criticized documentary about the state of the modern food industry.

“I think there’s the sense that everyone’s OK with moderation.  Right?  But, we haven’t seen that moderation works.”  ~Dr. Michelle McMacken, M.D.,  Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine

We have to see ourselves on a narrowing path if we need to invoke healing. We have to promote healing “environmentally” by changing the outside surroundings and changing the internal “landscape” by modifying the food we consume.

When we make the initial changes we often see a big difference:

As soon as we make a significant dietary or lifestyle change, that change immediately causes us to either feel better, (or sometimes worse due to detox symptoms) – and then we eventually feel better if we press past an initial healing crisis / herxheimer response, and then we have to keep restricting the choices that are less-good…so we can make room to choose the better and then “rinse & repeat” continuing to choose the better/best.

Everything is Backwards

This isn't going to be an easy road

It’s crazy, but it costs more to buy food without pesticides.

Tractor spraying pesticides

Food originally came without strings attached.  There was no team of lobbyists behind the humble carrot; just an unofficial spokesperson knowns as “Buggs,” who seemed to spend all his screen time chewing on a carrot.  Today we have to spend money to un-do some of the things that have been done to corrupt food on a global scale and these all seem very wrong when you consider them.

It costs money to spray crops, but it costs even more to buy food that isn’t dripping with poison.  Food yields seed, which grows more food (it’s been that way forever), but that’s also not true anymore so you’ll get sued if you plant those seeds.  The foods bred in the lab are starting to have their own pesticides built-in so it’ll be even harder to avoid chemicals.

Even health insurance costs more, regardless of the fact that the deductibles are so high you will probably feel uninsured unless your health collapses entirely.

It’s a broken world and it’s going to cost more to invest in your health, but the alternative is darker so consider giving “food” a try, rather than consuming food-like products, or patented organisms that were invented using genetic research and cloning of targeted DNA strands to form specific traits.

Is There An Easy Fasting Option?

If you've never done any fasting and are scared to try...

Here’s a very simple fasting alternative…eat real food.

Modern Supermarket View

Limit yourself for a short period of time to consuming only organic, real food – the kind that has no barcodes, labels, or ingredients lists.

That’s it.  Easy.  Healthy.

This is the simplest and gentlest way to cleanse the body – and even then, there can be mild detoxification responses depending on just how poor the previous dietary practices were.  You’ll eliminate toxin exposure by going organic, and you’ll eliminate all preservatives and additives.  Anything that’s artificial is disqualified.  No ingredients unless they are food…no MSG, no sugar, no salt, no FD&C#, and no natural colorings or flavorings.  You are looking for foods you can identify without a label.

Why Are Bad Habits So Hard to Break

For the most part, we know what we need to clean up to improve our health.

Drinking habits. Girl is heavy drinkers.

For most of us, there’s little mystery concerning what our bad habits are.  Unfortunately  they often prove extremely difficult to change.  Smokers often continue when they’re hospitalized and using supplemental oxygen just to survive.  Over-eaters have famously done reality shows about how they know they are killing themselves, but still feel compelled to eat badly.  More insidious addictions like opioids frequently enslave unsuspecting patients who start off needing time to heal an injury, but then begin to depend on them for emotional stability.  Only recently have we learned that (surprise!), opioids numb physical and emotional pain.

Q: Why are habits hard to break?

A: We crave death.  Our bodies “love” death and everything bad for us feeds that hunger to die.  If we are to live and improve we must resist until the tides of desire change and we begin to hunger for life.

Knowing is not enough.  Action is required to improve, so we must do something to start that long uphill march toward improved health and God-willing…wellness.  Perhaps a short period of fasting might help to develop more willpower.  Even if you start small, and work toward a longer and more restrictive fasting regimen it makes sense to try.

Having the fortitude to live without something you hunger for, even for three to seven days could be the first step towards healthier living.  One sentiment from Eastern Christianity is that we should remember when we are fasting that it is not really food we are hungry for.  We are really hungry for more of God.  In the same way, a fast to break a bad habit will include cravings for the bad thing you stopped, but try to funnel that desire toward the nutrients you’ve allowed yourself to consume in its’ place.

Practical tip: When you start fasting, don’t be surprised if your cravings and hunger increase tenfold.  This tends to pass after three days so a seven day fasting strategy may be no more difficult that the three days of high level detox required to begin.

Is Juicing Natural?

Thinking through a couple of the criticisms...

Juicing doesn’t occur in nature, or does it?

Slow juicer with organic fruits and vegetables isolated on white

There are several voices in the natural health community that are “juicing averse,” and they do make some good points.  Personally, I’ve seen good and bad results from different aspects of juice fasting, so I’ll share just a few thoughts about those experiences.

Fiber and Sugars:

Juicing eliminates the fibers that slow down nutrient absorption, but it’s those insoluble fibers that nature uses to modulate the speed of sugar absorption.  It’s important to consider the carbohydrate effect on your body, if you are thinking about a juice fast.  Some folks juice fast on bottled juices, but I think the denaturing of sugars with heat makes them hit the bloodstream faster and I am not a fan of fasting on pasteurized juice.  (I do think HPP provides a great alternative for convenient access to storable juices, but even then there is some nutrient loss compared to freshly extracted juices.)  Heat treatments (pasteurization and flash-pasteurization) damages enzymes and some of the antioxidants will be destroyed, either by processing or simply due to the time between packaging and consumption.

