Today I round out my Wahls-inspired series on the health benefits of eating various classes of plant matter. If you’re just now joining us, be sure to watch the video in which Terry Wahls explains how eating a Paleo diet rich in leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and brightly colored produce (plus meat and seaweed and fish and offal) coincided with a regression in her rapidly-progressing MS. Then, read the previous two installments on leafy greens and crucifers to get completely caught up.
All ready? Good.
“Be sure to eat your sulfur.”
When’s the last time someone told you that? Except for the Wahls talk, probably never. My mother certainly didn’t.
Few people even know much about sulfur besides the whole rotten egg, fire and brimstone thing. It’s a mineral with a role in our physiology, but it doesn’t showboat like the obscenely corporeal calcium, forming bones and teeth that you can literally feel and see. It won’t immediately soothe your restless muscles or put you right to sleep, like magnesium. Unlike zinc, it doesn’t figure prominently in the production of a sexy hormone like testosterone. And though you can take iodine and get an instant reaction from your thyroid, taking sulfur doesn’t produce anything tangible. In short, sulfur lurks in the background and keeps a low profile.
Maybe it was a raucous night out with too much to drink or an oddly tasting (now you know why) meat dish at a new restaurant. Perhaps you succumbed to the latest stomach bug – care of your jamhanded preschooler. Or maybe you’re making your way through several weeks of intense morning sickness (nature’s rather cruel joke, isn’t it?). Whatever the case, you’ve been bent over the porcelain throne for the better part of the last few hours – or stuck sitting on it. Alternatively, you’re in agony and wish to any and all forms of Providence that you could simply throw up already to get some relief. When the worst of the drama is over or you realize it’s probably not going to hit a crescendo, so to speak, you realize you feel weak and maybe a little shaky. It’s a sensation, you imagine, akin to having your insides cleaned out with a turbo suction engine. Nothing is left, and it’s starting to feel funky. Especially if it’s been a longer haul than the hours since last night’s questionable dinner, you know you need to eat or at least drink. But what exactly?
How the Primal community loves the concept of a dietary paradox. How we eagerly point to its various manifestations as supportive evidence for our way of eating, living, and moving. You know the French Paradox and how it confounds the experts. To mention all those smug surrender monkeys with their brie and their butter and their duck confit and their Gauloises and their seeming imperviousness to heart attacks is to make Dean Ornish binge on bran and pull out tuft after tuft of frizzy hair. And then there’s the lesser-known Israeli Paradox, which attempts to answer why Israelis have skyrocketing rates of heart disease despite a skyrocketing intake of “healthy” omega-6 fatty acids. In its wake, Walter Willet might be found weeping into a mug of safflower oil. There’s even an American Paradox – those who ate the most saturated fat had the least coronary heart disease – that had the minds of researchers thoroughly boggled.
By now, you’ve probably seen the TedX video from Dr. Terry Wahls, a former Tae Kwon Do champ and current MD diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (the kind that degenerates your brain and has you relying on a wheelchair to get around) who describes her transformative experience with a dairy-free Paleo diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meat and organs, and seaweed. Relegated to and totally dependent on a wheelchair in 2007, by 2008 Wahls had adopted the diet and was commuting to work on a bicycle and now incorporates this kind of intensive directed nutrition into her primary care and brain injury clinics. If you haven’t, go ahead and take twenty minutes out of your day to go watch it. It’s a real eye-opener (but not all that surprising to longtime readers). Think of it as a grass-fed, wild-caught success story.
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