Breaking The Vicious Cycle


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A girl who used to live in my apartment left behind a subscription to Self magazine. Self actually used to be one of my favorite magazines when I was in high school and my early college years. I even did the "Self Challenge" to lose weight. It challenged you to go the gym and eat lots of healthy whole grains. Not surprisingly, my daily servings of Kashi honeyed cereal and treadmill plodding did nothing to fix the spare tire I had around my waist and my chronic stomach aches. These days when I read Self I want to laugh at all the plugs for skim milk, yogurt smoothies, egg white omelets, and whole grain cereals...but really, this is a magazine hundreds of thousands of women take seriously, so I just feel sad. I was even sadder to see an ad for a weight loss product that supposedly "cleanses" you from the toxins you supposedly acquire from eating unhealthier. 

Uh, nothing makes me angrier than the "dirty" narrative many vegans particularly in the raw community subscribe to. According to it, meat and other naughty foods "putrify" in your colon, making it a toxic environment and causing pretty much every single problem you can think of. To atone you most scour your intestines with copious amounts of fiber to remove any traces of it and eat only "clean" and "pure" plant juices and salads. If you are sick it's YOUR fault for eating dirty foods. These myths, which have absolutely no science behind them, are perpetuated in popular books like Skinny Bitch.

The idea of the wrong diet being both physically and spiritually "unclean" has its roots in religion. Early pioneers of vegetarianism like cereal magnate Dr. Kellog used high fiber grains to cleanse the body of supposed impurities. It makes sense that such plenty proponents of vegetarianism also proscribed sex. Their mission was to separate people from their dirty Earthly bodies and desires. One of the reasons Kellog recommended vegetarianism was to reduce sexual desire. 

Contrast that with the paleo paradigm, which simply exhorts people to eat foods that are appropriate for us evolutionarily. The paleo approach embraces things shunned by Kellog and his ilk, from dirt and bacteria (which help modulate our immune system) to bone marrow. Cleansing? Guilt-mongering pseudoscience. The hilarious things are that meat doesn't ferment in the digestive system at all! It's starches and other foods that the body can't immediately utilize that ferment. Diets like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for people with digestive ailments like colitis prohibit those foods because they are part of a vicious cycle.

Bacteria isn't bad, but modern sugary diets can alter the gut flora and upset the gut ecosystem by feeding some bacteria that may not be good to have too much of. Grains and other food that is not what the human body evolved to digest can muck things up, but that doesn't mean you are dirty and toxic. So called "toxic" fat is actually digested very easily and turned into energy by our bodies. Probably the best diet you can eat if you have IBS is one that's the opposite of gut-abrading raw vegetable and grain diets being pushed by making of the quackelite: fermented veggies and plenty of easily-digested fat. Notice how many people promoting particularly raw diets for digestive stuff are still consuming blended fruit goo and complaining about how important fussy food combining is despite being on the "right" diet for so long. Talk about skinny bitch...I found such a diet made me bony and irritable from hunger and malnourishment. 

I found that the diet of fermented veggies and healthy fat put my IBS-attacked digestive system in good enough condition to eat normal foods within months. It both nourishes your digestive tract with important nutrients and stops the cycle of damage induced by inappropriate amounts of gut fermentation and irritating plant fibers and chemicals. 

The truth is that the colon isn't full of toxic plaque...ask anyone who has actually worked on a human body instead of someone who wants to sell detox products

Congratulations! You've just necrosed the mucosal layer of your intestinal lumen (English translation: you killed off the layer(s) of cells that line the inside of your intestine). I've been a paramedic for 16+ years, and am now in nursing school, and I've seen what mucosae looks like when it's been chemically abraded with, say, Drano: kind of brown/yellow, stringy, "mucusy," and looks a little like chicken fat. When intestinal mucosa is damaged/killed, it's not uncommon for it to slough off in strips or large sections, and to come out looking as described. Our bodies have mucosae and produce mucus for a reason. While it may be trendy to chemically peel it off and admire it in the collander in which you caught it, you've just screwed with the interface between your nutrients and your body, not to mention that you've given all the bacteria that inhabit your colon a great way to enter your blood and lymphatic fluid. Better hope your immune system is functioning well for the next few days.

As far as I'm concerned, as soon as I see loaded unscientific words like "toxin" and "putrid" I pretty much know the writer is pushing a agenda that has little to do with how the human body actually works. As a free thinker and as a woman, I want to reject this sort of quasi-relgious dogma that makes women feel like their problems are caused by being "unclean" and that the way to cleanse themselves is to torment their bodies with sugary juices and calorie-lacking salads. 

Paleolithic people didn't need to stick hoses up their asses to feel good and digest properly...we don't need these things either. 

Postscript: I also find it hilarious when people brag about going number two 4X times a day or more, like that's a good thing. As far as I'm concerned that's a bad thing to spend so much time in the toilet and have your insides depleted. Eades has a good take on this.