Monday, September 17, 2012

Daily Reading

Remember those daily readings I've been doing along with the meal plan? Well, they've been pretty cool so far. Some days I am just blown away though. Today was one of those days.

The section was entitled, "Foods That Conquer Pain." Not that I really have any pain, but I think that some of this is applicable to almost everyone. Dr. Barnard talked about the four different types of pain that can be managed, prevented, or treated with diet: joint pain, migraines, back pain, and menstrual cramps.

Joint Pain

This part referred mostly to arthritis, but all of it has to do with inflammation. Apparently there are some foods that trigger joint inflammation for some people:
  • dairy
  • meat
  • eggs
  • corn
  • sugar
  • nuts
  • coffee
  • wheat, rye, oats
  • citrus fruits
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
His suggestion for people who have joint pain is to switch to a vegan diet for a few weeks--that means diary, meat, and eggs are already out. If the pain persists after that, remove all of the other foods from your diet for a month. Once you begin feeling better you can start introducing one trigger food at a time until you identify what the problem is.


These intense headaches, as it turns out, are very much like joint pain. Here's what can trigger them:
  • dairy
  • meat
  • eggs
  • chocolate
  • corn
  • nuts
  • wheat
  • citrus fruits
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • apples
  • bananas
You'll want to do exactly what was listed for the section above.

Back Pain

Dr. Barnard says that a lot of peoples' back pain is caused from restricted blood flow to the spine, which is often caused by a meaty diet and/or smoking. This can actually lead over to to a pinched disk and pain that shoots all the way down the leg. A vegan diet alone should alleviate back pain that is not caused by an underlying disease.

Menstrual Cramps

Alright ladies, this is the answer you've been looking for. The science behind this one is that a vegan diet lowers estrogen levels (while a meaty diet raises them). High estrogen levels are associated with breast cancer, and also all of those lovely monthly side-effects. Even in women with severe symptoms, a vegan diet reduced pain and in many cases completely got rid of it. And yeah, that is every month. The key to this one is also a low-fat, high-fiber diet too though. Oh, and don't worry--less estrogen isn't going to make you extra hairy or anything. The odd thing to me is that my birth control is constantly feeding me more estrogen on a daily basis. I wonder what Dr. Barnard would say about that. Perhaps I'll shoot him an email. Regardless, I'll be able to say whether this one works or not in about a few weeks, hehe.

Some of these I'm not really sure about why they work, and I really am quite interested. But seriously, if you've got something like this going on and nothing is working, why not try dietary changes?

The was a story as well in the reading, about a nutritionist who had arthritis in her neck so badly that she could barely move. After taking steroids and tons of other drugs she was still in a lot of pain. She was only in her forties. After switching to a vegan diet her inflammation completely cleared up, she lost 40 pounds, and all of her acne went away. Pretty crazy stuff!

That story actually made me tear up a little bit while reading it, because it made me think of my mom. At forty years old, she has tendinitis in both shoulders and what is most likely sciatica affecting her back, hip, and leg. She's been working hard with physical therapy to help alleviate the inflammation but I know it is still a daily nuisance for her.

Soooooo what needs to happen is that she'll move in with me and I'll cook her a super healthy home-made vegan meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day! Right mom? *nudge nudge*

Maybe not, but I do think that this might be able to help. A vegan diet sounds crazy, I know, but it is actually the easiest "diet" I've ever been on. It really is a "diet" only in the sense that it is a way to eat, just like omnivorism or vegetarianism. Not to mention that all of these veggies contain loads of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy anyways. I also have a friend with terrible migraines that I think could benefit from a vegan diet.

Dr. Barnard had one more tip for those struggling with joint inflammation. As a doctor, and after you've given dietary changes an honest try, he would prescribe every night with dinner:
  • one tablespoon of flaxseed oil
  • 1.4 to 2.8 grams of gamma-linolenic acid from borage, black currant, or evening primrose oil
  • AND 400 IU of vitamin E (only 100 if you have high blood pressure).
The top two are omega-3 fatty acids that are naturally found in plants.

Good luck, and I hope I've influenced you in some way to be healthier! I certainly have been.

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