This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
About the spring of 2008 I enjoyed the best health I had experienced in 25 years. I gained 20 pounds and my blood level did not show anaemia. I looked like a healthy person and I felt terrific. There was no medical explanation whatsoever. I ate everything, I over ate and I was drinking. I was going to author something that I was going to call ‘The Drinking Cure’. I thought that I had beaten the illness – something in my physiology had changed.
Then of course he has a devasting intestinal rupture.
I think the past ten years has seen an explosion in similar stories- "I cured X, here is my advice." They underpin quite a few blogs, even perhaps this one. But as this blog has aged, I've realized how unimportant my own story is. Sure, I managed to get rid of some illnesses, but it's very hard to say how given how much of my life has changed since I started out this journey.
So many of these "Paleo" or whatever diet challenges change so many things about a person's eating, drinking, and living habits that's it's very hard to isolate what is going on. Same goes with personal stories. Furthermore, many autoimmune disorders are known to go into spontaneous remission. At best they give people leads to try, at worse they are used as a "banner for the cure" that makes people try to obsessively follow an individual's success and then become disillusioned when they don't experience that same success.
Reiner's disease, Crohn's, is a great example– I know people who have had great success with things like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and zero carb, but I know others who got worse on those same diets and ended up having to have conventional surgery and medication. Some of them felt like failures even though they felt better receiving conventional treatment.
But if we understood what really causes these diseases, they wouldn't be so frustratingly hard to treat.
Recently I was about to write a followup about how I fixed my neck problems, which had been gone for awhile. As I drafted the post, they came back worse than ever. Of course I am disappointed, but I'm entertaining the possibility that the problems are related to my work and work stress far more than to my posture or the exercise I do.
I've been glad to see that famous success story Terry Wahls is spearheading studies that would possibly show if her remission on a "paleo" diet would apply to others as well. Though a problem is that she is promoting the diet as a potential cure well in advance of these studies being completed. Is this harmless or not? I'm not sure.
If there is anything I've learned from blogging in this sphere, is that one person's cure is another person's poison and I've certainly encountered people for whom her extremely vegetable-rich diet would be harmful. I know from experience that I cannot consume such a diet as it causes immense gastric distress. I've gotten more tolerant of things like brassica vegetables over time, but I still have to be careful.
My own advice is to try a variety of things, but don't expect them to work for you just because someone else has a miracle-cure story.