Key Learning: raw juices are best!

Autointoxication Concerns:

Juice fasting for an extended period will shut down much of the solid waste processing of the body, so the intake of some fibers (whether in supplements or selected foods) can help the body excrete the byproducts that are burned up in this detoxification regimen.  Other options include enemas or colonics for internal cleansing.  While there is much less risk of autointoxication while juicing (compared to water fasting) I think it’s worth taking some steps to keep things moving.  Bananas or rice can provide just enough fiber to keep the system awake enough to maintain continuous balance of inputs/outputs. Some juicers may leave just enough fiber to strike a happy middle ground and that makes the most sense from a nature centric model.

Simple Alternative: If you’re concerned about getting more nutrients, but don’t want to shut down your digestion…consider green smoothies instead of juice fasting.

Juicing is Energy Intense:

The objection that’s most straightforward is that the amount of energy required to accomplish the juice fast is “un-natural.”.  If you simply wash and eat your fruits and vegetables the body supplies the energy required to masticate and digest them.  With juicing, you’ll be using a lot of power to drive that juicer, regardless of which one you bought but hopefully it’ll be worth it in terms of nutrient density.  A juice fast takes a lot of commitment, from a financial investment in high quality foods and from a food preparation effort too.  You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s really worth it, but personally I credit a juice fast as the intervention that saved my life, and jump started my return to health.

Conscience Freedom: If you’ve decided to abandon meat eating, then your carbon footprint is decidedly tiny, so you have nothing to worry about compared to your omnivore friends so you can juice all you want and still save the planet.

Bonus tip: Never discard wet pulp…strain it with a nut milk bag and increase your juice yield!

Another Perspective on Detoxification

Dilution is the Solution to Pollution

Nature moves to continuously detoxify through extensive filtration and dilution.

 

Vector schema of the water cycle in nature

Water comes from the sky as rain and snow.  Streams and rivers combine to move the water to the seas, while it is ever-sorted and cleaned across silt and sand until it is finally diluted in the oceans.  Layers of sediment and even solid rocks form a purification medium to restore water to its’ basic form, where it’s stored in aquifers across the entire planet.  The ocean is not merely a final deposit account.  It’s also a dilution pond where water begins to up-cycle into the atmosphere where it moves back to the beginning as rain or snow.

The key to this process is the fact that water is ever-moving, and when it stops – it stagnates.

Applying this metaphor to the human body, fat cells are the ocean where toxins are stored. The lymphatic system is a mostly passive network of tributaries that’s most susceptible to becoming stagnant.  Physical movement is essential to keep the lymph actively filtering toxins.  This is more important in times of less dilution such as a time of fasting because there is less excretion of wastes when there is a reduction in solid materials to transfer them to.

If movement increases during a time of fasting, the body should easily be able to detoxify at an accelerated rate, as long as there is enough movement.  This is why many natural health experts no longer recommend water fasting, because of the increased chance of auto-intoxication from limited excretion.  The thinking these days is that juices provide better pathways for toxin elimination by adding nutrients and some limited fibers that will help to keep the toxins moving.

 

 

Contemplative Dining

The Rabbit Habit

In matters of physical health and wellness, slow and steady tends to always win the race.  

brown rabbit

The tortoise wins the wellness race, and not the hare.  The practice of eating slowly is one of the simplest to comprehend, and for many of us (myself included) one of the most difficult to master.  Everything in modern culture is driven, fast paced, and hurried.  We must intentionally slow things down and plan to eat slower if we are to accomplish this otherwise simple task of chewing completely and taking our time dining.  Strangely, that impatient rabbit (otherwise used as a symbol of why the race is not to the swift when he lost that famous race to the turtle), is also famously known for nibbling on carrots at leisure.  This rabbit habit of stopping to chew and nibble may be a great example of how we too, can maintain a frenetic pace in life, yet still take a moment to slow down our eating, and properly chew our food.

Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate. ~Horace Fletcher

Horace Fletcher (1849–1919) was the American health food enthusiast and visionary of “slow food” and low protein diets who earned the nickname “The Great Masticator.”  Fletcher earned some prominent clients in his day (including Mark Twain, John D. Rockefeller, and Upton Sinclair), with his teaching that food should be chewed a hundred times times before being swallowed.  We remember this practice and honor him today, by coining the term “Fletcherizing” to describe this process of chewing until food is fully dissolved in the mouth.

Gleaning some modern truth from this hundred year old practice, we know that the thorough chewing of ones’ food will better enable the body to fully assimilate nutrients, and allow the satiety reflex to notify the brain that “fullness” has been reached, so that one can stop eating.  Better absorption of nutrients with less consumption of food could lead to better weight management so this is a practice that might be worth a try.  If you tend to eat quickly like I do, then try pretending you’re chewing gum.  I really don’t know how to provide many meaningful insights into this one because I’ve never managed to successfully do it…but I’m still fond of the idea.