Monday, February 26, 2018

Pick Your Poison

 I had a fascinating discussion a while back with two ladies in the health and wellness community; one of them a Fibro Warrior, like myself, who has overcome too many physical challenges to count.  (to be honest I am in awe that she can walk at all let alone run a successful business)

The topic of toxicity came up… As one of the things I have taught and will continue to teach, is that Fibromyalgia can be successfully managed by systematically removing toxins from your body and your environment.  However the ladies brought up an exceptionally valid point. The more toxins you remove, the more sensitive you seem to become… (this does not of course apply to those suffering from MCS – Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – that is an entirely different subject) so the question must then be asked – is there a point when removing toxins from your body becomes detrimental to your health?

Into today’s world of anti-bacterial this and all-natural that, most young parents who listen to the wisdom of their elders have tapped into the knowledge that the more ‘dirt’ you expose your child to, the stronger their immune system will become. If we are to embrace this as a truth then does it not also stand to reason that this systematic defense to our environment that the incredible human body creates in our youth would follow us throughout our adult life.  Our bodies are designed to handle a certain level of toxicity, it’s simple the way it works; there are entire organs dedicated to exactly this task and it is only when we are unconscious and excessive in our intake of toxins that this system becomes overwhelmed and endangered.  So where do we draw the line?

I think the line, as with everything else in healing is an exceptionally personal thing.  Where mainstream medicine often fails is that it is not set up to deal with patients on an individual level; a one-size-fits all-solution seems to be the norm is Western medicine, perhaps due to limited resources and funding, perhaps due to limited time.  Whatever the reason, this practice of not building unique treatment plans seems to me a flagrant disregard for the simple truth that every(body) is unique, and every healing journey must honor that uniqueness.

From my own personal experience, I have learned that systematically removing toxins from the body can help to alleviate my fibromyalgia symptoms; a trial and error process that took me over 2 yrs. of experimenting.  Yet although there are some common stressers (environmental, chemical, physical, and emotional) that affect almost every fibromyalgia patient I have worked with, there are some definite differences that should be acknowledged. For example, I am super sensitive to Gluten, it causes inflammation which results in all over body soreness but I have worked with a woman who for some reason becomes very ill if wheat is removed from her diet. I am also extremely sensitive to cold, it cause my muscles to tighten, and thanks to my ‘disease’ my muscles have a difficult time releasing on their own so I experience intense pain and reduced mobility when I am exposed to moderate to extreme cold.  Interestingly enough, I once interviewed a woman who prefers cooler temperatures, finding that extreme heat and humidity only serves to slow her down and exaggerate the fatigue that naturally comes with having fibromyalgia.  Talking to, and studying people with Fibro has lead me to conclude then that each patient has their own unique set of stressors (things that will trigger a flare-up) and as such it is up to each individual to go through a process of self-discovery (because I am sure we can agree that the doctors cannot do this for us).
Speaking as somebody who has gone through this process and successfully managed to get off my medications and supplements and still be mobile and pain free, I can honestly tell you that it is a daunting experience.  I found that I needed to make some very challenging choices, of which foods (and habits) I was willing to sacrifice for my health, which is where the title and the conversation that I had with these remarkable women come into play. 
Over the years of self-experimentation I have discovered that I don’t have to eliminate ALL of my stressors at the same time; for instance if I am in a hot, humid climate that is close to the ocean, I am able to up my intake of foods that would otherwise trigger my symptoms (sugar, gluten, alcohol). If on the other hand I am in a cold climate, I must be increasingly diligent about my diet, and up my intake of supplements that replace the natural healing effects of being in the sun and exposed to ocean air (ocean air is naturally full of the minerals that all our bodies need to promote healing).  In effect, over the years I have learned to pick which poisons I am willing to ‘give up’.  I have also discovered quite by accident that the more I remove these toxins from my body, the longer my body goes without them, the more sensitive to them I become.  If for instance in the winter months I live on a clean diet that is highly reduced in sugars, gluten and other things my body does not like, I cannot simply begin eating them in large quantities as soon as my plane touches down in warmer climates.  There is an adjustment period needed as my body adapts to its new environment and eventually to a new diet.  Eventually I am able to eat baked goods, enjoy pasta and have my occasional glass of red wine without suffering the painful effects of toxicity overload.  Yet if I wait too long upon my return to warmer climates to being to partake in these ‘treats’ I find that my body becomes excessively sensitive and that I am not able to transition as easily and smoothly to a more palatable menu. My only conclusion then is that our bodies require a careful balance that it is up to us to discover and maintain. 

Now, please understand, that I am not blind to the fact that I am suggesting that somebody who is already suffering immensely (I have had my fair share of Fibro Flare pain) give up some of the comfort foods and habits that helps them to deal with their health challenges.  I empathize with how scary the prospect may be which is why in conclusion to this little bit of sharing I would stress that I don’t believe it is healthy neither to give up ALL of the foods/drink that you love, nor to do so too quickly.  Either option is a one-way ticket to misery and failure; the first rule of healing is to ALWAYS be gentle with yourself and if you follow that rule, you will inevitably find your way to success.  Understand then that it is a process that needs be done over time, and it is an exceptionally personal journey.  I recommend starting simply, by upping your water intake, taking stock of how many fruits, vegetables and clean meats you eat compared to how much not so clean food and drink you ingest.   Then ‘pick your poison’, start small, with something that you know (research this of course if you wish but sugar is a good place to start- I highly recommend seeking out and watching the documentary FED UP – you may read about it HERE) that is both widely known to be bad for your health and that you can easily give up.  Remove or reduce drastically this food item from your diet for two weeks, if you do not see an improvement in your pain level (from a 9 down to a 7 is a huge win) then this particular thing is not a trigger to you and you may partake as you wish.  However do keep in mind that foods that are not healthy add stress to our systems regardless of whether or not they are triggers so if you can continue to live without it or with less of it then please do so.   You may continue this process as you wish, but remember to ease into it and not to overload yourself emotionally or physically with this process.  BE GENTLE!!!

In subsequent blogs and video’s I will share my own step by step adventure into healing, and information on how different toxins and supplements affect the human body but for the moment let us simple leave it at this.  The only person who can do this is you, and though you may be guided by others by way of their sharing of information and experience, your health and wellness adventure is in your hands.  It never hurts to start doing your own research, to start gathering knowledge and learning as much as you can about your illness and how it may be managed.   Your best weapon against disease is your desire to be well, use it.  Until we meet again I wish you a safe and pleasant journey on your adventure into health and wellness.

Niki Norlock, author of Truth - My Synchromystic Journey

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