Working On My Cells
In my recent reading on health I’ve been focussed on the body’s ability to heal itself. There are a few themes that seem to be recurring and at their core is the idea that if you look after the body at a cellular level, the body will look after you. So I’ve been working on looking after my cells, which means: working on sleep, stress, exercise, nutrition and gut health. All of these sound fairly obvious, but when you get into the details it’s a bit more interesting. If we look at a few issues:
- Our ancestors got a lot more exercise than we do, hence they needed to eat a lot more, most of what they ate were plants and berries and when they could get it meat, eggs and fish. They ate a huge variety of vegetables and berries with a considerable amount of fibre that fed the bacteria in the gut. When they ate meat they didn’t just eat lean muscle meat they ate everything, particularly fatty cuts and organs. The combination of eating a lot and eating more variety meant much higher levels of fibre, essential vitamins, minerals and fats than we get today.
- If the gut’s not functioning correctly not only do we miss out of key nutrients that are only produced by gut bacteria, but molecules that should stay in the gut leak into the blood stream where they can cause an auto-immune reaction and hence inflammation. low grade chronic Inflammation drives a whole host of cellular dysfunction
- The body’s stress systems are designed to respond to acute stressors, they flood the body with a cocktail of hormones that are ok in the short term, but very bad long term. In our modern world we are exposed to chronic stress, day after day. Often that stress is of our own making, noise, travel, worrying about the past and the future rather than staying present
There’s so much more of course, but that would require a library, not a blog post. I’m taking a lot of actions to try and improve my bodies ability to heal itself, many of these I’ve covered in my simple guide to health, but here are a few of the top ones:
- I’m getting more sleep and I’m getting it between 10 and 6, a good solid 8 hours that approximates to dusk till dawn. I stick to this pattern every day, if I have a bad night I still get up early and do a session or two of Yoga Nidra during the day (yogic sleep)
- I’m doing more exercise every day, trying for a mix of slow cycling, swimming and walking and I try and spread it throughout the day, so I keep moving. My target is about 600 calories of exercise a day, 4000 calories a week. One week a month I will do more than this, perhaps 8000 calories, with more intensity (hills).
- All that exercise helps with my pain levels but it also means I get to eat a lot more and I’m eating foods with a high nutrient density. My target is 12 servings of berries and vegetables a day, two types of meat, two eggs and a little cheese and cream. For breakfast I might have bacon and eggs (bacon fat is ace and eggs are the most nutritious food on the planet). For lunch a huge bowl of salad with lots of different types of leaves, radish, cheery tomatoes, unions, and a few berries and grapes. For dinner a plate piled high with kale, sprouts, red cabbage, broccoli, carrots and a little beef. Finishing off with a berry salad for supper with a bit of full fat spray cream
- To de-stress I try to stay offline all morning, working on my priorities (writing, reading, listening) with meetings in the afternoon, but all interspersed with exercise and meditation and social time. I try not to dwell on the past or worry about the future, keeping my focus on the present
- All of the above go a long way to caring for the gut, but it needs a bit of special TLC so I also make sure that I feed my gut bacteria with an extra few tablespoons of resistant starch (raw potato starch mixed into water) and some probiotic supplements
Gradually I’m hoping that I’m creating an environment within my body where my cells, swimming in nutrients, free from stress hormones, ‘massaged’ by exercise and nurtured by a well rested brain will heal. It will take a year or so, but I think I’m already seeing some progress in my health tracking data, fewer migraines, less pain and brain fog and no constipation all with fewer drugs.
The longer I stick to this routine, the more efficiently I can do it, the more it becomes habit, requires less discipline and feels less like a full time job.
The photo is of Filey beach where I spent last week. Despite all the efforts described above I’ve spent the last month with a very itchy auto-immune rash covering a quarter of my body, a shoulder that I can hardly move, both of which have needed steroids to control. The steroids messed up my sleep, which caused migraines …. but gradually my body is coming back into balance “two steps forward, one step back” is the story of my present life.