I’ve heard that there are many ways to skin a cat, and I believe this. I also believe that no crazy cat-skinning method should be dismissed outright. Ideas are useful even if they’re wrong.
One idea I like very much comes from a book I’m reading called The Wild Life of Our Bodies. The author introduces a concept he calls the “Pronghorn Effect.” Pronghorn are antelope-like animals that live in the central U.S. They are way faster than they “need” to be to outrun wolves and other predators in the modern environment. If evolution does not “overdesign,” then why are they so fast? Tens of thousands of years ago, American cheetahs were still around, so the speed of the pronghorn is an anachronism, a relic of selection pressures from a different era. Their speed allows pronghorn to escape wolves easily, but such speed carries with it certain other costs which, in the modern milieu, one must consider maladaptive.
The author applies this line of thinking to hookworm therapy for treating Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases. Apparently there is a black market for hookworm eggs in Mexico. People go there to get infected, hoping for a cure. The idea is that our inflamed guts are like the pronghorn—lacking the parasitic worms we evolved with, our immune systems are hypersensitive. (Note that people in developing countries have high rates of infection with intestinal worms and they don’t get Crohn’s.) Hookworms and other parasitic worms release hormones that “quiet” the immune system. Intestinal motility is reduced. For some, the treatment is a revelation. For others not so much.
This resonates with me because, back in the mid to late 90s, I had IBD symptoms and couldn’t get any relief. I investigated, and dismissed, celiac disease because a) the Internet was young and the celiac websites seemed full of crazy people, and b) I wasn’t ready to accept a life without bread. One of my doctors suggested, politely, that I might be a hypochondriac. And, apparently, hypochondriacs respond well to massive quantities of valium. The doctor gave me a golden ticket and I fell in love with those diazepam 10 mg blue pills. Apparently valium, and also vicodin, decreases intestinal motility (I learned about vicodin from another doctor…I acquired many doctors to feed my habit…and then discovered how to order what I needed online from India without the permission of a doctor). Rather than having 3 to 5 bowel movements before lunch, I would have 3 to 5 bowel movements per week. I found that valium and narcotics made shitting much easier. But I recall little else from this period.
No one wants an addict in the house and soon I was forced to choose between my marriage and psychoactive drugs. I came upon another solution quite by accident. When taking antibiotics for an infection, I found that I could once again shit properly. Although, the poops were tiny pellets, they were merciful and infrequent. Soon I began nuking my guts at regular intervals with Amoxicillin and Rifaximin (Xifaxan). Unfortunately the returns from this therapy diminished over time.
I hit upon the ideal solution after reading a treatise by “The Bear” (Owsley), a fervent proponent of the All Meat Diet. After 8 months of eating literally nothing but meat, I began to introduce a few plant materials, such as iceberg lettuce and canned pears, which were well tolerated. But in this period I clung to my central premise that no cure is complete without a pill. I was taking 30 or 40 supplements daily in addition to my 2-3 pounds of rare ground meat.
Today, I’m fully capable of eating several plant products, including potatoes, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. I’ve got an official celiac diagnosis, and I no longer think about bread. I got divorced. Stopped taking supplements, for the most part, except for some Vitamin D. The decades-long chapter of dealing with my ass has been closed. The end of an era that persisted because I fiercely clung to the idea that the solution to every problem is a pill.
What persistent, albeit wrong or misguided idea(s) has (have) shaped your health and nutrition worldview? What crazy thing(s) did you try before hitting upon a more elegant (and efficient) method of cat-skinning?
What persistent, albeit wrong or misguided idea(s) has (have) shaped your health and nutrition worldview?
I used to think that humans could 'design' foods better than nature.
Oh, I thought you meant BOOKWORM therapy, there seems to be alot of that here. I find the helminthic theory compelling and gross. Luckily, I have been able to beat back autoimmune issues through a low carb diet. Eating grass-fed beef is more fun than letting live worms crawl into me on purpose.
For me, it has to be the low-fat, whole-wheat phase. I actually managed to lose about 60 pounds following the regimen--and I'm pretty sure it explains why I cannot tolerate any amount of wheat now.
I remember using the "better" industrial oils in small quantities instead of butter and animal fats. I bought boneless, skinless turkey breast. I did eat lots of raw salads and a moderate amount of fresh fruit.
Some good things happened for a while--cysts disappeared from my breasts and the radiologist actually walked out to the waiting room to ask me what I was doing. My then-active gum disease got much better.
The crash occurred when my skin got so tender all over that it was uncomfortable to wear clothes and a shower was painful. The shower got my attention and I realized I was seriously deficient in fat my body needed. I went back to fattier meats but didn't remove the whole grains and my tissues were much happier but I also re-gained the weight I'd lost plus . . .
That's why it's so nice for me now. My body tissues are very happy with the steady intake of animal fats, along with vegetables and fruit, and I'm able to turn off cravings at will just by cracking open a bottle of fizzy water kefir.
