Monday, November 5, 2012

Oh, Crap

Changing my dietary lifestyle has rendered all sorts of changes to my body. The first was that nasty sugar withdrawal, where I felt hungover all day. Then my skin started to clear up and I had fewer breakouts. My blood test results were astounding. And, also, I've noticed that altering what goes into my body has changed what... um... comes out.

It's not a topic that many people like to or choose to talk about, but our waste can be a great indicator of our health. (Remember this book?) For example, my old eating habits resulted in one movement a day, and I thought I was healthy because it was like clockwork, at the same time every day. Other people I've talked to about this don't even have one movement every day. (That means all that, er... crap... is staying inside of you!)

Then, when talking to a close friend who recently changed to a plant-based diet, she told me she was  had started having several movements a day. Eating better food, but creating more waste? It seemed like an odd paradox, and a little alarming at first.

Though I have not become a vegan or even a vegetarian, I did switch to a more whole foods diet with minimal processed products. And, wow, did I begin to notice a change! The same thing started happening to me. Maybe it was all the fiber in the plant products? Could it be that now that I was eating more "real" food, my body wasn't confused about how to process it? Perhaps my body was resetting itself to work more efficiently? Regardless, I do know that more waste leaving my system means less of it is staying in my body, and that's a good thing.

I once heard or read somewhere that three movements a day is optimally healthy. I don't have any source or data to back that up, but it has become a running joke where I say things like "I'm only 33% healthy today," or "Time to go get 100% healthy for the day!" with my closest loved ones who have supported me on this journey.

Again, I know this is a little bit of a taboo subject, and that this may be TMI for many. However, I do think it's important to pay attention to not only how often we go, but how we feel when we do. Is it a lengthy and painful process, or relatively quick and easy? Is the experience reminiscent of having the flu or does it "hold its own," so to speak? Is it only an occasional event or does it happen regularly at about the same time each day? Is everything bright red and you're in a panic, but then you remember that you ate beets yesterday? (Because, yes, that happens... and it can be pretty freaky!)

Analyzing your movements is just one way of understanding what your body is telling you. Other examples of "reading" your body's cues:
  • headaches that possibly come from being dehydrated
  • heartburn that can come from eating heavily processed or acidic foods and from being inactive
  • fatigue that often derives from eating foods with little or no nutritional value  (no food energy)
  • abdominal pains maybe caused by IBS due to lack of waste excretion from the body
Many people take pills to offset symptoms such as these. While there are some clinical and chronic cases that may require medication, many of these could be easily prevented in most people if they better understood how to acknowledge their bodily cues.

Instead of covering up the sign that something is "off" in your body, why not address the source? Try eating foods with more fiber instead of taking supplements. Try drinking water and resting instead of popping aspirin. Try eating fewer processed foods and replacing them with whole foods to boost your energy instead of consuming energy drinks. Opt for fewer deep fat fried foods and acidic products to see if you digest your food better.  These methods are much cheaper than buying medicine, and they may actually fix most of these common issues.

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