Standing for Food, Infections, Genetics, Heavy Metals, Hormones and Toxins, the F.I.G.H.T program I’ve developed shows how each part of our wellbeing regime is vitally connected.
Only when we address these areas as a unified whole, can we have a chance of reaching optimum health. That’s why the F.I.G.H.T program is a complete, 360 way of caring about all aspects of our body.
In this article, we look at the building blocks of good health, and that begins with F – for Food.
Why are our food choices so important?
What we choose to eat has a very direct bearing on our immediate and long-term wellness. It’s the fuel that sustains us, impacting our energy level, the efficiency of our immune and defense mechanisms, our blood pressure, our mental wellbeing; indeed, all physiological processes are affected by what we put into our bodies. It’s then fundamental to look at food in detail – that’s why it’s at the forefront of the F.I.G.H.T program.
There are of course small steps we can take that go a long way to improving our diet. Lowering our calorific intake for example, or eating more fruits and vegetables or foregoing an excess of foods high in fat and cholesterol, can help keep our weight down and avoid the risk of contracting the biggest killers; heart disease and cancer.
It’s a sad fact however, that the majority of fruit and vegetables available to us are riddled with pesticides; our meat contains growth hormones and vaccines, and across all food types - preservatives and GM (genetically modified) ingredients are present.
Taking these unnatural elements into our body becomes inevitable. However, how much we take in; can be determined by looking at what’s in our food and acting accordingly. Looking carefully at the label of shop-bought ingredients and avoiding e-numbers, added sugars and colors, or eating organic food are two ways in which we can minimize some of the damaging bi-products that we inadvertently absorb.
Further ways to make sure we get the nutrients we need and to limit harmful toxin damage, is to take supplements. Extra nutrients and detoxifying agents give a much-needed hand to repair and protect cells – energizing and ultimately preserving a better quality of life for longer. In this day and age of pollutant-rich environments and proliferation of unnatural ingredients, higher cancer risks are present. Anything positive we can do to lower these harmful elements – like the countering effect of supplements has got to be a positive step we take.
It’s not only food and supplements that affect how we feel and are inside - we’re all different in our reactions to what we eat and which foods help us operate at our best. Despite these combinations varying greatly from person to person, with the right care and attention about what we’re putting into our bodies, we can help avert things like cancer and long-term health issues – simply by listening to our bodies and understanding how certain foods react with our body as individuals. This is why food allergies and sensitivities are on our list of priorities.
Food allergies and sensitivities
It’s estimated that 50% of us have some form of food allergy or sensitivity. Although this significant percentage may not be a severe physiological reaction as you would with say, a nut allergy, the body processing of certain foods may make us feel sluggish or at worse, slowly be harming us in the long term.
If the body’s immune system reacts to a particular protein, then this is classed as a food allergy. The serious food allergies only affect 3% of the population and a small percentage of those affected are severe and potentially fatal, whereas most of these are delayed or cyclic reactions.
The difference between food allergies and food sensitivities (also known as food intolerances) is that they are estimated to affect even more people – up to 75% of us. This covers things like sensitivity to lactose or gluten – this explains an increasing amount of foods available to us that are made ‘gluten and lactose free’. However, most people are unaware they are actually sensitive to these things. By continually consuming these ingredients, it becomes hard to tell the long-term effects and the symptoms' source becomes difficult to identify. This means effects like intestinal damage that leads to chronic symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy, needing to sleep after you have eaten; mood swings, depression, restlessness, headaches, migraines, joint pain, gas, bloating, and indigestion become more common.
Working out if you have any food sensitivities or allergies
As consumption of foods that we may be allergic to cannot be easily defined because we continually eat a mix of foods, one of the best ways I’ve found is to eliminate certain foods and specific food additives completely for two weeks. This is sometimes known as the ‘challenge’ or ‘elimination’ diet – commonly, this includes ‘challenging’ ingredients like wheat (gluten), dairy/milk (lactose), corn, peas, beans, peanuts, smoked and processed meats, sugar, chocolate, food colors and dyes, MSG, citrus fruits or indeed, any other food you eat more than once a week. As when undergoing a detox, whilst not taking these foods and ingredients into the body, our system has time to process and rid potentially harmful food proteins. Once we have a clean sheet to work from, it’s then that these foods and ingredients are introduced back into the diet one by one. As long as a note is kept of which foods you’ve re-introduced and any resulting symptoms experienced – you can target the foods to which you may be sensitive. These foods should be brought back into your diet slowly, with a period of 1 to 3 days to monitor any adverse reactions. These reactions could be anything from feeling sluggish, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, to skin reactions like blemishes and rashes.
This method is well illustrated in Patrick Carlisle’s book called The Medical Detective: Memoirs of a Most Unusual Doctor. One such notable example he gives is of a woman who struggled for nearly a decade with her weight, but after carefully following the elimination diet, lost 60 pounds. This is definitely a case where a common vegetable – the carrot – was at the heart of her food allergy and subsequently, her inability to lose weight.
Another highly recommended method is to measure your glycemic index. This works by eating one food at a time and measuring the blood-sugar level. This is known as an ALCAT or Elisa test. This can be done at home by taking a single drop of blood, using a simple kit and determining an elevation in blood sugar levels. This has huge implications for diabetes and early detection and prevention.
There're also other ways I’d recommend, like the method highlighted by Dr. Arthur F. Coca, the Chief of Allergy at Columbia, in his book The Pulse Test. Looking at our heart rate by counting the pulse, we can identify which foods make our heart work harder and therefore, determine a protein incompatibility. This is the same principle behind the blood pressure test – again working by cutting out foods, then re-introducing and monitoring the reaction.
What’s clear is that there are numerous ways to test for potential food allergies and sensitivities. Logically, we should all be avoiding high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, fluoride, GMO, and all irradiated, over-processed and fast foods. “Leaky gut” syndrome and GERD (reflux disease) are almost unavoidable with the GMO, HFCS, soy and corn in everyone’s diet, providing a pesticide-like effect in our intestines and altering our flora within.
Food - a fundamental part of good health
Testing foods and conscientious eating go a long way towards alleviating stress and strain on our bodies. We can also take supplements, which are not just a powerful way to boost our immune systems and supply nutrients we lack, but they work towards countering all the harmful toxins, preservatives and genetically modified ingredients we take on board.
Although the way each of our bodies responds to certain foods and ingredients is complex, there are many clear ways of determining our personal sensitivity and a potential allergy. This means we’re able to positively affect our immediate and long-term health – truly taking the F.I.G.H.T for optimal health into our own hands.