Body, together

IMG_7329So it’s been a long time since I did a post on health-related stuff.

Partly owing to the evolution (de-evolution?) of the blog. When I first started blogging in whenever it was — 2006 I think? — I threw up posts on whatever was on my mind. Personal stuff, health-related stuff, politics, local news, etc. Today, I’m more active on Facebook than here. It’s easier to carry on conversations there — I’m not sure what FB the company thinks it is, but to me it’s an enormous open platform blog. I can post to my website and maybe somebody will chime in with a response. I post to FB and it can trigger a conversation among dozens of people. I like that :-)

There are two downsides. One, of course, is that the stuff I post on FB isn’t visible if you don’t have a FB account or aren’t my FB friend. The other — closely related actually — is that FB posts go down the rabbit hole. Whereas with my blog, once Google indexes a post, it will show up in the search results for-evah. Assuming it’s a decent post.

Which brings me to health-related stuff. Some of my blog pages on specific health-related topics get fairly regular hits from visitors, which I assume means they’re finding what I post helpful.

So I thought I’d update on my personal experience: here are the things I do today that I think have the most positive effects on my health.

DISCLOSURE: I am NOT a medical professional and this is NOT medical advice. It’s me blogging about my personal experience. Be smart and consider getting a professional opinion before you try anything you read about on the interwebs.

Iodine

Still taking it. Iodine is the only thing I’ve ever supplemented that had a huge, immediate, tangible effect on my health. Here’s my most comprehensive blog posts about it.

You do need to exercise some caution if you start exploring iodine supplementation, particularly if you have health issues. Educate yourself. The links at my old post are a good starting point. Another terrific resource is The Iodine Crisis: What You Don’t Know About Iodine Can Wreck Your Life, by Lynne Farrow.

Next up: Fluoride, Migraines, Resistant Starch, and my fave go-to alt-health blogs . . .

Fluoride

Still avoiding it. I made this decision around the same time I started learning about iodine: fluoride and iodine are molecularly similar, so if you’re not getting enough iodine your tissues will take up fluoride instead. Read more about fluoride here.

Since Monroe County fluoridates its water, I use this countertop water distiller to remove it. Yes it costs $199, but it’s cheaper than buying bottled water.

(Side note: I know there are people out there who think distilled water is okay for long term use as drinking water. I’m not one of them. I add minerals to my water after distilling. I can no longer find it online, but my decision was based in part on a WHO survey that correlated higher mineral drinking water with a number of positive health markers. Also after drinking distilled for a while my teeth became more sensitive to temperatures, which I took as a bad sign.)

Migraines

Over the years I blogged several times about migraines. Here’s one short post that sums up how frustrated I got over the whole thing:

I’ve run out of ideas. What I’ve tried: chiropractic, various nutritional supplements, progesterone cream, drinking more water, warming my hands & feet during the pre-headache stage, avoiding triggers. Nothing seems to help consistently. Anyone have any other ideas?

I’m happy to say, I finally, FINALLY slew that dragon (knock on wood).

First, I discovered that I do seem to have a trigger: tyramines. Here’s an article on the topic from Web MD.

I say “seem to have” because it’s not as simple as “eat a piece of aged cheese, pounding headache a couple hours later.” In fact, the only reason I discovered that there may be a link is by keeping a food diary for a couple of months, and one day it jumped out at me: I tend to get headaches if A. I eat a lot of something with tyramines in a single meal, or B. if I eat modest amounts over a period of several days. I.e. it can be cumulative.

That said, although discovering that I’m sensitive to tyramines helped (e.g. longer periods between migraines) it wasn’t a total cure: even if I cut tyramines out of my diet completely, I still get migraine once in a while.

Which leads to my second discovery: these things start in the muscles of my shoulder and neck.

I got started down this track when I picked up a copy of The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief by Clair Davies. I learned that if I massage certain points in my neck and shoulders as soon as I feel a headache starting, I can sometimes keep it from coming on.

Then came the third major breakthrough: I started to work with a guy who does exercise fitness therapy, a type of rehabilitative therapy. With his help, I’m gradually balancing out muscle groups in my neck, shoulders, and chest, which is improving my posture — i.e. correcting the goofiness that sets in when, like me, you sit at a computer for so many hours every day. It’s really, really helped with migraine prevention — so much so that although I once took Imitrix fairly regularly, I didn’t even bother getting a new prescription when my last one ran out.

Love that :-)

Resistant Starch

Up ’til now, everything in this post has covered stuff that I have been doing for months or years.

Resistant starch is newer, although it’s related to something I grokked a long time ago: that the bio-flora in the human gut is an important piece of the health puzzle.

I first blogged in 2006 — 2006! — about the connection between obesity and gut flora (link to the original article in that old post unfortunately now dead). Now it seems like articles on obesity-gut flora pop up every few weeks.

I’ve long predicted that researchers would start “discovering” specific organisms that confer health benefits, and we’d start seeing formulations containing those organisms on grocery store, or at least health food store shelves.

We’re getting closer to that.

But today, the critters you can buy in a bottle are not native to the human gut. They’re organisms found in traditional fermented foods. I’m trying to get this post done now, so I’m not going to Google it, but if you do you’ll see: the strains of acidopholus and bifidus etc. that you get in yogurt or through supplements don’t actually colonize your gut. They hang out for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but if you stop taking the supplement or drinking the kefir, they disappear.

That’s not to say they aren’t helpful, but what is probably going on is that they’re crowding out less-beneficial organisms, which then makes your gut a more hospitable place for native organisms that are more conducive to happy digestion etc.

Enter Resistant Starch, which is a type of starch that doesn’t break down in the stomach or small intestine, but instead is passed into the large intestine where it’s eaten by organisms native to that part of the digestive tract.

Adding RS to your diet, in other words, feeds certain types of gut critters.

I learned about RS from the blog Free the Animal, which for months now has been conducting a crowd-sourced body hack to explore and share the benefits of adding RS to your diet. Here’s a link to a new post that blogger Richard Nikoley coincidentally posted today — if you are at all interested in digestive health, tamping down inflammation, losing weight/optimizing your body fat-muscle composition, moderating blood glucose — you need to click that link and start getting up to speed on everything Nikoley and his cohorts have written on the subject.

Have fun :-)

Nikoley’s working on a book, too, which I will definitely read once it’s out.

Speaking of blogs

One more & I’m done.

Free The Animal is one of the two health-related blogs that I visit multiple times a week — i.e. I try not to miss any posts.

The other is Mark’s Daily Apple. I just so appreciate Mark Sisson’s approach. He always, always checks the science, and he seems to have such a natural curiosity about the effects of things like nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc. on health. So he finds such interesting things to blog about!

Here’s a great example, from a few days ago: How to Ensure Your Final Years are Good Ones.

Sisson is also my go-to resource for nutrition. He’s a paleo guy, of course, but he’s not doctrinaire, and bottom line, paleo means eating delicious, minimally processed foods that give your body the nutrients it needs to be as healthy as possible.

Doesn’t get much better than that :-)

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