Food is not everything

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I am going to say something controversial today. Ready?

Food is not everything.

Yup, you heard me right. What do I mean exactly? Let me explain.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with all the different dietary advice there is? On my blog alone, you will find plenty of explanations on how to choose and cook your food so that it’s the most effective at improving your health.

You need to make sure your dairy comes from grass-fed animals, not grain-fed. Your grains need to be soaked and sprouted before you eat them. You need to ferment some foods to get the most of their probiotic content. You need to include enough of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. You need to choose chocolate with the best antioxidant score or better yet, make your own chocolate from scratch. You need to be using grade B maple syrup, not grade A. You need to avoid white sugar like a plague. You need to supplement with cod liver oil every single day. You need to eat enough starches but not too many. You need to do this and that.

Is all of that above really so important? No. You don’t need to follow all of my advice to feel better. I’d much rather you understood how all of those things affect your body rather than just blindly do the same as I do. Not everything works for everyone. And that’s ok. Drowning yourself in new information and trying to implement all of that at once is going to backfire for sure. And similarly, some things that I do not do are going to be what’s best for you. That’s just how bodies work. Each one is different.

Let’s look at a specific example – something that happened to me a few years back.

I was having problems with frequent urination. I would go to the toilet 15 to 20 times a day and the urine was always crystal clear. I was anxious, had low energy and low body temperature, got headaches easily, and could hardly sleep. My thinking was not clear. I had no idea what caused my condition. I would try to eat more whole grains and other carbs, hoping that it would give me more energy to function. It didn’t really work.

It turned out that my problems were a symptom of low salt levels, a condition called hyponatremia. The hyponatremia had been affecting all of my bodily functions and if left untreated, could have caused much more serious damage. This condition is prevalent in people with low metabolic rate (everything always goes back to metabolism, doesn’t it?).

So what do you do to fix that? You eat more salt. This is a very simple solution, you just need to know what is causing your ailment. In case of health issues like these, you need to treat the specific nutrient deficiency. The rest is just details that aren’t the most important at the moment. In my case, eating grass-fed dairy, fresh fruits and veggies, soaking grains had absolutely no effect on my wellbeing. Foods that are full of nutrients like vegetables and fruit were actually worsening my condition. I might have even made it even worse if I were to listen to mainstream dietary experts telling me to drink 10 glasses of water a day and avoid any salt intake whatsoever. Instead, going to a fast food place and ordering a big plate of fries would become my cure. Ironic, isn’t it?

I try to laugh about it now but back then, I felt devastated. It was like all my personal beliefs got challenged all at once and defeated by a McDonald’s joint. Up to that point, I was convinced that eating whole foods is all it takes to become healthy (well, not exactly all but you know what I mean). I was running a blog about nutrition and I was telling people to watch what they eat. What if I unknowingly made someone’s condition worse? That thought still haunts me at night sometimes.

That experience solidified my belief that no nutrients are better than the others. They exist in food so that we can ingest and absorb them. Cutting one nutrient out of your diet completely is never a good idea. So is blindly listening to me or any other health experts because you never know how your body is going to react.

Sure, eating quality foods is important but you need to learn how to prioritize and figure out what issues are you having and what is causing them. Experiment with different meals and watch your body’s response. You never know, sometimes a burger is all you need to feel better. And you won’t that find that advice anywhere in the media, I promise you.

Also, improving your general lifestyle habits is just as important, if not more important, as proper nutrition. You won’t get better if you don’t sleep at night. Here are the big three habits that I always say should be on your radar:

  1. Maintaining body temperature of at least 98.6 degrees and keeping your hands and feet warm throughout the day.
  2. Quality uninterrupted sleep of at least 8 hours each day.
  3. Daily bowel movements that don’t cause you strain and are properly formed.

There are more things I could add to this list, but I feel like those three are the most vital.

Being healthy is a long-term commitment. It can’t be achieved with just food, you need to be healthy in other areas of your life too. So instead of worrying about keeping up with all the latest nutritional advice, focus on the big picture. Focus on yourself and prioritize what makes you feel your best self.

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