A while back I mentioned that I wouldn’t be obsessing over diet for a while. I think that was a good resolution, as I was tending to go in circles and overextending myself – trying to have a diet that was “too perfect” or being too self-righteous about it. There was something not quite healthy about that pattern and it was good to give it a rest.
Still, I can’t say that experimenting with diet hasn’t helped me – quite the opposite, it has been a massive part of my evolution. A couple of years ago I experimented with giving up gluten and found that it absolutely turned my health around… for instance.
So I have been reducing a little how much I think about diet, but still I have done a couple of experiments recently which I’d like to share here.
One thing I’m quite excited about is having given up refined starch.
Since about half a year ago, I was experiencing some slight symptoms of my old disease again – they were not strong at any point, except for I think 2 separate nights of intense sickness that could have been triggered by fluoride or accidental gluten eating.
So the trouble wasn’t the intensity, but the chronicity of the low-level symptoms. Having them for such a long time was uncomfortable and worse, made me nervous that I could be slowly getting worse again. Having more or less declared my disease cured, it was a disconcerting thought.
I tried a lot of things. I tried avoiding fluoride more astutely – it’s often in the salt in Berlin, so trying to be sure about never consuming it was quite a challenge. For a while I basically stopped eating at restaurants. Later, however, I learned that most restaurants here use industrially sourced salt which doesn’t have it.
I also tried giving up a (fluoride-free) mouthwash I was using because I had the sense it was making my stomach feel bad with whatever traces I couldn’t avoid swallowing.
OK. But the real breakthrough seemed to come a bit more than a week ago.
I started getting suspicious of the gluten-free bread I had been making for myself.
This bread used rather large quantities of pure corn starch to compensate for the lack of gluten. This stuff didn’t seem healthy at all to my intuition or my best judgement.
I eventually worked out a new recipe for gluten free bread. I used flax seeds and apple fibre left over from juicing instead of starch. The new ingredients were intended to perform the same function (to hold the gas bubbles in suspension) and seemed to work well enough.
Well, about 24 hours after starting to eat this bread, I noticed my low-level symptoms were gone!
It may still be a little early to declare absolute victory, but it definitely seems like I’ve made an important victory at least. The moral of the story? Keep testing stuff until you find something that works.
The other breakthrough I’ve made has involved drinking more water.
I have before half-heartedly tried to drink the 2+ litres of water which they recommend you drink each day. What changed things for me, though, was recently reading this article which describes the whys and hows to it so well.
When I saw the list of symptoms of chronic dehydration, I started to feel identified. I felt connected to a greater or lesser extent with the ones I’ve put in bold below:
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Dry eyes
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Fuzzy short-term memory
- Decreased urine output
- Few or no tears while crying
- Trouble focusing on small print (such as a computer screen)
- Trouble with basic math
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
Particularly, these mental symptoms didn’t feel right to me. Being clumsy with my thoughts hasn’t always been the case for me, and in recent years I’ve felt rather frustrated with it. So when I saw this list, I wondered if they could be to do with chronic dehydration.
Well, upon starting to drink closer to 2 litres of water per day, I’ve noticed a significant sharpening of my mind. I seem more alert and focused and I have much less of this “clumsy” feeling now.
I guess my success this time had to do with knowing what to look for. The effects are subtle, such that I guess I could have missed them if I wasn’t expecting them the first time I tried drinking more water. Now that I have such a clear motivation, it’s much easier to keep up the habit. It doesn’t feel like I’m blindly following the doctor’s instructions anymore.
Now I just usually fill up a litre jug of water twice a day, drinking it quite fast, sometimes on the spot. (I don’t know if this is the best way, but if it means the difference between doing it or not, I think it’s worthwhile). I try to do it earlier in the day and a good few hours at the very least before bed, for obvious reasons. Best of all is to drink first as soon as I get out of bed, so it’s on an empty stomach.
Doing it like this works for me – I guess it’s important we all find our own ways of making the habit work for us, with our individual habits and tendencies.
As for the rest of it – I can’t explain all about water as well as the writer Josef Wigren did, so I strongly encourage you to check his article out.
So those are the two main discoveries I wanted to share. Both of them are still in their early days, so we will see later if I keep up the habits and keep getting the results. (Avoiding starch should be easy, though I wonder if it will be so easy to remember to keep drinking water. I think I should be able to keep it up, though).
Other things I’m trying are:
Playing with sodium bicarbonate: my intuition was persistently nudging me to do it, so I bought a pack.
My idea is to wash my mouth out when I eat or drink something acid, as a part of my continuing effort to find some intelligent way of protecting my teeth.
Just today I tried it after drinking cola (one of my few vices) and was shocked to see how fizzy and foamy the bicarbonate solution came out, after washing my mouth with it. My mouth had been seemingly empty, and yet the remaining cola was enough to do that. I’m now wondering if I want that near my teeth, let alone in my body*. Well, for now, after cola and juice, I’ll at least be sure to neutralise my mouth.
*Phosphoric acid from cola doesn’t break down in the body into non-acidic compounds like organic acids do.
I am thinking of using sodium bicarbonate more often, even. However, I’m wondering if it’s possible that the chemical could harm the teeth by being corrosive in itself. I’m going to look into it a bit further; I haven’t come to any conclusions yet.
Getting More Sunshine
Finally, I’ve been trying to get more sunshine. A recent reading with Erin Pavlina (whew, can I recommend her) brought that idea up. It made a heck of a lot of sense to me, and since then I’ve been working on it.
For instance, if there is some fairly nice weather out – even if there’s cloud cover – I’m usually trying to go for a walk and just enjoy it for a bit as a start to my day. I might take my hairbrush out, or my nail polish, and groom myself a little on a bench somewhere. As I was going to do that anyway, I might as well get some sun and air while I’m doing it.
What I’ve been noticing from this is how cooped up I have really been. You don’t need to spend all day outside to get some benefits. I think just going outside for half an hour in the morning has the potential to set the tone for the day.
And even when there is cloud cover, there is a LOT more light out there than indoors. Until you pay attention to it, you often don’t notice.
Do you know about light deprivation? Cruel experiments done by scientists on rats (which I don’t condone) caused the animals to show signs of brain damage after spending six weeks in total darkness.
I think light can be considered some kind of nutrient for the body, brain, and soul. That’s certainly how I’m looking at it now. I’m trying to make sure I get enough of this nutrient every day.
Again, will I be able to maintain the habit? That’s for time to tell.
I think, though, that if I see this in terms of taking a new perspective on the meaning of sun and light in my life, rather than just blindly following directions, I should be able to maintain it. What stops me doing something is when it seems there is no reason for what I’m doing. That, or when I don’t know or can’t experience the reason for myself.
We will see how this goes.
Overall it seems these changes have been interesting because they are small adjustments, rather than attempts at radical all-encompassing changes like becoming a raw foodist and living off fruit. With small adjustments, I can see the results immediately, and they are easier to maintain than radical moves. I rather think they’re coming from a healthier place in my thinking, too.
Perhaps making small, easy-to-maintain adjustments is a good formula for other areas in life, too. I can see myself building up to a good productivity rhythm that way, for instance; it seems to be how I’ve approached it so far.
What doesn’t work is biting off more than you can chew. And often small, smart changes are more effective than really big ones, anyway.
What small, effective changes could you make right now to see improvements in your life?