A.)1980-1989 100% PRITIKIN DIET Total cholesterol 83! Let me repeat, 83! Wondered why I had huge Pollen Allergies and was very depressed.... B.) 1980-1982 Ironman Triathon Finisher - no further description would be helpful C.) 1987 till-four weeks ago. Followed Mike Mentzer's theory on working out the muscle to FAILURE (Same as Body by Science) Injuried my neck /back during every worout, no matter which body part day it was for twenty four years! I now work out to failure minus two. Works like a charm. ........... I nominate myself for the George Costanza, "I am the most stupid award". ........Also,Let me repeat again, 83, not 183..... 83. The ratios were'nt bad though! :)
My most misguided belief was that most doctors could diagnose my illnesses, treat the root cause of my illnesses, and cared about my health and well-being more than their need to be right or to "know everything." I've lived 30 years with numerous chronic illnesses and didn't begin to heal until I made a commitment to myself to research my own health fully, to question diagnoses, to not take medications blindly and most importantly to only go to doctors who I could tell generally cared about my health and well-being. Developing PTSD and not seeing a doctor for over ten years helped, too, as weird as that sounds. It made me research alternatives and become pro-active (I haven't cured the PTSD yet, but will go to doctors for many reasons again now). We are brought up believing that doctors and their pills can cure everything. What a revelation (and a lot of grief) when I discovered this wasn't true.
When I switched from being a long time vegetarian to a strict vegan, I thought that I had finally discovered a cure for all that ailed me, and at first, it really seemed true. I lost a lot of weight, and felt more energetic. My migraines were still around, but I thought surely it was only a matter of time before they, like my excess fat, would just fade away. Then I became pregnant, and miscarried, and bled for literally months...I was young and my partner and I were travelling, living in a camper van, and I was wholly ignorant about nutrition, pregnancy, and the fact that it is not normal to bleed for an entire summer. I was exhausted, and when I finally resolved my endless miscarriage, I got pregnant again right away...I gained a LOT of weight, was tired all the time, craved meat every day, especially fish(and never ate it because I wanted my baby "to be pure"), I was anemic and when my daughter was born, the placenta literally fell apart...all of this, and I still clung to veganism as the end all be all way of eating...until my daughter was a toddler and not growing at all. Our naturopath had me come in to weigh and measure her twice a month, and for three months, she didn't grow at all. I was exhausted and fat and depressed, and the naturopath looked me in the eye and told me that I should feed my daughter animal foods, and that I should strongly rethink eating them myself. Something in me clicked when she said this, and after a discussion with my husband, we started slowly introducing raw dairy, pastured eggs, fish, pastured poultry, wild game, and eventually, grass fed ruminants. I learned a lot about WAPF and my daughter grew, I disovered Atkins and did a WAPF style version, which I now know was basically Paleo...I lost weight, gained energy, improved depression and anxiety and got a lot less migraines...all while eating lots of meat...friends from my vegan days are shocked when they learn that I am such a big meat eater...we had a vegan wedding! I'm still on this journey to improve the health and well being of myself and my family, but I feel that I am finally on the right road, and have found the best way to skin a cat!
This is an interesting post and question. I admire the lengths you were willing to go in order to restore your health. For me, it was the notion that we have little to no control over the state of our health...in other words sickness and illness are simply a matter of fate. Go to the doctor and take your medicine like a good little boy or girl all the while continuing to eat a standard American diet. I realize there are instances when medicine is vital. However, an ounce of prevention, paleo diet and exercise are worth a pound of cure.
It's funny how you talk about the "hookworm theory"- my immunology professor talked about this, and it's not at all a random "hey, let's put worms in you and see if it helps", it is a way of managing inappropriate responses to your environment, resulting in autoimmune disorders. It is also one of the major ideas behind the hygiene hypothesis.
Basically, you have an antibody called IgE, which binds to allergens and triggers the release of histamine. Histamine (ie. what you take an anti-histamine to block) creates a full blown, inflammatory response, sometimes to totally innocuous substances (pollens, peanuts, shellfish). We also know that IgE is a protectant factor against parasitic worms, which are important for our body to be able to launch an attack against. If children are not exposed to parasitic worms, aka most children not living around the equator in undeveloped/developing areas, they body will use IgE to respond inappropriately to things that aren't actually a threat. Exposing your children to parasitic worms at an age where they are healthy enough to fight them off, but young enough that they haven't developed allergies, can prevent autoimmune disorders later in life.
There are a lot of parasitic worms that can be used to prevent allergies and autoimmune disease, and a lot of them are less dangerous and easier to get rid of than hookworm. Giving a child hookworm is probably going to do more harm then good, and giving an adult with IBS hookworm would also be considered very risky. Much easier to flush parasitic worms would be a better choice, simply ingested and passed through.
Some immunologists have started giving their own children and relatives mild parasitic worms, so that is a sign that the research on this subject is really getting rolling. Should be exciting!
Also, the Mexican black market for hookworms is largely spurned by our burning desire to lose weight quickly (jockey's, models, lightweight athletes).
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