Food as Fuel and Medicine
This is something I think about often. I’m in the middle of reading several books on the topic. Yes, there are conflicting ideas out there and only more time will tell which is the best approach … if there is a best approach. It’s more likely that there are a few best approaches. The data is heavily leaning away from the current American diet of highly processed and refined foods, low fat, high carbohydrate diet. It can be difficult to embrace a new way of eating for fear it is the latest fad and will be replaced by some new thing soon. However, it seems we have tested most of the combinations so far, after all, there are only so many food groups! A friend sent me a link to this article from CBS Sports about a change in nutrition for NBA athletes. I think NBA athletes have a lot in common with us. They need to get as much out of their body as possible. Those with autoimmune issues are trying to get the most out of our bodies with as little pain and fatigue as possible. Shockingly, according to the article, the NBA is not known for it’s good nutrition. These athletes struggle with injuries and surgeries yet are not giving their bodies the food they need to rebuild and repair!
This sentence really struck me! “We’re making the shift from basically worse than pet food to actual food,” Cate Shanahan said. Worse than pet food? Money is not an obstacle for these folks. Knowledge is!
With Howard, the intervention began where it does with most athletes (and non-athletes, for that matter) who need to change their diets. It began with sugar. It turned out that Howard was consuming the equivalent of 24 Hershey bars a day in the form of candy and soda — not to mention the additional sugar his body was making out of all the empty starches he was eating.
It was bad. At Cate Shanahan’s request, Howard had undergone a blood screening that revealed a frighteningly pathological profile. His glucose readings were through the roof, much higher than they should have been for a ripped, 27-year-old professional athlete who used to call himself Superman.
Howard was struggling to return to form after back surgery the previous spring, and was wrestling with the enormous pressure of whether to re-sign with the Lakers as a free agent. Cate Shanahan believed his performance and recovery were being seriously compromised by his poor diet. She saw the telltale signs of sugar addiction — spikes in energy followed by crashes and erratic motor skills that were indicative of nerves misfiring.
With diet modifications, Howard’s bloodwork is now much improved in a very short time. He avoids sugar, all processed foods, vegetable, canola, and corn oils. In contrast the current government food pyramid, these professional athletes now get at least 50% of their calories from healthy fats! The Lakers now only eat grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and pigs that are eating natural diet rather than fed on corn. If you want to learn more about the nutrition plan, read Dr. Shanahan’s book “Deep Nutrition.” I have just ordered on my Kindle and will review it at a later date. If you read several of the nutrition to fight autoimmune disease books, it’s the same nutrition plan. We, just like athletes, need to give our bodies the fuel it needs to repair damage done by autoimmune disease and allow us to lead normal lives! Processed foods, too much sugar, vegetable, corn, canola oils are thought to all contribute to inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of heart disease. If you have autoimmune disease, inflammation is your middle name. If you’re trying to get optimal performance out of your body to jump higher and run faster, you want inflammation at a minimal to build and repair tissues. “”I’ve definitely noticed my joints aren’t as sore, aren’t as stiff when I wake up when I don’t eat the bad oils,” Kaman said.” That’s music to anyone’s ears! It will certainly be interested to see how all this plays out in the big leagues. Stay tuned….