Author: Jonathan Clogstoun Willmott

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Friday, June 23rd, 2006 at 2:51 pm
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Health
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Dieting

By Jonathan Clogstoun Willmott of the Edinburgh Natural Health Centre
Here we look at some of the many alternative ways of treating this problem.

If you eat food, this will interest you: you probably eat the wrong foods! Most of us eat what our parents taught us to eat, and they ate what their parents taught them, and so on back through the generations. The habits we make in our first few years of life are hard to alter.
Barry Sears was in his twenties when his father died, aged 53. Then he realised that his grandfather had also died aged 53. Everyone on the male side of Barry Sears’ family died at a very early age, of premature heart disease. His brothers also died in their early 50s. He realised he carried the same genetics. So Barry had perhaps only 25 years to live. The thought concentrated Barry’s mind wonderfully. He couldn’t change his genes, but he did have an opportunity to change the expression of those genes.
Barry’s efforts to change his presumed genetic destiny from something deadly to something he could live with started 25 years ago in medical school on a National Institutes of Health post-doctorate fellowship at the University of Virginia. Barry Sears’ books on the effects of food on health have now sold in their millions worldwide, as he has become famous for his ‘Zone’ Diet. I’m not going to say much more about the Zone diet here but the moral is that by eating right for your particular constitution you can not only stay well, but also stop being ill.
I tend to be a somewhat cold person, though as a child I was warm. Through stupidity, vanity and ignorance in my teens, I wore too few clothes and subsequently worked too hard too often, since when I have been a colder person. I now benefit from warm food and drink. I have a friend who is always too hot. He can’t abide holidays in warm climates: he prefers Iceland and the North. He’s happiest in winter.
He took me out for a meal. As he was paying, he chose the menu. We had iced soup, then a salad, then sherbet ice pudding. After the meal he looked happy, healthy, and bounding with energy. I, on the other hand, was clutching my stomach. By the time we left the restaurant, while he was blooming with health, I was groaning with stomach cramps which soon became diarrhoea, and desperate for something to warm me up.
However, my turn came the next week. I chose a hot, spicy soup, a delicious stew, and apple crumble and custard to finish. When we left the restaurant, I was feeling comfortable, warm, energetic and positive. My friend was urgently removing clothing, his colouring was so high that I feared an explosion, he’d lost his bounce, and he’d become irritable and obstinate. (My observation!)
So we are each of us different. We have been brought up, and allowed ourselves to be influenced by, habits and ideas, customs and fashions, that may not suit our particular metabolisms. ‘Eat fresh, uncooked food.’ ‘Drink 2 litres of water a day.’ ‘Make sure you always eat one hot meal daily.’ ‘Five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.’ ‘No male should admit he can’t drink 6 pints of lager without getting drunk.’ I’m sure you can think of more!
No diet can suit everyone. No supplement will suit everyone. The latest best, most unbelievable, amazing food source, keep-you-fit-forever-and-make-a-fortune, whatever, will be superseded. We like change! Unlike animals, we don’t know what’s good for us. Animals when ill, often seek out – apparently instinctively – the food that will help them. We’ve lost that, and much of what I do, as my patients get better, is teach and show them how to start listening to their bodies again.
If you are ill, a change in diet may help you, but probably won’t, of itself, get you better. At least not quickly. That’s why you want treatment from your doctor, but doctors go through years of intensive study to learn how to treat people with medicine, not food. Food should be your first medicine, but doctors aren’t taught this. Because you expect fast results, the doctor uses medications that are powerful and dependable to clear your symptoms. These medicines were researched on people with conditions sometimes very different from yours. And these powerful medicines have side-effects which may be discovered only some time after the original research. And your body has to metabolise the medication, which puts a load on your system, so that sometimes you get symptoms from the medicine that complicate your condition still further.
Food, on the other hand, is relatively safe. True, if you eat too much of anything, or eat it too often, you’ll begin to notice a change, and some foods are certainly poisonous if taken in too great a quantity. (By poisonous, I don’t mean they will always kill you, but that you’ll get symptoms that in no way can be construed as nutritional.) For instance, too much coffee makes some people shaky and nervous. Carrots, you may think, are fairly innocuous, and a good source of vitamin A, but every few years somebody gets it into his head (it’s usually a him, not a her) that carrots are nature’s best kept secret, and eat 10 lbs of them daily, eventually going yellow. Too much marmite, or porridge, or anything, will do you no good. I remember a patient who had migraine, which benefited greatly from acupuncture, but kept recurring, until I discovered he was drinking the juice equivalent of 27 oranges every evening. He only stopped when I asked him how often he would consider eating 27 oranges in a day, let alone in an evening!
