“The greatest health is wealth” quote by Virgil.
These are the words of one of Rome’s greatest poets, who lived from 70BC to 19BC. Who would have thought that all those thousands of years ago, a poet would be extolling the virtues of preventative health? He died at 50 years of age, and so I would say he did a good job of looking after himself, considering the life expectancy of that era.
Today we have a longer life expectancy thanks to the marvels of surgery, the aid of pharmaceutical medications (some can prolong life despite their side effects), and improvements in lifestyle sanitation and general safety. However, the quality of life is sometimes lost, and there has been little advance made in the direction of preventing diet-related maladies such as obesity, late onset diabetes, heart disease, gut maladies and senility. During my many years as a registered nurse I witnessed the truth in the old adage, “prevention is better than cure”.
I recently watched an ABC Catalyst Program on the current research being done on the effect our gut bacteria has on our health and how much this can be improved by switching to a low carbohydrate diet. The program showed how one young fit male radically improved his health and energy levels by switching from his fast food diet high in refined carbohydrates, to a diet lower in carbohydrates, higher in vegetable fibre, and higher in protein and fats. His gut bacteria became more balanced (less of the “bad guys”) and this was largely due to the increased fibre which in this case was provided by vegetables and salads, i.e. plant food. The average modern diet is too heavily based on processed grains in the form of cereals, bread, pizza, pasta, biscuits, crackers, muffins and cakes. In other words it is a diet high in processed carbohydrates and low in protein and fats. The end result is obesity and insulin resistance, i.e. type 2 diabetes, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes).
Professor Katherine Samaras, Endocrinologist (Diabetes and Obesity) at St Vincent Hospital, Darlinghurst, has been working with the Federal Government to promote a lower carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates such as cereals, refined breads, crackers, cakes, muffins, biscuits, pizza and pastas, all break down into glucose and result in an increased need for insulin. As insulin levels constantly rise during such a high carbohydrate diet, the body becomes insulin resistant, leading to blood sugar problems and even hormone imbalances. Often my patients tell me they don’t eat a lot of sugar, but when I analyze their diet I find that their levels of carbohydrates are in fact producing a high glucose level.
The constant overload of carbohydrates and sugars also feeds the unhealthy bacteria in our gut such as yeasts (candida) and other nasties, and this in turn creates a desire for more glucose-laden foods. These unhealthy bacteria are parasites, dependent on us for their livelihood. Despite all our willpower, the presence of these bacteria actually causes us to crave more of the foods containing sugars and yeast. This why some people with the best intentions to lose weight by going on a low carbohydrate diet actually find themselves to be seemingly addicted to the food they are trying to avoid! Such addictions can only be eradicated by eradicating the gut parasites.
Professor Samaras mentions that the carbohydrate content of the average breakfast of a bowl of cereal and one piece of toast is equivalent to 14 teaspoons of sugar. She advises that if that breakfast is switched to one egg and 2 slices of toast the sugar content is equivalent to only 7 teaspoons of sugar. That’s half the amount!
I also like how she pointed out how counter intuitive the current treatment for diabetes is in prescribing medicine to diabetics that increases their insulin levels, just so they can continue their high carbohydrate diet! There is so much misleading advice given to patients who are seeking to reduce weight or reverse their diabetes. Low GI Foods may slow down the release of glucose but the Glycaemic Load (GL) of those carbohydrates is still high enough to cause insulin resistance / sensitivity or to overwork the pancreas to the extent that it eventually becomes weak, as in Type 2 Diabetes. Just a note on the side, in case you think this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t yet have diabetes; if your are overweight now you might eventually slip into the category of the 60% of the population currently suffering from diabetes and obesity. Prevention is the key. Check your fasting blood sugar levels and be proactive now if it is over 5.5.
If your blood sugar levels are at a warning stage, and your waistline is the same as your hip line or more, it’s time to re-evaluate your diet and also start on a course of natural medicine to get your body back to functioning healthily. If your cravings for high carbohydrate or sugared foods is on the verge of addiction, it’s time to do a gut parasite protocol. Generally we aim for a protein, carbohydrate, fat ratio of 40:10:50. However everyone is different with their own body chemistry and metabolism, and therefore I prefer to do a bio-impedance test fist to analyze the patient’s body composition and metabolic needs. Food is such a personal and important part of our lives, and therefore changes to diet have to be made carefully and with empathy.
Gut parasites need to be reduced with the prescribing of effective herbal medicines, probiotics, and homeopathic remedies. Any damage done to the gut lining needs to repaired, also with natural medicines. Metabolism needs rebooting. It is also very worthwhile to have tests for food allergies so they can be identified and addressed. Hormones often need checking and rebalancing. The immune system needs to be supported, modulated and strengthened. Adrenal function may need to be recharged. When all these areas of the body mechanics have been addressed and sorted only then can one truly say that preventative medicine is being practiced.