Tuesday, July 03, 2012
About 6 years ago, I was 'fit-fat'. I exercised regularly (about 1hr/5x week), eliminated processed foods, and ate 'healthy'. Yet my bodyfat still hovered around 32%. Still 'overweight' despite my activity level.
My blood pressure was 135/85. This was 'pre-hypertensive', but my doctor didn't worry about it because of my age. Relative to her other patients who were clinically hypertensive, this was very good.
I liked my doctor. I think she was very progressive for her profession, often recommending natural remedies before trying the prescriptions. Yet despite that, modern medicine still doesn't address the prevention aspect.
What if my 'pre-hypertensive' blood pressure was a sign of inflammation? What if I wasn't doomed due to 'genetics'? Modern medicine seems to treat that as an inevitability. Can't stop it, so we'll treat it when it happens.
Perhaps my genetics are more sensitive to the conditions that lead to hypertension. Shouldn't that mean I take action sooner, rather than later?
What if I can control my genetics through food? We are what we eat, as we say. Am I made of unprocessed foods as nature made them, or am I made of manufactured chemicals packaged as something vaguely food-like?
What if my genetics doesn't like artificial foods or lab made chemicals? Possible. I'm allergic to all non-penicillin based antibiotics. Tetracyclines are lab created synthetics. My body rejects it as a foreign invader worse than the bacteria it is supposed to treat.
Eliminating processed foods was only part of the equation. I still had 'pre-hypertension' that medicine wasn't going to address until I had full blown hypertension. Hypertension often goes hand in hand with metabolic syndrome, so that likely wasn't far off.
I took an extra step, on my own. I cut back grains and starches. This dropped my blood pressure to 122/75 in about 3 months. According to the medical community, this puts me in the 'low-risk' health category, cutting my risk of metabolic syndrome in half. All I did was make one change to my diet.
What if my doctor had told me that all I had to do to reduce my risk of metabolic syndrome was to eat less bread and pasta? What if my particular genetics doesn't handle grains well? Is that so hard to believe? I am lactose intolerant, after all.
I was active biking, hiking, and kayaking about 1 hour per day, and 8 hours on the weekend. I have never smoked cigarettes. Yet I had pre-hypertensive blood pressure and excessive fat levels of a chain smoking couch potato.
Maybe it is genetics, but perhaps it isn't an inexorable march. Doctors put people on medication at 140/90. I was at 135/85 before I changed my diet. I narrowly escaped.
Obviously, we are all different. Our environments make our health needs very different. Maybe cutting out grains and starches won't work for you the way it did for me.
I believe that excessive bodyfat is a message from our bodies telling us something is out of balance. For some lucky people, maybe extra exercise is all they need. Maybe it's too much exercise, driving up cortisol and stress on the adrenals. Perhaps too much processed foods and refined sugars are the culprits. Others still, maybe they have wheat or dairy sensitivities.
Maybe if our bodies aren't getting what they need, they'll let us know. Or maybe if they're getting something they don't want, they'll let us know. Tricky, tricky figuring it out.
Maybe it is genetics. Shouldn't we try to work with it, rather than against it?
This becomes more challenging as we age because our bodies change our biochemical balance. As I near 40, I find that my body is more sensitive to abuse than it was at 20. If it doesn't like what I'm feeding it, my body lets me know a lot faster.
In some ways, that makes me better than I was in my 20s. I gunked up my body with crap back then. I probably wouldn't have listened anyway. Well, actually, I didn't. Hah! Drinking 32oz Big Gulps was beyond stupid.
But now? Now I have to listen, and I have to make a choice.
If the toast at breakfast, sandwich loaf at lunch, and plate of pasta at dinner pushes my inflammation markers and body fat up, then I'll skip the toast, loaf, and pasta. Or I can eat Diovan with my breakfast.
I'm choosing to take 2 servings of food and a glass of water with my breakfast.