So what I am saying is that as someone comes for treatment and gets better, the food they eat may have to change to reflect their new level of health. For example, as I become warmer, I can stomach more cold foods, and were I to continue to eat the heating foods that I once enjoyed, they would make me ill.
A patient had had severe gastric disturbances for years, couldn’t take anti-inflammatories because they gave her migraines, and couldn’t sleep because of abdominal pain and nausea. So she was exhausted. She only ate raw fruit, vegetables, muesli and yogurt in the belief that it was healthier for her. I gave her a homeopathic remedy. I also made some suggestions for her diet, suggested she read the book I mention below, and start to eat warm instead of cold food. Two days after the remedy, the pain had gone: within four days she was sleeping and feeling much better and decided to stop all medication. Now she’s reading the book avidly, because she doesn’t want to keep coming to see me for treatment: she wants to stay well for herself. And as she has become warmer (a side effect of eating the right foods) she’s getting more hot flushes, formerly controlled by HRT. So she wants to see if the right foods will control that too, rather than by increasing her HRT.
Healthy people, untroubled by disease, may be able to eat raw food. Someone very fit may be able to survive on a food that nobody else would think of eating. Some years ago, soldiers were asked to see if they could survive on grass. It turned out that most of them could, at least for a while. Unfortunately there was a snag. They couldn’t do this and fight too, as all their time was spent cutting grass, cooking it, and chewing it, (as any farm cow would have pointed out had she been asked). But the rest of us need food that suits us.
How do you discover which foods are right for you? And if it turns out that the foods that actually suit you aren’t those you are used to, or even like, is it worth the bother? To answer the last question first, I can say that people who make the effort to change find it has been well worth the endeavour. Not only do they feel better, have fewer headaches, fewer allergies or sensitivities, better moods, sleep better, look better, better skin, clearer minds, more sexual energy and so on, but they don’t get ill nearly so often. They may even live longer and enjoy their lives more. Eating something a bit different seems a small price to pay for this.
So how to find out what suits you? The story about dieting’s best kept secret goes back to the early 1930s when scientist Weston Price published his findings about the eating habits of indigenous people around the world.
His work was developed by cancer pioneer Dr William Kelley, who began piecing together the many varieties of body types, each with its own comprehensive nutritional protocol, from vegetarian to meat-centred, and everything in between. His work has been refined over the years by William Wolcott, who is today the world’s leading authority on the system that is known as Metabolic Typing.
The Metabolic typing system aims to show you, by means of questionnaires, how to discover what your type is, and which foods are likely to keep you well. In Wolcott and Fahey’s book ‘The Metabolic Typing Diet’ there is a 60 question self-test. This isn’t infallible, but it clearly establishes for many people what they should or shouldn’t eat. Because there are many subcategories, the book isn’t big enough to do justice to them all, and online questionnaires take the matter further. You can also see a practitioner who has trained in the system, but I would say that this is only necessary if you are fairly ill and can’t find help elsewhere, or if your metabolism is very unstable.
Suppose you start eating as recommended, what happens? In my experience, stamina increases almost immediately. A tendency for high or low sugar levels ameliorates. Cravings become more manageable. With more energy you can take exercise that won’t exhaust you, and this, combined with the better diet, will start to bring your weight up or down to a level that is more satisfactory for your peace of mind.
As you begin to feel better, your desire for the wrong types of food and comforts will improve.
You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned protein diets, or carbohydrate diets, or Atkins diets, or any other kind of specific diet. This is because all these diets have their place, depending upon your own particular constitution’s metabolism: no single diet can ever suit everyone for ever.
But a warning: don’t assume that because you know what your metabolic dietary requirements are today, the same will apply indefinitely: they won’t. You’ll change, partly as the seasons change and partly because as you grow older, your metabolism alters, as it does during illnesses, during pregnancy, during stress, and in different climates and weathers. So you will become more sensitive to your body’s needs, and better able to maintain yourself in health, long-term, without needing to go on special diets. And if, being human, from time to time you eat what you know does you no good, all is not lost! You’ll notice your feeling of health has reduced, but you’ll know how to get it back on form.
And isn’t being in and on good form what we all want?

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