Let’s all get off our high horses for a moment, and dig a little bit deeper into the realm of healthy food.
Over the years, I have met a number of clients and health professionals who, in their commitment to wellness and the health of the planet, miss the forest for the trees. Their good intentions get in the way of their vitality. These people will eat their food allergens and refined carbohydrates when they can’t find good quality meat. If the only meat available has not lived on a pasture or is organic or is a wild-caught fish, then they won’t eat it.
Now, maybe this is the food allergy or the sugar addiction winning, compelling you to consume the very foods that are causing a problem, but I think there is more going on.
As some become more educated about the harmful properties of low-grade meats, such as antibiotics and growth hormones, they develop what resembles a phobia to eating these foods.
And let’s not leave socioeconomic factors out of the equation. Quality meats cost more, not to mention that certain communities don’t have them at all in their grocery and convenience stores.
I don’t care what the quality of the food is. Eating a combination of animal protein and vegetables will heal people.
My professional opinion: bad meat is better than no meat.
Eating well in our modern world requires constant negotiation. You make the best choice you can in a given moment, and sometimes that means that you eat farm-raised fish and beef, chicken and pork from confined animal operations.
That animal is still sacred, even if it was not raised and slaughtered in a respectful manner. Bless the food in front of you and move on.
If you can live on vegetables, salads, and nuts, I salute you. I can’t. Some people require more protein than others. As I will describe, there are hormonal and metabolic functions at work as they relate to animal protein AND there is an energetic quality to meat. Animal protein gives the body something to hold on to. It is grounding and sustains an active lifestyle in ways that other categories of food can’t.
In our home, I have the best quality meat that I can obtain, but when I travel, eat out, or go visit with family, I surrender my highest ideals, to what is next best. But at no point in time will I eat wheat, dairy, or refined carbohydrates to avoid conventionally raised meat. Those foods will throw me out of balance faster than poor quality meat ever will.
Here is another part of my rationale…
As it relates to nutrition, I believe that there are two major contributing factors to chronic disease in the United States: consumption of food allergens and poor blood sugar regulation.
Obviously, I do not want to over-simplify the complexity of a human being. Lack of sleep, physical activity, and high-stress lifestyles all deplete our vitality. But according to the study of epigenetics, which is control of the cell beyond the genes, only 2-3% of disease in this country is congenital, meaning a disease that someone is born with. Still, millions of people have a chronic disease label.
What do you think causes millions of people to get sick? I believe it's what we are eating and how we are living. The good news is...if what we are doing creates dis-ease, then we have the power to make different choices and create healthier outcomes.
Both food allergens and poor blood sugar regulation contribute to chronic inflammation in the body, which sets us up for epidemics of autoimmune disease, diabetes, cancer, and severe fatigue.
The body responds to the food you eat with hormones. Hormones dance together: one moves and they all move with it. It is an orchestra.
Here’s what happens. A diet of processed foods robs your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. When you eat refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, rice, sugar and alcohol, the pancreas releases insulin to push the sugar into the cells. The body is shocked: too many calories with so little nutrition, and the pancreas misses the mark and releases too much insulin. Over the next few hours, your blood sugar plummets, and you crave sweets. If you can’t get to your next hit in time, cortisol comes to your rescue. The adrenal glands release this hormone to raise your blood sugar.
A similar phenomenon occurs with food allergens. Wheat, dairy, corn and soy all have the ability to ignite an inflammatory cascade in the body. What comes to the rescue again? Cortisol.
Think of it this way. In the past, when I couldn’t breathe during an asthma attack, what happened? I would go to urgent care and the doctor would give me a corticosteroid shot in my butt. That is exogenous cortisol.
Cortisol is the body’s fire department. Released from the adrenal glands in the presence of prolonged stress and poor food choices, the fire department gets tired of emergency calls day in and day out. At some point, your body can’t take it any more and your collection of chronic symptoms gets a disease label slapped on them.
Congratulations – you now have a name for your illness, but as you can see, it is NOT the root cause.
This is a lot more than adrenal fatigue; this is hormonal fatigue. The entire endocrine system is struggling and hurting.
Cortisol raises blood sugar AND puts out the inflammatory cascade associated with ongoing consumption of your food allergen. It is a vicious, downward spiral, but it doesn’t have to be.
Consuming healthy fats, animal protein, fibrous vegetables, nuts, seeds, and berries can halt this process.
Contrary to conventional thinking, what shows up in my practice is people who do not eat enough animal protein, so here is an exercise for you: eat a serving of animal protein (the size and thickness of the palm of your hand) three times per day for one week. Observe your energy levels, your mental clarity, your food cravings and your general sense of well-being. You may be surprised at how such a small change yields BIG results.
And please, vary your protein intake: eggs, chicken and turkey with the skin on, beef, pork, lamb and seafood are all viable options. Eat a rainbow of protein, like you eat a rainbow of vegetables.
Yes, the quality of our food and farming matters AND so does our hormonal response to what we eat. We all have to pick our battles. My battle is with avoiding refined carbohydrates, dairy, and gluten, the rest will take care of itself.
Let’s not get so righteous that we lose the big picture. While I am committed to the long-term goal of changing farming practices in this world, I also know that if I don’t take care of myself and give my clients options, then I fail to do my job.
So if this dilemma is something that has plagued your psyche, it doesn’t need to. This is your permission slip to...
Eat Animal Protein in Peace!
P.S. If find you have a stumbling block that's getting in the way of feeling your best, don't pass up your chance to ASK CHAR for help (see the first installment of our new column Here). And make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our weekly email, where you'll get even more VIP goodies, articles and tools for reclaiming your vitality.