When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I felt as though my world had collapsed, so now, as a nutritional therapist, I can certainly identify with my clients when they have found themselves in a similar situation. Being diagnosed with any disease is horrible; suddenly you are not firing on all cylinders when it looks as though everyone else around you is and you struggle to understand why this has happened to you.
I was devastated because I believed I was healthier than most and this is something I now hear on a regular basis. I have learnt so much from my experience, mainly, not to trust anyone but myself when it comes to my health and to do my research, taking a number of opinions on board to enable me to form my own. I beseech you to do the same.
Should we turn to the fruit bowl?
On reflection, I can see quite clearly where I was going wrong (there were actually many contributing factors) and why I began to suffer with symptoms that have been collectively labelled as MS but it is not always obvious as to why people become ill. I regularly used to eat foods that I wouldn’t touch now, such as large quantities of fruits, which I would devour before 12.00 pm to cleanse my liver – as one popular health guru advocated at the time.
My liver may have been cleansed but the fruits I ate were very sweet, out of season and not from my country. Interestingly, when I was diagnosed with MS I increased my fruit quota because I thought it would be healthy to do so and my symptoms worsened. Now when a client tells me they are healthy, I like to know by whose standards they are measuring their health and why they believe it. I inevitably receive a variety of answers, such as they have read something on the internet or in a newspaper or in a book or seen something on TV, so it must be true. I am all for educating oneself, but it is a minefield out there and we have to learn how to carefully pick our way through it, otherwise there is a danger we may explode – quite literally, especially where some folks bowels are concerned!
If someone tells us something is right, there will be somebody else to oppose it, so what is the truth? As a nutritional therapist, and colon hydrotherapist, I have to back up everything I say with clinical evidence but when I read quotes like the following, I really do despair:
‘But in terms of health and nutrition, fruit and veg have little to offer, and telling us to eat eight portions a day is compounding one of the worst health fallacies in recent history’ – By Zoe Harcombe UPDATED:09:55, 24 January 2011 Mail Online.
‘There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health,” said Dena Bravata, MD, MS, the senior author of a paper comparing the nutrition of organic and non-organic foods, published in the Sept. 4 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
To summarise the above, fruit and veg have no bearing on our health and foods sprayed with pesticides are as healthy as foods that are not? Remember DDT! This is just a simple example of what we have access to and what I find frustrating is that many clinical or scientific studies focus on the obvious and do not take other contributing factors into consideration; this is why I believe it is best to apply common sense and the principles of nature to what is being said, before arriving at an informed decision.
I believe we are not only losing our common sense, but also our instincts, causing many of us to become confused and misled, and no wonder – I like using breakfast as a prime example because when I was at college it was drummed into us how important this meal was, and the subject was often fuel for a lively debate.
Dynamite for the bowels
A popular breakfast is cereal, especially porridge and it is common to combine it with fruit – this may suit some but for others, it is akin to dynamite where their bowels are concerned. Never trust a fart over 50, is what a porridge and fruit fan once jokingly told me – but I see plenty of people under 50 who could identify with this!
Who told us to eat cereal for breakfast, porridge or otherwise, and why? Processed cereal seems to have evolved through clever marketing. Take cornflakes for example, which now bear no resemblance to the original Kellogg’s Cornflakes because in 1906, Will Keith Kellogg added sugar to the flakes that his brother John Kellogg used to give his patients for breakfast, to make them more palatable to a mass audience. This caused a rift between his brother and him.
To increase sales, in 1909, he added a special offer, the Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Booklet, which was made available to anyone who bought two boxes of the cereal – sounds familiar? The rest, of course, is history. Bircher muesli began without any added sugar but again, many popular mueslis today are loaded with sugar and sweetened, dried fruits. I find breakfast an interesting concept – break the fast – and I am always asked for ideas on the subject by people who are fed up with it, especially when, rather than feeling energised, they are ready to fall asleep at around 11.00 am.
Breakfast fascinates me (I realise I have to get out more). I found the Victorian breakfast particularly interesting – the diets of the rich and poor were in stark contrast – how many of us indulge these days in devilled kidneys, or have the ‘cold meat, game and fish’ left behind from the evening meal? Even the simplest of middle class breakfasts consisted of bacon, eggs, ham, haddock, toast, coffee and fruits but apparently porridge was often used as a cheap filler.
Devilled kidneys anyone?
Personally I don’t like eating meat and could never devour devilled kidneys, or porridge for that matter, but I am certainly not against others doing so and I am all for having last night’s leftovers for breakfast. I am sure some of you out there are already disagreeing with me and I encourage you to do so, after all, no one-diet fits all and there are pros and cons for every subject – that is how we learn.
So what has my research, common sense and principles of nature brought to the breakfast table?
First and foremost, variety – I do not have the same foods every day. I try to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables using native, organic produce. If I don’t feel hungry, I will have juices made from seasonal leafy greens and celery or if I don’t have time then a couple of teaspoons of Kiki Superfood.
In the summer I will eat seasonal berries with nuts and seeds and the occasional yoghurt. I will have food from the night before so in the winter I make vats of warming soups and in the summer, huge quinoa salads. I may eat a poached egg on some millet bread with rocket or have sardines in tomato sauce. I might have flax mixed with almond milk and a little local honey or whip up a protein berry smoothie – berries with a protein powder and almond milk.
Warming foods in the winter, cool in the summer
If I do have cereal then my preference is millet or red rice, again mixed with protein powder, almond milk and honey. I prefer warming foods in the winter and cool foods in summer, which makes perfect sense to me although most avid cereal eaters find my breakfasts unusual. These are just a few examples, which you may or may not find interesting but they are all very delicious and most importantly – varied.
Perhaps this has inspired you but the point of this article is to encourage you to draw your own conclusions and any constructive feedback will be welcomed. I hope you will agree I have tried to use at least some of the common sense I was born with!
The Hering Clinic Partner