An Alternative Approach Isn't Optional - It's Necessary
In the conventional world, there are a lot of expensive and sophisticated treatment options for all sorts of conditions. Amazing advancements have allowed for lives to be miraculously saved and extended.
When a tumor grows so large that it impinges on a major blood vessel, you better believe that thing should be cut out surgically.
When a blood clot breaks free and flows up the carotid artery to get lodged in a blood vessel feeding precious areas of the brain, the most powerful anticoagulant medications and blood thinners better be administered quickly.
Any chronic condition can manifest acute symptoms that require acute intervention.
But what about the longterm treatment to, do I dare say reverse, chronic conditions…?
Well, that doesn’t exist. The conventional medical system has no interest in reversing any such disease. Why? Because the medical industry is a big business that profits on keeping sick people sick. Therefore, any chronic diagnosis essentially translates to dollars spent on office visits, laboratory testing and diagnostics, along with pharmaceutical management of symptoms, or other interventions associated with a chronic diagnosis.
Let’s back up for a minute and give the medical system the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there isn’t a purely greedy force that dictates everything. Maybe the medical system really does have our best interests at heart. Even if this were the case, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the conventional system to provide the necessary treatment to truly reverse chronic conditions. Why? Because the human body and the uniquely intricate pathophysiological processes that take place in the body still have medical researchers lost and confused, especially when it comes to “autoimmune” illnesses.
It’s not their fault! While we understand some of the more basic functions in the body and how it heals, researchers and scientists don’t know what exactly is going on in the body when conditions like hashimotos thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, scleroderma, and so many other “mystery illnesses.” Conditions such as these are relatively new and ever-changing with the emergence and evolution of environmental toxins and pathogens that lie at the root of many of the symptoms associated with these diagnoses.
While pharmaceuticals could theoretically be designed to get at the root of many of these illnesses - targeting the hidden pathogens while also supporting the natural detoxification from things such as heavy metals, pesticides, and other chemicals that strain the liver and impeded on proper immune function, I don’t see this happening any time soon. For one, pharmaceuticals by nature contain chemicals and preservatives that inherently burden the liver. Additionally, the pathogenic bacteria and viruses that cause many of these conditions are extremely wise and dynamic, able to shift and adapt to resist most exogenous treatments.
We are forced to rely on the inherent self-healing mechanisms of the body to truly heal and reverse any autoimmune illness.
The Most Powerful Intervention
In part 1 we talked about how an improper diet can set the stage for an underlying viral infection to thrive in a chronically immunosuppressed body. Food is powerful - way more powerful than any drug. It is so powerful because it literally changes our very flesh and blood. Our internal environment is so critically dependent upon nutrition. With optimal nutrition, the body can and does heal itself.
Why low fat? Three primary reasons…
When fat is consumed, we rely on bile from the liver and gall bladder to break down the fatty molecules to be absorbed through the gut lining and into the blood. Continued reliance on this function from the liver takes away the liver’s capacity to carry out the many other tasks related to metabolism and detoxification.
Additionally, when the fat finally makes it into the blood, like anything else that we consume, it goes straight to the liver. Since the body prefers to burn glucose (carbohydrates) for fuel, this fat is primarily stored. Fat molecules then get deposited into the liver, taking up precious space, again impinging on other important liver-related tasks to cause a sluggish liver, which can evolve into fatty liver disease or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
While the liver deposits this dietary fat in the liver, it is also continually trying to release this fat from the body (through the stool), which requires bringing fat back into blood circulation. As the blood fills up with fat, the vital fluid that feeds all cells becomes viscous. As the activity of blood cells is impeded by the presence of fat, oxygenation drops. We are no longer able to efficiently feed our cells and vital organs with the oxygen and nutrients required to heal themselves.
When we take out overt fats (such as meat, dairy, eggs, oils), we are able to make room for more nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Focusing on organic fruits and vegetables specifically, we provide both the fuel and the nutrients necessary for the body to heal. Of equal importance, when we eliminate much of the conventionally grown produce, processed foods, as well as the animal products, we also remove many chemicals and environmental toxicants that strain the immune system while potentially fueling pathogens.
Supplementing a Strong Foundation
Using food is the only way to truly create a strong foundation for health. It is this foundation that is required for the body to heal itself. Once the foundation is in place, natural products (specific herbs, nutrients, and foods) can be used to “cleanse the body” and also “attack” specific pathogens.
Specific products that cleanse the body primarily focus on supporting the liver and lymphatic systems, or also directly remove toxins from the body. These things include: celery (juice), cilantro, parsley, “green juice,” milk thistle, artichoke, burdock root, schisandra berry, dandelion leaf and root, N-acetyl cysteine. Those items that are known to be antimicrobial include: oregano, thyme, garlic, turmeric, ginger, mushrooms, lemon balm, licorice root, goldenseal, l-lysine, cats claw, olive leaf, elderberry. As always, consult an experienced and naturopathic or functional medicine doctor before starting any new therapy to make sure it is right for you.
Hidden Roadblocks Along Your Healing Path
I must note that more damaging than just about any harmful food or toxin is the longterm exposure to stress. Hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline have been absolutely critical for human evolution, though they are not intended to be surging throughout the body for more than a 30-second period a few times per week. Through numerous different mechanisms, chronic elevation of these hormones create a roadblock on your healing path. So, regardless of where you are on this path, learn to relax and trust the process. Rather than activating a full-fledged stress response to cut out the chicken from your salad at lunch, take a breath, relax, and trust that everything is OK, and will be OK, regardless of what one meal looks like. Much more on this to come in Part 3.
If a drug or pill was synthesized to do all of the things that a whole food plant-based diet does, of course without having any chemicals or additives that caused a side effect of stressing the liver and immune system, then I’d be all over it! For so many reasons, I can’t see that happening anytime soon. So, in the meantime, I encourage you to stick to eating real, natural foods and trusting the innate healing potential of your body.
This is a lot to digest, and there is more to come.
Stay tuned for part 3 of this 3-part series on healing autoimmunity.