In the last few blog posts I have introduced the concept of flow and how it is a state of optimal functioning in our lives. I started to discuss physiologic flow and how all of our body’s physiologic processes depend on flow. You can catch up on that last blog at this link. Today I’d like to start discussing how to optimize our physiologic flow. The first way is through nutrition.
The fact is that our body’s physiology functions optimally when it is fueled well and this fuel comes in the form of our nutrition. Nutrition is a very complex subject these days with all sorts of diets being touted as the perfect one for our health including low carb, low fat, ketogenic, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, high protein and the numerous other diets that are out there.
It is easy to get lost in the quagmire of confusion that the nutritional world has become. However, it is important to cut through the hype to understand how you should fuel your physiology. I have read most of the nutrition books that are out there and I can boil down my recommendations into four simple steps.
1. Increase your intake of certain plant-based foods. I say certain because there are many plant-based foods that you may think are healthy but can be harmful. This is because they contain proteins called lectins which cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Lectins are how plants ensure their survival. The list of lectin containing plant foods includes lentils, legumes, all grains and all nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. The complete list of recommended plant-based foods can be found at the following link and includes all cruciferous vegetables, most root vegetables and any fruit that is in season. It also includes most nuts except for peanuts and cashews which are legumes.
2. Eliminate all factory farmed animal products including eggs and all dairy products. Factory farmed animal products are raised with hormones, given antibiotics when they are not necessary and fed genetically modified grain all to increase their yield of meat. They are also kept in cramped quarters and not allowed to roam freely like they were meant to. This is done for profit alone with no concern of the effects of these measures on the consumer. I recommend eliminating all dairy products because the protein found in most cow dairy products, A1-beta casein, is harmful to the gastrointestinal tract.
3. Eat modest amounts of pasture-raised, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free meat and eggs and wild caught fish. Animals that are raised this way will be living a more natural lifestyle which means that their meat will be of the highest quality and healthier for consumption. One of the reasons is that they will have a higher proportion of omega 3 fatty acids which have been proven to be beneficial to overall health. Having said this, reducing the amount of meat consumption has been shown to benefit overall health but it does not necessarily need to be eliminated altogether.
4. Eliminate sugar, processed foods, corn and soy. These foods cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract which is the main precursor of chronic disease. Most processed foods contain wheat , which contains gluten which can cause inflammation even in those who do not have celiac disease.
These recommendations are simple but not necessarily easy to follow. However, they are necessary if you want to optimize your physiologic flow. Also, if you suffer from a chronic disease of any kind, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, cancer of any kind, rheumatoid arthritis, any neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease or any autoimmune disease you will surely benefit from following the nutritional guidelines I have outlined.
I do realize that the above recommendations are rigorous and seem difficult to adhere to, however I encourage everyone to try them for anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks as an experiment. You have nothing to lose by doing this. I have seen people implement these nutritional strategies and increase their overall energy and vitality, improve their body’s functioning and reduce their symptoms if they suffer from a chronic disease.
In my next blog post I’ll discuss the second way to optimize your physiologic flow.
Nauman Naeem MD