There is so much to be grateful for with all the extraordinary advances we now enjoy with modern living. For most of us, even on our toughest days, we have an ease of lifestyle that even our grandparent’s generation would scarcely have dared to imagine. Here in Ireland, in many ways, we’ve never had it so easy – access to food, water, housing, warmth, communications, transport, career opportunities, clothing, medicine, healthcare, entertainment and relative safety – when you stop to consider how different your life would have been even 100 years ago let alone 1,000, a mere blink of the proverbial eye, it is breath-taking how rapidly human society has developed.
However, have our comfortable lifestyles come at a price? In the pursuit of convenience, when it comes to food and food production, has the need to produce quantity and profit led to an increasing loss of integrity and quality?
While we have certainly evolved with whiplash speed socially and culturally, biologically we really haven’t changed that much over the millennia. What this means is that our human biology is still mandated to require our fundamental human diet. Every species has a diet. Pandas have a diet that requires and can make use of bamboo. Beavers have a diet that requires and can make use of timber. And dung-beetles, well, the clue is in the name! We humans couldn’t hope to survive on bamboo, timber or excrement. While this sounds obvious and simplistic, what’s less obvious is how far we have strayed and how quickly we have forgotten the natural path of the human diet and moreover, how we fail to add to two and two.
So, what is the answer to this particular equation? Our ancestors were hunter gatherers. Consequently, we evolved to require and be capable of processing meat, eggs, fish, certain vegetation, fruit and honey. We gained domesticity, increased certainty in food supply and grain crops with the dawn of agriculture and more recently, with the advent of the industrial age, we entered the era of food engineering and food chemistry. As my elderly neighbour once said, “Too clever isn’t clever at all”.
Today we are confronted by row upon row of supermarket shelves stacked high with a dazzling abundance of consumable goods. But in truth, these alleged foods contain varying degrees of ingredients that we not only don’t need, but our bodies cannot make use of in any meaningful or beneficial way. We simply haven’t evolved to need them or make use of them.
Type 2 diabetes is just one of a myriad examples that reveal the extent to which our bodies are adversely impacted by our modern diet and lifestyle. As weight gain and obesity levels soar in global populations across all age groups and demographics, leading to unprecedented rates of pre-diabetic and diabetes type 2 conditions developing, it really is time we add two and two.
While Type 1 Diabetes is a congenital condition that needs careful lifelong management, Type 2 is regarded as a ‘lifestyle’ illness. This subtly shifts the blame to hold individuals entirely at fault for their diabetic condition. And yet, in truth, we have become blinkered by a food industry that has duped the masses and entrained the ‘people’ to buy and consume a plethora of non-functional foods; foods that our bodies do not understand, do not require, cannot make use of and are adversely affected by. Perhaps equally accountable therefore, is a food industry that coerces consumption of fake food?
Fundamentally, in simplistic terms, Type 2 Diabetes is effectively a repetitive strain injury to the pancreas. Many of the foods we commonly eat on a daily basis are consistently taxing and depleting the pancreas (with a domino effect and impact on all the vital organs) until the pancreas is simply no longer able to meet the daily challenge of processing modern foods, loaded with hidden sugars, additives and chemicals.
What is remarkable however, is that while we can spend years, decades even, drip-feeding our bodies daily hidden sugars and damaging foods that continually nudge it towards a diabetic condition, given half a chance with the correct nourishment and true human diet in abundance, and the body will usually rally itself and is capable of the most extraordinary repair and recovery.
Just one example from my clinic is that of a woman in her 50s who came to me in June, alarmed by her rapidly worsening condition. Her whole life, she had only ever gained weight, little by little, year after year, until at 20 stone she quickly went from a pre-diabetic range (7.8 -11.5 blood sugar levels) to a dangerously high blood sugar reading of 22.5 putting her at risk of a stroke (normal blood sugar range is below 7.8, anything above 11.5 is considered diabetic). By the time she reached out to me for help, she had suddenly lost her vision, had repeated styes and irritated eyes, savage insatiable thirst, relentless urination day and night and was on the brink of being put on a range of medications, which she desperately wanted to avoid. She joined my WildFit 90 Day Programme, which gave her the education, understanding in food and behavioural psychology and regular supportive coaching to jump in wholeheartedly with making the necessary nutritional changes.
Within 15 days, her blood sugar level had dropped from 22.5 to 5.9 and has remained stable at around 5.7-6.2 ever since. Her eyesight has gradually reinstated and all other symptoms have completely resolved. For the first time in her life, literally, she is shedding weight. She is delighted to be discovering the outline of hips and ribs she hasn’t felt for decades with her clothing becoming looser and looser each week and an increasing level of energy that sees her bounding out the door for daily long walks. We have a year-long plan in place to work with re-calibrating her body and health through WildFit, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs but she has already dodged the diabetes bullet. This kind of recovery from diabetes is increasingly familiar, so much so that in WildFit and nutritional circles, the term post-diabetic is emerging. That said, remaining in remission does require maintaining a human-friendly diet.
So, let’s wise up. We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water – but we do have to get much more discerning and empowered. We can enjoy all the benefits of modern living but take back control of our nutrition in a way that supports our bodies to be radically healthy. Two plus two isn’t such a complicated sum after all, what we put into our bodies will impact, influence and determine our health, for better or for worse.